Last week I, along with some other Northamptonshire bloggers and various local dignitaries, was invited along to the official opening of Delapré Abbey. We’ve visited many times before to explore the gardens and parkland, but up until now the Abbey itself has been out of bounds. After an extensive restoration programme, the building was opened last weekend and I got to take a look at all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes.
One of the reasons that Delapré is such a favourite of ours is that it is just 5 minutes from the town centre, yet it feels quiet with plenty of space once you’re there.
The Abbey has seen it’s fair share of drama over the last 900 years. It was originally established as a Cluniac Nunnery, and was the resting place of the body of Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, on her final journey to Westminster Abbey. The Eleanor Cross that Edward had erected in her memory still stands close to Delapré today. Two hundred years later in July 1460, the Abbey saw the Battle of Northampton bring the armies of the Houses of York and Lancaster together in a major event of the War of the Roses. By 1538, Henry VIII had dissolved the nunnery and the house and grounds fell into the hands of the Tate family. Over the next 200 years, they swept away the remains of the Abbey and created much of the building that is visible today. When the last Tate, Mary, died without heir in 1749, the house was bought by Edward Bouverie and remained in his family until the 1940’s.
The Abbey was bought by the council in the mid 1940’s and narrowly survived the threat of demolition in the years of post-war austerity. It became the Northamptonshire Record Office and the gardens and parkland were once again