History Day


The Society holds a History Day every year on a Saturday in October or November. This is a conference on historical themes associated with Market Harborough and its district with several speakers each giving a presentation on a local topic. It is an event where local researchers can present the results of their specialist studies. Local societies and organisations with an historical interest have stalls and can display their work and publications.


The History day started in memory of J C Davies the local historian and headmaster who was instrumental in the setting up of the Harborough Museum as well as the author of several books on local history. The event now also commemorates the work and contribution of Michael Brown, former President of MHHS.


In 2015 the theme was 'Tudor and Stuart Leicestershire'. Previous years have had themes on Women and Society, local Railway History, as well as the archaeology involved with the Hallaton Treasure.



Saturday 29th October 2016



The Buildings of Market Harborough: Their Origins and History





Ticket-Only Event, £15 to include buffet lunch


Roman Way Community Centre, Roman Way,

Market Harborough, LE16 7PQ

10.30 – 4pm


Click here to download printable .pdf  file of the Day’s programme




Keynote Speaker – Rosalind Willatts  (Formerly Conservation Officer at Harborough  District Council)


Buildings of Market Harborough


That which is frequently seen is generally unappreciated. So it is with local buildings. Lying in the claylands at the edge of the stone belt Harborough’s buildings are the product of geology influenced by time, fashion, status, economic considerations and transport. Drawing on her considerable experience over 22 years and using local examples from Harborough District, Rosalind will outline how buildings develop over time.


What we have now is a remnant of former times and is often a façade for different ages and forms behind or underneath the obvious visible. Changes in society created new needs and so new forms of buildings, additions, adaptations, replacements and re-uses of existing buildings created the present townscape. Revealing idiosyncratic details of time and status are everywhere.




Bob Hakewill (Local Historian and publisher)


The Old Grammar School – Its History and Associations from Monasteries to Mansions

If St Dionysius is the oldest building on High St the Old Grammar School must be the second oldest. An integral part of the townscape since 1614 when most of the town was timber built.


Standing detached and visible it has been taken as the logo for the town and is instantly recognisable as such. It is one of the few buildings here still performing the function for which it was designed. Keeping the Market folk dry. It is no longer the Free School but is still used for teaching. It is in the centre of what is claimed as the Cultural Quarter but is surrounded by stories some of which are true and some apocryphal. It has been called many names in its time and been subjected to many indignities. The latest refurbishment should keep it safe for a few more years gracing our High St.




Pat Perkins (Committee Member of the Market Harborough Historical Society & Harborough Museum volunteer)


Aspects of the Buildings on Harborough High Street


As you head out of town toward Leicester, you pass several buildings that date from Georgian Times, including the Angel to your left and Wartnabys on your right. Some of the buildings you may have noticed, others you may have not, but they all have a story to tell.


Pat will display her considerable knowledge on the buildings along Harborough High Street some of which have their origins in medieval times and many from the great re-building of the High Street in the 18th century.




David Johnson (Chairman, Market Harborough Historical Society)


St Dionysius church 1300-2016: the focal point of the town


This talk will look at St Dionysius as part of a planned medieval town, explaining why it has an unusual dedication and lacks a churchyard.  Its distinctive architecture and reputation will be discussed, along with its increasing role in town affairs over the centuries. Though it still dominates the townscape, its restricted interior space has become an increasing problem. Altering the church furniture and building galleries was a nineteenth-century way of coping with Market Harborough’s increasing population, but in this age of listed buildings and respect for heritage it becomes ever more difficult to adapt to modern needs.