Stoughton Grange, near Evington
A Series of Article written for the Evington Echo
STOUGHTON NOW AND THEN
Evington Echo -Issue 4 January 1981
Within the memory of many people still living, most of Evington village belonged to the Powys Keck family who lived at the big house where Stoughton Grange Farm now stands and most of the buildings there were stables for hunt horses.
Evington villager’s employed at the house walked along a field path from the top of the rise on the far side of Shady Lane brook and entered the grounds by a gate, which is still there. The estate comprised three farms in Evington, and the Home Farm, now a car park, was sited on The Common.
In 1913 the estate was put up for sale but the big house, Stoughton Grange, remained unsold and was eventually pulled down in 1926.
Besides the 466 acres which included Evington, the Powys Keck family owned an area of more than ten square miles, all grassland stretching as far as Three Gates. This land was offered for sale separately in 1913 and the only prospective buyer was the Co-operative Wholesale Society, Manchester, who wanted it for dairy farming, but since this was a sporting estate, the owners withdrew it from the sale.
In 1919 the Coop made another offer and this time it was accepted. They still own this land, starting from the left-hand side of Shady Lane and it is divided into 12 farms of about 500 acres each. About half of it is used for dairy farming – the milk being sent to a depot in Uttoxeter – and the other half for arable farming consisting mostly of winter wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape, whose bright yellow colour makes such a wonderful show in the Spring.
The whole estate is managed from an office in Stoughton village and is Leicestershire’s largest farming enterprise. A separate Stoughton office also houses the headquarters of all the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s farms throughout England and Scotland – the biggest farming concern in Great Britain!
A W Easton
Letter about Stoughton Grange
Evington Echo – Issue 7 April 1982
Following the recent items in the EViNGTON ECHO about Stoughton Grange, readers may be interested to learn of the love and compassion shown by Mr George Anthony and Mrs Elizabeth Legh Keck towards their servants, who they appeared to regard almost as friends. This is clear from the inscription on the tombstone in St. Denys churchyard which reads:-
“To the memory of William Hallowell of Stoughton and of Ann, Mary, Elizabeth and Lucy, daughters of William Hallowell and Lucy his wife, this stone is erected by George Anthony Legh Keck and Elizabeth Legh Keck his wife to perpetuate the regard in which they hold the memory of faithful domesticks and dependants.
William Hallowell was Butler to G A Legh Keck Esq with whom he lived twelve years, esteemed for ability integrity, attachment and zeal, he died January 23rd AD 1816 aged 39 years affectionately regretted.
Of the daughters who all died young, Lucy survived last. She was brought up from her childhood in the house of Stoughton Grange under the care of Mrs Legh Keck, by good conduct she endeared herself and at length became her personal attendant. In that place of service she died by rapid consumption on 24th January AD 1827 aged 19 years, she was beloved by her mistress and of character pleasing in sight of God and man; pure, humble, kind hearted, affectionate, conscientious, her end was peaceful, and, in cheerful submission to God’s providence, her will was perfectly resigned”.
Jean Farquhar from Sedgebrook Road
We are reliably informed that the inscription referred to above is reputedly the longest in the Leicester Diocese.
The Families of Stoughton Grange I
Evington Echo – Issue 11 October/November 1982
In ancient writings’, says John Nichols, author of The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, ‘Stoctone is an extensive lordship of old inclosure.’ These ‘antient writings’ date from the time of Edward the Confessor (c.1004 – 1066) when the ‘mannour’ of ‘Stoctone’ was held by Earl Ralph of Hereford. By Domesday in 1086, Stoctone (Stawton or Stoughton) formed part of the extensive property of Hugh de Grentemesnil and from Hugh, the property descended to the earls of Leicester, one of whom, Robert le Bossu, granted it in C.1168 to Leicester Abbey. Over the years, Stoughton became one of the Abbey’s most important granges, its manorial court controlling its estates in Humberstone, Ingarsby, Noseley, Kilby, Burton Overy, Knighton, Thurnby and Fleckney, but at the Dissolution, the manor, including the Abbey’s property in Stoughton, passed to the Crown.
In 1557, the manor was granted by Queen Mary to Francis Challoner and William Butler, but they transferred it in the same year to Francis’s sister, Hellen, and her husband, Thomas Farnham, of Nether House, Quorndon who held office as Teller of the Exchequer (probably the equivalent of today’s Chancellor).
Thomas died in 1562 leaving the manor to his wife, with remainder to his daughter, Catherine, and her husband, Sir Thomas Beaumont, third son of Sir Nicholas Beaumont of Coleorton. A brother-in-law of Sir Thomas was Anthony Biron, an ancestor of Lord Byron of Newstead Abbey, and Sir Thomas’s second cousin became the mother of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
Thus, through marriage, ownership of Stoughton passed to the Beaumont family and remained there for almost 200 years.
The Families of Stoughton Grange II
Evington Echo – Issue 12 December 1992
For about 400 years the Stoughton estates belonged to Leicester Abbey. Then, in 1557, they passed into the possession of Thomas Farnham of Quorn. After Thomas’s death in 1562 the lands passed to his daughter, Catherine, and her husband, Sir Thomas Beaumont of Coleorton, in whose family the Stoughton estates remained for almost 200 years.
