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Abington Park (Northampton)

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4 Reviews

East Midlands / England

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    4 Reviews
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      18.10.2013 17:08
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      Sits well in Northampton

      Abington Park is one of the finest parks in the country, that there's no doubt. But I have already reviewed it here and so I want to talk about the parks museum, strangely enough called Abington Park Museum.

      The museum is a relic in itself, one of those boring old grey houses that could never be used as anything but a museum, a listed building with a definite list. Again, I can't tell you just how gorgeous Abington Park is in the autumn unless you come see it for yourself but sadly I can't say the same about the museum and its contents. The fact the museum its open just six months of the year and for only three days a week (Thur - Sun) and just 4 hours on those days day (1-5pm) is all you need know how popular it is, the Natural History Museums 'mums and baby' changing rooms bigger and more exciting than this place.

      The original building was built by an architect called Sir John Bernard and purchased by the Thursby family before being passed on to the Wantage Estate, who converted it to a lunatic asylum from 1854-1892, before it was given to Northampton by Lady Wantage and turned it into a museum to welcome in the twentieth century. But it's most famous for being the once home to Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Bernard in the 1700s. If you are into Shakespeare's history and stuff she is buried just across the walkway in the church family crypt below the rather creepy graveyard of St Peters & Paul, also set on the Park grounds, the park space previously a village from the 1600s. 50 yards the other way and you have the place where the town dunking stool punishments used to take place, now known as 'waterboarding', of course.


      The contents are perfunctory for this type of small local museum. Lots of cabinets and displays packed full of social and military history of the town plus plenty of exhibits from around the county of Northamptonshire. The walls are dressed with dark and grim faded masterpieces or woven things 'bought back' back from explorer's expeditions to the New World. That military presence is surprisingly strong here with the familiar blood red uniform, bayonet and pointed hats from the Empire wars to the more modern khaki conflicts 60% of the museum. Corporal Jones off Dads Army would love it in here. World War Two has lots of exhibits on show and the effect on the town and the people who fought in it, and those under the bombs. There's a peaceful religious alcove that list all the names from the area who died in the Great Wars and powerful war poetry over the top being narrated from the speakers, probably Sassoon.

      Lots of 'oldy worldy' stuff like 1850s kitchen implements and the like can be suitably breezed past on the sign-posted track around the building and to be fair not that much of interest to people like me in the museum. The grand Oak Room is impressive but no real wow factor to be found in most rooms. It really is a mishmash of stuff, an example being a sarcophagus in the reception area next to an ornate tall and proud grandfather clock and then some shields and African masks in the opposite corner. It has no real continuity to the place and if there is a free space somewhere and a new donation come sin you can see that the curator basically fills the whole. Occasionally they move exhibits from other county museums and display them here but not the good stuff by the looks as the security isn't that great. This place is parochial in every way. And yes there is lots of shoes and leather stuff littering the cabinets, Northampton's tedious claim to fame. I can think of anything worse to be famous for apart from a concentration camp.

      It has kid's sessions and play areas for those three afternoons it is open although there was a grand total of 6 people in the building when I visited last week. The two middle aged ladies at reception said there had been 25 in all day and so amazing that this place has survived the cuts. With a bit of distraction chat I reckon my accomplices could have backed a fork lift in and bagged the sarcophagus although it would stand out in the local Cash Converters.

      It's basically an easy to organize school trip place or somewhere to pass the time as the cloak of winter sweeps over Europe although I did it in 20 minutes and with the museum closing for the winter in a fortnight it may never open again its that empty of willing visitors.







      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiTWHaVgGNI

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        04.07.2009 16:54
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        fab park to wind down and relax!

        While living in Northampton,i loved taking a long relaxing stroll around Abington Park just off of Wellingborough road. The park is very open and although there are plenty of people around, there is always plenty of space to set up a picnic. There are plenty of trees and flowers to see and it feels as if your miles and miles away from any town!

        There is a small lake/pond to walk around with plenty of ducks for the kids to feed! there are no barriers so keep an eye of the kids!

        There is a nice museum to explore with plenty of displays abour Northamptonshire! The museum is free entry and open Thursday to Sunday.

        In the park there is a little cafe serving basic food, ice creams and drinks, these are reasonably priced and have indoor and outdoor seating, which is very ncie in the sunny weather.

        Another nice point to the park is the small Avery. This is great for the kids to see a range of birds and ofcourse it is free!

        I find the park is very accessably to push chairs and wheel chairs and so is the museum.

        The park has various events through-out the year, which are advertised on the gates entering the park and dotted on notice boards around the park.

        A wonderful park to visit with a variety of things to do and see!

