Description in 1871:
"BIRSTALL, or Burstall, a chapelry in Belgrave parish, Leicestershire; on the river Soar, 2 miles NW of Sileby r. station, and 3¼ N by E of Leicester. Post town, Belgrave, under Leicester. Acres, 1,260. Real property, £3,862. Pop., 405. Houses, £95. The property is divided among a few. Birstall House is the seat of the Worswicks. The living is a p. curacy, annexed to the vicarage of Belgrave, in the diocese of Peterborough. The church is modern. There are Baptist and Wesleyan chapels and a national school."
[John Marius WILSON's "Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales," 1870-72]


Archives & Libraries

The Birstall Library in Wanlip Lane is part of the Liecestershire County Library system. The LIbrary is generally open six days a week and has staff familiar with Family Historian needs.

Wesley T. JOHNSTON has a photograph of the Birstall Library and Riverside Primary School on Geo-graph, taken in October, 2007.



Birstall has a Civic Cemetery in addition to the churchyard cemetery at St. James Church. The civic cemetery is the Greengate Lane Cemetery which is maintained by the Parish Council.



  • Birstall was in the Barrow-on-Soar registration district.
  • The 1851 census for Leicestershire has been indexed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society. The whole index is available on microfiche. The society has also published it in print.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1861 R.G. 9 / 2281
1871 R.G. 10 / 3266
1891 R.G. 12 / 2521

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint James.
  • The church was originally a Chapelry to Belgrave's church.
  • Some portions of the church appear to be of Saxon origin.
  • The church was restored and partially rebuilt in 1869.
  • The church seats 250.
  • Wesley Trevor JOHNSTON has a photograph of St. James Church on Geo-graph, taken in March, 2007.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1574.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Christianity (or Leicester).
  • The local Catholic chapel is the St. Teresa (sometimes spelled "Theresa") Roman Catholic church.
  • The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel here in 1869.
  • Wesley Trevor JOHNSTON has a photograph of Birstall Methodist Church on Geo-graph, taken in October, 2007.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration started in July, 1837.
  • Birstall was in the Barrow-on-Soar registration district.

Description & Travel

Birstall is a village, a township and a chapelry, united with Belgrave. This parish has become a growing suburb of Leicester city. As you approach Leicester from the north, this is the last parish you will pass through before entering the city. The parish lies about 3 miles north of Leicester city center. The parish was, historically, about 1,169 acres, but after 1935 it was down to 733 acres.

The village sits on the west bank of the River Soar. If you are planning a visit:

  • By automobile, it is probably easiest to take the A6 trunk road north out of Leicester city.
  • Although the railway came to Birstall in 1899 when the Great Central Railway opened a station here, the station was closed in 1963 and was demolished.
  • Ben BROOKSBANK has a photograph of the Belgrave & Birstall Station taken in September 1962.
  • Watch for the village sign, which includes a Cedar tree. Wesley T. JOHNSTON has a photograph of the Village Sign on Geo-graph, taken in March, 2007.
You can see pictures of Birstall which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Birstall has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



Mat FASCIONE has a photograph of the Earl of Stamford Public House in Front Street in Bristall on Geo-graph, taken in February, 2017.

Roger KIDD has a photograph of the White Horse pub. near the River Soar on Geo-graph, taken in August, 2013.



  • Birstall Hall, standing in 80 acres of well-wooded grounds, was the residence of Joseph Crisp CLARKE, lord of the manor in 1912.
  • In 1916, Birstall Hall was unoccupied.


  • See our Maps page for additional resources.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK592090 (Lat/Lon: 52.675758, -1.125755), Birstall which are provided by:


Military History

In St. James Church is a Book of Remembrance - primarily of World War One with some World War Two members noted.

There is a street named after John HANNAH VC. Standard format road sign, above what is currently (2010) the Post Office. Hannah Parade is the part of Stonehill Avenue that is closest to Sibson Road. John HANNAH was born in Paisley, SCOTLAND, in 1921 and he joined the RAF in 1939 as a gunner/radio operator. In 1940 he was promoted to Sergeant. In that year, the Handley Page bomber he served in was set on fire over Antwerp and he set out to put out the fire, saving the aircraft. King George VI presented the Victoria Cross to HANNAH. He died in Leicester in June, 1947 and is buried in St. James churchyard (as is his wife).

The War Memorial is photographed and documented at Traces of War website.

The parish hosts a local Air Training Corps unit, 1947(Birstall) Squadron.


Military Records

These are the three Commonwealth War Graves in Saint James' Churchyard (all from World War II:

  1. Pte. Walter John Thomas CAVE, GSC
  2. Ldg. Aircraftman Clarence GREASLEY RAF Vol. Rsrv.
  3. Flt. Sergt. John HANNAH, RAF

These are the six Commonwealth War Graves in the Birstall Cemetery (all World War II):

  1. W.O. II Percy WIlliam SPENCER, Royal Fusr.
  2. Acft 2nd. Gordon Derrick BARNES, RAF Vol. Rsrv.
  3. Srgt. Dennis Roland BILLSON, RAF Vol. Rsrv.
  1. Aircrft 1st Arhtur Bertram JOHNSON, RAF Vol. Rsrv.
  2. Aircrft 2nd Roy Albert SHERMAN, RAF Vol. Rsrv.
  3. Pte. William Ronald TAYLOR, Leics Regt.

Politics & Government

  • The parish was created as a Civil Parish in December, 1866.
  • The parish was in the ancient West Goscote Hundred in the mid division of the county.
  • In April, 1935, The parish was reduced in size by about 1/3 to enlarge Leicester parish.
  • Birstall parish is now a joint parish with Wanlip. In the 1980s, the area north of Birstall, called "Hallam Fields" was developed with new housing and shops. Although most of this area was in Wanlip, it was constituted as part of Birstall in the 1990s.
  • Although Birstall parish has Leicester city as its southern border, Birstall is part of the larger Leicester Urban District.
  • You may contact the Birstall Parish Council regarding civic and political issues, but they are NOT staffed to assist you with family history searches.
  • District governance is provided by the Charnwood Borough Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law



 Year Inhabitants
1841 438
1871 437
1881 487
1891 566
1901 601
1911 751
1921 796
1931 3,131
1951 6,667
1961 10,145


  • A Public Elementary School was built here in 1860 and enlarged in 1898 to hold 100 children.
  • Today, Birstall has three Primary Schools and the Cedars Academy..
  • There is also the Longslade Community College on the northern edge of the village. Mat FASCIONE has a photograph of the entrance to the college on Geo-graph, taken in October, 2014.