A historic Leicestershire community dating back to 1107

Latest Gildhall News


You can view the latest Gildhall News magazine in two ways here:

1. E-Book (turn the pages on-line) 

> Gildhall News August 2018 E-Book (opens in a new window)


2. Print friendly PDF version

> Gildhall News August 2018 PDF

Previous publications of Gildhall News > Gildhall News Archive Copies 

Chairman's Report February 2017


The start of another New Year is upon us and is a time for both reflection on what has been achieved and also a time for looking forward to plans for the future.

There were many seasonal activities held at Freemen’s Holt in the run up to Christmas that were enjoyed by residents and their visitors including:

A visit from the local Brownies on 6th December to give a rousing performance of carols, songs, music and Christmas jokes, which was supported by staff and attended by 24 residents.

Southfield Brass Band’s Christmas Carol Concert on 15th December. Mince pies and refreshments were served afterwards and the deputies sent their thanks to resident Peter Staines who hosted the event.

Dinner on Christmas day which was voluntarily cooked by Lynda Bramley and Jane Hammond and their families and enjoyed by 26 people. Three residents ate in their bungalows due to illness and our best wishes were sent to them all for a speedy recovery.

Christmas dinner at Beedles Lake on 15th December attended by 56 people. The Board funded a disabled access coach to transport residents and non-resident Freemen and their visitors from the Holt on the day. The meal was very good, the views were stunning over the lake and the environment is ideal for people with mobility problems. Everyone enjoyed this outing.

Shirley Jinks resigned as a deputy during November, so the Board now comprises 14 Deputies. I would like to thank Shirley for giving her time and support to the Charity. If you are a Freeman of the City of Leicester living within Leicester or Leicestershire and are interested in joining the Board as a Trustee, then please contact the office on 0116 283 4017 for further details.

The Charity has continued to review, update and develop plans and procedures during the year which are important for the safety and welfare of residents, their visitors, staff and contractors at Freemen’s Holt. The Emergency and Disaster Recovery Plan was issued to all Deputies and staff and an updated version of the Code of Governance has been reviewed and approved by the GP committee.

Following the well-received "surgery" for residents to meet with deputies held during November 2016 this will be repeated through 2017 with further surgeries planned for February, May, August and November.

Weekly activities are planned for the New Year. Freemen, their widows and widowers are welcome to join with residents to attend:

From 2pm to 4pm each Wednesday afternoon Maurice Hill hosts the regular activities of Freemen’s Flicks (showing a selection of new films and popular favourite films) alternating with Freemen’s Funtime which includes; a quiz, raffle, bingo, word games and general fun brain games. Both of these activities will continue through to the summer.

Adult colouring introduced by Sandra Stocks is held from 2pm to 4pm on Thursday afternoons. This is very therapeutic and has become popular with residents. Come along and give it a try!

A new activity of exercises conducted to music was held from 1.45pm to 2.45pm each Tuesday afternoon during January. This was for people of all abilities as the exercises, designed to improve flexibility and mobility, could be conducted either seated or standing dependent on each participant’s capabilities. Each session closed with relaxation. It is hoped that there will be enough support for this activity to continue in the future. Please come along and join the residents to improve your own fitness, flexibility and mobility.

Deputies have conducted an estate walk-around to provide a list of jobs for contractors to work on to maintain the grounds and appearance of Freemen’s Holt during 2017.

The deputies will conduct the Annual Inspection of Freemen’s Holt on Saturday 8th April to identify jobs required to maintain the bungalows through the coming year and to identify projects required to enhance properties and the estate.

The Board has agreed to have a stand at the Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society (LRFHS) AGM on Sunday 12th March 2017 at Leicestershire County Cricket Ground. Those Freemen who are members of the LRFHS will already have details of this event. Paul Ross, my husband Brian and I will be hosting the stand and showing the display boards that detail Freemen who fought and died in WW1.

The Board of Deputies received a letter from John Withers informing them of the death of his late father Douglas Edward Withers aged 96 on 4th January 2017. John asked if we would mention in the GHN, that Douglas was proud to be a Freeman of Leicester and wore his Gild tie and lapel badge every day. Sincere condolences are sent to the family from both the Board of Deputies and the Gild.

