900 years ago, a community of nuns arrived at a quiet meadow on the river Nene just outside the medieval walls of Northampton to build their nunnery. The abbey has a rich history; in 1291 the wife of King Edward I, Eleanor of Castile’s body was lain to rest in the Abbey’s church overnight on her final journey to London for burial in Westminster Abbey. Soon after, Edward I, overcome with grief, had a stone cross erected on the lands of Delapré Abbey in memory of his beloved Queen.
In 1460 the site of the abbey became a battleground in the War of the Roses and in 1538 almost 400 years of quiet devotion at Delapré Abbey ended abruptly when Henry VIII laid waste to the churches and monasteries of Britain, evicting the nuns and selling the land to rich merchants.
Ownership of the abbey has changed hands over the years and its future has been in jeopardy, however thanks to the formation of the Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust and their work with Northampton Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, a major restoration project took place that would see the house transformed, brought back to life and opened to the public in 2018.
This week we made the most of the gorgeous spring weather and visited the abbey. We had a stroll around the remains of the former monastery, and the nationally protected War of the Roses battlefield. We gained a wealth of information about the history of the abbey and thoroughly enjoyed learning about its transition through time. It is a fascinating place.
A spot of lunch outside in the beautiful grounds with the sun shining down was the perfect way to conclude our visit.