Anstey is a large village in Leicestershire, England, located north west of Leicester in the Charnwood District or Borough. Its population was about 6,000 at the 2001 census and this is likely to have increased. The village is separated from Leicester by the Rothley Brook, Castle Hill Park and the A46, and it borders the villages of Glenfield, Groby, Newtown Linford, Cropston and Thurcaston as well as the suburbs of Beaumont Leys and Anstey Heights. To the north-west lies Bradgate Park.
Anstey is known as the Gateway to Charnwood Forest. It is a combination of traditional English village (with two village greens - the top green and the bottom green) and an industrial area which includes with several 19th-century hosiery factories (many of which are now being turned into apartments).
Anstey dates back to Angle origins, when it was known as Hanstige (later Anstige), meaning a narrow forest track (specifically the meaning is either 'one-way' or 'steep road'). Anstey was positioned between Charnwood Forest and Leicester Forest.
Whilst developing the site for the new Co-op store in 2002 archaeologists were called in and found remains dating back to the 12th century. A plaque recording this has been placed on the wall of the new shop.
The place-name of Anstey is first recorded in Domesday Book when it was held by one of the county's largest landholders, Hugh de Grandmesnil, castellan of Leicester. At the time it was a small farming community.
It is believed that Anstey once had a sizable military force - in 1431 William Porter "furnished XIX hommes and IX archers".
Local industry included hosiery from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, leading to a rise in population to around 600 by 1800. By 1845 there were 300 people employed as framework knitters in the village. A decline in the industry in the middle of the nineteenth century saw a fall in the village's population, although hosiery manufacture continued in the village until the mid-twentieth century. Boot and shoe manufacture became a more important part of the village's work between 1860 and 1900, and the first employer in Leicestershire described as a "boot and shoe manufacturer" appeared in Anstey in 1863. The village's population rose to over 2,500 by 1900, with a corresponding rise in house-building. Anstey became an independent parish in 1866, having previously been a chapelry of Thurcaston. A number of related industries developed in the village, including tanning and box-making, the latter still present in the village. One of the largest companies in the village was the Anstey Wallpaper Company, which occupied a site east of Cropston Road now filled with houses and the new Co-op store. Nearly all the local factories have now either been demolished or converted into flats. By 1971, the population of the village had risen to almost 6,000. The village is still the home of Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd., known for their large-print editions of popular books, published since 1964.
The most notable family of Anstey was the Martin family, who lived in the village from the 13th century until 1892. Two members of the family held the position of Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, and the local high school is named after them. They lived at Anstey Pastures (now demolished), before moving to The Brand in 1892.
Famous past Anstey residents include Ned Ludd (Ludlam), the machine-wrecker whose name was appropriated by the Luddites - whose name was adopted in a recent household development in the village: Ned Ludd Close, and snooker player and commentator Willie Thorne, who started playing snooker at the village's Conservative club. Footballer Derek Dougan lived in the village during his time at Leicester City.
According to legend, the last wolf to be killed in England was shot in a forest "near Anstige in Wolfdale". Wolfdale was a nearby district towards Newtown Linford, and the name has survived in a slightly altered form with Wooldale Close, one of the streets in the village.