Walk 143: Bulwick Circular Walk: A ‘pickled’ village & a ‘Tea Pot’ Monument in Red Kite Country

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.5 miles (8.8 km). I actually clocked 10.8km but did go wrong a couple of times

Time to walk: It took me 3.5 hours, but I had to backtrack & I was stopping to take photos & write notes. It’s therefore more likely to take a couple of hours

Difficulty: This walk is on quiet roads, across fields, which are likely to be wet in winter, hard tracks & pasture. There are several stiles, footbridges & cows in one of the fields

Parking: Park outside the pub, or in the car park if you are visiting after the walk

Public toilets: The Queen’s Head when open

Map of the route:

I know this area really well & used to drive through Bulwick regularly before the by-pass was built. This is another walk where the leg-work was done for me by Penny Gasson

Bulwick is situated just off the A43 between Corby & Stamford, & has a population of 171. It has a church, a village shop called “The Pickled Village” which (in 2020) closed due to a fire. The great news is it’s now open again

There’s also the Queens Head pub, which was built in the late 1600’s. Like many properties around here it’s owned by the Bulwick Estate

The name Bulwick means ‘bull’ or ‘bullock farm’. In medieval times the village of Henwick was situated to the north & other settlement remains can be seen to the south, which have been deserted since the 18th century

1. Our walk starts outside the Queen’s Head…

Just beyond the pub’s a footpath sign. Follow the path & cross over the stile…

2. You’ll now be walking across pasture land where there were some cows, but they took notice of me…

To the right you can see Bulwick hall, owned by Bulwick Estates which has been in the ownership of the Tryon (who originated from Flanders) & Conant families since 1619. They manage the farm & 450 acres of woodland

3. You are heading to the right hand corner of the field. It was here I saw a heron fly off,. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture

The cows in the field weren’t remotely interested in me. I felt very safe…

4. Go over over the stile into the next field…

There’s no real path but follow the field edge

5. You’re heading for the big willow on the field edge on the right…

I went wrong here as it’s very easy to miss the footpath marker & the stile

6. Follow the direction of the marker to a stile & then up on to the A43 – be careful as the traffic roars along here…

7. Carefully cross the road, & turn right for a few metres, until you see a signpost on the left. Go over the barrier & follow the markers through the reeds…

8. You are heading for the trees below…

…& then the yellow marker post

9. Follow the grassy path to the left of the river & fence…

You will pass a small brick hut on the left…

…& then a gate in front of you

10. Go through the gate & cross the field, reaching another gate straight ahead…

Go through the gate & over the stile. Cross the next field heading for an obelisk in the distance. Here there is another stile with a sign for a bull. There wasn’t one. It’s a pretty big field & only takes a few minutes to cross

11. Head towards the obelisk. There’s a lovely view of Deene church to your left. St Peters, in Deene Park Estate dates from the 13th century & is the church of the Brudenell family

The Brudenell family are one of the oldest Northamptonshire families & have been living in the county for some centuries before buying Deene Park in 1514. They’ve lived there ever since

It contains many monuments to the Brudenells, including one to James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade. In 1868 the widow of James Brudenell commissioned T H Wyatt to rebuild much of the church as an elaborate memorial to her husband & is said to have spent hours sitting in contemplation by his tomb

However whether she was actually mourning is debatable as she shocked the Victorian society of the time by publishing an extremely racy book of the recollections of her life

12. Have a look at the obelisk…

You’ll see it has a teapot on the top. Apparently the gardens have lots of topiary teapots too & the obelisk was built to celebrate the lives of the existing owner’s parents for the millennium. It was suggested by Sir Timothy Clifford, as Edmund always enjoyed a ‘jolly good cuppa!’

13. Exit the field to the right of the ha-ha through the gate…

You’ll then reach the main road through Deene village & can see Deene Hall across the road. Deene Park is a wonderful eclectic mix of architectural styles, having evolved through the centuries.  Before the Norman Conquest, & for 150 years afterwards, the Manor of Deene belonged to the Abbey of Westminster & was used occasionally by the Abbot.  In about 1215, it was let for the first time to Sir Ivo de Deene for the annual rent of £18 & an obligation to provide hospitality once a year for the Abbot & his household. This agreement continued unaltered for 750 years

Various families, including the Colets & the Lyttons, leased the property until it was acquired in 1514 by Sir Robert Brudenell (1461-1531), later Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.  It has descended through the male line to the Brudenells of today, who continued to pay the rent of £18 until 1970, when the property was enfranchised from the Church Commissioners for eleven years’ worth of rent – £198!

