The historic county boundary between Leicestershire and Derbyshire is the River Mease, which runs through the village, with the village centre being on the southern (Derbyshire side), forming part of an exclave of Derbyshire. In 1086, Donisthorpe was part of the land given to Nigel of Stafford by William the Conqueror.
When administrative counties were set up, this exclave was considered to be part of Leicestershire.
The railway came to Donisthorpe in 1873 in the guise of the Ashby & Nuneaton Joint Railway, see The Battlefield Line Railway (the last existing section of the ANJR) for more details.
The village was also home to the Donisthorpe Colliery, one of the many to fall victim to the decimation of the coal mining industry. The pit closed in 1991, and the character of the village has changed radically over the last decade. At the time of the closure it was very much a 'mining village', with a strong but insular sense of community and 4 local shops (including a post office). The shops proceeded to close one by one, and the former mine site was developed into a housing estate. The colliery site has since become the Donisthorpe woodland park.
The population of the village leans far more heavily now towards young professionals - doctors, lawyers etc. Further signs of the departing heart of the old community came with the departure of the vicar of St John's Church in 2006. It was announced there would be no permanent replacement, and the vicarage and church hall have now fallen into disuse, the latter being condemned. The vicar Alan has moved to Coalville where he has continued the vicaring career.
The village now has a church of occasional use, no shops, 3 pubs, 1 barbershop, and DM's. DM's is the Donisthorpe Miners' Welfare Centre, which was closed during 2005. It is now used as a children's fun center called "Jungle Madness". It also has a couple of farms, Scouts Centre and the cemetery.
Donisthorpe also has a senior mens football team called Donisthorpe FC.
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