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St Lawrence Church Measham - - 473175.jpg
St Lawrence Church, Measham
Measham is located in Leicestershire
Location within Leicestershire
Population5,209 [1]
OS grid referenceSK 33077 11844
• London177 km
Civil parish
  • Measham
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDE12
Dialling code01530
AmbulanceEast Midlands
EU ParliamentEast Midlands
UK Parliament
  • North West Leicestershire
List of places
52°42′22″N 1°30′29″W / 52.706139°N 1.508045°W / 52.706139; -1.508045Coordinates: 52°42′22″N 1°30′29″W / 52.706139°N 1.508045°W / 52.706139; -1.508045

Measham is a large English village in Leicestershire close to the borders with Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. It lies just off the A42, 4.5 miles (7.25 km) south of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (the closest town), and within the National Forest.[2] Historically in Derbyshire, it was part of an enclave absorbed into Leicestershire in 1897.[3][4] The name of the village is thought to mean homestead on the River Mease.[5]


Early history[edit]

The village name Meas-Ham suggests it was founded in the Saxon period between AD 350 and 1000.[6]

Just before the Norman Conquest of 1066, the village belonged to "Earl Algar". The Domesday Book of 1086 has it as belonging directly to the King, as part of a royal estate centred at Repton.[7][8] Its taxable value as assessed at a mere 2 geld units, containing land for three ploughs, 20 acres of meadow, and a square furlong (10 acres) of woodland.[7]

Middle Ages[edit]

The manor passed from the crown to the Earls of Chester.[9] In 1235 it was in the possession of Clementia (Clemence de Fougères), widow of Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester.[9] Measham Museum states that the manor belonged to the De Measham family, which held it until 1308.[10] Given the ownership by the crown and then the Earls of Chester, neither actually resident, it appears the De Measham family held the manor as feudal tenants, rather than formal owners, probably in return for military service.

By the 13th century, the rights to the church appear to have passed to Repton Priory, as in 1272 King Henry III issued a charter including Measham among the several church and chapelries it possessed.[11] The original chapel of ease dated from 1172, but the present St Laurence's Church was built in 1340, under the auspices of Repton Priory.[10]

On 24 March 1311, King Edward II granted two charters to William de Bereford, Lord of the Manor of Measham, to hold a market and a fair.[12] The charters allowed for a market on Tuesdays and an annual three-day fair around the festival of the Translation of St Thomas the Martyr (7 July).[9][12] By 1817 both market and fair had ceased.[9]

This medieval settlement is thought to have been mainly agricultural, but coal mining is known to have taken place as early as the 13th century. Indeed William De Bereford died getting coal; records of his death show the village's coal resources to have been worth 13s. 4d a year.[10]

In 1355, Edmund de Bereford, son of William, died leaving the manor of Measham to three heirs: Joan de Ellesfield, John de Maltravers and Margaret de Audley.[9] During the 15th century, the manor came into the hands of Walter Blount, 1st Baron Mountjoy.[10] In 1454, the manor was in the possession of Sir William Babington at the time of his death; and in 1474 it was in the possession of John Babington (presumably his son).[9]

16th–17th centuries[edit]

In 1596 Measham was dismissed by William Wyrley as "a village belonging to Lord Shefield, in which are many coal mines, [but] little else worthy of remembrance." It was omitted altogether from Richard Blome's gazetteer of market towns in 1673.

In 1563 the manor belonged to Walter Blount, 1st Baron Mountjoy. However, by 1616 it had passed to Sir Francis Anderson, only to return to the Sheffield family, as it was owned by Edmund Sheffield, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1712.[9]

18th–19th centuries[edit]

Measham Hall: Built 1767, demolished 1959 due to mining subsidence

The manor found its way to William Wollaston, who sold it to Joseph Wilkes in 1780 for £50,000; after whose death it was purchased by Reverend Thomas Fisher.[9][10] [13] In 1767, William Abney Esq. built an alternative manor house at Measham Field (north-east of the village), which by 1817 had passed to his son, Edward Abney Esq.[9] This was what would become known as Measham Hall, a seven-bay mid-Georgian stately home. However, the site became used for coal mining. The Hall later suffered from subsidence and was demolished by the National Coal Board in 1959.[13][14]