Finally I would like to send congratulations on behalf of the Board of Deputies to Mr GB Moore, of Canada, who was Made Free in abstentia on 13th December 2016. Welcome to the family of Freemen.

Chairman's Report August 2016

L_Roffee.jpgIt was good to see so many people attend and enjoy the Garden Party held on 26th June. The weather was fine; it started to rain as the last couple of marquees were being taken down. Those three hours of enjoyment took months of planning as well as numerous hours over the weekend from willing volunteers.

Thanks must go to the Garden Party Committee, which is comprised of Staff, Residents and Deputies and to everyone who was involved in the Garden Party. A number of people were involved in various capacities, including those who had baked cakes & bread, made jams, prepared and sold strawberries, made tea and washed up, obtained raffle prizes and sold raffle tickets on the day, setting up and taking down of marquees and installation of the electrics and sound system, and the many other jobs that were done behind the scenes. Two residents made the coconut shy that was used at this and for future events and special thanks must go to Sandra Stocks who has worked to organise the event since the beginning of the year.

It was a disappointment that the rodeo bull, booked for the event, was not working but we hope this didn’t spoil your enjoyment of the afternoon. The Citizens of Swing entertained throughout the afternoon with a variety of songs which everyone seemed to like and we hope that you enjoyed the barbecue food provided this year.

The event raised £1,030.91p for the two charities that the Board is supporting who sent volunteers from The Laura Centre and The Shuttleworth Clarke Foundation to help during the afternoon. SOFA brought posh bric-a-brac for sale at the event which made in excess of £200 for their charity on the day. Hopefully all those who attended enjoyed this family afternoon of fun. The next Garden Party will be held in June 2018 as this is a bi-annual event. Make a date for your diary.  

We would like to hear from any Freemen who are interested in becoming a Deputy. The Board of Deputies is keen to involve new people to help to run the Charity and estate at Freemen’s Holt, who will add to the wide range of skills, knowledge, as well as life skills that we already have. No prior experience of running a charity is necessary, just enthusiasm and commitment.

Being a Deputy can be thought provoking, interesting and rewarding. There are different elements to being a Deputy including all aspects; that effect residents living on site; maintenance of the 38 properties (including the office and community centre) and extensive 7.5 acres of grounds at Freemen’s Holt; managing the finances of the Charity. There are also regulatory and compliance aspects to the Charity that the Deputies need to deal with. This variety makes it interesting to people of all backgrounds. If you would like further information on the role, then please contact the Clerk, Lynda Bramley in the office on 0116 283 4017 for further details.

There is a possibility that another WW1 event will be held at The Holt in 2018. This type of event takes a lot of time to research and plan, so if you have family members who served in WW1, either in the services, munitions, protected jobs, were nurses or VAD’s we would like to hear from you. If you are willing to provide photos, memorabilia, have stories, diaries, letters or anything that relates to WW1 please do get in contact, preferably sooner rather than later.

Garden Party 2016


The Garden Party was held on Sunday 26th June at Freemen's Holt.

It was lovely to see all the Freemen, their families and friends at the event. There were a number of attractions to keep children and adults entertained including two face painters and balloon modellers, a roving magician, a bouncy castle, stalls including bric-a-brac, jewellery, cakes and cards. The barbecue offered a variety of options, salads and side dishes and there were strawberries and cream and refreshments served throughout the afternoon.

The weather was fine and the Citizens of Swing played a good selection of music throughout the afternoon. This was another good family afternoon of fun and it was lovely to catch up with everyone at the event.

Thank you all for coming.

Chairman's Report February 2016


Mrs JM Wildbore and Mrs C Brookes were recently welcomed to the Board which now comprises seventeen deputies. If you are a Freeman of Leicester and would like to be involved as a charity trustee I encourage you to contact the office on 0116 283 4017 for further details.

As part of the Charity’s ongoing work to ensure high standards of governance the Planning Committee has spent significant time and effort working on a Governance Checklist; documents relating to trustee recruitment, induction and ongoing training and a plan to ensure the charity could recover quickly in the event of an emergency or disaster.

