Thirty walkers set off on this 6 mile walk from the Cow & Plough in Oadby, walking along the Ladies Walk to Stoughton Church. We passed the site of Stoughton Grange which was a huge Gothic house that had been demolished in 1926, although it had been seriously damaged in 1914 when suffragettes are said to have tried to burn it down.
In Stoughton Churchyard we saw the grave of Bella Wright who was the victim in the famous Green Bicycle Murder in 1919. The Church is a very fine Grade II* Listed building and contains the important tomb of Thomas and Helen Farnham. Thomas was the Teller of the Exchequer (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and he died in 1560. There are other monuments in the church to the Farnham, Beaumont, Keck and Powys Keck families who have owned Stoughton Grange.
The walk continued over the fields to Oadby. We walked along Blackthorn Lane, Southmeads Road and through the Halls of Residence of Leicester University to the Botanical Gardens which are also owned by the University. On the way we passed Glebe Mount which was owned by Sir Jonathon North who lived there from 1924 to 1939. The house was taken over by the Americans during the Second World War. General Eisenhower stayed in the house when he was visiting the US servicemen at Stoughton Aerodrome. After the war it was lived in by the Corah family.
The extensive Botanical Gardens are within the original grounds of four very large and fine houses which were built in the early twentieth century for important industrialists and business men. We saw the recenty rediscovered sunken garden (which was used as allotments during the war), the cactus house and the alpine house and strolled round the grounds.
The walk then continued over The Leicestershire Golf Course and through the Arboretum. This is on the site of a large camp which housed the US troops as they prepared for D Day. They were mainly paratroopers. After D Day the camp became a prisoner of war camp, firstly for German prisoners and then Italians. The huts remained occupied for several years after the war until they were demolished in the mid 1950s.
The Cow and Plough was only another half mile away although the pub was very full and noisy because of the weekly jazz session.
I have been asked to lead another walk around Oadby in the Summer when the Botanical Gardens will be more colourful.