Rockingham Forest Landscapes
As the ancient forest was cleared and settlements created, wealthy landowners enclosed large parks and, in some cases, employed landscape architects. These landscape parks seem to have tried to re-capture an idyllic view of what the landscape had been, recreating in some respects the character of the forest and deer park lawns with their veteran trees. Sometimes they created lakes and often planted ornamental trees, some of which survive today. Often attempts were made to exclude common people from these areas but fortunately, in many cases, rights of way exist across or alongside some of these attractive features that contribute to the 21st century landscapes.
Stretching now to 230ha, the parkland which is part of Deene Park probably began to be created in the 1560s. The park lies in the valley of the Willow Brook, and that stream and its tributaries were dammed in several places to make fishponds and attractive lakes.
Well-marked footpaths cross the permanent pasture and there are many veteran and notable trees. There are extensive gardens near the house which are sometimes open to the public. See details
There are also wilder parts of the parkland, particularly around the lakes, where the reeds and fringing vegetation attract a range of aquatic wildlife.
The largest lake in particular hosts good numbers of wintering wildfowl and wading birds. In recent summers Ospreys have sometimes been seen fishing there too.
Bulwick Hall Park
A public footpath connects the villages of Deene and Bulwick passing through the two parkland areas. and following the Willow Brook. Bulwick Hall dates from the 17th century and there is an area of parkland close to the Hall and the village.
Most of the extensive Bulwick Estate lies to the west, stretching to the River Welland and almost as far as Gretton. There is a naturally regenerating quarry, areas of ancient woodland, grassland and sustainably managed arable fields. The estate is justly proud of its environmental credentials - see here -
and seems destined to be playing a very important part in the Rockingham Forest Vision.
A public footpath continues to follow the Willow Brook north to Blatherwycke, another small village at the centre of an extensive estate.
The Hall was demolished in 1948 but the walled garden and other features can still be seen from the minor road that crosses the Willow Brook at the south-west end of another lake.
The large lake here forms a significant landscape feature of this part of Rockingham Forest. There is a small heronry and, usually, hundreds of geese and other wildfowl.
This photograph was taken from the footpath that continues up over the watershed towards Fineshade.
Little remains of the parkland that formerly surrounded the Victorian mansion known as Fineshade Abbey. (It stood on the flat lawn on the left of this picture)
There are three small lakes fed by the Fineshade Brook and its tributary that originates in Laxton. The Jurassic Way long-distance path passes the site and gives great views above it .
This area of parkland lies to the south of Wakerley Great Wood. The hall was built in the 17th century and has now been converted into a residential care home for the Polish community. A public bridleway runs through the parkland.
As far as we know there is currently no public access to the parkland at Apethorpe Palace, nor can it be seen from any public rights of way.
Kirby Hall, one of England’s greatest Elizabethan and 17th-century houses, is normally open to the public and the small area of parkland that surroundis it is notable for its Peacocks and the proximity of Northant's largest rookery.
This parkland near Oundle also has no public access and can only be viewed from the A427 road that skirts it on the southern side.
This photo was taken from the bridleway that skirts the east side of the park and shows an impressive line of Lime trees.
Use the boxes below to see other important landscapes and habitats in Rockingham Forest
Rockingham Forest Vision:
landscapes for the future, inspired by the past