DOWN ASFORDBY WAY.For my readers from out of town Wikipedia will explain that: Asfordby is a village and civil parish in the Melton District of Leicestershire to the west of Melton Mowbray on the A6006 road. The parish consists of Asfordby proper, Asfordby Valley and Asfordby Hill, all of which combined have a population of around 3000 residents. The villages are to the north of the River Wreake with Asfordby Hill situated east of Asfordby proper. Within Asfordby proper there are a few shops, mainly convenience ones. However you can find a fish and chip shop, an Indian restaurant, as well as a kitchen store and a Co-operative shop.'
In a manner of speaking, Asfordby could be perhaps described as a 'satellite' of Melton Mowbray and it is likely not to be too long before it becomes joined-up; in many aspects, the village has shared much of our local history. Over the span of the last couple of centuries, the Asfordbys have produced several citizens of note, but two particular landed families seemed to have dominated a large part of the limelight over the decades. The two substantial and convoluted families of the Marriotts and Houghtons have, over the decades, made hard work for today's genealogists and I have recently thrown in the towel on working out exactly which Houghton was which, where and when or even why! But in the early years of the 19th century, both families were to hit the headlines with a combination of tragic incidents. As the papers were to initially report:
'A coroner’s inquest was held at Grimstone, near Melton Mowbray, on Thursday the 27th ult., on the body of Mr Gregory Marriott, of Asfordby. It appeared that the deceased, who was a corpulent man upwards of 60 years of age, attended the audit for receiving the rents of of the Earl of Ailseford on Wednesday, on which occasion he partook of the usual dinner, and drank to such excess as to be in a state of helpless intoxication: it is stated that, whilst he was in this condition, some of the company amused themselves by what is called “bumping” him - that is, lifting him by the legs and arms, and heaving the body whilst in a horizontal position against another person, in the manner practised by boys: some of the party, it is also said, poured gin down his throat. He was afterwards laid in a state of insensibility for several hours upon the floor of the room (the carousal still continuing), and when taken up, was found to be a corpse! The jury returned a verdict that the deceased died of apoplexy.'
In these enlightened times we hear much about trouble with drunken customers of licensed premises, this especially at 'chucking-out' times, but this incident of 1834 might suggest that it is a practice which we have indeed inherited - sometimes to our detriment and even, shame - but of course, in terms of entertainment, this bizarre event occurred long before the days of I-pads and mobile phones, or even community Bingo. In all solemnity though, as wretched as the grotest occurrence proved to be, yet more tragedy was in store for the Marriott family when 5 months later the Leicester Chronicle was to report:(From the Stamford Journal of March 7th 1834)
'A young female, wife of Mr Jasper Houghton, of Burton Lazars, near Melton Mowbray, died in child-bed on the 14th inst., aged 23, having given birth to twins, both dead. As the young couple were both from Asfordby, having lived at Burton for only ten months, it was determined that she should be buried near her relatives at her native place, and a hearse was ordered from Oakham to convey the body to Asfordby. On application being made to the clergyman to perform the rites of burial, he addressed the following note to the afflicted husband:-
Sir, - I am determined to sett my face against burying other parishes dead in this church-yard, as we have no right to do so, as it is little enough as it is.
Aug. 17, 1834. Your’s A. BURNABY.
The order for the hearse was accordingly countermanded; a grave dug and bearers bidden at Burton; when the Asfordby clergyman sent word that he would receive and inter the body. - A third time a messenger was dispatched to Oakham for the hearse, and on the Sunday following the death of this sad and lamented wife and mother, she was consigned to a grave by the side of her father, Gregory Marriott, who death was noticed in this paper as having taken place a few months ago at Grimstone, under very lamentable circumstances.These particulars are published at the request of the relatives of the deceased. - Stamford Mercury'
And to put a gloss on the whole matter, in the following year there appeared this public announcement in the Leicester Chronicle of October 25th, 1835. To wit;
FREEHOLD ESTATE - At Asfordby, near Melton MowbrayTO BE SOLD BY AUCTION BY BURTON AND CLARK
At the Bell Hotel, in Melton Mowbray, in the county of Leicester, on Tuesday the 17th day of November, 1835, at Four o’ clock in the afternoon, subject to such conditions of sale as will be then produced, in one or more lots as will be described in handbills, and may be determined upon at the time of sale.A very valuable FREEHOLD ESTATE, consisting of a substantial Farm House, Barn, Stables, and Outbuildings, and several Closes of of useful Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land, lying together situate near to the village of Asfordby aforesaid, containing 72 acres or thereabouts, late belonging to Mr Gregory Marriott, deceased and now in the occupation of Messrs. Willbourn, whose Lease will expire at Lady Day next, when possession may be had.To view the estate apply to Mrs Marriott, of Asfordby and for further particulars at the office of Mr Bishop, Solicitor, Melton Mowbray, where a plan of the Estate may be seen.
What a desperate set of circumstances for the widow Marriott!
THE GROVE.In the next generation, another Jasper Houghton (1864-1918) - there were several other 'Jaspers' in the area - was to marry an Alice Houghton in the winter of 1898 in Asfordby. In 1911 according to the National Census, this couple can be found ensconced in their grand new residence, The Grove was built for them during the year of their marriage. Also resident at in Asfordby at that time were the first batch of Houghton siblings:
William Henry 9
Gladys Mabel 8
Anthony W. Rayson 6
Annie W. Alice 3
George H. 2 months
25 years old local girl, Esther Wing, was the general domestic servant at that time and more than likely, the nanny.
Asfordby resident Bill Rudkin tells the following story in the Asfordby Parish Council Website, and provides a few interesting pictures of the period. He writes:
by Bill Rudkin
'The Grove was another large house of Asfordby which was built in 1898. It was originally built for the local farmer Jasper Houghton and his wife Alice. They also had a servant named Lucy Pick who was from Hoby and a gardener called Arthur Chester who lived nearby in Rose Cottage on Saxelby Road. The red-brick house was built of redbricks which were made in Leicestershire at Ellistown brickworks. The bricks were loaded into rail wagons and shunted into the sidings at Asfordby train station, before being transported to the building site by horse and cart. After the evacuation from Dunkirk during the war, 3 officers were billeted to The Grove; their batmen lodged at Hazlewood’s across the road. The house was eventually sold in 1972 and demolished in 1973 to make way for a new housing estate. After it’s demolition, I remember fetching about 200 of the bricks to build a cold frame and a retaining wall for a rockery in my garden. They are still as good as when they were made. Does anybody else have any old photographs or memories of the house?'