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A story about Quorn Parish boundary by Barrow Bridge, from 1909

The Reverend Edward Foord Kelcey came to Quorn in 1892 and remained until 1909. He was modern minded, but also had an abiding interest in local history. He produced papers for inclusion in the Parish Magazine and put on magic lantern shows for residents to provide them with the results of his investigations. In January 1909 one of those papers entitled ‘A story about the parish boundary by Barrow Bridge’ was published in the Parish Magazine.

Dennis Marchant from Quorn was intrigued to find that the present-day civil parish boundary here still follows that discussed by the Rev. Kelcey all those years ago. What follows provides an interesting insight not only of the boundary issue, which dare I say is still an issue for some, in both villages today but also the history of the meadows and footpaths in the area. The Parish Magazine extract from the January 1909 issue (Artefact 2153) has been transcribed exactly from the original writings so forgive the spellings and grammar. Below, the two modern map extracts show the parish boundary in red, with the area of divergence from the River Soar highlighted.

Parish Magazine, January 1909:


In a paper in the Magazine last June it was imagined that the reader and writer walked together from Barrow into our village. Lingering together on Barrow Bridge we discoursed together on various points in the relations between the two parishes, and amongst other things attention was called to a strange divergence of the boundary between the two parishes from its regular course at that spot.

We will go over this matter again, and if you reader, will look first on the lower [fourth] of the two plans on the accompanying sheet you will be able to follow my explanation better. On this plan the boundary is shown by a dotted line.

The boundary between Barrow and Quorn which takes the course of 4 3/4 miles is formed by the river Soar throughout all that length, except for about 500 yards by Barrow Bridge. (The whole circuit of the parish of Quorn is about 11 miles!)

Let us imagine ourselves standing together on Barrow Bridge with our backs to Barrow facing down the Quorn road. Now the river on our left running by Quorn Hall forms the boundary, but at the Bridge the boundary leaves the river and runs along the left hand side of the road in front of us until it comes to the little bridge (the Priest’s Bridge) near Quorn Hall lodge-gate.
At this point it turns to the right and follows a ditch across to the river again. By this divergence of the boundary line the three little fields on the right of the road (marked A. B. and C on the plan) are in the Barrow Parish. They are the only land on this side of the river in Barrow.

Writing in June I ventured upon a conjecture as to the reason of this divergence, little expecting to find any explanation as soon as I did. Later in the summer, in looking through some old documents relating to land at Barrow and Quorn, I came across a small scrap of paper on which was a sketch plan of this very corner of the Parish with a partial explanation of the mystery. This plan has been reproduced exactly and stands at the top of the sheet [third picture] attached to this paper. Unfortunately there is no date on it but I believe it represents the state of things about 1625. My reason for assigning this date will appear as we go on.
Let us now study this old plan carefully together and see what it has to tell us, And first we must hope that the points of the compass are put wrongly on it. Instead of north at the top there should be west, and north should be where east is written. [Note: The Museum team have rotated the plan and deleted the erroneous compass points].

Now, beginning at the top, “The Priste (Priest) Bridge.” This old name is still kept for the little bridge near the lodge gate. It was no doubt put up first in ancient times for the clergy of Barrow to come and do duty at the daughter church at Quorn. Next on the left read “Scotche Greene, or the Ancient Mere betwixe Barrow and Quarne.” Scotch Greene is the old name for the meadow over which the “Slabs” footpath crosses and “Meere” is the old word for boundary. So we see that in old times the parish boundary used to run from the Priest Bridge across the “Slabs” meadows to the river. There is still to be seen traces of a ditch in this direction, which is deep enough to need wooden planks for the footpath to cross it. In an old print of 1791 in Throsby’s Leicestershire a hedge running across here is shown, and indeed many people remember it. I may here put on record a discovery I made this summer in relation to the footpath across these meadows. It is well known that till 1886 the path ran from Barrow Bridge along the river for about 250 yards and then bent to the right and so across the avenue, but it had been forgotten that formally it followed the river bank all the way to Quorn village even going between the Hall and the river. In the Town Lands box I found a memorandum drawn up in 1788 when this path was stopped and it was diverted – with consent of parish representatives – to the other side of the Hall, where it now is.

But to return to our present story. The next inscription on the old plan also testifies that the old boundary used to come across these meadows, for it says: “This Bridge Meadow Recov’ed (recovered) by a Tryall at Lawe from Barrow by the Inhabitants of Quarne” So we see that long, long ago, the parish boundary in this part was matter of dispute and even the subject of an action at law in which the Quorn folk won the day.

