Walk 84: Geddington Circular: In the Willows…

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3 miles (4.83 km)

Time to walk: Just over 1 hour at a leisurely pace

Difficulty: A mix of on road, bridleways & fields. Mainly flat & can be muddy in wet periods

Parking: On road outside Geddington General Stores or in the Village Hall car park

Public toilets: Pubs in Geddington

Map of the route:

Map

It’s an old traditional, well-walked this one so just follow our guide

This is a walk that’s in lots of local books & is one we’ve wanted to do for quite a time so it’s about time! We start in another of our favourite Northamptonshire villages…Geddington. Now that the bypass has been built & lorries no longer thunder along the A43 this village has mainly returned to a peaceful haven & is lovely to stroll once more

Geddington’s got lots of history attached to it & there have been several ‘finds’ dating settlements here back to Iron Age times. Much of the area was once covered by the vast Rockingham Forest & there was once a Hunting Lodge here. In 1188 Henry II held a council in the village to raise funds for an expedition to the Holy Land. Later in 1194, Richard I played host to William, King of Scotland & then in 1201 King John granted & sealed the Borough Charter of Cambridge here

Let’s Walk!

1. There’s a free car park at the Village Hall which brings back memories as we used to play badminton for this excellent club back in the early 1990s. Today though we abandoned tradition & parked outside the village store in beautiful Queen Street

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Obviously it opens with restricted hours as when we started the walk at 12.30pm there was a queue outside & when we finished at 2pm feeling very hungry it was closed!

The telephone box next to it has an unusual use. We’ve seen several in the county that have been converted into village libraries, but this one’s a bit different…

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2. Over the road’s the United Reform Church…

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…& next door it’s good to know the village had a designated one of these which we’ll come back to at the end of this walk…

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3. Carry on down Queen Street towards one of Geddington’s jewels – it’s bridge. On the left we promise we’re not moonlighting…

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The bridge in Geddington is a place we can stand on for a very long time. The people on it in this photo were just visitors. You have a choice as a driver…ease through the wooden poles or plough through the ford…

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4. To get a better view though, before we cross enter the park on the right…

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The bridge, built in 1250, has 4 arches & 3 cutwaters & pedestrian refuges. A more recent ford also runs alongside the bridge. Let’s cross over & have a look from the other side where the arches are more prominent…

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 If you don’t want to drive over the bridge you can always plough through the ford…

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5. Head towards the centre of the village…

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…finally arriving at the magnificent Eleanor Cross

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Designated a Conservation Area in 1977, Geddington’s centre piece is this cross erected on the order of Edward I around 1294 in memory of his Queen, Eleanor of Castile who died in 1290 at Harby in Nottinghamshire. The funeral cortege on its way to London made overnight stops at many places, including Geddington & also near us at Delapre in Northampton. Crosses were built at these stops & this one & the Delapre one are 2 of the 3 remaining. Prior to this journey her husband is said to have laid her heart in Lincoln Cathedral

The Geddington Cross was built 4 years after the journey & was carved from Weldon Stone plus a darker band of Stanion stone. On its face are roses, shields & representatives of the Queen. The picture below shows the sunken well which has been in use since Roman times…

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6. Turn right & let’s have a look at the church…St Mary Magdelene

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There was most likely a church here long before Saxon times. Bones from a Saxon grave were discovered while the floor was being repaired in 1990 & it’s thought that these were most likely from a Saxon priest/monk who served this church over 1000 years ago. The Plantagenet Kings who frequented the church added the aisles, in the 12th & 14th centuries as well as their own personal entrance known as the King’s Door. A Royal Hunting Lodge sat behind the church and grew to become known as the Palace of Geddington throughout the Plantagenet & Medieval period

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7. Unfortunately the church was locked today so let’s move back to the cross. On the left’s an old building with possibly a coach way underneath

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We need to pass the pub & walk down West Street…

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Geddington’s The Star is a well renowned local pub that we used to visit in the olden days as it always serves a great pint

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8. West Street’s full of old properties & little alleyways to explore…

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And on the left’s another of the village’s pubs..The White Hart – why is it that neither of the two pubs we’ve passed so far have websites to promote their businesses?

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9. Carry on to the crossroads & head straight over…

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This is Newton Road & we’re walking about 200 yards along it looking for a fingerpost towards a bridleway on the left…

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10. It feels like we’re walking through someone’s private gardens here, but it soon changes to a bridleway through the trees…

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Approaching the gate into the grass field on the left’s some medieval fish ponds, although from the look of them there won’t be many fish surviving today

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11. Pass through the gate into the meadow…

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The dovecot on the right’s one of the largest we’ve ever seen & the rooks were having a great time. Also along here we had some great sights of Red Kites, but unfortunately didn’t have any long lens with us

The dovecot was built by Maurice Tresham in the late 16th century & is all that remains of the mansion’s outbuildings. It could accommodate 2000 pairs of birds!

