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Overseal Church.jpg
St Michaels Church
Grid reference: SK294153
Location: 52°44’6"N, 1°33’54"W
Population: 2,450  (2011)
Post town: Swadlincode
Postcode: DE12
Local Government
Council: South Derbyshire

Overseal is a village and civil parish in western Leicestershire close to the border with Derbyshire. The village is situated three miles south of Swadlincote and 4½ miles west of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the West Goscote Hundred. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 2,450.[1] It lies within the National Forest area.


The civil parish corresponds to the chapelry of the ancient parish of Seal, which includes a number of settlements, many of which form Netherseal and Overseal in modern times. The Seal suggests the area was once heavily forested and Nether means lower and Over means upper. The small hamlet of Seale lies approximately a mile to the south of the village near Acresford. The busy A444 (M42Burton upon Trent) bisects the village and Nuneaton lies some 17 miles south of Overseal at the A444's terminus.

Overseal is in the heart of the National Forest. To the south-east is Donisthorpe (partly in a detached part of Derbyshire). Halfway between the village and Moira, half a mile to the east, is the Conkers activity park, the National Forest youth hostel and a Camping and Caravanning Club site, close by also to Short Heath. The village was part of in Leicestershire

The village church is dedicated to St Matthew. Woodville Road, leading to the northeast from the A444 was formerly the B5004, but has now been downgraded to a minor road. Close by is the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway (became the Leicester to Burton line), with a station for Overseal and Moira. There was also a small two-road loco depot, a sub-shed of nearby Burton which was coded 16F.[2] The depot was closed in the late 1960s.

There is only one pub in the village, the Robin Hood Inn on the junction of Main Street and Burton Road (A444). The Navigation Inn on Spring Cottage Road in Leicestershire has now been demolished to make way for elderly accommodation lodges.[3] There is a large Co-op on the main road, next to a chip shop.

Overseal is located very close to the furthest point from mainland Britain's coast, at Church Platts Farm near Coton-in-the-Elms, approximately three miles to the west.


Overseal's history is inseparable from the nearby village of Netherseal (approximately a mile and a half south-west). Historically forming a single township, the two settlements have been known by various names, with Overseal having been known as, amongst others, Little Seale and Spital Seile and with variations on Seal including Seile, Sela, Sheile, Seeyle.[4]

During the reign of Henry III, the manors of Overseal and Netherseal were given by William de Meisham (along with a park, a wood and a mill), as a dowry for his daughter, Godehouda, on the occasion of her marriage to William de Appleby of Appleby Magna.[5] The manor house itself was located in what is now Netherseal. Around 1250, William de Meisaham also gave care of the church to Merevale Abbey in Warwickshire.[4][5]

Around the turn of the 16th century, the Manor, Netherseal Hall had passed to the Gresley Family of Drakelow, having been purchased by Sir William Gresley (father of Sir George Gresley, 1st Baronet).[4][5] The Gresley family sold the manor to the Morewood family in 1627.[4] However, the manor passed back to the Gresley family through the marriage of Sir Thomas Gresley, 2nd Baronet, to Francis Morewood.[4] In 1569 Sir Thomas Gresley, 2nd Baronet, is listed as Lord of the Manor, with the Manor itself being tenanted to E.W. Robertson, Esq.[4]

In 1863 the manorial rights are recorded as belonging to Thomas Mowbray Esq. of Grange Wood House (later Grangewood Hall), which was situated around a mile south-west of Overseal.[4] He did not, however, own all the land in the village with John Curzon Esq. listed as a major land holder, and the rest shared between smaller owners.[4]

Overseal was said to be the 'population centre of Britain' in 1971 with an equal number of people living North and South of it and similarly for East and West. However, this centre has slowly been moving southwards and is now claimed by the nearby village of Appleby Parva which is 4½ miles south of Overseal.[6]


There appears to have been an earlier church in Overseal, however, in 1622 this was reported as being "quite decayed and gone".[4]

A new church ("Chapel of Ease") was built in 1840–1841, dedicated to St. Matthew, built on land donated by Elizabeth Pycroft, who also gave money for its construction. Elizabeth laid the first stone on 27 August 1840, but died 19 December 1840; she is buried within the church.[4] Her family subsequently made further donations to pay for the communion plate, altar table and velvet covering.[4]

The church was built in the early English style: the tower has a single bell and the church boasts stained glass windows, a carved stone altar and a font made of Caen stone.[4] The surrounding church/chapel-yard is three-quarters of an acre, and at its North-West corner stood an oak tree descended from the Royal Oak at Boscobel House in which King Charles II hid to escape the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651.[4]

In 1863 the church is described as a 'chapelry' annexed to the rectory at Netherseal; The curate was Rev. John Morewood Gresley, M.A.[4]

The Lord of the Manor built a school adjacent to the church in 1841.[4]
A Baptist chapel was built in the village in 1840 and a Methodist chapel in 1860.[4]

Annual Gala

Every year sees a gala one afternoon in July. This includes a parade of floats which is led by the Gala King and Queen and their attendants.[7]

Notable residents

  • Joseph Wilkes, industrialist, was born here in 1733[8]
  • Charlie Freeman, footballer
  • Ernest Hart, footballer


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Overseal)