The 2010 AGM of the Historic Volkswagen Club was held at Swithland on Sunday, 19th September, at the Griffin Inn. Since this was just down the road from home, I decided to go along and join in the cavalcade afterwards. I grew up in the nearby village of Rothley and then Loughborough, so this was to be a nostalgic trip.
There were four Historic VWs plus a Special Edition Beetle assembled in the field behind the Griffin Inn.
After the meeting and the buffet lunch, several of us set off for a drive around the Charnwood Forest to Bradgate Park – Beetling around Bradgate.
The park was bought from the heirs of the Greys in 1928 by Charles Bennion, a local businessman and the founder of the British United Shoe Machinery company. He gifted it in perpetuity to the people of Leicestershire and the park is now administered by the Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood Charitable Trust.
This tower is a local landmark, Old John, which I explored many times as a youngster, it sits on top of the highest hill in Bradgate Park.
It is a folly, built in 1784 by the Grey family of Groby as a memorial to John, an estate worker killed in a bonfire accident during celebrations of the 21st birthday of the son of the Earl of Stamford, a member of the Grey family.
Bradgate House, which now lies in ruins within the park, was the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen, great-granddaughter of Henry VII and first-cousin-once-removed of Edward VI.
A closer view of the tower which is now inaccessible to the public. The bronze plaque commemorates the gift of the Park by Charles Bennion.
It is believed to have been used at one time as an observation tower giving a good view of a race course which circled the hill.
This page published 21st September 2010 © J S Rastall
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