New residents have now moved into bungalows 17 and 33 and are settling into living at The Holt.

Bungalows 7 and 19 have been allocated to new residents who plan to move in once renovations are complete. One standard bungalow is currently being refurbished and is available for consideration. The extension to 34 has commenced and is expected to take fourteen weeks.

Fence repainting is now complete and patio cleaning has begun across the estate. Flower beds opposite the entrance gates were replanted with winter bedding and Christmas trimmings in time for the festive season.

The Welfare Committee approved Christmas hampers being provided to six recipients of charitable payments this year in lieu of a Christmas bonus. These were packaged into Christmas gift bags and distributed by deputies during December.

I, and my wife Gill, attended along with several Board members, the Christmas Dinner at Beedles Lake on 10th December. A total of sixty one people enjoyed the three course dinner. This was a good day out for residents, and non-resident Freemen and their friends.

A number of other events and activities took place at the Holt during the Christmas period: The Brownies came to the Holt on 8th December and visited some residents in their bungalows to sing carols and play instruments.

Southfields Brass Band played Christmas carols around the estate on 17th December

All freemen were invited to sing Christmas carols at St. Andrews Church on 21st December, followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the Community Centre, this event was arranged by the Gild.

Staff and their families prepared and cooked dinner for 19 residents on Christmas day

The popular Wednesday afternoon activities of Freemen’s Fun-time alternating weekly with Freemen’s Flicks continued through to mid-December and resumed again in the New Year. Card making classes were held in October and November and these are planned to continue in 2016 along with new activities including Colouring for Fun and Relaxation. These events at the Holt are open to non-residents as well as residents, and if you would like to attend please phone the office on 0116 283 4017 for details.

Planning for the 2016 Garden Party to be held on Sunday 26th June has begun in earnest. We will be continuing with the format generally as before with the introduction where possible of some new entertainments. The organising committee has already been formed and a chairman appointed, this year it will be Wayne Manship.

We do have one major problem and are seeking your help. The committee members are primarily residents of the Holt plus members of the Board and staff, but we all have the same problem, that of age.

When making a note in your diary will you also consider the week before and the week after the event because we will be seeking volunteers to help with the setting up and taking down of tents and equipment and also anyone who is prepared to donate possibly one hour on the day to man one of the attractions or sell raffle tickets etc. as part of the team. Tickets will be available later in the year for this popular bi-annual event.

Chairman's Report November 2015

B_Mudford_resized.jpgDelays to the completion of bungalow 17 are almost overcome. New flooring and a fireplace chosen by the new residents are now installed and once the finishing touches are complete the bungalow will be ready for new residents to move in by the end of November.

Bungalow 33 will also have a new resident in November.

Deputies from the Welfare Committee have been busy visiting a number of applicants who have expressed their interest in moving to live at The Holt following the open day held in August. Three standard bungalows are presently available for consideration.

Fence repainting continues and patio cleaning is due to commence across the estate. New plants are establishing themselves in the rockery area outside the Community centre and other shrub and flower beds will soon be planted with winter bedding plants to provide some colour during the darker days.

Wednesday afternoon activities are now well underway with a full programme scheduled through to December and beyond. Freemen’s Fun-time (including boggle, beetle drive and stand-up bingo) alternates weekly with Freemen’s Flicks and newly installed blackout blinds have improved surroundings for film audiences. Card making classes are also being held during the autumn.

The Chairman’s Trophy and BBQ was held on Sunday 16th August attended by The Lord Mayor and sixty five people. I would like to thank Lynn Roffee and her husband Brian for helping my wife Gill and myself on the previous Wednesday to judge the winners in the various groups. The following were the winners on the day:

Allotment Keith & Dorothy Harding with David & Rita Johnson

Patio Tub Dot Brown

Hanging Basket Jean Hargrave

Rear garden Mick & Jean Ayres

Front Garden Eric Critchlow (see photograph on front cover)

Chairman’s Trophy Jeff & Chris Lewitt

I would like to congratulate everyone who took part, as the estate looked marvellous on the day. The Lord Mayor commented that it was as “pretty as a picture”. After the BBQ I presented the Lord Mayor with a cheque for £200 on behalf of the Deputies towards his charity. Later in the afternoon a croquet court was laid out by John Tolton and good fun was had by all.

