I was told by my Italian sister in-law about the statue that stands on the edge of Delapre park woods at the top of the London Rd;
Did you know that that statue marks the spot the Royalty camped for the night?
Below is a great little editorial that I found, It walks us through a little of the history that this park in Northampton hides from the main London road.
History of Northampton Delapre Gardens
- Delapre Abbey
- Walled Garden
- Rock and Water Gardens
- Ha-Ha Wal
- Tree Sculptures and
- Delapre Woods
The area of Delapre Abbey and Gardens is rich in local history. The abbey itself was founded in 1145 by Simon de Senlis the younger, second Earl of Northampton, as a house for nuns under the rule of Cluny. It was the only Clunial convent in England.
During most of its life the Abbey had a quiet history. When Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward the First, died in 1290, each place where her bier rested on its journey from the North to London, was marked by a memorial cross. The entourage stopped at the Abbey and a cross was placed alongside the London Road. There is also an original cross at Geddington near Kettering.
The next incident occurred on the 10th July 1460 during the Wars of the Roses when the Battle of Northampton was fought in the fields around Delapre. The Yorkists were victorious and many of the dead were buried in the Abbey.
In the 1890′s, when alterations were made to the buildings and grounds, many medieval tombstones were discovered. It was thought that one was that of Earl Simon himself.
The Abbey was completely destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries carried out by Henry VIII.
In 1542 the Tate family purchased the Delapre Estate, and it is from this date that work on the gardens commenced. Zouch Tate is recorded as having laid out an Elizabethan style garden, which is thought to have been where the enclosed garden can now be found. The driveway was also landscaped. The oldest part of the present Abbey dates from this period.
The Tates lived at Delapre until 1764, when the Bouverie family purchased the estate. Most of the present buildings were erected from about this time until 1790. The main garden shows the style and influence of Capability Brown.
Tate’s Elizabethan garden was transformed into a walled garden of fruit and vegetables, and orchards were planted in other areas. In earlier days the convent would have had a similarly enclosed fruit garden – thus marking a return to its original use.
Today’s new walled garden is in fact situated on the site of the nuns’ burial ground and evidence of this was discovered during its construction.
During the 19th Century other features were added such as the rock and water gardens. In the enclosed garden conservatories were built for peaches and grapes and these buildings still remain.
A Ha-Ha wall was also constructed to prevent cattle from grazing on the ornamental trees and shrubs, bearing in mind that this form of barrier would not spoil the effect of the open landscape views.
Several buildings were added to the Abbey in the 1890′s, which did not help its appearance.
From this time where was another peaceful period until the Second World War when the house and grounds were requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence and used as an army camp.
After the War the future of Delapre looked doubtful, but in 1946 the trustees of Miss Bouverie sold the estate to Northampton Corporation. A project to demolish the abbey caused a public outcry and an appeal fund raised enough money to save the buildings.
Restoration work was carried out and in 1959 the Northamptonshire Records Office was installed. During this time small hedges and flowerbeds were removed from the main drive and the enclosed garden was laid out more or less as it is today.