By Tim Lambert
Lutterworth began as a Saxon settlement. Its name may be derived from the words Hlutre Worth. The word hlutre meant clear and it may have been an old name for the River Swift. The word worth meant an enclosure (a farm or settlement enclosed by a wooden palisade).
At any rate by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Lutterworth was a village with a population of around 140-150. By the standards of the time, it was quite a large village. Many were smaller.
In 1214 King John gave Lutterworth the rights to hold markets. (In those days there were few shops and usually, if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market). For centuries afterward, Lutterworth was a small but busy market town.
John Wycliffe was one of the great Christians of the Middle Ages. He was born in the North of England but we do not know the exact year (it was around 1328). John Wycliffe was educated at Oxford University and he soon became famous there for his learning and his skill in debate. John Wycliffe also believed that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. His followers translated the Bible from Latin to English.
By Elizabethan times Lutterworth was a little market town with a population of about 550-600. By 1676 the population had risen to 644. It grew larger in the 18th century. Meanwhile, Lutterworth Grammar School was founded in 1630. In the 18th century, Lutterworth became a coaching town where stagecoaches stopped.
By 1801 Lutterworth had a population of 1,652. A bank opened in Lutterworth in 1803. Lutterworth Town Hall was built in 1836. It was designed by Joseph Hansom (1803-1882), who is also known for inventing the Hansom cab.
In 1840 a new workhouse was built in Lutterworth. If you were destitute you had to enter the workhouse. Inside conditions were made as harsh as possible to discourage people from seeking help from the state. Lutterworth Railway Station opened in 1899 but it closed in 1969.
Meanwhile, Lutterworth continued to grow in the 19th century and by 1901 it had a population of 3,197.
Frank Whittle (1907-1996) who developed jet engines did some of his work in Lutterworth. A famous person from Lutterworth was the footballer David Brightwell who was born in 1971.
The M1 opened in 1959. The new motorway greatly improved communications to and from Lutterworth. Today Lutterworth is a flourishing small town. Today the population of Lutterworth is over 9,000.