Brooksby is one of Leicestershire’s deserted villages. Evidence has been found of Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon settlements here but the name Brooksby came from the time the Danes settled in the late 9th Century. It probably originated from Brochi…. which gave rise to the word Brock meaning a badger and …..by, a town or settlement. Brooksby is still a home of the badgers, some 1200 years later!
The original village was about 850 acres in area and, give or take one or two fields, this is the area of the Brooksby Estate of Brooksby Melton College today. Apart from six privately owned residences, the rest of the village is part of the college.
Little remains of the medieval village but there is some evidence of part of the main street, the sites of some houses, a fish pond, coney garth and the ridge and furrow of ploughed land in the Park. There would also have been a mill near the River Wreake, a manor house where Brooksby Hall now stands and a wooden church where St Michael & All Angels Church is situated. It is generally agreed that although the population of the village was depleted by the Bubonic Plague in the 14th century , it was the early enclosure of the land towards the end of the 15th century by Sir John Villiers that finally caused the de-population and subsequent disappearance of the village. At that time, converting arable land into enclosed grassland for sheep and the subsequent sale of wool was a very profitable enterprise.
The oldest part of Brooksby Church is the base of the tower which dates from the late 13th century and there are parts of Brooksby Hall which date from Tudor times.
For most of its history Brooksby was a private estate with a lord of the manor or squire living in (or renting out) the Hall and most of the other residents employed in service, gardening, farmwork or related trades.
In 1793 the River Wreake was canalised but it is possible this had little effect on the village itself. this was rapidly superseded by the construction of the railway line in 1846 and the building of the station. Not only did this provide better transport for local people and the hosts of visitors to the Hall, especially as this was in the early days of the the prestigious fox hunts in the area but also to transport livestock and other agricultural produce. The building of the railway and subsequent staffing of it created other job opportunities in the area until the station closed in the early 1960s.
Like all the area in and around Melton Mowbray, from 1830 onwards Brooksby Hall became a very popular base to own or rent by people who were attracted to the sporting and social life of hunting. A break occurred during World War 1 when many of the staff of the Hall were mobilised for war service and the Hall became a convalescent home for wounded servicemen. This was repeated 21 years later at the outbreak of the Second World War. But this was different and marked a huge transition in the history of this village. In 1945 the last private owner, the 2nd Earl Beatty sold the Hall to Leicestershire County Council.
Brooksby had moved into public ownership, first as a training centre for ex-service men in horticulture and agriculture and from 1950 as the Leicestershire and Rutland Farm Institute, later to become successively, Brooksby Agricultural College, Brooksby College and, from 2000, the Brooksby campus of Brooksby Melton College, providing land-based specialist teaching to some 600 students in further and higher education.
In 2013, major building projects commenced to provide state of the art accommodation for all the College’s activities.