The house was built over six centuries & grew from a substantial quadrangular-plan medieval manor into a Tudor & Georgian mansion, whose main front now faces south across the Park & Lake.  Successive generations have altered the house to suit their needs & have helped endow the collections incuding Tudor Manuscripts, Old Masters & Family Portraits, porcelain & much military memorabilia from the Crimean War

After the Second World War, Deene had merely two bathrooms & electricity had only just been put in.  The legacy of the billeting during the war, coupled with a lack of maintenance, had left the house in a very bad condition with dry rot & carpets & curtains in rags.  Edmund Brudenell opened the house to the public & he & his wife Marian began the much needed restoration work of re-plumbing, rewiring & re-decorating.  The refurbishment is testament to their wise & clever life’s work, & to Mrs Brudenell’s exquisite taste

14. Turn right along the road…

…& walk through the village. This is where I got cottage envy!

15. Turn left at the footpath sign in front of Blacksmiths cottage & walk through the farmyard…

In the left hand corner is a gate. Go through the gate & continue on a farm track, heading for the two lakes in the pictures below…

16. Go through gate, or over cattle grid, & up the steps on the left, & then up the grassy hill

This part of the walk is really easy. Just follow the marker posts through the estate & keep looking to the left for views of the house & church

17. Soon you’ll reach the main estate drive. Cross this & continue straight over a stile into a spinney…

Go through the spinney &, on the other side, is some land that looks like it is in the process of being cleared…

18. It is quite wet here & difficult to walk through, but go straight ahead, keeping the lake on your left…

Go over a stile & then carefully cross the A43

19. Head straight down the road opposite signposted Deenethorpe & Benefield

20. Welcome to Deenethorpe, which is a very small village, but hides an important past. Nearby is USAF Deenethorpe, which was used as a purpose-built base to serve American heavy bombers during World War II

With the opening of the airfield in October 1943, the 401st Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrived from Great Falls AAB, Montana in November. The 401st was assigned to the 94th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 1st Bombardment Division. Its tail code was Triangle-S

The 401st BG operated chiefly against strategic targets, bombing industries, submarine facilities, shipyards, missile sites, marshalling yards, & airfields; beginning in October 1944, concentrated on oil reserves. The Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for striking telling blows against German aircraft production on 11 January & 20 February 1944

In addition to strategic missions, group operations included attacks on transportation, airfields, & fortifications prior to the Normandy invasion & on D-Day, June 1944

The worst accident occurred on 5 December 1943 when a Fortress which failed to get off the ground careered over farmland & came to rest after crashing into a cottage on the edge of Deenethorpe village. The surviving members of the crew just had time to evacuate the wreckage & warn the villagers of the imminent explosion of the bomb load before it detonated damaging many houses in the village. The blast was felt in Kettering nine miles away

After VE Day the group departed from Deenethorpe in August 1945 & returned to Sioux Fall AAF where the unit was inactivated, personnel demobilised & B-17 aircraft sent to storage. The401st Bombardment Group had flown 255 combat missions from Deenethorpe airfield

There were plans to turn it into a garden village

21. Go over the bridge and turn right up the hill, & then turn left before the phone box…

Walk up the hill past the “30” sign & the national speed limit sign. At the top of the hill turn left at the signpost…

22. From here there are great views across to Deene Hall & Church…

Walk straight along the hedge to the yellow post

23. You now need to cross diagonally across the next field. There’s no clear path. Alternatively you could walk round the edge if you prefer

Another yellow post directs you diagonally across the next field and then another field until you reach a yellow post in the hedge…

24. Head through the next gate…

…& then another gate & footbridge

25. Now turn left along a new stone track…

…looking out for a footbridge on your left

26. Cross the bridge & head up the field until you can see houses in the distance…

Follow the path through the next field until you see the gap in the hedge, which leads onto the road

27. Turn left onto the road & follow it for the next 1.6km until you reach a T junction. The road is fairly quiet but be careful

When you reach the T junction turn right & head back into Bulwick village past the Church of St Nicholas

Now…did you know that Bulwick Church has the highest tombstone in Northamptonshire…?

If you look high up on the spire, you may see an irregular shape that has an inscription on it. In the 19th century a stonemason needed a certain sized slab to repair the spire. However he couldn’t find a piece & so he started to look around the churchyard, where he found the broken tombstone of Hannah Ireson, who had died in 1724. So that’s why it’s there today – see if you can spot it!

The church itself dates back to the 13th century church, but was considerably extended in the 14th century. There’s monuments inside to several gentry. There’s many to the Tryon family, most of whom seem to have died on battlefields, from Sebastopol to the Somme.

Sir George Tryon was in charge of the Mediterranean Fleet & died with 300 of his men when his vessel, HMS Victoria collided with HMS Camperdown in 1893

So here we are…back at the start of this walk

Go Walk!