Situated in the heart of a small town in Leicestershire is the former home of a renowned 19th century poet, songwriter and friend of Lord Byron – Thomas Moore. The Cedars, on the market with Chesterton Humberts, is Grade II listed and is still known locally as ?Thomas Moore’s house’. The house has been extended a number of times of the last 200 years and today offers eight bedrooms, four reception rooms and a large mature garden.
Poet and songwriter – Thomas Moore
The Cedars was first constructed in the late 18th century and records reveal that Thomas Moore moved to the house with his actress wife, Bessie, during the summer of 1812. Moore published his first poem when he was just 14 years old, in 1793, and he later acquired great success amongst the aristocracy and became a close friend of Lord Byron. Moore also achieved success as a songwriter, including his most famous, Irish Melodies, which it is believed he wrote while living in Kegworth. It is also understood that while Moore was living in The Cedars he completed Those Evening Bells, inspired by the church bells of nearby Sutton Bonington. Thomas Moore and Bessie only lived at The Cedars for a short time. Their daughter Anastasia was born in the house in 1813, but soon afterwards they moved to Ashbourne after Moore’s patron, Lord Moira of Donnington Hall, left the area. Moore later relocated to Wiltshire when he acquired a new patron, Lord Lansdowne.
Victorian Framework knitters
The records for Kegworth during this period are difficult to decipher, so it isn’t clear who moved into the house when Moore departed, but not long afterwards the house became home to lace workers and framework knitters. This change in the use of the house also explains the lower extension, believed to be added during the 1840s, which is believed to have been the knitter’s workshop. Framework knitting was a large industry across Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire during the 19th century, and the census records during this period reveal almost every second house was occupied by framework knitters.
Reverend Wasdale-Watson and the lunatic
By the late 1870s, the Cedars became the home of Reverend Thomas William Wasdale-Watson, the curate of Kegworth. The 1881 census shows Reverend Watson was in the house with one domestic servant, as well as a 20 year old boarder, John Mayers from Suffolk, who was recorded as a ?lunatic’. It has proven difficult to discover more of John Mayers, so the story of the lunatic still remains a mystery.
Retired farmers and a family home
By the 1890s the occupants of the house had changed once again and it was home to retired farmer, Thomas Edwin Caudell. The 1891 census records the house as ?Tom Moore’s house’ and 59 year old Caudell was in the house with his wife, Mary and their four grown up children.
By the turn of the 20th century, the Cedars had become the home of another farmer, John Wardle. John was recorded in the 1901 census, living in the house with his wife Mary Jane, along with their three children; 29 year old Frederick and 25 year old Horace, both working as grocer’s assistants; and 23 year old Edith ?at home’.
The Wardle family continued at The Cedars for many years, and after John passed away at the age of 80 in 1928 the house passed to his son Frederick, who continued in the house until the 1940s. By the early 1950s, The Cedars had become the home of the Taylor family, who continued at The Cedars for the next 45 years.
* To read the full history visit my blog – The House Historian