Celebrating the Origins of the Duchy

The Reeve Piece in Leicestershire is the oldest piece of land continually owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. Originally part of Simon de Montfort’s lands it was confiscated by Henry III following the death of the Earl of Leicester and gifted to his son Edmund in 1265. This ancient inheritance, together with subsequent gifts of land over time, became the Duchy of Lancaster irrevocably aligned to the English Monarch by Henry IV on his accession to the throne in 1399.

Today the Reeve Piece sits in the small village of Desford, just seven miles west of the city of Leicester. Its 4,000 residents remain fiercely proud of the village’s unique heritage and came together to create Desford’s first Heritage Festival earlier this month to celebrate its history through the ages, including the medieval period. The weekend’s events programme included historical encampments, heraldry and craft workshops, archery demonstrations, vintage transport, a Victorian schoolroom and street food and entertainment.

Commenting on the success of the event, organiser and local historian Caroline Wessel said: “Our inaugural Heritage Festival was a huge success with thousands of visitors and activities with around 500 different performers. The Village Hall was transformed into a museum detailing some of our medieval history and we created a Walk of Fame along one of the main streets, where each display board was topped by the Duchy shield as a reminder of our historic connection. This will now become an annual event and we have new and exciting plans to build on it for next year.”

The Duchy of Lancaster is pleased to support local good causes and initiatives which deliver community, educational and social benefits, particularly those with a strong connection to its history and estates.