Knitting machines were invented towards the end of the 16th century in Nottinghamshire and the industry spread to Derbyshire and Leicestershire over the next few decades. William Iliffe is credited with introducing the frame to Hinckley in 1640 and from there it would have spread to smaller communities such as Dadlington. The 1851 census contains the details of 50 households in the village and 26 people recorded their occupation as framework knitters. However, by this time the industry was in decline. Only 15 framework knitters remain in the 1861 census. Most of the remainding 1851 census adults were either farmers or worked as agricultural labourers on the farms. Hinckley & District Museumcontains a reconstruction of a framework knitter's living area.
The Ashby Canal
The Ashby Canal was completed in 1804 and linked the mining area around Moira in North West Leicestershire to the Coventry Canal at Bedworth. A 1794 Act of Parliament authorised construction which was led by engineers Robert Whitworth and his son, also called Robert. The canal is unique in England in that it is completely at the same level and requires no locks. Boats carrying coal from the Ashby coalfields soon started their way around the village. The canal was bought by the Midland Railway in 1846 but as canal traffic declined towards the end of the 19th century, the Midland allowed it to fall into disrepair, and the northern end of it was eventually closed after parts of it collapsed.
The Napoleonic Wars
There are two references to the village at the turn of the 19th century. A Dadlington man, Thomas Merrick, left his work as a framework knitter and went to serve for a short time in the British Army in the Netherlands. His story can be found here. There is also a newspaper article which refers to men using a quarry at one end of the village to have musket practice during the Napoleonic Wars. As it was at the end of the village, this probably refers to the 'Bannis Hole' or 'Ballis 'Ole' opposite the junction of Shenton Lane and The Green.
In 1843, a tithe map of the village was drawn up, in order to calculate the amounts landowners had to pay in tithes on their land and properties. The map shows that there were a number of farms in and around the village, with the field patterns fairly closely matching those of the present day. The 1841 census shows that, apart from the publican at the Dog and Hedgehog, there were three occupations of villagers: farmer, agricultural labourer and framework knitter. Apart from the outlying farms, the houses of residents was just around The Green and on the eastern side of Shenton Lane, then called Shenton Road.
The Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway
In 1869, work began on this railway which again served the North West Leicestershire coalfields, linking them to Nuneaton. The line was jointly owned by the Midland Railway and the London & North Western Railway. It opened to freight traffic in 1873 and continued until 1971 when it closed. Part of the line now forms the Battlefield Line Railway. In order to construct the line, much stone was quarried locally from both the village green and from the site near Hall Farm adjoining Shenton Lane, known as 'Bannis Hole' or 'Ballis 'Ole'. A small mineral railway line carried the stone to the canal and the route of this was still visible until recently, running along the back of the houses on the east side of Shenton Lane.
Parish Room to Village Hall
Built towards the end of the 19th century, the Parish Room was a small red brick building, built on glebe land that belonged to the church. It can be seen in a number of old photographs of The Green and the church. In 1983, it was enlarged and remodelled as the current village hall. Click here for more information. There was a village pump between the hall and the road.
Five men are listed on the war memorial plaque inside St James' church as having given their lives during the first world war, although many other men from the village would have served. The lamp over the lych gate was installed as a memorial to them and to John Freeman who died in the second world war.
George lived on Hinckley Road, Dadlington. He had a 53 year association with Leicester City Football Club, first as a player in the 1930s and 40s. He helped nurture the talents of goalkeeper Peter Shilton before taking a final job as kitman. Read about his story here.
Changes to the landscape
Towards the end of the 20th century, the lanscape of Dadlington began to change. The quarry in the centre of the village was filled in from 1958 and levelled off and reseeded in 1961 to create The Green that one can see now. Many smaller houses were demolished with new housing built and several central farms were converted. The railway bridge at the Shenton Lane Fenn Lanes crossroads was demolished.
BBC Domesday Project - 1986
To mark the anniversary of the Domesday Book, people carried out local surveys and the following information was compiled for Dadlington. Of the 91 houses in the village, only 12 dated from before World War I, with 32 having been constructed after 1945. The occupation of village residents differed greatly from those of previous generations with
Shop assistant, Dental Receptionist, Farmworker, Printer, Computer operator, Driving instructor, Waitress, Hair dresser, Cleaner, Doctor and British waterways worker all being listed. Most people commuted out of the village to work.
The Reinterment of Richard III - 2015
Following the discovery of the intact skeleton of Richard III under a Leicester car park, plans were put in place to reinter him at the cathedral. As part of this ceremony, Richard's funeral cortege travelled from Fenn Lane Farm, the most likely site of his death, through Dadlington and Sutton Cheyney on its route to Leicester. A short service was held on The Green as the procession, led by two armoured men on horseback, paused for hundreds of onlookers to pay their respects.
Thank you to all those people who have provided the information contained in the village history section, especially:
Local historians Denis Cash, Charles H Frisby and Michael Dix;
Tim Parry for his Dadlington and the Battle of Bosworth - 1485 website;
John Whitehead for his account of Richard III and the village;
Gordon Webster for his historic photograph collection, by kind permission of his executor;
Rev Chris Gash, for transcribing the Parish Registers;
Anne Bull, for her memories of the Village Hall, photographs and other artefacts.
Primary sources include 'Notes for a History of Dadlington' (1942) by William T Hall M.B.E.,
Dadelintone, Dalyngton and Dathelyngton were all early names for the village we now know as Dadlington.
The village is believed to be of Saxon origin, the tun or ton (settlement) assocaited with Daedela. The village is one of many in West Leicestershire that end in 'ington' and the original settlers would have been Mercians.
There is no mention of the village in the Domesday book although there is evidence that before the Norman conquest, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, gave the manor of Dadlington to the priory of Coventry and they in turn gave it to Hugh de Hastings during the reign of Henry I . The village was settled on a track from the Fenn Lanes, part of the Roman road network. The current road network follows more or less the original ways into and out of the village.
Much of the documentary evidence from these early times relates to the ownership of the manor, with little information about the villagers themselves, who would have been primarily agricultural workers. A 1220 description of the village calls it, 'a hamlet containing a chapel dependant on the town of Hinckley.' The manorship passed to the Grey family and then to the Burtons from Linley. One lord of the manor was William Burton, a local historian, who wrote a description of Leicestershire which contains much information about Dadlington.