Residents and outside Freemen will again visit Beedles Lake for Christmas lunch on 10th December. If you are interested in attending then please contact the office on 0116 283 4017, and they will be able to provide you with details, including the cost involved.

The Board of Deputies and Gild are jointly compiling the latest edition of the Register of Freemen. Previous Registers contain all those that have been made free for several centuries. Due to data protection requirement, only names, Village/Town/City, occupation (previously addresses were listed) and the 2 generations of Freemen that the Freedom is taken from will now be listed. This includes all those made free from 13 October 1996 up until the present time. If any Freemen has any issue with their details being printed please contact the Clerk to the Board of Deputies immediately on 0116 283 4017. The Register have previously been printed in book form but will now be made available on CD.

During October I attended two making free ceremonies held at Leicester Town Hall in the presence of The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ted Cassidy MBE. On Monday 12th October Susan Crate from Cork was made free.  On Wednesday 14th October I attended with Sue Cave, representing the Board of Deputies, when a total of sixteen freemen were made free, seven ladies and nine gentlemen. Their names in alphabetical order being: Jake Brown, Jack Downing, Susan Freeman, Deborah Harty, Mark Harty, Gary Hurst, Clare Jinks, Fiona Jinks, Richard Jinks, Shannon Jinks, Daphne Loseby, Erran Summers, Louis Summers, Mary Summers, Vaughan Summers and Virgil Summers. .

I would like to welcome all the new Hereditary Freemen who took their oath in October, hoping that they do not go away and forget us. All Freemen can keep up to date with what is happening by regularly checking the Freemen’s website at www.leicesterfreemen.com

Following the recent resignation of Bill Hargrave, the Board now comprises of only 15 deputies, the full compliment is 21. So if you are a Freeman of Leicester and would like to be involved as a charity trustee I encourage you to contact the office on 0116 283 4017. The Board members are getting no younger and we need new blood to add to the experience required on the Board to continue to run the Charity effectively.

Chairman's Report August 2015


The Board has implemented a new committee structure and way of working. This has enabled the Board to be more productive but has generated more administrative work. As a result a new assistant Clerk Jane Hammond has been recruited and is nearing the end of successful three month trial period.

The office at the Holt has been knocked through providing a larger working area to accommodate the additional member of staff. The visitor’s accommodation, located above the office, has been redecorated and fully spring cleaned (including carpets). This has been put to good use recently with visitors from far and wide including Devon, York, Canada and South Africa.

On Wednesday 27th May 2015 I attended the Making Free ceremony at the Leicester Town Hall of Christine Dorothy Brookes in the presence of the Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ted Cassidy MBE. Her nephew, Brett Elson, also attended. He had travelled from Australia for the event.

There have been a number of bungalows vacated over recent months. Three bungalows have been extended and a further three have been refurbished, including a full rewire of the electrics, new radiators, new kitchen units and worktops and total redecoration in neutral paint finish as necessary. This will result in six new residents moving into the Holt by the end of September this year. The Board of deputies would like to extend a warm welcome to all the new residents.

Planning permission to extend a further bungalow has been submitted and is due imminently. It is planned that building work on this bungalow will be completed during the second half of 2015

Two standard bungalows are still available to allocate to new residents so if you are interested please contact the Clerk or come along to the Open morning planned for Saturday 15th August 2015.

