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Gaddesby is a village in Leicestershire, England, south of Melton Mowbray and north east of Leicester. In 1936 the civil parish of Ashby Folville was merged with Gaddesby. Present day Gaddesby has 170 households and a population of almost 450. Recent housing development has made the village a popular, rural dormitory for Leicester.
We can see from the -by ending that Gaddesby was a settlement during the Danish Occupation in the ninth and tenth centuries. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Gadesbi, a mainly pastoral village with a mill.
St Lukes Church
St. Luke’s church was originally built as a Norman chapel – a single space without a tower. It was part of the soke of Rothley from the tenth century. The two aisles, North and South, the tower and the Chancel were added in the thirteenth century and elaborated in the next two hundred years. The church is reputed to have some of the finest examples of fourteenth century stonework in the country which adorn the South West corner on the outside of the Knights Templar’s chapel. The oak pews in the nave are probably fifteenth century and the limestone font dates from 1320. There is a peal of eight bells the earliest dated 1562.
The size of the Church attests to the importance of the village during the period of its development. Gaddesby had grown as a result of the importance of the wool industry in East Leicestershire. Indeed it had a weekly market and an annual fair from the fourteenth century. As the wool industry declined and the Western half of the county rose in prominence during the Industrial Revolution so Gaddesby settled back into being a rural backwater.
Gaddesby Hall was built on the site of an earlier house called Paske Hall which was surrounded by a moat and dated back to 1390. This old Hall was pulled down in 1744 and the present Hall erected. The houses in the village formed part of the estate of Gaddesby Hall. Over the years the Hall had several owners including the Nedham, Ayre and Cheney families – all of whom are commemorated in the Church. The estate was put up for sale in 1917 at which time the celebrated statue of Colonel Cheney was moved into St. Luke’s. After suffering neglect and from its use by the American Armed Forces during the Second World War the Hall was reduced in size and renovated during the 1950s.
The village had many springs, and there are still two water pumps in Chapel Lane. On the corner of Chapel Lane and Cross Street a large boulder called “the blue stone” marks a spot from which John Wesley is reputed to have preached. The Methodist chapel was demolished in 1966.
Many listed and older properties, including former hunting lodges, still exist. An old windmill remains just outside Gaddesby.