Place:Frisby on the Wreake, Leicestershire, England


NameFrisby on the Wreake
Alt namesFrisebisource: Domesday Book (1985) p 161
Frisebiesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 161
Coordinates52.75°N 0.967°W
Located inLeicestershire, England
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

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Frisby on the Wreake is a village in England located near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. The name of the village was coined by Danish invaders in the 9th or 10th centuries and refers to the farm or settlement of the Frisians. The "on the Wreake" suffix was added later to distinguish the village from another Frisby, near Billesdon, about to the south east. Wreake refers to the River Wreake. The name of the river has its origins in a Danish word referring to the "meandering" nature of the river.

The oldest building in the village is the Anglican church, Saint Thomas of Canterbury. At the time of its foundation the main road from Leicester to Melton Mowbray passed through the village, entering from Hoby with Rotherby to the south and leaving by Kirby Bellars to the north. The village was bypassed to the east when the turnpike, now the primary route A607, was built in the 18th century. The new route passed a medieval cross that was perhaps a preaching place in early medieval times. This is still visible, though it is considerably eroded and damaged. There is another medieval market cross in the village centre.

Frisby Mill was situated on the River Wreake (so called by the same Danes who named the village because the river meandered greatly) and was operating at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086. The mill was rebuilt several times, though fell into disuse at the beginning of the 20th century. The channels to divert the river water to the mill may still be seen in the fields to the northwest of the village.

Farming was organised on the great field system. Each landowner was awarded a series of strips in the three different fields. This ensured everyone shared the best and worst land. The remains of the strips can still be seen, over a thousand years since they were first created. When the great fields were enclosed in the late 18th century, landowners were compensated by the award of blocks of land. The poorer owners often sold their holdings, which were usually very small, and consolidation into the present farms took place. The existing farms in the outlying fields were all created at this time. Originally the village lands were all worked from homes in the village itself and the remaining farmhouses in the village streets date back much further than those outside the village. As in many other Leicestershire villages, the new, consolidated blocks of land were planted with hawthorn hedges, Thus, most hedges between the Frisby fields are not more than 250 years old. Those by the roadside and along the parish boundary are likely to be much older, as these were the lines that marked the medieval limits of the parish and its fields.

In the 18th century the village enjoyed a brief period of notoriety when the local clergyman agreed to marry couples from some distance away. This was at a time when wedding ceremonies were closely controlled by the church and state. It is likely that many of the marriages of couples from elsewhere went against the agreement of close relatives. The number of weddings at Thomas Becket increased substantially compared to earlier and later times and the village earned the later nickname of the Gretna Green of the Midlands.

Transport links were improved by the coming of the Melton Mowbray canal at the end of the 18th Century and the Syston and Peterborough Railway in the middle of the 19th Century. A condition of building the railway was that it should take over the canal.

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