Blog – Embracing my inner pensioner in Northants
One of the mantras of this blog is that you don’t necessarily have to travel to the other side of the world to find an amazing travel experience.
Often some of the best sights and experiences can be found within easy reach of your doorstep.
One of our favourite things to do is to embrace our inner pensioners and enjoy some of the ancestral homes and mansion houses that can be found in Northamptonshire, or just outside those borders.
Here are five of our favourite close-to-home heritage sites…
You probably wouldn’t expect to find the ancestral home of the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War on the outskirts of a small village in Northamptonshire.
But the forbears of George Washington, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and that country’s first President, did indeed make their home at Sulgrave Manor.
‘Malignant Royalist’ and ‘oft drunk’, John Washington, left to pursue a life in the States and became a successful landowner – just 55 years after he died his great grandson, George, was born.
The Washingtons left behind a wonderful piece of rural England and an ancestral seat that now, somewhat incongruously, flies the Stars and Stripes in its garden.
Situated just within the Oxfordshire border, Mapledurham House – together with the neighbouring watermill and St Margaret’s Church – forms the basis of a delightful day out in the countryside.
Meaning the maple tree enclosure, Mapledurham appears in Domesday as two manors, Mapledurham Gurney belonging to William de Warenne, and Mapledurham Chazey, the abode of Milo Crispin, the Lord of Wallingford.
These days the estate belongs to John Joseph Eyston – a very hands-on owner who we actually bumped into during a stroll around the lush green gardens outside the house.
The final resting place of Princess Diana, Althorp House is probably Northamptonshire’s best known ancestral home.
Althorp has been home to the Spencer family for almost 500 years, since Sir John Spencer acquired the 300-acre estate in 1508.
Fashion, art, politics, power and a smattering of Royal affairs, Althorp is a history of British nobility wrapped up in an estate of great beauty and played out among cream teas and cake.
Among its many treasures Castle Ashby – the home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton – boasts a garden tea room, spectacular gardens and a farmyard featuring everything from pigs to meerkats.
In all it contains 25 acres of garden, including the Italian Gardens, Butterfly Garden, a Secret Garden and the leafy Arboretum.
Dating back to 1145, Grade II listed Delapre Abbey and its grounds offer relaxation and history in equal measure.
Originally a nunnery, the Abbey is based on land at Hardingstone – De la Pre – granted to then Earl of Northampton, Simon de Senlis II. Since then it has hosted an important battle – the Yorkists beat the Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton on the grounds of the Abbey in July 1460, been victim to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, and served as a record office for the county.