Walk 16: Wellingborough town centre heritage trail

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2 miles (3.22 km)

Time to walk: This is a really short town centre walk so it can be done within half an hour, but why not linger & explore

Difficulty: Extremely easy all town centre walking

Parking: We parked in Morrison’s car park behind the Tithe Barn (3 hours free)

Public toilets: Plenty around Wellingborough in pubs, cafes etc & some public ones in the marketplace

Map of the route (c) 

We’ve taken this route from the ‘Wellingborough Heritage Trail’ which begins next to the Castle theatre & then winds around the town finishing in Cambridge Street – it’s a long time since we’ve been to Wellingborough. It was our first real experience of Northamptonshire  when we were in ‘digs’ there when we first moved to the County in 1979 – a bit different to a sleepy Lincolnshire town!!

With the descriptions below, it’s important to click on the hyperlinks as they’ll lead you to much more information than we can write up on this blog.

Let’s see if it’s changed much…

Let’s Walk!

1. We start at Wellingborough Museum. What a fabulous place which contains a shop, cafe & various displays. It was built by William Dulley in 1892 as a public swimming baths (see the signs below). Later, in 1920, it changed into George Cox’s shoe factory which remained until 1996. You can still see a section of the swimming pool in the museum.

2. Next door to the Museum is The Castle Theatre complex

3. Walk left along Castle Way & cross the road. Just over the crossing is Swanspool House & Gardens.

Swanspool House is an 18th century Georgian House given to the town in 1919 by F.C Chamberlain & now used by the Council

4. Now head up Sheep Street into the town itself. On the right’s one of our favourite haunts from when we first arrived in Wellingborough in 1979. Not knowing anyone, we spent 5 nights a week here just talking to people & it helped us join Wellingborough Badminton Club in Northants Div 1. Fantastic memories

Yes….it’s The Golden Lion

5. Further up Sheep Street on the left is The Tudor House

It’s a grade 2 listed building from the 16th century. Over the years it’s been an antiques shop & was restored by David Dulley (the same person who was involved with the swimming baths) in the 1920’s.

6. Cross over & head down the alley to the left of the above building. The plaque on the wall indicates we may need to beware of the ‘wild animals”

Apparently the main attraction at the  Wellingborough Zoo Park was an elephant called Ranee bought by Billy Smart’s Circus!!!

7. Further along, on the right we find Croyland Abbey & Hall , built in Jacobean times

The land here was farmed by the monks until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Croyland Hall next door was originally a farmhouse, later owned by a family now linked with Wellingborough…..the Whitworth family & also by the Dulleys.

8. On the left, enter Croyland Gardens

These ornate gardens were given to the town by Miss Rowlett & they adjoin the site of Wellingborough Zoo Park

Some of the trees were certainly putting on a show…

9. Walk right past the marvellous thatched Tithe Barn, which is a Grade 1 listed, scheduled ancient monument believed to have been built around 1400 & used by the monks of Croyland to store the town’s cops & fleeces from their sheep.

10. Exit the Tithe Barn courtyard & process towards the main street. On the right’s probably Wellingborough’s most renowned hotel – The Hind Hotel

The Hind was built around the 1640’s & yet again provides a link to the County & Oliver Cromwell  whose men are reputed to have stayed here prior to the Battle of Naseby in 1645.

11. Walk left up Silver Street, which then leads into High Street. We felt quite sad here as Wellingborough in the 1980’s was such a vibrant town, but today it felt deprived & quite run down

Along High Street are many examples of Grade 2 listed architecture, such as the beautiful United Reformed Church built in 1875

12. At the top of the High Street we come to a major road junction & straight ahead is Broad Green & the War Memorial. Careful when crossing this wide road to have a closer look.

Note the very old street lamps.

13. Behind the memorial is Broad Green – a small park but it’s got character, so wander through

Over the road ahead is Hatton Hall. In the 15th century Christopher Hatton owned much of the land around Wellingborough & sponsored many expeditions to find new lands around the globe including those of Francis Drake – hence the link from Drake’s ship ‘The Golden Hind’ to Wellingborough’s ‘Hind Hotel’

14. Now walk back down the High Street past the church (stop & have a look) & then turn left into Church Street. There’s a group of perspex bus stops along here which are directly opposite No 28 Church Street, part of a small terrace of Grade 2 listed buildings, which were once private cottages dating back to 1594.

15. Turn down the right hand side of this building which leads to the market place, but…before entering it, turn left to have a look at the church & surrounding buildings

Firstly we have Church Hall, which dates back to 1621, & was originally a Grammar School & Lower Free School

Next have a look at the stunning church…All Hallows. It dates back to Saxon times & the site has been used a place of worship for over 1100 years.

16. Pass across the church yard & into the market square – today the market had finished

And then turn left along Market Street…the Swansgate Centre is the town’s main shopping centre…

17. Keep straight on, where there’s some impressive 18th century buildings…

18. Turn right down Cambridge Street, which 10 years ago was a thriving place to visit & today is still full of some excellent restaurants

At the top of Cambridge Street is the Wellingborough Hindu Temple where this walk ends…

So….what’s our overall thoughts about this walk? Well as we said, Wellingborough was our first experience of Northamptonshire in 1979 &, as a cultural difference, we loved it. However after revisiting today….well we’ll let you make your own mind up….we felt quite sad at how run down it felt

Let’s hope it can get its soul back

Go Walk!


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