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Wing

The village of Wing is situated on the brow of a hill overlooking the river Chater and the Oakham to Norwich railway line in the valley.

Wing has a good variety of old and interesting buildings, many of them built in the 17th century in local Clipsham stone, and roofed in Collyweston slate or thatch. There are several large houses with interesting histories. The Old Hall in the centre of the village and the newer Wing Hall on the outskirts are testimony to the wealth that has been in the village. Both were occupied by the Worrall family, who remain substantial landowners. Wing Grange, now owned by the Langley Trust, became famous in the early 20th century as the home of the remarkable Miss Brocklebank. She was a famous horsewoman who drove her tandem pair Optimist and Illumination to win the Championship of Dublin Show in 1912, 1913 and again in 1919. They were also four times Champions of the Royal Show. Miss Brocklebank also established a noted herd of beef shorthorns called the 'Wing herd'.

Farming has always been the centre of Wing life but this is changing rapidly. There is only one full time farm labourer living in the village now, and the recent conversion of farm buildings into an 'Antiques Centre' and workshop unit show the change that is taking place. Tourism and the influence of Rutland Water can be seen all around; Leicester is only half an hour waway by car. The chairmakers, fellmongers and wheelwrights of the past have been replaced by professional people. Even the Allotment gardens, fully used during the depression of the 1930s, are less popular now.

The village pubs, the King's Arms and the Cuckoo, are important meeting places in the village. There is a legend that Wing villagers once attempted to fence in the cuckoo so that they could enjoy spring the whole year through. Not surprisingly Wing folk were called 'Wing Fools'.

However, one woman in the early 19th century became famous as the 'Wise Woman of Wing'. Amelia Woodcock was a herbalist, and her medicines were sold around the district by a man riding on a donkey as well as from her cottage. Her house no longer exists but 'City Yard' is a reminder of the time when gentry and city folk visited the wise woman. She died about 1850 but her remedies were still for sale in Boots the chemist in Uppingham right up until the 1950s.

One of the main tourist attractions is 'Wing Maze'. The maze, situated on the edge of the village is reputed to be medieval. It is cut out of turf and not something to get lost in. There is a tradition that penitents were made to crawl around the maze and say prayers at certain points. Perhaps it was considered to be of some supernatural or holy sgnificance in earlier times, and it is certainly linked to the knot gardens of the great English houses and the labrynths of Greek mythology. By the 19th century the maze seems to have lost some of its magic, for the Leicester and Rutland Directory of 1846 talks of: 'An ancient Maze, in which the rustics run at the parish feast'.

(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)