Laxton park from Wakerley Great Wood
Forest landscapes - parkland
As the ancient forest was cleared and settlements created, wealthy landowners enclosed large parks and, in some cases, employed landscape architects. These landscape parks seem to have tried to re-capture an idyllic view of what the landscape had been, recreating in some respects the character of the forest and deer park lawns with their veteran trees. Where possible they also created lakes and often planted ornamental trees, some of which survive today. Often attempts were made to exclude common people from these areas but fortunately, in many cases, rights of way exist across or alongside some of these attractive features that contribute to the 21st century landscapes.
Owned by the Brudenell family and stretching to 230ha, the parkland which is part of Deene Park probably began to be created in the 1560s. The park lies in the valley of the Willow Brook, and that stream and its tributaries were dammed in several places to make fishponds and attractive lakes.
Well-marked footpaths cross the permanent pasture and there are many veteran and notable trees. There are extensive gardens near the house which are sometimes open to the public. See details
There are also wilder parts of the parkland, particularly around the lakes, where the reeds and fringing vegetation attract a range of aquatic wildlife. The largest lake in particular hosts good numbers of wintering wildfowl and wading birds (often including Green Sandpiper). In recent summers Ospreys have sometimes been seen fishing there too.
Bulwick Hall Park
A public footpath connects the villages of Deene and Bulwick passing through the two parkland areas. and following the Willow Brook. Bulwick Hall dates from the 17th century and there is an area of parkland close to the Hall and the village.
Most of the extensive Bulwick Estate lies to the west, stretching to the River Welland and almost as far as Gretton. There is a naturally regenerating quarry, areas of ancient woodland, grassland and sustainably managed arable fields.
A public footpath continues to follow the Willow Brook north to Blatherwycke, another small village at the centre of an extensive estate. The Hall was demolished in 1948 but the walled garden and other features can still be seen from the minor road that crosses the Willow Brook at the south-west end of another lake.
The large lake here forms one of the most significant landscape features of this part of Rockingham Forest. There is a small heronry and, usually, hundreds of geese and other wildfowl. This photograph was taken from the footpath that continues up over the watershed towards Fineshade.
Little remains of the parkland that formerly surrounded the Victorian mansion known as Fineshade Abbey. (It stood on the flat lawn on the left of this picture) There are three small lakes fed by the Fineshade Brook and its tributary that originates on the Bulwick Estate. The Jurassic Way long-distance path passes the site and gives great views above it.
This area of parkland lies to the south of Wakerley Great Wood. The hall was built in the 17th century and has now been converted into a residential care home for the Polish community. A public bridleway runs through the parkland. This park probably has its roots in the medieval Deer Park that existed here.
As far as we know there is currently no public access to the parkland at Apethorpe Palace, nor can it be seen from any public rights of way.
Kirby Hall, one of England’s greatest Elizabethan and 17th-century houses, is normally open to the public and the small area of parkland that surrounds it is notable for its peacocks and the proximity of one of Northants' largest rookeries.
This parkland near Oundle also has no public access and can only be viewed from the A427 road, which borders it on the southern side.
This photo was taken from the bridleway that skirts the east side of the park and shows an impressive line of Lime trees.
Starting in the 13th century, landowners were empowered to enclose parts of the forest where deer could be kept specially for hunting. Some of the parkland that is described above were based on these much older enclosures.