Walk 167: Brixworth Village Walk

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2.12 miles (3.41km)

Time to walk: It’s impossible to set a time limit on this walk as there’s lots to stop & look at. Plus there’s cafes & pubs to explore

Difficulty: All on hard surfaces & wheelchair friendly

Parking: I parked on the street in Church Street close to the wonderful Buttercross

Public toilets: Cafes & pubs en route

Map of the route:

For some time I’d heard about Brixworth’s Heritage Trail & had also read John Dawkins’ excellent booklet “Brixworth Now & Then…A Village Walk’. I also thought I knew Brixworth, but how wrong was I

I therefore thought it would be great to get the combination of these two walks on my website so that others could explore this lovely village. I am therefore extremely grateful to the publishers of the booklet, Brixworth History Society, for granting me permission to use the trail in the booklet. Whilst I have used it for reference & to help with the details, all the words & pictures are mine

Thanks also to John Dawkins, without whose booklet I would never have been able to write such a detailed walk & I wholly recommend buying it, as it goes into far more detail than I ever could here

Brixworth lies about 5 miles north of Northampton & about 8 miles south of Market Harborough. The place-name ‘Brixworth’ is first noted in the Domesday Book in 1086, where it appears as ‘Briclesworde’. The name means Enclosure of a man called  ‘Beorhtel’

At various time iron ore mining has taken place in the area

We’ll look at lots more of the history of the village as we explore it & its buildings so…

Let’s Walk!

1. As mentioned, our route exactly follows that in the booklet & starts close to the church, outside the gates of the Old Vicarage, of which parts have been found to date back to the 17th century….

It’s thought that a prior building on the site may have been occupied by monks & excavations may have confirmed this

The church will form a fitting finish point to this walk, so for now walk down the narrow lane to Church Street

2. Turn right, passing Chester House & stop opposite the Old Chapel…

…which was built on land sold to the Brixworth Wesleyans in 1811. Over the years the building has been extended, including a school room

3. Follow the road as it bends right up Station Road…

The last large red house on the left’s called Sunnybank & was originally built around 1903 for the village schoolmaster. There are still two wells at the rear of the house

4. Walk back down Station Road & stop next door at The Old Vine. This beautiful building’s had several uses over the years, ranging from a private school, a public house, a timber merchants & finally a private house…

The booklet tells us that when it was a pub in 1910, fish & chips were cooked in a large copper tub & sold to the public in the back yard

5. Bear right into Saneco Lane…

‘Saneco’ refers to a weed that was used in medieval times to treat toothache & sores. Apparently it still grows in the garden of our next property, immediately on the right, The Firs…

The Firs dates dates back to the 17th century, but there have been many changes over the years. Apparently it was once used as a garage for the village bus

6. Continue along Church  Street as it sweeps down the hill. It really is as if time’s stood still here…

Stop outside the imposing Beech Hill on the left. The current building dates from the 1820s when it was The Peacock pub, but evidence shows that there have been properties here since the 14th century

As well as a pub this property has been a bake house & even partly a home for the chauffeur of the owner of Brixworth House, which we’ll come across later on this walk. The outhouses once housed a pottery business

7. Opposite Beech Hill is the large group of properties called The Rookery, the oldest part is the cottage which dates back to 1689…

The Heritage Trail blue plaque tells us that this cottage has a water trough embedded in the wall where, even now, water flows continuously into it from a nearby farm. The overflow originally continued down the hill into a stream that feeds the Nene

8. Continue down the hill to the junction with the small green grass triangle…

This is a lovely area & just take a moment to realise how low down this spot is. The reason is the small cottage in front of you, that’s called Tollard Down, was once thought to have had a previous building here that was a watermill (probably at the time of the Domesday Book)

