Very near the centre of England, in the south of Leicestershire, stands Ashby Parva, situated in the south-east of the triangle made up of the M1, M6 and M69 motorways. A former Rector, who has recorded various facts, relevant and the reverse, upon the parish registers, tells us that "Ash" is derived from a Saxon word, meaning East, and "by" from another, meaning dwelling, so that if he is right, the name of our village (together with "Parva" meaning "small"), signifies "Small East dwelling", doubtless in relation to some other habitation in the west.
It is in the pre-"Conquest" days that we first find mention of our village, although from a discovery of a fine "First Brass" coin of Hadrian in the Rectory garden it is possible that there was a settlement here in Roman times. More probably the coin in question was dropped by some stroller from the station Benones (High Cross), in the neighbouring parish of Claybrooke. From its commanding position, it is not unlikely that the village occupies the site of a British stronghold, if there were one in the neighbourhood, although there is no evidence of the habitation of this part of the county in either palaeolithic or neolithic times.
It is, then, to the days of Edward the Confessor that we must turn for the first mention of Ashby Parva, and we find that Godwin-Saxon Godwin "held two ploughlands at Little Essebi", as it was then called, in this reign. At the Conquest the principal landowner was Robert de Buci.
From an inquisition held in 1277 we learn that Eshby Parva "consisted of four Fees, namely, of Ferrers, Peverell, Verdon, and the Bishopric of Lincoln". These Fees were, to all intents and purposes, separate manors, that of Ferrers being owned by the Earls of that name; and in 1296 we find the then Earl sub-letting his land to a William de Ashby. These Fees, or Honours, as they were also called, were sub-divided and sublet, and they were most of them - if not all - held ultimately of the king. The Ashby Parva Honours were no exception, and we find that in 1346 Thomas de Morton became liable to be assessed the sum of two shillings towards the aid granted for knighting the King's son, Edward of Woodstock, in respect of the twentieth part of a knight's fee held by him in Ashby Parva, and being a portion of the Honour of Peverell.
The village was recorded in the Domesday Book (as Parva Essebi), with 7 households (six villagers and one smallholder)
The Civil War
During the English Civil War parliamentary troops from Warwickshire garrisons visited Ashby Parva and the surrounding villages in Guthlaxton Hundred, stealing horses and availing themselves of "free quarter". In May, 1642 a hundred men from the Coventry garrison stayed three hours at Ashby Parva to avail themselves of "meat, drink and provinder". In 1646 the inhabitants claimed ten pounds from the Warwickshire County Committee for a visit by Captain Wells and sixty men from Warwick in 1644, during which the troops quartered for two days and consumed "diet and horsemeat" worth an estimated ten pounds.
Our Own Weather Forecaster
During the 19th century, one of the Rectors at St. Peter's Church, William Clement Ley, had a reputation as a weather prophet. During harvest, he would post his forecasts on the rectory gates. It is said that farmers would come from miles around to read the forecasts, and use these to decide when to harvest. He made it his life's work to find a way predict the weather. He made his own Nephoscope (an instrument for measuring the altitude, direction, and velocity of clouds). By using observed data on cirrus clouds, he managed to decipher the structure and movement of a low pressure area, and was the first to measure what would later be called the jet stream. It is now known that cirrus clouds often form in advance of a warm front where the air masses meet at high levels, indicating a change in the weather is on the way.