It’s twelve months since I first became involved with Cotesbach Educational Trust based at Cotesbach Hall in the leafy lanes of Leicestershire, UK. I blogged about it at the time and since then I have
been ensnared volunteered to help digitise some of the archives, specifically boxes of 200 year old sermons. Most Wednesday afternoons estate manager, Sophy Newton and I can be found poring over these dusty documents – Sophy reading out details of dates, places and first lines as I type them into the database.
The author of some of the sermons and Sophy’s direct ancestor was the Rev. Robert Marriott, estate owner and Rector of St. Mary’s in Cotesbach. My ancestors, William Rainbow and his son John, lived in the village during the same period. William Rainbow was Overseer of the Poor and both William and John were Constables of the parish. Their signatures appear in the estate account books, claiming expenses for their work and on lease agreements for farmland. What is extraordinary for me is the realisation that it is very likely that this business would have taken place in the same room where Sophy and I work on the sermons, recreating a family connection over 200 years later.
Cotesbach Educational Trust was formed to restore three dilapidated buildings in the Estate grounds. An 18th century schoolroom is to be used as an educational resource and in addition a milking parlour and coachhouse will become a cafe, meeting area and housing for the archival material that has been discovered at the Hall, dating from the 16th century.
Last weekend the Estate was open to the public as part of the national Heritage Open Days project and I did a couple of stints of greeting people in the schoolroom which was fun. There was a re-enactment of a 200 year old sermon in St. Mary’s church, across the road from the Hall and guided tours around the house and gardens. I met several people who knew the Lutterworth Rainbows and had memories of their bakery which was fascinating and I even sold a couple of books ! Photos taken by my husband Graham.