reflection of past and present thoughts and aspirations
A reflection of past and present thoughts and aspirations
The sadness of Knaptoft
There is a tangible feeling of sadness in this quiet remote place. Perhaps it is the evidence of destruction, or simply the solitude and the isolation. The silence of a village that no longer exists. Of families uprooted. Perhaps it is the deeper silence of suffering, following the violence of civil war.
|Knaptoft is one of Leicestershire's `lost' villages. A settlement that was doomed to die from as early as the Black Death of the 14th Century. Today, all that is left to identify the settlement is a collection of farm buildings, and the ruins of the ancient parish church.|
The village is listed in the Domesday
Book as Cnapetot, and is referred to as Cnapetoft in manuscripts of
the 13th Century. The name derives presumably from the old
Scandinavian `toft' meaning homestead, and probably a personal name,
so refers to "the settlement of a man named Cnapa". However,
the Old Norwegian word `Knappr' meaning summit of a hill, and the
Old English term `Cnap' meaning boy or servant, may also have some
It is said that the small church of
already without its former settlement and parish, was destroyed by
Cromwellian forces after the Battle of Naseby on 16 June 1645.
Certainly Knaptoft would have been one of a number of villages
through which soldiers of Charles I's defeated army would have
passed on their long desperate flight towards Leicester, attempting
to stay ahead of the victorious Parliamentarians.
Naseby was a decisive battle of the English Civil War. A seasoned army was defeated, and its courage destroyed. More than a thousand Royalist soldiers were killed, either during the battle, or whilst attempting to escape across the south-Leicestershire countryside towards the sanctuary of Leicester. Brief violent skirmishes took place, not only at Knaptoft, but at Wistow, Kilby and no doubt wherever small groups of escaping Royalists in hiding were discovered by the victorious New Model Army.
|Today, the church ruins at Knaptoft are peaceful. Victorian gravestones, memorials and wild flowers inhabit the former nave. The original urn-shaped font is still standing in the former chancel. There is tranquillity and solitude amongst the ancient stones and the neat flower borders. Local people still worship here. Open-air services are held throughout the summer on Sunday mornings, the responsibility shared between local congregations of different Christian denominations, the hymn singing led by a local village brass band. The church that was probably destroyed because of differences in religious thought and belief is now cared for by men and women from both the established church and non-conformism.|
All text and images © Stephen Butt 2005