The property was also once known as Sarah Flint’s Cottage 

9. Walk up the steep hill to the left of the cottage, passing the stone-walled Pond Close footpath on the left…

This hill has some lovely properties along it especially, on the left, The Brown House, which is believed to date back to the 1770’s & was once a farmhouse. As well as being the home of farmers, the house has also been owned by a surgeon & a doctor

10. Slightly further up the hill, on the other side of the road’s a lower, white building. The name on the plaque gives away what its former purpose was…The Fox & Hounds

The first reference to there being a pub here was in 1848. It remained so until the landlord closed it in the early 1930’s & converted the property into a smallholding & milking parlour. The workshops at the rear were used to restore steam engines

11. Walk back down the hill & turn left into Kennel Terrace. The large house on the corner’s called The Grange which dates back to the 17th century when it was two separate properties

Not too much is known about the early days of the property, but it’s thought to have been connected to a farm. From 1922 until his death in 1946, it was the home of the Secretary of the Pytchley Hunt. King George V once called here to deliver a brace of pheasants &, on not receiving an answer, left them hanging on the door knocker! It’s also said that German prisoners of war were housed here whilst working on the local farms

12. Walk along Kennel Terrace…you’ll understand why it’s so named in  minute…

…& turn left. The area that now lies before you was, from the early 1800’s to 1966, the kennels & stables of the Pytchley Hunt. Since that time the Hunt has moved out of town

13. It’s time to leave the conservation area for the time being, so turn right along Ptychley Way…

…& continue to the junction with Spratton Road

14. Across the road’s The Workhouse Cafe which comes highly recommended. The name gives a clue to what may once have been here…

Very little remains of the original Union Workhouse which open on 25th March 1837. It could house 265 people, but was never full to capacity. It closed for good in 1935 & was converted into offices. In the 1800’s there was a windmill behind it

15. Continue left along Spratton Road to No.4 on the left hand side…

…which dates from around 1819 when it was built at the same time as the rest of the Pytchley Hunt properties…

This was the home of the Pytchley Hunt Head Huntsman & continued to be until 1966 when the whole Hunt moved to new premises on the Creaton Road. In the 1920’s it received royal visits from Edward VIII & George VI

16. Walk to the end of Spratton Road & turn right up Northampton Road…

Stop outside No. 49…

The blue plaque on the wall tells us it was built in 1902 to provide workers accommodation for the iron ore quarrying. It’s typical & functional of a house of this time

17. Next up is No. 69. Lord Overstone bought all this land in 1831 &, when they were sold, it was stipulated that if houses were built on it, they would have to be 20 feet back from the road…

Continue further up to the distinctive Hillcrest…

This is another house that’s connected to the Pytchley Hunt being, in 1900, the home of John Mason, the boot maker to the Hunt, the military & to the public. It too has a well in the back garden

18. Retrace your steps down the hill back to the junction with Spratton Road. The house just over the road on the left’s No.79 which dates back to 1826. Again this is a property that’s seen many trades living within in…a Groom, a Registrar of Births, Marriages & Deaths, in World War I a Tailor, a Doctor’s surgery, the local coal office, a Carpenter & an Undertaker- well what a mix!!

19. Look at the cottages across the road…

If you were standing here in 1688 you wouldn’t be looking at these cottages – you’d have a windmill in front of you. Two hundred years later the view would have been pretty much the same as the one today, but No. 112 was a boarding school

20. Next door’s my favourite house…No.118, also know locally as Lone Pine House (no prizes for guessing why!)

The house dates back to the early 1800’s & I just love its symmetrical look & notice the protruding window in the middle at the top. What a great place to sit for hours watching the whole street

21. Back across the road’s No. 101, which was the first farmhouse in the village. The smaller part on the left was probably a cow shed

22. Continue down to the crossroads, passing The Little Workhouse, the takeaway version of the big one we saw earlier…

The building on the right of the crossroads with Holcot Road (Greens Corner) had a windmill on its site in 1442. Later it was another building associated with the Pytchley Hunt, when it was occupied by a tailor to the Hunt. Not only did it just supply the Pytchley Hunt, it also supplied to six others

