History of Eastfield Park from medieval times to 1923

Eastfield Park is currently located entirely within the Borough of Northampton’s Eastfield Ward but from medieval times to 1900 the land fell within the Parishes of Abington and Weston Favell (that were in the Hundred of Spelhoe). A 1671 map of the Abington Estate shows that what is now the western half of the park was then part of a large wooded enclosure known as ‘The Bushie Close’. ‘Weston Great Close’, in the parish of Weston Favell, covered what is now the eastern half of the park. By late Victorian times, these large fields had been divided into smaller ones. The presence of areas of conspicuous ridge and furrow within the park is evidence of arable farming in medieval times but in more recent times it would appear that the land was mainly used as permanent pasture.

For the first quarter of the 20th century the park was part of the grounds of Weston Favell House, built in 1900 by James Manfield (son of Sir Philip Manfield who had founded the first machine-based shoe factory in Northampton). The lake and ponds within the park are artificial features constructed at that time. The lake was originally stocked with rainbow trout and used for boating and fishing. The ponds were part of ornamental gardens that were occasionally opened to the public to raise money for Northampton General Hospital. In May 1913, when the gardens were opened without charge, the Estate employed a Head Gardener with a staff of 14 assistants.

The house and gardens were separated from the rest of the park by a ha-ha which is still evident along part of boundary between Eastfield Park and the house. Also enclosed within the ha-ha was the Bull Ring consisting of 26 lime trees surrounding a statue of a man with a wild boar. The statue was a feature added by James Manfield and is no longer in the Park but the ring of trees is shown on 1886 Ordnance Survey maps and was described in the 1923 Weston Favell House Estate Sale Catalogue as being over 200 years old and possibly associated will bull baiting.

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