The Domesday Book entry gives the place name as Ascebi (ash tree settlement). 'St Ledgers' is a corruption of the name of St Leodegarius, the patron saint of the church, which stands at the east end of the village beside the manor house. Both buildings are of ancient foundation.
The Manor House forms one of the most beautiful specimens of an early Tudor Manorial House and has major historic connections with the battle of Bosworth Field (1485) and the Gunpowder Plot (1605).
The Manor was gifted to Hugh de Grentemaisnil by William the Conqueror and passed to various other occupants until about 1375 when it became the principal residence of the Catesby family, and remained so for nearly 250 years. William Catesby was one of the favourites of Richard III. After the defeat of Richard by Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, William was beheaded.
A Robert Catesby later became one of the leading figures in the Gunpowder Plot, and the half-timbered gatehouse next to the church (pictured below) is reputed to be the meeting place used by the conspirators.
Although Robert Catesby's primary residence until his death was at Chastleton in Oxfordshire, he spent a great deal of time with his mother at Ashby St. Ledgers.
It is this central location that made Ashby St. Ledgers a type of 'Command Centre' during the planning of the Gunpowder Plot. We are told that it was here, in the room above the Gatehouse with its privacy from the main house and clear view of the surrounding area, that Robert Catesby and the other conspirators planned a great deal of the Gunpowder Plot.
Ashby St. Ledgers also became a repository for the arms, munitions and gunpowder that the plotters were amassing.
For more detailed information concerning the history surrounding the Gunpowder Plot, please visit: www.gunpowder-plot.org