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Bosworth in 1836

BOSWORTH (commonly called MARKET BOSWORTH, to distinguish it from another place of same name in the hundred of Gastre), a parish and market town in the hundred of Sparkenhoe, county of Leicester, 95 miles N.W. by N. from London, and 12 m. W. from Leicester. It is called Boseworde in the ‘Domesday Survey,’ which mentions the demesne as containing a wood one league long and half a league broad, and names a priest and deacon as among the occupants. After mentioning Boseworde and some other demesnes, it concludes rather curiously with - ‘all these lands Saxi held, and might go whithersoever he pleased.’ This Saxi lived before the Conquest, it would seem, as one Hugo de Grentesmamell and the Earl of Mellent are named as the existing proprietors.

The small town of Bosworth is pleasantly situated upon an eminence, in the centre of a very fertile district, and contains several good houses. It has no manufactures of any consequence, except that of worsted stockings, which affords occupation to many persons here and in the neighbourhood. The Ashby canal, which passes within a mile of the town, has given facilities for the obtaining of coal and other commodities. There are now two regular fairs for cattle held at Bosworth, on the 8th of May and 10th of July every year. The parish contained fifty-four houses in 1831, when the population was 2,530, of whom 1,806 were females.

There is a free grammar-school at Bosworth, founded by Sir Wolstan Dixie, lord mayor of London in the reign of Elizabeth. He built in his lifetime the plain but neat school-house, which has within these few years been taken down and rebuilt in a more commodious form. The endowment produced, some years since, upwards of £700 per annum. Sir Wolstan also founded two fellowships and four scholarships at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for the benefit of persons either related to the Dixie family, or educated at the school. Owing to the charity be mismanaged by the founder’s representatives, a suit in Chancery was instituted, which continued above twenty-five years, and the operation of the charity was suspended ; but the proceeds of the estates, being paid into Chancery, accumulated in that time to a very large sum, the judicious appropriation of which may render the Dixie free-school a most important establishment. Simpson, the eminent self-taught mathematician (a native of the town), was usher of the school ; and also Dr. Johnson, when a young man.

The decisive battle between Richard III and the Earl of Richmond, when the death of the former, after a bloody struggle of two hours’ duration, terminated the long strife between the houses of York and Lancaster, was fought, August 22, 1485, on a plain, commencing about one mile south of the town. This fine and spacious plain, which is nearly surrounded by hills, was formerly called Redmore Plain, from the colour of the soil ; but since the battle has been called Bosworth Field, from the name of the nearest town.

The plain is rather of an oval form, about two miles in length and one in breadth. At the time of the battle. it. was one piece of uncultivated land, without hedge or timber, but is now so altered by both, that nothing of its former appearance remains except the general form of the ground. The spot where Lord Stanley placed the battered crown upon the head of Richmond, and hailed him king, is now known under the name of Crown Hill. There was also a well which was called King Richard’s Well, under the notion that the monarch quenched his thirst there during the battle. Dr. Parr, who visited the spot in 1812, found that it had been drained and closed up since he was there six or seven years previously ; his representations procured a subscription for the purpose of raising a suitable monument on the spot, for which he furnished an appropriate Latin inscription.

Numerous relics of the battle have at different times been turned up in digging and ploughing the soil, such as shields, crossbows, arrow-heads, halberds, pieces of armour, rings, spurs, and sometimes human bones and skeletons.