Stapleford - Stapleford Park main entrance - Then and now

Stapleford Park – 1960s

Stapleford - Stapleford Park main entrance - Then and now

The miniature railway, roaring lions, and small ship rides on the park lakes. These are three scenes etched on people’s memory who has been living in the wider Stapleford area in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. For Sally Hatton, Stapleford Park was her place of birth: “My gran was in service there 100 years ago, and she also worked in the tea rooms until well into her 70s on a Sunday. My dad and grandad worked on the land. My grandparents and great-grandparents are in the graveyard. We left Stapleford to move to Melton when I was four years old, but I have many childhood memories because we spent many hours at the Park and the lion reserve, where my sister worked. She was also a deputy housekeeper at the hotel during my time working there. I only retired at the end of April this year after 18 years of doing the wages at the hotel.”

The three features came to the Park when Lord and Lady Gretton owned the estate. Heather Roythorne recollected: “My grandfather Ernie Roythorne from Wymondham helped build the railway with “Lordy”. Ernie also worked with the animals in the Park. His wife Bess worked at the house for Lord and Lady Gretton.” Clare Gresham remembered: “The miniature ship was built to look like an ocean liner.” “My dad worked on the ‘ship’ on the lake,” added Andrew Goddard. “Several family members worked in the tea room. I remember Lord Gretton interviewed me. He heard I wanted to be an engineer, so he asked me: “What is the most dangerous part of a car?” I tried to answer. Then he said: “The nut behind the wheel!””

Steph Wilford loved the lion reserve. “I remember the entrance sign saying: “Do not get out of your vehicle. Survivors will be eaten.”” “I know the zoo was shut down,” said Sarah Jane Walsh, “because the animal cages weren’t big enough.” Nigel Spencer often visited the miniature train through to its closure in 1982. “Since 1994, I have been involved in a group of volunteers looking after the railway. You can see the railway in action over the three-day bank holiday weekend, on 27, 28 and 29 August 2022.” Unfortunately, without roaring lions in the background and no ocean liner in the lake.


On the hamlet

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Domesday Book

Stapleford was a settlement in Domesday Book, in the hundred of Framland and the county of Leicestershire.

It had a recorded population of 54 households in 1086, putting it in the largest 20% of settlements recorded in Domesday.

Land of Henry of Ferrers

Domesday Book - Stapleford - Land of Henry of Ferrers
Domesday Book – Stapleford – Land of Henry of Ferrers – Phillimore reference: Leicestershire 14,1
  • Households: 23 villagers. 23 freemen. 4 smallholders. 4 slaves. 
  • Ploughland: 17 ploughlands. 5 lord’s plough teams. 13 men’s plough teams. 
  • Other resources: 4.0 lord’s lands. Meadow 130 acres. 2 mills, value 8 shillings. 


  • Annual value to lord: 10 pounds in 1086; 4 pounds when acquired by the 1086 owner.


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