Other improvements have been made across the estate including fences being repainted, a new handrail to the fishing station down by the canal, the flower beds have been replanted with bedding plants to provide beautiful colour at the entrance to the estate and near the path going towards the patio seating area overlooking the canal. The grounds have looked very good throughout 2015 with an especially beautiful showing of roses during the year

Chairman's Report May 2015


IChairman_2015_other.jpgt was a great honour to be re-elected Chairman of the Board of Deputies at the AGM in March. I look forward to an interesting and challenging term of office. I would like to thank the committee chairmen and my fellow Deputies for their hard work during the past year.
The Board now comprises of 16 Deputies. The diverse skills and experience of the Board is a valuable resource in maintaining and developing the services provided for the Freemen of Leicester. If you are a Freeman of Leicester and have a few hours a month to spare, and would be interested in joining the Board please email office@leicesterfreemen.com or phone Lynda on 0116 283 4017.
During the last twelve months we have been trialling a new committee and meeting structure. This involved the creation of a new Planning committee which is intended to enable the Board to conduct more work that will provide the extra capacity to succeed in our ambitions for the charity.
The Annual Inspection of the estate by the Deputies took place on Saturday 11th April. This will be used to prepare a project plan for improvements and any remedial work required through the coming year. The Board also has an ongoing development plan for the estate which for 2015 includes the following major enhancements:
· Bungalow 28 has recently been completed and is the first bungalow to have an extension built to the front. The extended kitchen, new lobby area, extra double room and washroom give a spacious feel to the bungalow and the residents are delighted with the result.
· Bungalow 12 has been allocated to a new couple who will move in when work on this extended property is fully completed. This extension includes a new lobby area and double room providing valuable extra space. The new patio doors in the lounge open out onto an extended block paved patio area to the rear of the property.
· Bungalow 25 has been refurbished, redecorated and was recently allocated to a resident who is looking forward to moving into her new home later in the year.
· Bungalow 7 has also been redecorated and when allocated to a new resident they will have input to layout and style of new kitchen units and worktops to be fitted.
· Two more standard bungalows have recently become available and are due to be refurbished during May.
· Work to extend bungalow 17 (another front extension) has incurred a 6 week delay due to unforeseen problems
· Bungalow 34 will also be extended (out to the rear) later in the year.
Extended bungalows are more appealing for couples and attract more applications, but not all bungalows are suitable to be extended. The Deputies agreed that extended bungalows will only be offered to couples although all applications will be considered and allocated on the basis of “need” as per the Statutory Instruments.
The Open Day on 24th February was successful with quite a few interested Freemen visiting to have a look around and ask questions about living at the Holt. MB Hill hosted the day and S Jinks and RA Staines also attended. Residents David Johnson and John Tolton came along to talk with the visitors and kindly showed them around their bungalows. Some Freemen were keen to return for a further visit with other family members.
Freemen’s Holt is looking in good order, the grass, shrubs and flowerbeds are being well maintained. Everything is looking good for the summer.


Leicester Freemen During WW1 - Events were held on 5th & 9th August 2014

poppy_image_reduced.jpgThe events planned for August to commemorate WW1 were very successful. The people who attended on both Tuesday 5th August and Saturday 9th August were very interested in the wonderful displays and other information available for viewing.

Some were almost moved to tears at the playing of the "Last Post" by Tom on the Tuesday. A piper from the Seaforth Highlanders band played on the Saturday

The talks were very interesting and informative and everyone has enjoyed the buffet lunch provided.

We would like to thank so many people for all their hard work and support including:

Lynn and Brian Roffee who came up with the idea of the exhibition and who conducted all the research and collated the information for the displays, and made the commemoration possible. 

Bryan Ayres and Steve Connolly of The Art Department for their creativity and the presentation of so much information in the wonderful displays.

Residents Keith Harding and Peter Staines for all their help  and support in the layout and erection of the tents, layout of the car parking and duties on the day which included looking after 1st World War items that were personal to families.

Other residents of Freemen’s Holt who provided support and assistance.

Colonel Robert Martin OBE DL for opening the event and for loaning some of his family memorabilia for the exhibition.

Tom for playing the Last Post on Tuesday 5th August.

Roy-Anthony Birch for delivering a Roll of Honour and leading the Exhortation and One Minute’s Silence.

The Leicestershire & Rutland branch of the Western Front Association and the Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society for their ongoing support.   

The WW1 section of the Tommy Atkins Society  

The officers and cadets from the Air and Sea Cadet Corps who helped out on the day

Phil Woods the caterer, there were so many compliments about the food

We also thank all the visitors who came to see our exhibition, we hope that you all enjoyed the events.  


Tracing Click this link for a list of names of Freemen who served in WW1