9 September 2011

Delapre Estate – a work in progress

The preservation of Delapre Abbey, park and gardens for the benefit of the town is a story of hard work and persistence by a number of dedicated people, who in 2001, responding to the threat of the Abbey being sold to a developer, came together to protest and then form Friends of Delapre Abbey – FoDA.

Restored is a word that crops up continually when talking about Delapre, 10 years of work has seen vast improvements in the site. The water garden is currently being restored, the Victorian greenhouses are part way through their restoration and funds are being sort for restoring the Grade II* listed building.

With 190 acres (77 hectares) of grounds, Delapre Estate is the largest park in town providing a mixture of settings from formal gardens to open parklands that is often used for events, water features (again under-going restoration) and shrubbery fill in the gaps.

The area is also the site of the Battle of Northampton when in the afternoon of 10 July 1460 a Yorkist army under the Earl of Warwick attacked the defensive encampment of the King's army on the southern side of Northampton. King Henry was captured and a number of the leading Lancastrian noblemen were killed.

Take a walk through the Charter Wood to the east of the house and you will reach Delapre Lake used by Northampton Water Ski Club with a public footpath to the north and a less formed return path to the south. A walk leaflet for the area can be downloaded from the Northamptonshire County Council web site.

When you have finished exploring the park there is the tea room in the Victorian walled garden, where on a sunny day you can sit out and enjoy the flowers and statues, or if you need to sit inside then browse the second hand book shelves.

There is still much to do, if you would like to help then go to their excellent web site - where there is also further information on the estate.

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