The County of Leicestershire covers an area of eight hundred and thirty two miles and is divided into eight districts, including the City of Leicester, which sits at its centre. Leicestershire has long been associated with farming, engineering and textiles. It was agriculturist Robert Bakewell who farmed just outside Loughborough, who was cited by Darwin in his Origin of the Species for his work in selective breeding. In John Taylor's Loughborough Bell Foundry, Great Paul, Britain's largest cast bell, that now resides in St Paul's Cathedral, was made. The stocking frame invented by William Lee in 1589 would appear in Leicestershire homes at the very beginning of the 17th century. This stocking frame would create employment in the county right up to the present day - interestingly, at the time of writing the textile company Wolsey, established in Leicester in 1755 and one of the oldest existing textile companies in the world, closed it factory.
The district of Charnwood is an area that lies to the north of Leicester, it takes its name from the Charnwood Forest. It is the home of coal mines and the aforementioned stocking frame industry, and it is in this one district that a quarter of my paternal ancestors originated. The villages in which my ancestors lived surround the forest. Lying on the forest’s north-west side are the mining communities of Thringstone, Whitwick, Colorton and Swannington, to the north-east are the towns that are associated with the framework knitting industry that of Loughborough, Syston and Wymeswold. Just over thirteen miles to the south-west lies Hinckley (a separate district that is combined with Bosworth) that too is associated with textiles.
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