Walk 137: Moulton Village Walk – how beautiful!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.4 miles (2.3km) This is just a short hard-surface look at the Moulton Village Trail

Time to walk: Roughly 30 minutes, although this is only a guide & you can explore at your leisure. The church wasn’t open when I visited due to Covid-19 restrictions

Difficulty: A flat walk, all on hard surfaces

Parking: I parked carefully on the road in Church Street. Lots of the roads are one-way so please park considerately

Public toilets: Pubs when open

Map of the route:

Moulton is situated 4 miles north of central Northampton & has very much retained its village identity from it’s neighbour

The name ‘Moulton’ is thought to come from “town of the mill”, or perhaps either “Meleton” meaning protected town, because the Church, Manor House & Castle were within shooting distance of an arrow. Alternatively it could date back to Roman Times when mules were bred here (“Muletown”). In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was spelt “Moltone”

There’s evidence of a settlement being here many years with finds dating back to the Iron Age. Nearby Moulton Park was initially a Carthusian Monastery, but later became a Royal Hunting Park which supplied Northampton Castle with food & timber. In those days Parliament didn’t meet just in Westminster – it met wherever the King was, including in Northampton. At that time the village had its own castle & manor house lying to the north of the church

The main trade of the village was based around agriculture & lacemaking. Indeed, in Moulton College, the village still  maintains its links with the agricultural industry 

The village also hosts an annual village festival (held in May) & is home to the Moulton Moris Dancers

Shall we have a stroll?

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts on the edge of the village, past the church & down the narrow lane heading north. The reason we’re starting here is the buildings you see ahead of you is Manor Farm…

As the name implies, in ancient times this was the site of the Manor which, together with the church & some dwellings was where the first settlement of Moulton was sited. You’re standing on some very old, real history

2. Turn & walk back up the hill crossing a small stream which is a tributary of the River Nene…

Across to the right’s the Church of St Peter & St Paul. This walk ends at the Church so we’ll have a closer look at it later

3. At the junction, on the left, is the imposing & beautiful Waterloo House which dates back to 1777 & is Grade II listed

Turn left along Church Street…

4. The first building you’ll pass here is the well-known Artichoke Inn. A notice outside tells you that the Inn dates back to 1680 as there’s a date stone. It’s also believed to have been a purpose built farmhouse & village inn that could have been a coaching inn on the route between the Northampton, Kettering & Stamford roads

Have a read of the sign as there’s lots of information about long-serving landlords…

5. At the junction with Chater Street look at the property (slightly hidden) across the road. This was once Moulton Mill…

…which in 1665 was operated by steam 

6. Turn right up Chater Street…it really is like being transported back in time

Indeed you are. Stop outside Rooty Hill Cottage & it’s thought that some of this property dates back to the 15th century, although Historic England dates most of it from the 17th

7. At the junction there’s another beautiful, thatched cottage facing you. This is Wantage Farm which dates back to 1771

It formed part of the estate of Harriet Sarah Jones-Loyd, Lady Wantage, who was a British art collector and benefactor

She was the sole heiress to the fortune of her parents Harriet Wright & Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone, who gave her Lockinge House near Wantage as a wedding present when she married Robert Loyd-Lindsay in 1858. The couple lived at 2 Carlton Gardens, London, Lockinge House, Berks, nearby, now derelict Overstone Park & Ardington House

She was a benefactor to many causes, most notably nursing, for which she founded the National Aid Society (later the British Red Cross Society). For this she was awarded the Order of the Red Cross in 1883. Two years later her husband was made peer of the realm & she wrote a biography of him which was published after his death. She is known for founding Wantage Hall & our own Abington Park

8. Turn left into Overstone Road. The large property on the left’s Dairy Farmhouse, which belonged to Lady Wantage’s father, Lord Overstone…

Loyd’s father had given up the ministry to take a partnership in his father-in-law’s bank & became the founder of the London branch of Jones, Loyd & Co. Loyd joined his father’s bank, & took control of the bank after his father retired in 1844. On his father’s death in 1858 Loyd inherited an estate worth £2 million. In 1864 the bank became incorporated with the London & Westminster Bank

Loyd sat in parliament as Whig member for Hythe from 1819 to 1826, & unsuccessfully contested Manchester in 1832. As early as 1832 he was recognised as one of the foremost authorities on banking, & is considered as one of the great figures in British monetary history, particularly with respect to the Bank Charter Act of 1844

In 1850 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Overstone, of Overstone & of Fotheringhay

9. Continue for a short way along Overstone Road to Prince of Wales Row in the photo below on the right side of the road…

The Row get’s its name from the pub that was once here. We been told that originally it was called Balls Row

10. On the other side of the road’s Walkers Yard, with it’s quaint cottages. It’s typical of cottages of this era that were built in clusters around a well…

