This small village and civil parish in Leicestershire is about 9 miles south of Leicester near to the A426 Leicester-Lutterworth road and about a mile from the M1 motorway between Junctions 20 and 21. Grid Reference is SP5792. The population in the 1911 Census was 207 and in the 1921 Census 210.
Until fairly recent times, the village was known as
Willoughby Waterless. Its antiquity is beyond doubt as it is
mentioned in Domesday Book. The village houses lie mostly on
either side of Main Street, which runs from North to South.
is a wide mix of building types and styles, the oldest including
cottages, houses and farms dating from the mid-17th Century to rather
Victorian homes, smaller terraced buildings and
a few more recent housing developments. The 2011 Census gave a
of 327, with the main male occupations (about 75%) described
Managers, Directors, Senior officials, Professional Occupations and
Skilled Trade Occupations. The main female occupation
2011 was Secretarial and Administrative Work. As the village is
surrounded by farmland (incidentally, there are still a few farms in the village
itself) the majority of residents can be assumed to work away
from the village and certainly, during our visit, Main Street was very
quiet. (In the 1851 Census, the highest proportion of
males over 21 years - more than half - worked in Agriculture).
There is also a fine 1846 National School building, now used as a Village Hall.
We found three "Soldiers Died" whose records associate them with Willoughby Waterless. We have been able to determine that none of them lived in this village. For each one of them, the association with the village comes from the address given by the relative when completing the Final Verification Form some time after the war. Sgt. P. Chester's wife remarried and was living with her new husband in Willoughby Waterleys when she completed the form. Pte Bertie Daverage lived with his family in Leicester and worked in the shoe industry. His mother moved to Willoughby Waterleys after the war, by then a widow in her 60s, possibly looking for domestic service. The previous two men served in the Leicestershire Regiment. The final soldier, Ernest Ingham, served as a Private in the King's Liverpool Regiment. He died on 1 July 1916, has no known grave, and is named on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, France. His Commonwealth War Graves Commission register entry names him as "Son of the Rev. Ernest Ingham of Willoughby Waterleys Rectory, Leicester". In the 1911 Census, the family were shown as living in Liverpool; the father, also Ernest Ingham, was described as "Clerke in Holy Orders". This led us to ask to look at the list of Vicars/Rectors of this church. In this list, John L.H. Jenkyn (mentioned on the 1919 plaque) was Vicar/Rector 1904 to 1922; Ernest A. Ingham was Vicar 1922 to 1940. So his son, who died in 1916, could never have lived in Willoughby Waterleys. This is where the father was living when he completed the Final Verification Form.
there were Willoughby Waterleys men who served. We have found the
records of two soldiers who gave Willoughby Waterless as their place of
residence when they enlisted and again on demobilisation at the end of
the war. There may be others but it is impossible to carry
full check as not all servicemen's records exist today. With
evidence of residence, and with no evidence that any residents died in
the war, we conclude that Willoughby Waterleys has a sound claim for
inclusion in our list of Thankful Villages.
Photos - Tom Morgan
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