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Harborough Museum

Kelmarsh photograph

Kelmarsh photograph

Visit the stunning Kelmarsh Hall, and see more photographs on

The Village of Kelmarsh

Kelmarsh is a small village in Northamptonshire, about nine miles west of Kettering. There are lovely stone cottages on the east side of the main road, where the original school was located and mostly red brick ones on the north side of the road to Harrington.

On the 4th May 1943 a tragedy struck the stone cottages.  As lunch was being prepared in one of the cottages, a spark somehow ignited the thatched roof of the middle house. A strong wind was blowing, and all the 13 cottages were destroyed, making 44 people homeless. Fortunately, no one was injured, but all their possessions were lost. The cottages were rebuilt in 1948.

In 1849 Lord Bateman, owner of the village and occupant of Kelmarsh Hall, gave all his tenants notices, (these would be withdrawn if they signed an agreement promising to behave themselves in the future), because they had lapsed into bad habits and were constantly causing trouble.

A photograph of High Street, Kelmarsh from the early 19th century
A photograph of High Street, Kelmarsh from the early 19th century. This is in the Villages cases of Harborough Museum.

The villagers were summoned to the Hall where they were ordered to attend church regularly and live in peace with each other, conducting themselves honestly and soberly. If the villagers obeyed, a school would be built so that their children would learn to read, write and do sums.  A charge of 1d per child per week would be made.  To honour this agreement, he built a school in 1850.

The Kelmarsh Tunnels are disused railway tunnels in Northamptonshire. The Northampton to Market Harborough line opened in 1859 and had tunnels at Kelmarsh and nearby Oxendon.  The tunnels are 322 yards (294 m) long, and due to the smallness of the tunnel were known as “the rat-holes” by train drivers. The former “up” line tunnel at Kelmarsh is open as part of the Brampton Valley Way, which runs from the Boughton level crossing on the outskirts of Northampton to Little Bowden near Market Harborough, on the former railway track bed.

Kelmarsh Hall

Kelmarsh Hall is an elegant 18th-century country house and is Grade I listed. The hall today is still surrounded by its working estate of parkland and gardens. The present Palladian hall (which is in the style of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio), was built in 1728-32 for William Hanbury, Esq (1704-1768), a famous antiquarian. Francis Smith of Warwick was commissioned to build it and used a James Gibbs design.

Kelmarsh Hall is open to public and for opening times and events please visit their website.

A photograph of Kelmarsh Hall, taken in June 2018.
A photograph of Kelmarsh Hall, taken by a Harborough Museum volunteer, June 2018.

Thanks to our volunteer, Janet, for writing this month’s entry.

To see more photographs from the collections of Leicestershire County Council, please visit Image Leicestershire.

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