Saltby has existed for a long time - there is evidence of habitation as far back as the Bronze Age, which was uncovered in a fairly recent archaeological dig in the woods on the Wyeville Road where a feature called King Luds entrenchments lies.
There are many footpaths and bridleways around Saltby village, several of which originate from and to the Abbeys that were once in the area. One road name that still survives from the Middle Ages is the “Butts” - this is the road that runs from the church to the crossroads at The Crescent. It is so named because in those times each “freeman” had to bear arms in civil defence and was obliged to practice his longbow skills on, probably, a weekly basis at the archery butts.
At the time of Edward the Confessor, Saltby was owned by Morcar, Earl of Northumberland. Then it had an yearly value of £9. With the conquest, Morcar lost his land and it was given, by William, to Roger de Busli who had come with him from Normandy. Earl Morcar was imprisoned and died in 1089.
The village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. It was written then as Saltebi. At that time it was connected to or was part of the village of Bescaby. This village as it was then, no longer exists but its remains can still be seen in the form of earth works.
By 1086, the yearly value had increased to £10. Roger’s main seat was at Tickhill in Yorkshire and he and his wife, Muriel, founded a priory nearby at Blyth in Nottinghamshire. Their daughter married William Paynell, a northern baron who founded the priory of Drax. Their daughter Alice, married Robert de Gaunt and their daughter, also Alice married Robert Fitzharding of Bristol. However Maurice, the son of Alice and Robert Fitzharding, took the name Gaunt as his family name. When he died in 1209, without children, the lordship of Saltby passed to Geoffrey Luttrell whose wife had been a Paynell. After that, the lordship seems to have passed to people who were either called Gaunt or Luttrell.
In 1301 it belonged to Gilbert de Gaunt when he died and in 1345 to Geoffrey Luttrell. It was inherited by his son, Sir Andrew Luttrell who gave it to Croxton Abbey, founded by one of his ancestors but after the dissolution of the monasteries, in 1541 the lordship of Saltby and Bescaby was granted to Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland (The Duke of Rutland). The Manners family are still the Lords of the Manor and their family home is at Belvoir Castle. However they sold most of their interests in Saltby during the 1940s and now own very little if anything in the village.
The enclosure took place in 1771 and by the late nineteenth century, there were over a thousand sheep grazing on the moor-land in the parish of Saltby. In 1795, the historian John Nichols wrote that the Duke of Rutland had recently built some good farm houses. At Saltby Heath there had been horse racing from the beginning of the eighteenth century but that ended with the enclosure. The chief crops, throughout the nineteenth century were wheat, barley, oats and turnips.
There had been 22 families in Saltby in 1564 which had risen to 41 families in 1594, a population of 196. In 1846, there were 299 inhabitants but that had reduced to 207 by 1912.
There is evidence that Saltby has always been a thriving and relatively prosperous village; for example in Victorian times it even supported two cobbler’s shops and two pubs.
The greatest changes to the village arguably, as far as they affect our lives, have occurred during the last sixty years. The large area of heath land to the east of the village that was partly owned by the Duke of Rutland and Buckminster Estates (The Tollemache family), was farmed by tenant farmers before the outbreak of World War Two.
Saltby in World War II
All of this land was taken over by the War Ministry (now the Ministry of Defence) and a large airfield was built. Prior to this, the road leading to Wyville was a rough track and was metalled to facilitate the building of the airfield. Saltby aerodrome and its associated buildings were very large and extended to the double bend at the Viking Way on the Wyville Road.
The aerodrome was home to Hamden aircraft, Stirling bombers and Wellington bombers. In 1943 the airfield was extended and later became home to the U.S.A.F and many of the paratroops and gliders who took part in both D Day and the airborne drop at Arnhem took off from Saltby. There is a great account of the D Day activities here.
In 2018 a small group went from the village to visit the area in Normandy where 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 82nd Airbourne landed and fought as a tribute to the brave young men who took off from Saltby in 1944 for D Day. You can see an account and some pictures here on our page "In the Footsteps of Heroes".
Post War Saltby
Thanks to Leicestershire County Council for this picture taken in the 1940's / 50s of the mobile library service outside the church in Saltby.
An account of a village pilgrimage to the Normandy battlesfields to see where the men who flew from Saltby airfield in 1944 fought.