23. Walk up Holcot Road to the large brick building called The Logans which dates back to the 19th century & was built as a farmhouse

On the other side of the road’s a beautiful copper beech tree, which is one of three planted within the village to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887

24. Behind the tree’s the Village Hall which was built in 1923…

Walk back down to the crossroads, known by locals as ‘Co-op Corner’. The building on your right wasn’t here in 1910. You’d have been looking at a farmhouse

25. Cross the road again into Kennel Terrace one more. The rather lovely building on the corner is the Old Post House…

Parts of the building are thought to date back to the 17th century & it was a Post Office until the 1970’s. Since then it’s had several uses including a tea room, a shop & an Egon Ronay recommended restaurant

26. A few yards down Kennel Terrace on the right’s The Old Bakehouse. Bread was probably baked here around 1861…

Turn around & walk back to the crossroads & turn left…

27. On the left’s The George Inn, the oldest parts of which probably date back to the 14th century. There’s a lovely story that Oliver Cromwell is said to have locked the landlord in the cellar to prevent his army being served alcohol before the Battle of Naseby in 1645

It’s said that Cromwell commandeered the pub whilst maintaining watch for the royalists from ‘Cromwells eye’ – a tiny window which still exists in the old building, overlooking the courtyard

28. Across the road from the pub’s The Old Parish Hall, which was once the Salvation Army Hall

Continue down Northampton Road to the building with the blue plaque next to the pub, which was the village’s first Old Post Office, before it moved to The Old Post House around 1914

29. Next door’s the Old Stone House which was built in the late 17th century. Part of the property was once a butcher’s shop, & the buildings that can be seen at the rear were probably the slaughter house. The Old Stone House finally became solely a private house in 1948…

Just a couple of yards further on is the imposing Riber House, the Georgian front of which dates back to before 1680

30. Across the road, & sadly closed in May 2020, is the large Red Lion Inn…

Unfortunately, this is a sight we may not see for too much longer as there are plans afoot for its demolition & replacement by a supermarket. The property was first licensed around 1822. There was a previous Red Lion on the site that was demolished in 1928 to make way for the widening of the road

31. Carefully cross to the same side of the road as the Red Lion & continue in the same direction…

Slightly set back’s Hill House, which was originally a farmhouse, although in 1633, it would have looked very different. The development of the area into private dwellings happened around 1978

32. Carrying on, you can’t miss the arched recess in the wall…

This was once a ‘watering stop’ dating back to 1631 & was gifted to the villagers by Miss Margaret Bartlett for the use of travellers & their horses

33. The wall on the left is the boundary wall to Brixworth Hall Park, in which was once contained Brixworth Hall

The Hall was built in the Tudor period by the Saunders family who were part owners of the manor of Brixworth from 1532. The house was owned by four generations of the family until the early 18th century. It was extended in the 18th century, incorporating parts of the original building

The house was offered for sale by auction in 1801 at which time it was described as being a spacious stone mansion with coach house, stabling, gardens, canals & fish-ponds. The hall was demolished in 1954

34. Back on the right’s The Old Farmhouse which was built as two cottages around 1604. The local leaflet tells a lovely story that “At the time when a circus came to the village the performing elephant was kept in a barn at The Old Farmhouse…

The barn, now a garage, still contains a large brass ring that may have been used to tether the animal”

35. Almost next door’s the impressive The Lodge, which dates back to the mid 18th century. In World War II troops were stationed at Brixworth Hall & The Lodge housed the Officers’ Mess & the stables were home to some of the other ranks

Slightly further on’s the beautiful Pound House. If you look closely you’ll find a date stone showing 1594, but it’s generally thought that this relates to when that part of the building was a barn & the rest of it was added in 1709

