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Towering Over Wothorpe

1600

Information

Wothorpe Towers is a grade 1 listed building on the edge of the Soke of Peterborough. It was commissioned by Thomas Cecil of Burghley House in around 1600 as a lodge. Being so close to Burghley Park, it did not have its own deer park, as many lodges do. The land was originally in the ownership of Crowland Abbey and a small nunnery existed there. Following the reformation the land was gained by Richard Cecil, who was Groom of the Robes in Henry VIII's court and Thomas Cecil's grandfather. Sadly, the building is completely ruinous. The four towers thankfully remain and provide the building with its distinctive silhouette. They are four stories high, which allowed them to stand above the three-storey house. However the main living space has all been lost, with the exception of a central spine wall and a few additions. The ruins of Wothorpe Towers is in private ownership, but the gardens are being landscaped for visitors.





Wothorpe Priory: Nuns on a Hill

1349

Information

Wothorpe Priory was situated in Wothorpe near to Stamford. It was home to a small group of nuns who lived in what is now, the highest point of the Soke of Peterborough. Records show that the priory existed in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, but the Black Death of 1349 spelt the end of the priory. All of the nuns had either died or moved away, leaving the priory in dire straights. So in 1353-4 the priory, with only one remaining nun named Agnes Bowes, was united with St. Michael's nunnery of Stamford. The land was given to Richard Cecil of Burghley House during the reformation. His grandson Thomas Cecil later built Wothorpe Towers upon the land. Considerable features remain in the surrounding fields which may be buildings from the priory, but the area is scheduled and in private hands. Reference: 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: The priory of Wothorpe', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, ed. R M Serjeantson and W R D Adkins (London, 1906), p. 101. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol2/p101 [accessed 14 November 2018].





Maxey Castle Built

1370

Information

Maxey Castle was built by Sir William de Thorp around 1370 and was a small defensible castle. The castle buildings have long disappeared, but many documents relate to the house and land. There are remaining earthworks that hint at the former majesty of the site which include a moat and fish ponds. The castle, or manor, sat on an island in the middle of a large moat, which remains on three sides. A drawing exists of the castle from 1543 suggesting it consisted of a keep or tower surrounded by high stone walls and towers.  However, it was only in use for a couple of hundred years before falling into disrepair. Some of the stones may have gone to Conington and been incorporated in a castle there. (1) Documents in national and local record collections detail the leasing of lands around Maxey Castle to Richard Cecil by Henry VIII who was also 'Constable or Warden of Maxey Castle and Bailiff of the lordship of Maxey'. (2) Later the lands were leased to William Cecil by Princess Elizabeth; items leased included 'Ladiebridgclose' in Maxey and the 'greate garden of Le Marre' (3) which was part of the grounds of Maxey Castle. They originally belonged to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, who was Henry VIII's grandmother and owned many properties in the area. The site is scheduled and in private hands, so it is not possible to view the moat, which is now obscured  by trees. However, a public footpath takes walkers close to old fish ponds belonging to the castle. References:
  1. 'Parishes: Conington', in A History of the County of Huntingdon: Volume 3, ed. William Page, Granville Proby and S Inskip Ladds (London, 1936), pp. 144-151. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hunts/vol3/pp144-151 [accessed 23 November 2018].
  2. Northamptonshire Archives F (M) Charter/2285
  3. Northamptonshire Archives F (M) Charter/2286