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12. Our aim is the church at the top of the hill which is now Newton Field Centre. The church was previously the private chapel of the Trishaws & was called St Faith’s. It ceased its religious role in 1959 & the memorials were removed to Geddington’s church, but the graveyard is still consecrated ground

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Newton Field Centre is primarily concerned with providing high quality, affordable fieldwork opportunities to school groups. Practical science & geography courses for primary schools & ecology courses for GCSE biology students form the major part of the of their programme. They also offer a range of cross-curricular activities, visits for trainee teachers & general interest courses for families & adults. Courses offered are designed to give participants the opportunity to take part in hands on, practical activities in a tranquil rural environment & are led by qualified teachers. Newton Field Centre is owned & administered by Newton in the Willows Trust

There’s a nice bench if you fancy a sit down…

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13. The path stretches towards the village of Newton, but there’s some sign posts to look at first as this place has a lot of history attached to it…

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The Midland Revolt was a popular uprising which took place in 1607. Beginning in late April in Haselbech, Pytchley & Rushton in Northamptonshire, & spreading to Warwickshire & Leicestershire throughout May, riots took place as a protest against the enclosure of common land

The riots drew considerable support & were led by “Captain Pouch”, otherwise known as John Reynolds, a tinker said to be of Desborough, Northamptonshire. He told the protestors he had authority from the King & God to destroy enclosures & promised to protect protesters by the contents of his pouch, which he carried by his side, which he said would keep them from all harm. He urged his followers to use no violence in their efforts to destroy the hated enclosures. 3000 protesters were recorded at Hillmorton, Warwickshire & 5000 at Cotesbach, Leicestershire. A curfew was imposed in the city of Leicester, as it was feared citizens would stream out of the city to join the riots.

The culmination of the Midlands Revolt was the Newton Rebellion, hence the association with where we are now. In early June, over a thousand protesters had gathered in Newton,  to protest against the enclosures of Thomas Tresham, pulling down hedges & filling ditches. James I issued a Proclamation & ordered his Deputy Lieutenants in Northamptonshire to put down the riots. Women & children were part of the protest

The Trishaws, both the family at Newton & their more well-known Roman Catholic cousins at nearby Rushton Hall, the family of Francis Tresham, who had been involved two years earlier in the Gunpowder Plot & had apparently died in the Tower of London were unpopular for their voracious enclosing of land. Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton was known as “the most odious man in the county”

Edward Montagu, one of the Deputy Lieutenants, had spoken against enclosure in Parliament some years earlier, but was now placed by the King in the position effectively of defending the Treshams. The local armed bands & militia refused the call-up, so the landowners were forced to use their own servants to suppress the rioters on 8 June 1607. The Royal Proclamation was read twice. The rioters continued in their actions & the gentry & their forces charged. A pitched battle ensued. 40-50 were killed & the leaders of the protest were hanged & quartered

In the Church there is a memorial to the men who were executed. Parish & Assize records have disappeared. The Tresham family declined soon after. The Montagu family went on through marriage to become the Dukes of Buccleuch, one of the biggest landowners in Britain. The Newton Rebellion was one of the last times that the peasantry of England & the gentry were in open conflict

14. The path now stretches before us to the village of Newton, which is also sometimes known as Newton in the Willows (a very apt name as we’ll see shortly)…

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At the t-junction turn left down past the telephone box – a conventional one this time

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15. Enter the field & follow it diagonally right as it falls towards the brook &…the abundant willows…

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Think we need to have a word with ‘Ted’ as there appears to be a drainage problem in the lower field…

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16. Cross the brook by what appears to be quite a new bridge…

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The stream is flanked by many willows which is where the village gets its name from. They’re really old & gnarled…

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17. Turn right & follow the track through the gate into the woods…

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There’s some splendid beeches in here – this is fast turning into a ‘tree walk’!

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 The path soon turns into a track leading to a gate & a lane which will take us back to Geddington

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18. There’s no chance of getting lost as this is dead straight easy walking…

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…& eventually we enter the village again

 IMG_686219. On reaching the main A43 road turn left & cross over…

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Another of the village’s pubs, The White Lion sits back from the road. Must admit it was tempting as we’d forgotten to bring a snack with us!

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20. Just before the bridge crossing the Ise brook take the path on the right down into the meadow…

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This really is a pleasant little area with benches & more old willows. It’s known as the Walter Buccleuch Meadows. They were donated to the parish in 1976 & the villagers planted trees & flowers as a memorial to the Duke whose love of trees & concern for the countryside did so much to enrich the quality of village life

21. Follow the path as it becomes an alley…

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…to emerge where we left our car!

So that’s the Geddington & Newton (in the Willows) ’round’ which we’ve meaning to do for sometime & a very nice little stroll it is too, especially on a sunny spring day like today!

Go Walk!