The Beaumonts had come from France with William the Conqueror, and by the C16 many of them were settled in various parts of Leicestershire. Thomas and Catherine had 3 sons and 7 daughters and after his death in 1614, Sir Thomas was succeeded by his first son Sir Henry. Henry married Elizabeth Turpin of Knaptoft, who bore him 4 daughters and 4 sons, the eldest of whom, Sir Thomas, inherited Stoughton on his father’s death in 1646. By his marriage to Elizabeth Trott of Quickwood, Herts, Thomas had 3 sons, and the youngest, William, settled in Essex, where he eventually became the grandfather of Sir George Howland Beaumont, the painter, of Coleorton Hall. On the death of Sir Thomas in 1676, Stoughton passed to his first son, Sir Henry, who had married Elizabeth Farmer and produced a family of 8 sons and 7 daughters! The eldest son (another Sir Thomas) inherited the estates on his father’s death in 1688 but lived only 2 years more himself and was succeeded by his brother, Sir George, aged 26.
Sir George Beaumont was very highly regarded and his virtues are extolled on a plaque in Stoughton Church. He represented Leicester in 9 successive Parliaments during the reign of Queen Anne, and died a bachelor in 1737 at the age of 73.
Stoughton was left to his three unmarried sisters, Anne, Arabella and Christiana, and to a nephew, William Bushby. William, however, died in 1742, also unmarried, and on the death of the third aunt, Arabella, in 1754, the property passed to William’s sister, Anne, who in 1739 had married Anthony Keck.
Thus, after nearly 200 years, ownership of Stoughton passed from the Beaumonts.
Beaumonts had come over with William the Conqueror and by the C16 many of them had settled in Leicestershire. From 1562 until 1754 Beaumonts owned and resided in Stoughton Grange and were patrons of Stoughton Church. On the death of the last owner, Arabella, who died unmarried in 1754, the property passed to her niece, Anne Keck.
The Families of Stoughton Grange Part III
Anthony and Anne Keck moved to Stoughton in 1754, where Anne died 11 years later. Anthony began the fashionable process of Gothicising the old Elizabethan manor house of Stoughton Grange, but he died in 1786, two years before the alterations were completed. The Keck’s son, Anthony James, married to Elizabeth Legh of Lyme, Cheshire, had died six years before his father and so, on the death of their grandfather, the in heritance passed to Anthony James’s two sons – Peers Anthony (aged 18) and George Anthony (aged 12). Peers died unmarried eleven years later and thus, in 1797, at the age of 23, George Anthony became sole owner.
George Anthony was the heir also of his maternal grandfather, Peter Legh, and in 1792 by Royal Licene, he took the name of Legh. As Sir George Anthony Legh Keck he represented the County of Leicester in Parliament from 1797 – 1831. He married his first cousin, Elizabeth Atherton of Atherton Hall, Lancaster, but they had no children.
Sir George built the 3 black and white lodges of Gartree Road (one of which still has no indoor sanitation) in 1820 and 30 years later planted the avenue of trees known today as Shady Lane. After Sir George’s death in 1860, at the age of 86, the estate passed from the Legh Keck family to his wife’s nephew, Major the Hon. Henry Littleton Powys of the 60th Rifles. He was the fifth son of Thomas, Lord Lilford of Northants, and married to Margarette Matilda Bancho.
THE FAMILIES OF STOUGHTON GRANGE
The end of the line
Anne and Anthony Keck had taken up residence at Stoughton in 1754 and on Anthony’s death in 1786, he was succeeded in turn by his two grandsons, his son having died 6 years previously. The second grandson, George Anthony, took the name of his maternal grandfather, Legh, and married but had no children. On his death in 1860, the property passed to his wife’s nephew, Major the Hon Henry Littleton Powys.
On assuming ownership of Stoughton, the Hon. Henry Littleton Powys added the name of Keck, but he died, aged 51, only 2 years after his succession.
The elder son of Henry and his wife, Margarette, was Henry (Harry) Leycester Powys Keck who inherited Stoughton in 1863 at the age of 22. He became a Justice of the Peace and, in 1871, High Sherriff of Leicestershire. He rebuilt Stoughton Church at his own expense in 1866 and in 1882/83 rebuilt Stoughton Grange. Around 1899, Harry Leycester, who was unmarried, left Stoughton to live in Surrey, and the property was leased to a Mrs Belville. She lived in the Grange from 1900 but moved out when Harry Leycester died in 1912 at the age of 71.
Harry Leycester’s nephew, Thomas Charles Leycester Powys Keck BA (Oxon), son of Harry’s brother, Thomas Bancho Powys Keck, inherited Stoughton but never lived at the Grange. It remained empty of 10 years until 1922 when the property and estate were purchased by the Manchester Co-operative Society. The Grange was demolished in 1926 and so Thomas Charles, who died in 1931, was the last owner.
A recent walk around the property (by kind permission of the Co-operative Society) revealed the footings of the Grange. Below ground are cavernous holes in which a person could stand upright, with solid brick supporting pillars about 15” square. Above ground, flights of stone steps can be found in two or three places leading into and out of what is still a recognisable garden with a large stone fountain about 20” in diameter. But the present delight is the tree-lined avenue extending for about half a mile from where the Grange stood up to the garden of a house next to Stoughton Church.