By the early 19th century, Measham church was still associated with Repton parish, as a "parochial chapelry".[9]

Industrial Revolution[edit]

Sundial commemorating Joseph Wilkes, by the artist Steve Field, erected in 2009, near the former railway station

Around the time of Joseph Wilkes, Measham went through a prosperous period associated with the Industrial Revolution. This growth lasted into the 20th century.[10] At the beginning of the 19th century, Ashby Canal was built through the village. The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway followed, opening towards the end of the century. The village was also on the main road between Birmingham and Nottingham (later the A453). It became a hub of local industry, famous for its brickwork and Joseph Wilkes' "Jumb Bricks" (made larger to avoid brick tax).[10][15] Other village industry included banking, breweries, coalmines and brick-making (with clay from local clay pits), a tramway, and boot, lace, cotton, carding and bleach mills.[10][13]

A market hall was said to have been built by Wilkes about the turn of the 19th century, but by 1817 the market had ceased to operate and the market-house was being converted into a dwelling.[9] This later became known as Cross House, at 58 High Street; the area to the rear in Queen Street, now used as a car park, is the original market place.[13]

The village Baptist chapel was built in 1811, although Baptist ministers had been active in the village since the 1730s. A Temperance Hall built in 1852 now serves as the Age Concern building.[9]

In 1839 the village received an official visit from Queen Adelaide, who in her widowhood, frequently visited the area, staying at nearby Gopsall Park, home of her previous Lord Chamberlain, The Earl of Howe. Queen Street was named in her honour after her visit.[16]

Measham High Street

By 1848 the population had swollen to 1615.[16] A further chapel was constructed for the Methodists, and a Catholic church was built, financed by a local lady aristocrat. The latter has since been demolished for housing.

20th–21st centuries[edit]

Measham Station before renovation

Measham continued to grow residentially and industrially in the 20th and 21st centuries. Large-scale council and private housing estates were built and the population swelled to 4,849 in 2001. Development of a British Car Auctions site in the south-west of the village after World War Two prompted further industrial development, which has grown into the Westminster Industrial Estate.[13]

The 20th century also brought periods of sharp decline. Passenger services on the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway ceased in 1931.[17] Freight traffic continued until 1971, after which the line was dismantled.[17] The canal similarly closed in 1957. The traditional industries of the village began to die out, with the boot and shoe factory closing in the 1960s and Measham Colliery in 1986.[13] The 1960s saw many of the village's fine buildings demolished, including the Manor House, Measham Hall and the Vicarage.[13]

The village has in recent years seen renewed development. After years of neglect and disrepair, Measham's former railway station has been renovated to provide a new home for the Measham Museum. The old engine sheds have been developed into industrial workshops, and the engine yards into a millennium garden and public green space. A new library and a new leisure centre were also built in the last decade, and there are plans to resuscitate the Ashby Canal. Due to housing being constructed along the original route through Measham, the canal will follow the route of the old railway, with a wharf and adjacent visitors centre/shops/cafés planned for the village centre.

Measham teapots[edit]

Measham has a long pottery-making tradition: the area is rich in clay and extraction recorded as early as the 13th century.[18] The famous Measham Ware, traditionally associated with the canals and narrow boats, was produced from the last quarter of the 19th century until around 1914 (other sources say 1910).[18] However, it was not actually produced in Measham, but in nearby villages: primarily Church Gresley.[18] It is thought to have acquired the epithet Measham as it was primarily sold by a Mrs Anne Bonas, from her shop in Measham High Street.[19]

Measham's earthenware has a dark brown Rockingham glaze with additions of white clay colourfully painted, usually with flowers and a motto, often personalised.[20] Most commonly seen are teapots, which often have a distinct miniature teapot as a finial.[21]

The earliest known production was in 1870 by William Mason of Church Gresley (later Mason Cash); the early price list refers to pieces as Motto Ware, later also called Barge Ware due to its canal associations.[21]

Measham Ware was popular with canal people. On passing through Measham on the Ashby Canal, they would place their order for a personalised teapot as they passed through and collect it on their next visit.[22] Measham Ware was also popular among farm labourers in Norfolk and Suffolk: after harvesting in their own counties, they often travelled to Burton Upon Trent to work in the maltings and other industries associated with brewing. Measham Ware became a popular gift to take home,[22] Local villagers often bought them as wedding gifts, passing them down from generation to generation at weddings.[22] Production of Measham Ware ended around 1910–1914, although modern reproductions have been produced in recent years. The Measham Museum contains a large collection of Measham Ware and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London also has an example on display.[18][20]