Now look on the old plan at three little fields on the other side of the road. It calls them, too, “Bridge Meddow”, and then on each one a name written, thus: “Ro. Morres,” “Will Judsons,” “Jo Marshall.” The names of course, represent the owners of these pieces.

It is by these names that we may hope to fix the date of our old plan. I searched the Barrow Church Registers and soon came upon the name “William Judson” but unfortunately the name occurred often between 1573 and 1620. The name also occurred in a Terrier of lands dated Jany 1603. There were two of the name – junior and senior – and I found an amusing note at end of this Terrier which shows that in those days people were apt to make mistakes between the different William Judsons. I give it as it stands:

Mrd: that when it is said Wm. Judson, Sen, it is meant goodman Judson which is called greate Judson;

And when it is said Wm. Judson, Ju., it is meant goodman Judson which was (is crossed out) called or knowne by the name of little Judson.

By the correction in the latter sentence we should judge that poor little Judson was recently dead, and sure enough we find in the Register of Burials at Barrow: “William Judson, Junr., July 17, 1603.

I hoped that one of these men might have been the owner meant by the name on the middle field, especially as John Marshal also appeared in the Terrier of 1603, along with the Judsons, but unfortunately, I could find no reference to a Robert Morres at that time.

The first mention of this name in the registers under 1623, when a Rob. Morris was married. Now the year before that a Wm. Judson was Churchwarden-also a John Marshall was Churchwarden in 1633. Those facts make it most probable that these three were all alive together about 1623, and were all old enough to be the owners of these fields, and so we get a reasonable supposition as to the date of our old plan. The writing on the plan differs from some other specimens that I have seen of that date, but there is another paper relating to the same matter which is in a hand quite usual then. Some account must be given of this paper also.

It seems to show that the people of Quorn not content with recovering the Scotch Green, were also inclined to claim the three little meadows by the Bridge as part of Quorn. I will give the heading of this paper as it stands.

Certain Reasons wherefore the Three Closes in the Bridge Meddowes lying on the east side of the Cawsey leading from Barrow Bridges to the Priest Bridge should lye within the liberties of Barrow & not within the liberties of Quarne viz. John Marshall, Wm Judsone & Robert Morres their Closes.

Note. – the old word Cawsey or Causeway for a raised road or footpath. ‘Closes’ of course means enclosed fields.

The reasons given are five. I repeat them here in substance, with short explanations.
(1) The three fields were not within the Perambulations of Quorn. This refers to the old custom of going round the parish (at Rogation-tide – just before Whitsunday) and ‘beating the bounds,’ by which yearly perambulation the boundaries of Quorn would mean a journey of 11 miles. I have lately seen a reference to a parish perambulation that took three days, which with ‘treating’ at different houses at the end of each day. Perhaps something of this kind took place here.
(2) The methods of using the fields for hay and pasture followed the customs of Barrow,
(3) The three closes were taxed in Barrow.
(4) When cattle strayed on them the Pinder (the man in charge of the pin-fold) at Barrow shut them up.
(5) The last reason is so mysterious that it must be given as it stands in the hope that some one may be able to explain what it means.
Fithlie as I am informed that since a Tryall hadd by the inhabitants of Quarne for the Comon of pasture in the Growndes (lying on eyther side the Cawsey betwixt the twoe Bridges) Called the Bridge Meddowes and cattle beinge impounded out of those three Closes lying on the East side of the said Cawsey. (being the closes in question). And ould* Mr Adrian Farnham being made acquainted therewith the said Mr Farnham wished the Distress to be let goe for that Quarne and nothinge to doe there But onlie for Bitt of Mouth &c.
(*With such help as I have been able to get I cannot make any better word out of the old writing.)

Adrian Farnham lived at the Upper Over Hall where he died in 1632. I can only just refer to the other point of interest in connection with this old plan. Across the river where Quorn would lie is written ‘Quarne Milles.’ It is well known that there was a mill on the river in the locality. Mr Warner tells me that the old site can be fixed pretty clearly just opposite the Hall, and promises to point out the traces when the snow is gone.
January, 1909.

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 Submitted on: 2022-12-17
 Submitted by: Dennis Marchant
 Artefact ID: 2515
 Artefact URL: www.quornmuseum.com/display.php?id=2515
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own (new browser tab).

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