Hinckley Parish Church © TAB
Although Hinckley is a fairly dull industrial commuter hub, the surrounding lush countryside and quaint outlying villages more than make up for its lack of tourist charm. It has excellent road and rail links and is ideally positioned part way between the thriving cities of Birmingham and Leicester.
The town made its fortunes during the 17th-c from the hosiery trade and later shoe-making in the 19th-c. However, it is better known today as the home of Triumph Motorcycles and the motor-industry research and testing facility to the west.
Very few buildings of interest remain except for the mound of its ancient castle and a 17th-c timber-framed thatched farmhouse in Bond Street, which currently hosts the Hinckley & District Museum.
The town started life as a small Saxon hamlet, called Hinca's Leah (meaning a clearing in the wood). It is later recorded in the Domesday Book as having over 60 families. During the Middle Ages the town held a large annual fair and market, which drew people from all over the county to buy and trade goods. Hinckley fair is actually mentioned in Shakespeare's famous play Henry IV (circa 1600).
The castle was built to a Motte and Bailey design with a wooden rampart; the mound and ditch of which is all that remains today. This Norman fortification was initially built by Hugh de Grandmesnil in the 11th-c but was quickly demolished around 1153. The site was later acquired by the High Sheriff of Leicestershire, William Hurst, who built a country mansion there called Castle Hill House, around 1760. This later became the abode of the right honourable George Canning, who was to become Britain's Prime Minister in 1827.
Three miles north west of Hinckley lies the ancient country estate of Lindley. The Birthplace of Robert Burton, author of The Anatomy of Melancholy (1577). Lindley Hall, the large country house where he lived, was sadly demolished in 1925. A small farm house now stands on the site. In a nearby field a monument with a plaque identifies the exact centre of England - one of several such claims in this area of the country.
Church Lane, Fenny Drayton © Travel About Britain
The Lindley estate originally included the lovely village of Fenny Drayton (formerly Drayton-in-the-Clay). A picturesque spot, made famous as the birthplace of George Fox (1634), the founder of the Quaker movement.
In 1943 an aerodrome was built on the estate (just south of Lindley Farm), for use by the RAF during the Second World War. RAF Lindley disbanded in 1946 and the land was purchased by The Motor Industries Research Association (MIRA), who repurposed its runways to create a motor vehicle testing circuit. The control tower and several other wartime hangers and buildings still remain.
Higham on the Hill © Travel About Britain
The peaceful village of Higham-on-the-Hill, a few miles west of Hinckley, sits on a hill overlooking the canal and the Lindley Estate.
Winding its way west of the town, the Ashby Canal runs south below the outlying village of Sketchley and joins with the Coventry Canal at Bedworth. To the north of Hinckley, it flows through rural fields and farmland to Stoke Golding and beyond. At one point it runs close to Ambion Hill. The famous site where Richard III fell during the last great battle of the Wars of the Roses, in 1485. The canal was dug between 1794 and 1804 to serve the coalfields around Moira and Measham but never actually reached its planned destination of the Trent Navigation. Its route through the Leicestershire countryside follows a level contour and uniquely has no locks. The tow path provides one of the most idyllic walking routes across Leicestershire.
Located on the northern edge of Hinckley, Burbage Common is a pleasant 220 acre site of semi-natural woodland, grassland and wildflower meadows. The woods are believed to be a remnant of a ancient forest, dating back to mediaeval times. Many of the trees here are still coppiced using traditional methods. Walks around the common are well signposted. Main access is from the Leicester Road (B4668). Facilities include: car parking, toilets, a visitor centre and picnic area.
Small town museum is housed in a 17th-c timber-framed thatched farm house in Bond Street. Exhibits cover the local and social history of the town, including an original hosiery (stocking) frame from 1740, a WWII Prisoner of War experience, the story of Sketchley Dye Works, plus local archeological artifacts, including a cache of Roman coins found nearby.
Opening times: times
vary see website for details
Location: 18 Lower Bond St, Hinckley LE10 1QU
Tel: 01455 251218
Located at Triumph's main factory site in Hinckley. An amazing opportunity to venture behind the scenes at Triumph’s world-famous headquarters. This unique guided Factory Tour reveals little-known facts, exciting insights, and gets you up close to the Triumph motorcycle manufacturing process. Tours can only be pre-booked online via the Triumph website.
Charge - Booking online in advance only
Location: Normandy Way, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 3BZ