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Belton in Rutland

Belton in Rutland lies on a hillside 500 ft above sea level and has an area of 1,024 acres. The village consists of 122 houses, many built since 1950.

King Charles I is believed to have rested in Belton after the Battle of Naseby in 1645 and the stone base of the war memorial is still known as the King's Stone. In 1920 the then Prince of Wales often visited the village.

In living memory Belton was a self-sufficient community with two bakehouses, three dairies (one delivering milk daily in jugs), a butcher's shop and slaughterhouse, a draper's shop, a post office and two grocery shops, three village pubs, a blacksmith's, several dressmakers-tailors, an undertaker, chimney sweep, greengrocery shop, a laundry, and a coal merchant. There were tennis courts, cricket and football fields and a lot of keen sportsmen and women.

The Church of England gave the land and the village school was built by public subscription in 1870. Famous teachers were Mr Crabbe, who taught for 31 years and his wife, who taught for 43 years. The school closed in 1971 and now the building is used as a playschool.

Today the village still possesses a post office/general stores and two public houses. A van selling fresh fish calls every Friday and there is still daily delivery of fresh milk, but it now comes from Melton Mowbray. A mobile library van calls every fortnight and a bus service has been re- routed to come through the village, after a local petition.

There were many festivals celebrated in the village in the past. Belton Club feast was held on Whit Monday and was organised by the Ancient Order of Foresters with a parade through the village, a travelling fair and sideshows and ending with a dance at night in the Black Horse.

On Ploughboy Monday youngsters would black their faces and go round the village collecting money. May Day celebrations were held in the school and playground with maypole dancing, parades round the village and the crowning of the May Queen in the village hall with a tea for all to end the day. The Feast of St James the Apostle was held on or around 25th July, when a fair and circus was held every year at the top of Goughs Lane from 1330 until the First World War.

St Peter's church dates back to the 13th century with parts of it even earlier. The pews were made by the village carpenter and can seat 200 people.

(The above extract from 'The Leicestershire & Rutland Village Book', compiled by the Leicestershire & Rutland Federation of Women's Institutes, is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire)

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(Updated 14 July 1997 - Maurice Kellner)