A unique example of a Measham Bargeware Teapot showing the original name of the nearby village of Woodville as "Wooden Box"


A branch line of the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway was opened in Measham in 1873. Through services connected Measham to Leicester, Burton, Ashby, Moira and Shackerstone which allowed interchange for services to Coalville and Loughborough via Hugglescote. The station closed in 1931 but the line remained open until 1970 when British Rail closed the section from Shackerstone to Measham. The stub to Moira remained open for coal traffic to Donisthorpe Colliery until 1981 when it was closed altogether along with the line. The Battlefield Line Railway (the last existing section of the ANJR) now run services to Shenton via Market Bosworth. They had hoped to extend the line to Snarestone but nothing has come into fruition. Leicestershire County Council has recently renovated the old station building as part of the Ashby Canal restoration; it currently serves as premises for the Measham Museum.[23]

Minorca opencast[edit]

In 2011 UK Coal was given permission to develop an opencast coal mine on the site of the former Minorca colliery on the outskirts of Measham.[24] Measuring 1 mile (1.6 km) by .5 miles (0.80 km), the mine will yield 1,250,000 tonnes (1,380,000 tons) of coal over five years, and 250,000 tonnes (280,000 tons) of clay. The development has been opposed by some local residents, worried about environmental effects and vehicle noise.[24]

Minorca open cast coal mine entrance in 2013


The local football team is called Measham Imperial, nicknamed "The Imps". It currently plays in the North Leicestershire Windmills League Division Three. Measham Welfare Football Club also fields a variety of teams and offers football to local children of 6–18, as well as an adults' first team and reserve team. The club is based at Measham Leisure Centre.

Measham hosts the National Forest Taekwondo group, which started in 2013 and trains at the Church Hall. It welcomes all practitioners from the age of eight up, and covers training in all areas of this Olympic sport, from self-defence to the traditional patterns.

Notable residents[edit]

In birth order:


  • William Wyrley cited in T. Bulmer’s History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire (London, 1895 ed.)
  • Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland , 1960 (first) edition.


  1. ^ Measham Parish Council. "Census Key Statistics Measham Ward". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  2. ^ 245 The National Forest (Map). 1:25000. Ordnance Survey. ISBN 0319240282.
  3. ^ "Derbyshire Enclaves Map". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  4. ^ Payne, Brett (2004), "History & Place Names", Netherseal & Overseal Parish Pages, retrieved 29 January 2019
  5. ^ Watts, Victor; Insley, John (2004). The Cambridge Dictionary of Place Names. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36209-1.
  6. ^ "Origins of Place Names". Domesday Book Online. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Measham". Domesday Map. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  8. ^ Dunmore, Richard, "Chapter 5: A Planned Village", Appleby Magna's History, retrieved 29 January 2019
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Magna Britannia: volume 5: Derbyshire: 'Parishes: Packington - Repton'. 1817. pp. 228–246.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Measham Museum". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  11. ^ A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2: 'Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Repton, with the cell of Calke'. 1907. pp. 58–63.
  12. ^ a b "GAZETTEER OF MARKETS AND FAIRS IN ENGLAND AND WALES TO 1516: PLACES". Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "MEASHAM CONSERVATION AREA APPRAISAL AND STUDY" (PDF). Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Measham Hall". Lost Heritage. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  15. ^ Box, Gerald. "Career". Joseph Wilkes: 1733–1805. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  16. ^ a b 'Mayland - Melbourn', A Topographical Dictionary of England. London: S Lewis. 1848. pp. 280–283. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b Speller, John. "Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway (L&NWR/MR)". John Speller's Web Pages. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d "The Measham Teapot". Measham Museum and History Group. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Measham Ware". Landshapes: The National Forest – Heritage in the Making. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Measham Ware". V&A Museum. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Barge Ware". Judith Harvey Antiques. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  22. ^ a b c "Measham Ware Teapots". A History of the World in 100 Objects. British Museum/BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Measham Station handover". 2 April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  24. ^ a b Leicestershire opencast coal mine gains approval

External links[edit]