Groby Lodge Farm ~ Averill Fraser (nee Tweddle)
I lived at Groby Lodge
from 6 April 1937 until my marriage at St. Peter and St. James
Church on 5 September 1959 so was very interested to see how
the village had grown and developed into a busy middle-class
commuter region from the working class quarry village it was
in those days.
J.W.Tweddle came as Mr Frank Morris's first farm manager when
he bought the farm before the war. It was then the most dilapidated
place in the country but my father and the architect redesigned
the buildings and the house and with Mr. Morris's money made
it into a model farm. They established the Groby Herd of Pedigree
Dairy Shorthorns which became one of the leading herds in the
country and which won many prizes at agricultural shows all over
the country after the war. They also built up a prize flock of
Romney Marsh sheep and these too won many prizes, including the
first 7 at the Buenos Aires show in Argentina where they were
shown and sold.
During the war years my
father drove miles all over the country buying foundation stock
for the herd. He used to come home saying that all he could see
was the white line in the middle of the road (lights were forbidden
of course during the blackout.) At nights he left my mother and
me, as a baby, alone at the farmhouse and went down to serve
in the Home Guard in the village. They drilled in the yard of
the Stamford Arms. I remember a parachutist coming down once
in the Top Meadow and before he landed he was surrounded by the
Home Guard with rifles at the ready. Fortunately the poor lad
was 'one of ours!'
(Click on either image
for a larger version ~ use your browser's back button to return).
entry in the Village Carnival 1946. (Click for larger image)
|My mother used to walk
me to the village school from the age of 5 (there weren't any
buses during the wartime either) and it seemed a long way up
that hill past Lathams garage on the corner. Miss Bonnor was
the infant teacher, there was a Miss Perryman and Mr. Edgar Morris
was the headmaster. Thanks to their good teaching I passed my
'scholarship' underage and went off to Coalville Grammar at the
age of 10.
My father, as well
as having a busy life managing the farm (we took over Groby Old
Hall farm as well for a few years before Richard Burrows went
into it) became one of the best stockjudges in the East Midlands.
He liked to help young people and spent a lot of time with Young
Farmers' Clubs, in particular Charnwood, which met at Newtown
Linford. Does it still exist? He served the community too spending
many evenings on the first Village Hall and Playing Fields Committee,
trying to get some facilities set up for the youth of the village.
I see that these both came to pass eventually but there wasn't
a lot of support for the early pioneers!
at the Leicester Show 1950 (with Bob Smith - Head Herdsman)
||For a few years Mr. Morris
allowed the local conservative association to hold a Gymkhana
in the field in front of the house and that was more work for
my father, organising everything for the local pony clubs. He
was also a keen member of the East Midlands Shorthorn Breeders'
Association and liked nothing better than a good chat about shorthorn
cattle with another breeder! My mother kept a beautiful garden
and we had visitors all summer to see it and sample her hospitality.
She was one of the early members of Groby Women's Institute and
enjoyed taking part in their crafts and handwork. She also liked
entertaining and always gave a meal to visitors from all over
the world who came to see the herd. After the war the call was
for the country to export and Groby Lodge exported 17 young bulls
to various countries to help that effort.
My parents stayed at Groby
Lodge until my father's retirement in March of 1972 when they
moved to Scone in Perthshire to be near us and their four grandchildren.
Sadly my father died of cancer (he had actually stopped smoking,
but too late) in August 1983 and my mother continued to live
alone in her bungalow and tend her beloved garden. Very reluctantly,
at the age of 90 she came to live with us as she was no longer
fit to manage on her own. She sadly died in 2005 at the age of 95.
Last time we visited Groby
Lodge to see Mrs. Frank Morris who was still alive then, we were
sad to see that the garden was completely overgrown - no sign
of mother's herbaceous bed or rose trellis , or the tennis court
- just rough grass and sheep grazing in what had been the front
garden. I believe the splendid chestnut trees have even been
cut down now and that there are no animals at all on the farm.
The farmhouse and The Grey Lodge have also been altered so it's
just as well I can't see it, I think! I prefer to keep my happy
memories of my lovely childhood growing up in the Leicestershire
Incidently we always understood
that Groby Lodge was the north Lodge of the Grey estate at Bradgate.
During hot weather you could see the signs of foundations on
the lawn, so there must have been older buildings there at one
time. I remember going to see old Mr. Biggs to ask him about
the Old Hall for a history project I was doing at school. That
must have been about 1950 I suppose. I don't think anyone was
very interested in village history at that stage, but you have
all certainly done a lot of research for your website and I congratulate
you on it.
With best wishes for your
future efforts, Averill Fraser (nee Tweddle).
(submitted 14th March
I hear Vic Buckle died
last week. He was the Estate Man at Groby Lodge for many years
and kept buildings, houses, fences etc in order with joinery
work and painting and generally fixing things. His wife Marjorie
was my father's secretary after I married; sadly she died some
time ago. There won't be many of the farm staff left now. Another
thing I might have missed: The village church had one of the
best choirs in Leicestershire at that time. It was an all male
choir - Mr.Bernard Read the organist and choirmaster didn't approve
of females in his church choir - and there were some beautiful
boy soprano voices. I think it's probably difficult to get anyone
to sing in church choirs nowadays let alone boys!
(submitted 18th March
Will Morrison left this
message in the guest book in Aug 2002: I research the history of older Rolls-Royce and
Bentley cars and their past owners. I have 'on my books'at present
a 1938 Rolls-Royce PhantomIII that started its drive through
life in Groby. We know where the car now is (USA) but who was
Frank Morris of Grey Lodge, Groby - the first owner. This was
a seriously expensive car and therefore he must have been a gentleman
(Frank Morris was Chairman
and Managing Director of Herbert Morris & Sons, an engineering
company manufacturing cranes and hoits, founded by his father
in Loughborough. Frank Morris bought The Grey Lodge on their
marriage and at the time of the Bradgate Estate sale in 1925.
Being always interested in farming, bought the farm some years
later in 1939, when it came up for sale. Grey Lodge was the former
site of a slate quarry circa 1833/1889 and there is still very
large water filled hole behind the main house were the slate