Local Interest

Page last updated: 27/01/19

Lyveden New Bield
The Re-Discovery Story
Working with the Local Community

Mark Bradshaw’s primary role at Lyveden was to bring the Tresham garden back from near oblivion. He also wanted the property and the local community to benefit from the work being done here. A primary example of this was school visits which typically took place once or twice in each school term. For these visits, individual classes or groups of children would visit for a day of activities. A number of annual events such as Easter egg hunt, apple pressing, Halloween and Christmas wreath making were also organised, together with guided tours of the lodge or garden. In addition, ‘one-off’ events of general interest to visitors were organised, examples being Elizabethan days; kite flying; falconry event; brass band days.

School & Club Visits.
“We did a lot with schools (particularly William Law School at Werrington), and the School Guardianship Scheme over probably 10 years.” Visits by individual classes or year groups were organised 3 or 4 times a year – particularly during the Spring and Summer terms.

The children would take part in various activities, often relating to the history of the building, the wildlife in the moats, or the plant species in the meadows.

“Oundle primary school used to make annual visits, and we had a close partnership with Lodge Park school in Corby. They came regularly over a number of years to undertake research and study. Oundle School often used Lyveden as a waypoint for students undertaking orienteering events for their Duke of Edinburgh Award. Local Cub and Scout groups, also used to visit, and we’d arrange various activities and even overnight camps.”

Below are a number of photographs illustrating the typical range of activities undertaken by the children.

Bield construction features.

Exploring the garden . . .

. . . and the orchard

Preparing winter feeders for birds

Human chain to replenish . . .

. . . gravel in the New Bield


Making hurdle fencing in Lady Wood

Returning from Lady Wood with handfuls of carefully selected materials . . .

. . . to then create some imaginative designs.

Making kites . . .

. . . and flying them

Education, exploration and exercise . . .

. . . and rounders to end the day

Lyveden Way.
A new footpath was created linking Wadenhoe to Brigstock Country Park. The walk took visitors through Fermyn Woods and along the historic Lyveden Way, which was restored and officially reopened in 2005 as part of the 400th anniversary of Lyveden New Bield.

Our outdoor volunteers used to help maintain the route between Lilford Wood through to the forestry track west of Lady Wood. This involved using the flail mower 2 or 3 times a year to keep the grass under control; using loppers/brush cutters to keep the hedge line back from encroaching onto the footpath (once/year); and using strimmers/loppers to keep the undergrowth back so that the route sign posts were clearly visible (once/year).

Art Installations.

Year of the Artist.

In the summer of 2000, the Lodge and its surrounding fields were used for an art exhibition by Rosalind Stoddart to celebrate the ‘Year of the Artist’.

Works in Stone.

In 2006, an exhibition of stone sculpture was held at Lyveden in partnership with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. A press release for the event stated that:

Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, a visual arts organisation based in rural east Northamptonshire, is joining forces with its near neighbour, National Trust property Lyveden New Bield, for an exciting programme of art exhibitions and events.

Works in local stone are part of an exhibition by leading sculptor Peter Randall-Page at Lyveden throughout the summer. Seeds in Stone links modern stone creations with the carvings of the 16th century master craftsmen who laboured on the incomplete garden lodge built to represent Sir Thomas Tresham’s catholic faith. The exhibition takes place at Lyveden New Bield from Saturday 27 May to Sunday 3 September.

The show is complemented by an exhibition at nearby Fermynwoods Contemporary Art of Peter’s drawings and prints. Seeds on Paper runs from Friday 26 May to Sunday 30 July.

The third exciting element of the collaboration is an audio-guided walk along the three miles of public footpaths between Fermynwoods Contemporary Art and Lyveden New Bield. Created by artists’ group Watch This Space, the audio guide features contributions by local people and landowners, including the Duke of Gloucester, on the history, folklore and natural sights along the route. The Footpath Project (title tbc), which runs from Friday 26 May to Sunday 3 September, features four special events, including a family picnic day on Sunday 13 August.

In future, we would hope to discover some photographs of this exhibition to add to this website.

Elizabethan Enactment events.

A number of events were held in 2003 & 2004 to provide visitors with a taste of life from the Elizabethan age.

  • 8th June 2003Elizabethan Day – held on a beautiful day to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth 1st.
  • 30th May 2004Elizabethan pastimes. Find out about Elizabethan gardening, try woodturning on a pole lathe and see the art of traditional willow making.
  • 5/6th June 2004Elizabethan Music. A great opportunity to see and hear the superb and talented duo Hautbois, teaching and performing the musical instruments of the late Tudor period. Fantastic for all the family.
  • 17/18th July 2004Tudor Travellers. What was everyday existence like for the travelling folk. A fantastic historical re-enactment of life in the late sixteenth century.
  • 14/15 August 2004The Potage Cook and Peddlar. Jack Greene demonstrates his mix of lotions and potions while Jenny Templeton cooks up an Elizabethan cuisine.

