Walk 52: Marston Trussell Circular: Historical Battlefields & a Big Rock

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.5 miles (5.63km)

Time to walk: Roughly 1.5 hours, although when we walked this in January 2015 the fields were quite muddy so it took slightly longer

Difficulty: Mainly across fields so some good footwear required out of the dry season. It’s a pretty flat walk apart from one 1/2 mile climb up a couple of fields

Parking: On road in the small village of Marston Trussell

Public toilets: None at present, although it looked like The Sun Inn in Marston Trussell was undergoing major renovation. Whether this will be a pub we’re unsure, but there’s a sign that gives some hope

Map of the route: cc. Pub Strolls in Northamptonshire. Not the best, but the instructions are easy to follow…

map

Marston Trussell has sat by the start of the Welland River on the Northamptonshire / Leicestershire border for well over 1000 years. It was first recorded as ‘Mersitone’, meaning marsh settlement. The ‘Trussell’ was added in the Middle Ages after the name of the landowning family at that time

The Trussells of Marston died out in the 14th century & the hall was eventually re-established as the seat of the Barwell-Ewins Bennett family

Marston’s most famous person was Mark Brewster, a pirate who did his dirty deeds in the Baltic before coming to the village. He was eventually tracked down by the Russians, taken back, & executed

Local folklore states that King Charles I hid in the Hall grounds when retreating defeated from The Battle Of Naseby (1645). This is folklore as King Charles seems to have hidden up every oak tree, hence the popular pub name, The Royal Oak

The River Welland was in flood at this time which led to a massacre of retreating Royalists who were trapped between the river and the Church; this area is known locally as Slaughterford field – there’s plaques telling the facts of this which we’ll see shortly

It was a beautiful cold January morning when we did this walk & there had been snow on the higher ground the previous night – so wrapped up well…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk begins outside the old Sun Inn Pub which is undergoing major renovation as part of a housing development to its rear…

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Looks optimistic!

Looks optimistic!

…where facing the pub we head right towards the exit from this very small village…

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Snow!!

Snow!!

Could have done with that today!

Could have done with that today!

2. On the right’s the car park & entrance to the church, which we’ll have a look at later…

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…& this is also the location of Slaughterford field that we mentioned above

3. There’s a really good information board that tells what happened & you read it looking at the actual field where it all too place…

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The decisive battle of the English Civil War was fought in the fields around here on Saturday June 1645. The Parliamentarian New Model Army, under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, defeated the Royalist army, commanded by King Charles I & Prince Rupert of the Rhine

From the heights of the Welland Valley, Royalist troops fled towards Leicester. Some rode east of Market Harborough whilst others retraced the route from earlier that day, guided by the tower of Marston Trussell Church

At that time the road to the Church was unfortunately a dead end. Royalist horsemen didn’t know that & were trapped at the Church where tradition has it they fought to the death

It’s said their dead were buried nearby & the field was named ‘Slawford’ or Slaughterford

Well…it’s only a short walk but what a historical start!!

3. Continue along the road we were previously on – be careful though as it’s narrow & the traffic moves quickly!

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What a beautiful morning…

IMG_68254. After 1/2 a mile the road bends slightly left & crosses the River Welland which forms the boundary with Leicestershire

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The river is very much in its infancy here having risen literally down the road in Sibbertoft 2.5 miles away. It’s already pretty with quite a flow on it…

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5. Let’s get away from this busy little road, so our exit is just past the county border sign through the kissing gate in the hedge on the right…

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…& immediately we’re beside the river in a little paradise – this would be a great picnic meadow on a warm summer’s day

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Watch your step!

Watch your step!

6. All we need to do now is simply follow the twists & turns of the river to exit through the next gate beside the bridge…

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Stunning

Stunning

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…& here’s the kissing gate out – be careful of the road again!

