Walk 138: Overstone Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.11 miles (5 km) 

Time to walk: Roughly 90 minutes

Difficulty: This walk is mainly on village paths, across fields & on field tracks. There are several stiles. Parts of the walk were very muddy when I did it (November 20). You do have to cross the A43 a couple of times &, for a short distance (200m), walk along the road. There is a wide verge so it’s not as bad as it first looks
Please note that there is a large stile on this route so will not be suitable for lifting large dogs over

Parking: Carefully outside the church in Overstone

Public toilets: Pubs in Overstone when open

Map of the route:

A gentle stroll from Overstone village, I had intended to make this walk slightly longer, but an impending housing development put a stop to that. Still it’s a lovely easy walk

Overstone is a linear village tucked between Sywell & Moulton to the north east of Northampton, close to the A43

Today it’s probably best known for Overstone Park Resort which was opened by Sharron Davies MBE in 1992. The Park is now a luxury health club with leisure facilities along with its 18 hole championship golf course. It’s set in 193 acres of Victorian countryside surrounded by a 6 mile long high wall

However the history of Overstone Park & its Hall is not such a happy tale. Overstone Hall today is a derelict shell of a mansion. The Grade II listed building was built in the early 1860s for Lord & Lady Overstone. Lord Overstone was born into a banking family & possessed one of the largest fortunes of his day. It’s said that his wife persuaded him to build a new property, Overstone Hall

It had 119 rooms & 35 acres of parkland & grounds. However, Lord Overstone hated it. When he died in 1883, the property was passed to his daughter Lady Wantage, who was instrumental in the design of Abington Park & who also had an extensive & valuable art collection. She used the Hall for lavish parties

When she died in 1920, it was passed through various owners until it was sold to be converted into a girls’ boarding school. The upkeep became too much for the school & it closed in 1979. A year later, it was bought by the New Testament Church of God for around £700,000. In 2008, part of the southern range was used as retirement accommodation by Abbeyfield Dorcas Society until 2014, despite a devastating fire that destroyed around half of the building in 2001

Over time, the other half has deteriorated through vandalism & weather erosion. The New Testament Church of God put the building up for sale in 2010 for £1 million, but it received little interest. In 2015, Barry Howard Homes purchased the hall with the intention of restoring it, which is estimated to cost over £25 million – that is yet to happen

The same year, it was named by the Victorian Society as one of the country’s most endangered buildings

Let’s Walk!

1. The walk starts from the Church situated in a lovely lane just off the main street

The Church of St Nicholas was built in 1807 & remodelled in 1903. It stands in a field in Overstone Park, a short walk from the village. The church is constructed of Kingsthorpe Stone (grey sandstone with streaks of silty clay) & was built by John Kipling & replaced the old dilapidated earlier one built at the beginning of the 13th century. This was situated further into the park in the deserted village of Overstone

During the medieval period of the 12th, 13th & 14th centuries Overstone village was a little further into the park beyond the current church. It was a village of ‘modest size’ & continued, throughout the following centuries, to be a small village owned by the resident Lord of the Manor

In 1672 the Manor is described as having 14 farms & 15 cottages. It’s likely that Henry Stratford, Lord of the Manor of Overstone, moved the village into its current position sometime around the middle of the 18th century. ‘Eyre’s’ map of 1775 shows the village having moved with only the church & rectory standing in front of the manor house

There are no traces of this first church which, during the fifteenth century had four altars, & was dedicated to the Saints, Mary, Anne, Thomas & John the Baptist

The north wall of St Nicholas’ holds the ‘Wantage Window’. Lady Wantage gave the window in memory of her husband who fought in the Crimean War, winning one of the first VC crosses to be awarded. He’s also remembered as being one of the founders of the British Red Cross. There are also several monuments from the old church in the current one

There are some fantastic views from here…

2. Walk away from the church, down to the road. Cross it & straight ahead is a footpath…

3. Follow the footpath past the playing field & you’ll soon be in open countryside…

The farmers are brilliant on this walk as all the fields have clear tracks across them

4. At the end of this field you’ll reach the delightfully named Cow Pasture Spinney…

Follow the signpost through the spinney to emerge at the other side at some fencing. There’s a massive housing development being built in this area…

5. Turn right & then left, keeping the fencing on your left until you reach the A43…

This is a busy road so be careful, turn right & walk along the verge for just 200m

6. You’ll then see a signpost on the left. Cross over & follow the footpath over a stile into the field…

There are lovely rural views across the countryside

7. Cross diagonally to the right & head for the farm buildings…

When you reach the tarmac drive, turn left towards the farm & walk through the farmyard. This is Overstone Grange Farm which is famous for pick your own sunflowers & pumpkins, plus Xmas trees

At busy times of the year, like Xmas, this is where you will also find “Brew” which we can highly recommend for a refreshment stop. Normally the mobile cafe is based at Rectory Farm, a couple of fields away

8. Turn right behind the farm buildings…

…& look out for the two gates below

9. Go through the gates, where you might meet this pair!

Cross over the drive & go over the walled bridge

To your left is a magnificent Lebanese Cedar tree hiding Overstone Old Rectory built in 1778 & Grade II listed

10. Follow the path between the trees…

…& go over the next stile & walk to the next drive belonging to Rectory Farm. This is where you’ll normally find “Brew”

11. Turn right & walk to the end of the drive. You’ll then reach the A43 again…

This time our path lies straight ahead, so carefully cross over on to the footpath

12. Follow this footpath between the hedges…

When you reach a deserted building on your left & pylon in front of you, go to the right & cross the field

13. Again the farmers have made it very clear to see the path

Ahead is Cow Pasture spinney again. This time it’s got a stream & a pond!

14. Once out of the spinney, go up the field & head to the left of the farm buildings ahead…

Once you reach the farm track go to the left of the hedge

15. Now follow the track to the road & you’re now back in Overstone…

Turn right & walk on the path until you reach the road to the church on the left. Cross the road & retrace your steps back to your car

So that’s the end our our short stroll from historic Overstone…

Go Walk!