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Earl Shilton - Peckleton; Two Churches and a Castle Walk

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The walk starts in the Leicestershire village of Earl Shilton, first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1088. It was then known as 'Sheltone', but some historians believe that the name originated from the 'Earls' Hill Town' where the word 'ton' meant 'town'. Earl Shilton was then a hunting lodge on the hill, with a church and surrounded by the homes of people who worked on the estates of Simon de Montfort, a Norman earl. Originally granted to the Grandmesnil family after the conquest, the manor of Shilton passed through the Beaumont family until ending up in the hands of the de Montforts, Earls of Leicester, whose most famous son Simon is held to have introduced Parliamentary authority to England. 

The walk passes over the old Norman motte and bailey castle concealed in the Hall Park, believed to have been built shortly after the conquest. The castle was subsequently demolished and replaced with a hunting lodge. Sadly nothing other than the castle mound remains, the Victorians having pillaged the site for material during the building of the nearby St Simon & St Jude parish church, when Earl Shilton became a parish in its own right. Earl Shilton has many footpaths which run between the various streets and it is thought that these may be a reflection of medieval street patterns. 

Leaving the castle, the walk passes down one of these paths to reach the farmland between Shilton and Peckleton. The landscape is rolling and part of it is used by the Atherstone Point-to-Point Group; you can see their jumps, tracks and starting gate as the walk progresses. All this part of the walk is through what was once Tooley Deer-Park, a hunting area established by Simon de Montfort in the 13th Century to show off his wealth. The park lies adjacent to what was Leicester Forest and is one of many deer-parks in this part of Leicestershire. Peckleton is a much smaller village, but it owns a substantial parish church, St Mary Magadalene, close to a delightful Georgian manor-house. Sadly, the church is locked when not in use. The walk then returns you to Shilton via footpaths through more undulating country.

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