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7. We turn right & cross the stone bridge…

The roads were very icy

The roads were very icy

…& then left over the stile into the parkland of Thorpe Lubenham Hall…

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8. Our route across the estate lies pretty close to the edge of the field heading to the left of a small group of oak trees & the cricket square…

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There’s views of Thorpe Lubenham Hall across the right – unfortunately we were looking into the low sun today…

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Thorpe Lubenham Hall stands in an estate of 1500 acres. Between 1918 & 1976 it was owner by the Wernher family

Countess Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torby, otherwise known as Lady Zia Wernher, was the elder daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. The family was frequently included in high society events.

Her daughter, also called Zia Wernher, became Georgina Phillips, who invited the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their children to the Hall. This created much media attention & large crowds in the village during the 1960s

The Hall is still lived in today

Our exit from the estate is over the stile below & onto the road…

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9. If we turn left we come into Lubenham, but we’re heading right & following the road past the entrance to the Hall…

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…& round the corner up the slight hill. There’s a couple of nice winter scenes along here…

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M1

M2

10. After a 100 yards or so there’s a pair of footpath finger posts showing a path that crosses the road…

IMG_6879It’s the right hand path that we need heading across the open field towards the gap in the hedge – this was very, very muddy…

Heading into the sun now...

Heading into the sun now…

11. Passing across the bridge we’re now on land that has open access through the Countryside Commission. We now simply follow the right hand edge uphill across the next 2 fields…

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12. Once we reach the top of the rise the views across the Welland Valley to Market Harborough are pretty spectacular…

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13. Eventually in the 3rd field a hedge stands in our way. It does have a gate, but don’t go through there! Our route back towards Marston Trussell is through the kissing gate on the right, but before we go there cast your eyes to the large stony shape that lies slightly up the hill to the left…

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On closer inspection this really is a big lump of rock sitting in the middle of nowhere…

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This rock is called The Judith Stone & it’s actually a huge glacial boulder brought from hundreds of miles away in an ice age. Apparently it got its name from Judith Countess of Huntingdon, the edge of whose land it marked in the 12th century

The photos don’t really show its size but you can easily get 3 people on top of it. For those of you who are geocachers you might also want to pay a visit. Here’s a photo we found which gives some perspective….& no that isn’t me!!

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14. Right…stop posing & head back down to the corner of the field & through another very muddy kissing gate…

Very frosted round here...

Very frosty round here…

We’re now on a grass (& mud) bridleway which continues along the edge of 2 more fields…

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There were 3 buzzards overhead chasing off crows along here – unfortunately we didn’t get a photo

15. At the end of the 2nd field there’s a privately managed copse &, as it says ‘Private’ we need to turn left & follow the hedge to the road…

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16. We turn right & head along the road for about 1/4 mile where Marston Trussell Church comes into view again…

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Again it was really icy along this stretch…

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17. Our route back to the start’s marked by another fingerpost pointing across the bridge on the right into a field…

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…& then we head diagonally towards the Church across another very muddy field…

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18. Before we exit the field have a closer look at the mounds on the right which mark the site of a small medieval castle…

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Then its over a very slippery bridge into the final field before entering a gate into the Churchyard…

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19. Although not open today, this is an interesting little Church. The arched wooden timbers in the porch are thought to have come from a Danish ship that got stranded on the Welland…

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St.Nicholas Church was originally built in 13th century although the site is believed to date back to Roman times

20. Our exit back into the village lies through the Church Gate…

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…where we turn left to return to where we left the car…

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Looks a good deal!

Looks a good deal!

So that’s the end of our short walk around the Marston Trussell area, somewhere that we’d not explored before

Whilst the weather was stunning for a January morning, this walk’s definitely one to be done in the summer when the fields are much drier

Having walked & researched the walk, it never fails to amaze how many historical facts & figures turn up & there’s plenty on this one

So…wait for the warm summer days & take a picnic to eat either sitting by the Welland or, if you fancy looking at massive skies, on top of that Judith Stone

Go Walk!

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