The Trail also tells us that “Walkers Yard was the location of one of the last home pig killings, a great attraction to the village boys on a Saturday afternoon in 1946

11. Walk back towards the village centre stopping at Manfield Hall, now the Evangelical Church…

It was presented to the village by the Manfield family & was originally used as the village hall

12. Walk down the side of the church heading towards the gate at the bottom…

Through the gate is Crowfields Common, Moulton’s local nature reserve. The Parish Council bought Crowfields Common as part of the Millennium celebrations & it became designated as a local nature reserve in February 2003

It’s a superb reserve & is divided into several different areas including retaining some of the original mediaeval ridge & furrow features

13. Come back down the lane & continue left along the High Street. Over the road is Moulton Club…

You get the sense now that you’re starting to get towards the centre of the village & it really retains its charm

14. On reaching the junction at the end of the High Street, bear left past the Cardigan Arms…

You’re now entering Stocks Hill. On the left, firstly note the village sign complete with the Morris Men…

But also here is the reason the hill gets its name…the village stocks 

15. Walk towards the junction. The large house on the left’s Chequer House which dates back to around 1700. It’s thought that in mediaeval times it could have been a ‘long house’, but it get’s its name from being another of Moulton’s old pubs…

16. Turn right down Cross Street, which was once called Jubilee Hill after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1887. On the right’s the former Methodist Church which dates back to 1838

Today the church is home to Moulton Players Theatre 

17. As Cross Street bends right the Trail tells us that the cottage on the right side of the road called The Hollies, had a stone quarry behind it, which closed in 1890 

The cottages & narrow streets opposite are worth exploring. They’re called ‘The Nurseries’ although it’s not sure where the name comes from…We’ve been told that the Nurseries used to be a smallholding & there used to be a farm shop. What you see is actually what was the back of the properties.

Have a look on the walls & you’ll see the firemarks which showed to the fire brigade that insurance had been paid & therefore it was alright to put out the fire. If there wasn’t one, the property was left to burn

18. Continue along Cross Street passing another building that was once a pub…this time the Shoulder of Mutton

Now we come to a property I know well…the Poplars Hotel where I once stayed when relocating back to the area. In 1887 in was a farmhouse, but converted to a hotel in 1922

19. On the other side of the road is Bay Tree cottage, which was originally a thatched cottage & home of a local stone mason…

Slightly further on the same side of the road’s the old Vicarage…

20. Turn left along West Street…

On the left’s the old Malt House. This was once the village post office & Bluebell House, next door, was another pub, The Bluebell Inn

21. Don’t miss beautiful Sundial Cottage over the road…

Eventually the road arrives at the original Agricultural College…

Although initially established as the Northamptonshire Institute of Agriculture in 1921, it now has expanded its teaching curriculum to cover a wide range of land-based subjects, sports, & construction. Moulton College operates a number of satellite campuses in Northamptonshire, including ones in Daventry, Silverstone & Higham Ferrers

22. Next door is the Telegraph Inn, which dates back to the 17th century. Look at the plaque on the wall of the far cottage…this was the home of William Carey. William Carey was an English Christian missionary, Particular Baptist minister, translator, social reformer & cultural anthropologist who founded the Serampore College & the Sermapore University, the first degree-awarding university in India

One of his first contributions was to start schools for impoverished children where they were taught reading, writing, accounting & Christianity. He translated the Hindu classic, the Ramayana, into English & the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Marathi, Hindi & Sanskrit

William & Dorothy Carey arrived in Moulton in the spring of 1785. The village schoolmaster had left & William wanted to use their rented cottage for teaching. He brought with him his shoemaking tools &, of course, his precious books. (This cottage once stood in a row & was fortunately spared from demolition & restored in the 1950s). Three sons were born to them during their four years here: Felix, William & Peter

Nearby was the small, thirty-five-year old Baptist meeting house which was by this time rather dilapidated. William was eagerly welcomed by these Baptists who knew he was a local preacher & asked him to give them his free Sundays. He was soon asked to become their minister

23. Retrace your steps & turn left down Church Hill, which appears to have stood still in time…

Pass the Primary School, the oldest part of which dates back to 1843…

24. Continue up the hill towards the church. It’s worth checking out Vespaccino for some refreshments. It’s there every day except Monday

…where we finally arrive to end this walk. It was November when I did this walk & I loved the silhouettes of those from the village that had lost their lives serving their country

The oldest building in Moulton was constructed in stages between 1250 & 1422 on the ruins of earlier church structures. The earliest Church building here was erected in the late 7th Century by monks from Brixworth, but this wooden structure was burnt down by invading Danes as was a small stone Church built in Saxon times

So that’s my winter’s “hard surface” walk around a beautiful village. It’s definitely a place where parts of it today look exactly as it would have done hundreds of years ago

What a fabulous stroll!

Go Walk!