St. Martin's parish church
|Population||3,676 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Website||Desford parish council|
Desford is a village and civil parish in the Hinckley and Bosworth district, 7 miles (11 km) west of the centre of Leicester. The parish includes the hamlets of Botcheston and Newtown Unthank and a scattered settlement at Lindridge. The population at the 2011 census had increased to 3,930.
At Lindridge about 1 mile (2 km) north of the town is a rectangular moat up to 13 yards (12 m) wide enclosing an area about 115 yards (105 m) by 127 yards (116 m). In the 19th century it was temporarily drained and six early 14th century pottery vessels were found. A building such as a manor house is likely to have stood on the island created by the moat. The moat is a scheduled monument.
There are records of a manor at Desford from at least the 15th century.
The Old Hall or Old Manor House in Desford High Street is a gable-roofed building with an irregular front of four bays, dating from about 1600 or a few years thereafter. It is built of brick in English bond with stone quoins and has a timber frame. The house has a two-storeyed porch whose upper storey is jettied. Attached to the house is an early 18th-century service wing built of brick in Flemish bond. The Manor House and its attached buildings are Grade II* listed buildings.
The Church of England parish church of Saint Martin has a Norman font but the present building appears to be late 13th century. The chancel includes two lancet windows. There is a south aisle with an arcade that seems to be late 13th century. The west tower and spire are Perpendicular Gothic and therefore later: a window in the tower west wall is 14th century. The architect Stockdale Harrison of Leicester restored St. Martin's in 1884. The tower has a ring of six bells, all cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 1912. St. Martin's is a Grade II* listed building.
The Leicester and Swannington Railway was built through the parish in 1832. It passes within 0.6 miles (1 km) of the town and Desford railway station was built at Newtown Unthank to serve the parish. The Midland Railway took over the line in 1845 and had extended it to Burton-upon-Trent by 1848. British Railways withdrew passenger services in 1964 and today the Leicester to Burton-upon-Trent Line carries only goods traffic.
Caterpillar Inc. is now a significant employer in the parish (see below).
South of the town, Reid and Sigrist had created Desford Aerodrome on Carts Field plus land in the adjoining Peckleton parish by 1936. It was a flying training school, with George E. Lowdell as its Chief flying Instructor. The majority of aeroplanes used were De Havilland Tiger Moth single engined biplanes. An early form of flight simulator was also used and was visible from the public road. Leicester Aero Club used the aerodrome until it moved to nearby Ratcliffe Aerodrome. Early in 1939 Lowdell flew the first flight of the New Malden-built Reid and Sigrist R.S.1 Snargasher from Desford.
The aerodrome has been redeveloped as an industrial site where Caterpillar Inc. has a large factory.
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