36. Next up’s another public house, this time The Coach & Horses. The coaching inn dates back to the 1700’s & was known for its fast change of horses, a team of four being done in under four minutes

37. Continue up the road & stop outside the gateway to The Manor House…

The current Manor House was built around 1580 on the site of a 12th century manor that had a moat. In 1830 it was the home of the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire

38. Turn around & walk back, crossing the road onto the grassy area which was once The Pound. Most villages had them where straying livestock were enclosed until the owner paid a fee for their release…

Continue up the High Street…

…stopping outside Brixworth House on the right. As the guide tells us this house has strong links with the world of medicine. In 1881 it was the home of a surgeon & then, from 1903 to the 1960’s, a doctors surgery

39. High Street is rather lovely as it winds its way down to the junction with Silver Street to the right & Church Street to the left…

The house directly ahead at the junction was once The Old Crown, known locally because of the roads as ‘Three Ways’. It continued to serve alcohol until the 1950’s 

40. Turn right up narrow Silver Street…

Look for the Fox & Pheasant Cottage on the right which was once yet another public house dating back to the 17th century. In 1891 it was also one of eight butcher’s shops in the village

41. Slightly further on the left’s Steps Cottage which was once home to a shoemaker. The leaflet also tells us that one previous owner in the 1900’s cycled the four mile trip round to Sauls of Spratton where they worked. And, according to “one resident, his wife made the best bread & dripping in Brixworth

42. Come back down to the junction & continue past the Old Crown up Church Street…

…stopping outside Stone Court which, in the early 1900’s was yet another of the village’s butchers. Later it became a sweet shop & then home to a local doctor

43. Opposite’s the site of another pub, The Old Hare & Hounds which can be dated back to 1761. In 1847 it was listed as selling beer from Northampton’s own Phipps brewery

Back across the road’s Brixworth Community Centre. Originally in 1870 it house Brixworth Junior School & then in the 1930’s the village library

44. We’re now almost back to where we started this walk & it’s a beautiful little area of the village…

There are several points of interest here. Firstly All Saints Church Heritage Centre, which was originally a school built in 1811 bequeathed to provide funds to pay for the education of ten poor children from Scaldwell & Brixworth. To this day the charity still provides financial support for the education of children from both parishes

The school itself stopped being used for education in 1921, although it was opened up when the main school was full such as in World War II when lots of evacuees came to the village from London

45. Next door’s the wonderful Market Cross – just look at the way the stones have been worn over the centuries

Also known as a Butter Cross it was erected in 1268 to commemorate Henry III’s grant of a weekly market & annual fair in Brixworth

There’s also replicas of the village stocks…

These were placed here in the 1960’s although there is no real evidence that this was the site of the originals

46. Also behind the stocks & Market Cross is a building that was once the Old Fire Station which was Brixworth’s first. It opened in 1912 & had a horse-drawn appliance

Also here, with a blue plaque’s Mint Cottage & The Granary. Mint Cottage dates back to the 17th century & is one of the few still thatched houses in the village

The Granary was built around the late 1600’s, with lots of alterations in later centuries. In the 1940’s it was a cottage hospital

47. Cross the road & walk back up towards the Church once more…

Ahead’s the imposing & magnificent All Saints Church

All Saints, built around 680 AD is the largest surviving Anglo-Saxon building in the country & in 1930 the British architectural historian Sir Alfred Clapham called it “perhaps the most imposing architectural memorial of the 7th century yet surviving north of the Alps”

Whilst you’re in the churchyard have a look at the simple, yet poignant war memorial 

photo@historicengland

So that’s it…my look at the wonderful Brixworth Trail & it really shows off this beautiful village at its best. It’s also a great stroll for when the weather’s not so good

Thank you once again for those who allowed me to use the publications, especially the Brixworth History Society. I hope I’ve done it justice. Like I said, the booklet goes into far more detail about the various properties than I have here, so it’s well worth buying should you wish to know more

Go Walk!