Robert Catesby, the charismatic leader of the Gunpowder Plot, recruited 12 of his close friends and family and in 1605 planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament from a small oak paneled room above the gatehouse of his mother’s manor house in Ashby St Leger. This ‘command centre’ became home to the range of arms and gunpowder that the plotters were amassing.
Reports claim that on the morning of the 5th of November, Robert Catesby, had a servant fetch his son to his mother’s safe keeping at Ashby St. Ledgers. Catesby arrived later on the outskirts of the village and sent a message to his friend Robert Wintour (who was dining with Lady Catesby inside the Manor), asking Robert to meet him in the fields at the edge of town, bringing his horse, but not to let his mother know of his having been there. Robert Wintour complied, and Catesby left towards Dunchurch and on to his death at Holbeche House without saying a last goodbye to his family!
After his death, Ashby St. Ledgers and his other houses were thoroughly searched and Catesby’s goods confiscated. The searchers found nothing there!
Today most of the buildings that stood in 1605 are still there although ‘the walls are crumbling and the famous Gatehouse, where so much history was made, is in imminent danger of falling down’.