This selection of photographs provides a ‘flavour’ of these events . . .

As always, the Bradshaw family and their garden, helped at the event, particularly with refreshments. Mark himself was in charge of preparing some authentic Elizabethan fayre – sausages and burgers!

Falconry Display.

Held on 15/16th May 2004 – see these beautiful birds in action and even try your hand at this majestic Elizabethan pursuit, in the perfect rural setting of Lyveden New Bield.

HRH Prince Charles visits Lyveden.

In July 2002, Prince Charles made a private visit to Lyveden, and was given a tour of the New Bield and the Elizabethan garden by Mark. The Prince seemed relaxed and appeared to enjoy the visit. He even indicated that he would enjoy a return visit to do some painting, but that return visit has not happened – yet.

Ever one to seize the opportunity, Mark apparently mentioned to the Prince, concerns about the Duke’s plan for a motor cycle track, and the effect of the anticipated noise on places such as Lyveden. Perhaps the plans were only a rumour, but the race track never materialised.

Lady Wood.
Lady Wood lies to the south west of Corner Copse. It is owned by the Forestry Commission, but it is a neglected hazel wood in need of some care.

The following text is taken from a document written by Mark Bradshaw in 2006: The National Trust has recently joined forces with the Forestry Commission to help restore an area of historic woodland. Just to the south of Lyveden New Bield, alongside the Lyveden Way lies Lady Wood – one of the largest blocks of woodland within the Rockingham Forest. An area of around 10 acres is being restored as hazel and ash coppice with the support of volunteer groups. Mark Bradshaw, Property Manager at Lyveden explains, “This is a wonderful part of Lady Wood which still has a sense of the old ancient Forest. Restoring the woodland by hand, as opposed to using heavy machines, will help preserve the delicate ground flora and ensure that most of the timber is used either as fencing, hedging stakes or fuel.” As well as using their own team of volunteers the National Trust are also working with volunteer groups. “We have recently enjoyed the help from the Ministry of Defence and later this month we have groups from Powergen and Unilever” say Mark. Next time you are walking the footpath from Lyveden to Brigstock, why not have a look in, or contact Mark if you are available to volunteer too!

Work started in October 2006 by installing a bridge across a drainage ditch to give access into the wood, and then cut a 12 metre wide ‘drive’ from this bridge, southwards to leave the wood onto a Forestry Commission track. A second east/west ‘drive’ was cleared just inside the wood, meeting another forestry track at the west end, and ending at the boundary at the east end. This work involved cutting down some reasonably large trees, and cutting out the hazel/hawthorn/blackthorn scrub. The brash produced by this clearing work was burned on site, on the line of these ‘rides’.

The Lyveden outdoor volunteer team numbered between 6 and 10 at that time, spread over 2 days each week. Most their time from October through to March was spent on this task – ride clearing work was largely completed during that first winter.

The next priority was to coppice the hazel stools to encourage new growth; this was carried out over the next few years during the winter season. A local thatcher was also involved, clearing most of the eastern section of the wood, and taking the timber he needed for making hazel thatching ‘spars’.

The Lyveden teams worked on the western side, producing a significant quantity of stakes and binders to be used when hedge laying back at the property. This photograph shows that getting a load of stakes and binders back, was not always straightforward, particularly if the trailer tipping catch started failing.

Later, two picnic benches were installed where the two ‘rides’ crossed just inside the wood, and another bench placed about half way up the central ‘ride’. Numbered marker post were added, and a walk leaflet produced for visitors to the property. This walk followed the Lyveden Way to Lady Wood, where it entered the wood to take a circular route round the ‘rides’, before returning to Lyveden on the Lyveden Way. In order to maintain this walk, the Lyveden Outdoor Team occasionally mowed the paths, and strimmed around the benches and bridges.

[(2018 note) The arrangement with the Forestry Commission has now lapsed. The walk is no longer made available to visitors, and Lyveden Way and Lady Wood are no longer maintained by the Lyveden team.]

Church Services & Sunday events.
“From time to time, we’d hold church services that would bring hundreds up for those occasions.

“These were held, probably once a year, outside the lodge. Typically, it would be the 5th Sunday in one of the summer months when the local church did not have a service. The events tended to be in association with Benefield Church, and the services were taken by the local Vicar, or Cannon. There was often quite a large congregation, with groups from Oundle and the surrounding area.

“We also had musical events on Sundays, which involved local brass bands from Yarwell, Corby, Thrapston, and Gretton. All these events brought large numbers of visitor to the property, and many would return for individual visits to see more of the Bield and the Elizabethan Garden.”

Kite flying.

One of the features of the environment at Lyveden is its open aspect making it an ideal location on a breezy day for kite flying. In April 2007, a kite flying event took place:

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