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          11.06.2009 13:54
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          a nice day out on a sunny day

          Abington Park Northampton

          Abington on the whole is a lovely park but as well as all its plus points it does have some bad points

          The park is located about a 5min drive or 20 minute walk for the centre of Northampton. Abington park a huge park and has some thing for every one.
          The swing park is very big and some thing for all ages the only problem is at the minute is that the park has a mini train for the children to play on but it keeps getting destroyed and every time it is replaced this happens again, which is such a same because all the children love the train.

          There are two lakes in the park where you can walk round or feed the ducks the only problem I find is the ducks get fed that much that they are not really that bother about the bread.

          There are huge amounts of open grass in the park so even on the most busy sunny day you can always find a place away from people to have a quite sun bath or a picnic in peace.

          There is lot of history in the park , the park includes the site of a deserted medieval village which dates back to the 1300's. there is a museum in the park which is hosed in a 15th century manor house, the museum is only open at limited times but when open is very good as they do crafts things to do with children on day a week. There is a church with in the grounds of the park this is St Peters & St Paul's this is where Shakespeare Granddaughter is buried.

          There is also a café in the park that sells ice cream, drinks, meals, footballs, snacks and nuts to feed the squirrels. The snack and drinks are ok but the meals are very over priced.

          There are come caged birds at the park but their cages are very run down and they really don't look that clean,

          There is also a band stand at the park which on sunny day has bands playing which is lovely to sit and watch.

          The park is also often used for local events, dog shows, it did use to host the town show and often the is a fair at the park

          Overall the park is great for taking the children for a cheap day out but little things like the toilets which I just would not use let the park down. But give it a go great for getting tan

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            30.01.2009 11:49
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            A bit of a gem and free for everyone to enjoy

            I thought I'd take a little break from all my India and Bhutan reviews and write about somewhere much closer to home.

            I've lived not far from Northampton for over 4 years now and it's fair to say that I'm generally pretty rude about what the town has to offer. I don't venture into the centre very often - it always seems to be full of yobby kids and there's not a lot to excite me on the shopping front. However, if you take a small trip just out of the centre, there's a park that's well worth a visit.

            I lived in the area for over a year before discovering that Abington Park even existed and even then, only because my husband signed our cats up with a vet near the park. It was a further two years before I went to take a proper look. A friend from Norfolk was visiting in autumn and we needed somewhere to pass an afternoon. Since the things worth seeing in Northants tend to shut as soon as August passes, we decided to check out Abington Park and Museum.

            **How to find Abington Park**

            There may be many ways of getting there but for me, if I were in the centre of Northampton, I'd head east up the Wellingborough Rd (or Welly Road as it's known locally), and turn sharp right round the weird roundabout - or alternatively, down the Bedford Rd and turn Left.

            The park is massive and if you drive roughly in the right direction, it's so big you'll struggle to miss it. The park is bisected by a road not too surprisingly called Park Avenue. Most of the facilities lie to the west of the road but the largest part of the park is to the right. We parked up at the south east side of the park and walked back to the eastern area.

            **What you will find**

            The park was opened in 1897 and was the first public park in Northampton. It must have been exceptionally valuable back in the days where few people had gardens and living standards were poor. I had few expectations of what we'd find and I have to admit I was really impressed. We started out by visiting the museum which is one of two in the town run by the local council. In addition to general household and historical objects, the museum also hosts the collection of the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry. The building is a grade one listed and dates to the 15th century when it was a manor house that was once the home of one of Shakespeare's granddaughters. The park grounds would have been the gardens and land of the house. Close by the museum is the beautiful small church of St Peter and St Paul where the aforementioned granddaughter was buried.

            Other attractions in this part of the park include bowling greens and tennis courts, a small aromatic herb garden which was apparently created for the blind, a rather bizarre aviary, a popular café and a terrific old traditional bandstand. On the afternoon we visited a male voice choir was belting out some tunes whilst the good folk of Northampton sat or lay on the grass in the sunshine.

            On the east side of Park Avenue you'll find the largest area of land. The road is lined by horsechestnut trees and slopes steeply down to a very large children's playground and a beautiful lake where local anglers like to fish and people walk round the lake to feed the ducks and watch the birds. Traditionally the mayor of the town plants a tree each year to mark his or her time in office. At the very far side of the lake you can find the remains of a deserted medieval village that dates back to the 13th century and see an old pigeonry that's several centuries old.

            The park also offers facilities for local sports teams who can hire football,cricket, rugby and hockey pitches by the hour as well as renting changing facilities. I think that starts to give you a sense of just how big it is.

            The remarkable thing about Abington Park is that even though it's very popular with local people there's still always plenty of space. It's so big that it seldom feels crowded and everyone should be able to find their own bit of space. I wouldn't suggest to go out of your way to visit, but if you find yourself in Northampton with time to spare, it's a lovely place for a visit.

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