Steeped in 900 years of British history, Delapré Abbey has played a major role in life in Northampton for centuries, but changes that have taken place over recent years have probably brought it closer to the community than ever before.
After once serving as a resting place for the body of Queen Eleanor, and passing into the ownership of various grand families, including the Tates and the Bouveries, Delapré fell into disrepair, only to see its fortunes turned around a decade or so ago.
Following significant restoration, the Abbey opened to the public in 2018 and was made available for weddings, events and conferences. Revenue from those events will enable future projects, including the restoration of the 19th Century stables as a hub for wellbeing and leisure.
At the same time, a determined effort began to give something back to the local community, particularly the neighbouring Delapré and Briar Hill areas, to make the historic abbey well and truly a part of the local community.
Following the coronavirus lockdowns, for instance, more than 7,500 families were given an Annual Pass for 2021/22 and, with an eye on the coming year, a host of activities are planned to attract visitors with a range that guarantees there’s something for everyone.
Richard Clinton, Chief Executive of Delapré Abbey, said:
“Since I started this role my priority has been to engage with local communities in and around Delapré, to support the community in being able to celebrate and explore what Delapré Abbey and its gardens have to offer.
“We have an essential role to play, in a community that faces many challenges caused by deprivation, not just in terms of heritage and culture but in wellbeing and the environment.”
The team is busy planning its popular activities for children and families for 2022. The Abbey will reopen for general admission on Sunday February 13, with a week of family fun and activities celebrating the Abbey’s early history. Among the events planned for 2022 are:
Wellbeing and wellness
February will see a Wellbeing and Wellness initiative in conjunction with partners from across the town including the University of Northampton and Northampton Sport, which has its base at Delapré.
Events will include workshops created by the community and led by Warts and All Theatre Company, which has worked with Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, Action for Happiness Northamptonshire, The General Practice Alliance Federation, Northampton Leisure Trust, Northamptonshire Sport and the University of Northampton, to set up the town’s first green wellbeing hub.
The wellbeing hub is one of 37 projects across the country to receive funding from the Thriving Communities Fund, which was set up to support communities to address the issues that they face as a result of COVID-19.
In Memorium, by artist Luke Jerram, will visit Delapré in April. Referencing those people who have been in hospital and care homes during this crisis, the touring art installation features flags created from bed sheets and arranged in the form of a medical logo.
Presented in the open air and in windy locations, the structure allows people to enter, contemplate and explore the artwork, whilst adhering to the rules of social distancing.
The Abbey team will announce a programme of events for the public to attend and be involved with in the New Year.
Fun for all the family
For two weekends in June and August, the grounds will host Funtopia, a fun-filled event with bouncy castles, obstacle course, inflatable slide, bungee run, giant games, Space Hopper races and more – all included in the price of a wristband.
Designed for visitors up to the age of 10 (with an area specially for the under-fives) the grown-ups are encouraged to join in the fun and enjoy a family day out. A food court will be open and there will be a range of artisan and trade stalls. There will also be live entertainment from local performers.
Taking place on June 11 and 12, and August 13 and 14, Funtopia will be open between 11am and 5pm and wristband holders can stay as long as they like.
Ticket prices are free for those under 90cm tall, £10 for children over that height and £2.50 for adults, and family tickets are available. There’s no need to book, just turn up on the day.
For any business looking to celebrate with staff after a difficult couple of years, the Abbey is open for corporate summer parties. Enjoy a tranquil town centre location steeped in history and sumptuously decorated rooms.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest
To find out more about what’s coming up at the Abbey visit delapreabbey.org