Higham on the Hill and the Ashby Canal

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Higham on the Hill is situated on the Leicestershire / Warwickshire border five miles from Hinckley and Nuneaton. The village lies almost alongside the old Roman road, Watling Street, now the A5. People lived in the area before 1000BC and have left behind Neolithic flint implements. Bronze Age burial mounds have also been found. The Romans occupied the area between 43 and 47AD. There was probably a Saxon settlement at Higham because the suffix -ham is Anglo-Saxon. Christianity came during this time (7th Century) and there may have been a Saxon church. When Leofric was Earl of Mercia, his wife, Lady Godiva, famously persuaded him to reduce taxation in the area which included Higham.

Higham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, though the lost village of Lindley which was within the Higham Parish area is mentioned. St Peter's Church was built between 1130 and 1180. The fine Norman (Romanesque) tower remains, other parts of the present church being added in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Plague reached Leicestershire in 1348, killing probably a third of the population. It was a contributory cause to the desertion of Lindley. The parish church achieved some stability during the 16th and 17th Centuries, partly because some of the clergy of that time stayed in place in spite of the political and ecclesiastical storms at national level.

By the 19th Century, Higham on the Hill may well have been the model for a village described by George Eliot in her novel 'Felix Holt', (she lived only four and a half miles away during her childhood): "But there were trim cheerful villages too, with a neat or handsome parsonage and grey church set in the midst; there was the pleasant tinkle of the blacksmith's anvil". Before the 19th Century some of the rectors taught a few children. In 1838 Higham School was built, which continues today as a Church of England Junior School. In the 19th Century, in the days before social security, several charities were established, one of them provided gowns, diapers etc. to poor pregnant mothers. The box for these goodies has been preserved. The Fisher family, with a family tree traceable back to the 16th Century, has provided rectors of the parish from 1792 till 1967 - a remarkable 179 years. Geoffrey Fisher, born in Higham Rectory, became Archbishop of Canterbury and crowned the Queen in 1953.

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal which winds its way through the parish was opened in 1798, taking coal from Leicestershire to Warwickshire. It is now the site of pleasure boats, fishing and towpath-walking. The railway from Nuneaton to Burton was opened in 1873 with a station at Higham and was closed in 1970. A branch from Hinckley to Stoke Golding, passing through the parish, was built but never used. During the Second World War an RAF airfield was established to the west of the village and is now the site of the Motor Industries Research Association.

England - Central England - Leicestershire - Canal Walk

22/04/2011 - Walkingworld Administrator

Our thanks to Roy Davenport for his update for this walk. April 2011. Adrian (Admin)

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16.2 Miles