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Kibworth Harcourt

Michael Wood's Story of England

A portrait of one village through the whole of English history. The three Leicestershire villages of Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby (collectively called "Kibworth") have been put under the eminent TV historian's magnifying glass. The series has been likened to a "Who Do You Think You Are" for a whole community !

Michael Wood's Future plans - The Great British Story

Michael Wood continues to encourage local archaeologists and historians. He was in Leicestershire on 29 January (and 31 January) speaking to 170 volunteer archaeologists at County Hall about his experiences as a TV journalist and how they led to the Story of England. As ever, Michael's fluent speaking style and fabulous pictures made it a super evening and he spent ages signing books and talking to people individually. He said that he hoped to revisit Kibworth for his new series, The Great British Story to be broadcast in 2012 (first of 8 episodes was shown at 9pm on BBC2 on Friday 25 May 2012). There are plans to follow up Michael's work with a new fieldwalking group in the parish and volunteers are welcome!

Michael made the most of his time in the area, also joining local friends and Kibworthians enjoying a production of 'Dick Whittington'. The enthusiastic all age cast of Kibworth's 'Last Minute Theatre' group were on top form on 28 January with fine vocals and lots of laughs. Not to be outdone by the very noisy locals, Michael could be heard shouting "He's behind you", "Oh no / yes he is" etc. with the rest of them at the Grammar School Hall.

Volunteers for a new fieldwalking group should email info@kibworthvillage.co.uk

Read more about the TV series

Using the villages of Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby in Leicestershire as a springboard to explore England's history, Maya Vision International have been making a series of six hour long episodes that will span nearly two thousand years. Written and presented by the historian Michael Wood, the story will be shown on BBC4 from Wednesday 22nd September 9pm (repeated Thursday 23rd September 10pm) and hopefully repeated on BBC2 before Christmas 2010.

Many Kibworth Harcourt residents have been very involved in the production. The Kibworth Harcourt Conservation Society Heritage Trail walking leaflet has been a useful source for some of the initial information, but the production team have expanded on the leaflet's notes by gathering vast amounts of evidence from Merton College in Oxford, the Leicestershire and National Archives and from personal letters and stories.

The first big event that stimulated massive interest from the villages was in July 2009, when the production team first asked the community to join in with the Kibworth Dig.

With the help of expert archaeologists, including Peter Liddle, the County's Community Archaeologist, the largest ever archaeological survey, to take place in one area at one time, was carried out. A whole host of volunteers from the villages gave up their gardens, allotments and land for the two-day event (25/26 July), and, with an army of diggers, who dug over 50 test pits (1m x 1m by upto 1m deep).

The majority of volunteers hadn't ever been on an archaeological dig before, but their keeness to delve into Kibworth's past and the effort they put in was outstanding. Despite a number of blank digs, some impressive finds were unearthed - Roman, Medieval, Saxon, Norman and even Prehistoric. One of the fascinating finds was an Anglo-Saxon bone comb handle, discovered under the tarmac of the Coach and Horses pub car park!

A couple of months later, on 26th September, the Hallaton Field Walking Group helped survey a field just north of Kibworth Harcourt village. They carefully used magnetometers and other equipment to geophys the field and revealed a complete Roman settlement. This supported the earlier discoveries by Bert Aggas over 30 years previously.

Armed with their magnetometers, yards of tape, field markers and multi-purpose camper vans, they methodically -ed the field and revealed what appears to be a perfectly laid out Roman settlement. How delighted were we! We really couldn't have scripted anything better.

As the time has passed, so the production team have come back frequently to the villages to film and interview while they build up the stories and anecdotes that have been part of the heritage of Kibworth Harcourt through the ages. They have filmed numerous concerts and community events including the Kibworth Harcourt Christmas Tree lighting event in December 2009.

For example, on Saturday 1st May 2010, while General Election fever was in full flow, they filmed Thomas Lord Grey's regiment of the Sealed Knot Society marching up and down Main Street, and interviewed Edward Garnier, the sitting and prospective candidate for parliament (he eventually won with an increased majority).

Thomas Grey's regiment of the Sealed Knot Society marching down Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, on Saturday 1st May 2010.