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.
My father 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!’
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!
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 countryside.
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 18th March 2003
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!
Guest book message from Will Morrison, 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 of means.
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 was extracted.