Pages 152-164

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 2, Archaeological Sites in Central Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1979.

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In this section


(OS 1:10000 a SP 88 SE, b SP 98 SW)

The parish covers some 640 hectares and lies immediately N. of Kettering. It is of irregular shape and is bisected by the R. Ise, here flowing S. in a broad, open valley where narrow bands of limestones, silts, clays and sands are exposed. On the higher land in the E. and W. of the parish at around 106 m. above OD are large areas of Boulder Clay. The major Roman settlements recorded here, (1) and (2), are part of the large occupation area within and to the N. of Kettering (see Kettering (6)).

The most interesting area of the parish is that now occupied by the park around Boughton House. Here the land-use and occupation of many centuries has been encapsulated by landscaping, and many different stages in the archaeological development of this area have been preserved. The abandoned medieval village of Boughton (8) still remains as earthworks, together with the ridge-and-furrow of its fields (12) and the late medieval deer park (9) which replaced the fields can be traced. The subsequent 17th-century extension of the park led to changes in the road system of the adjacent village of Weekley. Parts of the original layout survive (6). Finally the elaborate late 17th and early 18th-century gardens and park (11), which themselves had a complex history of development, remain almost completely intact. These latter are among the most impressive and well preserved of any in the county.

Prehistoric and Roman

A Palaeolithic hand-axe has been recorded from the parish (PPS, 29 (1963), 383). An Iron Age coin of the Coritani was found in 1895, between Corby and Kettering, perhaps in the ironstone quarries of this parish (NM), and a Roman coin S. of the village in 1965 (SP 887808; KM; NM Records).

a(1) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (centred SP 875812; Fig. 12), probably the continuation of Kettering (6), in the W. of the parish, on limestone at 99 m. above OD. Some of the miscellaneous discoveries made in the ironstone quarries, and listed under Kettering (6), may have come from this parish. Certainly Iron Age coins, including a silver one of Tasciovanus and a quarter stater of Cunobelinus (NM Records), and Roman coins have been found in the area. Three skeletons, one in a lead coffin, are also recorded (VCH Northants., I (1902), 194; PSA (2nd series), 24 (1911–2), 223–4). A large Iron Age pot (KM) has been found in Weekley Hall Wood (SP 8781) during ironstone-working (Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc., 26 (1950), 55–6) and some Belgic Pedestal Urns are also listed from the parish (Arch. J., 88 (1930), Appendix 328–50). Other finds without provenance include a brooch (OS Record Cards) and a Roman coin and samian ware (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 530). More specifically, recent excavations, after the stripping of topsoil prior to ironstone-mining S.E. of Weekley Hall Wood (SP 874813), revealed ninety-seven post-holes and two small pits dated to the late Bronze or early Iron Age. Some post-holes were arranged in square or rectangular groups and were interpreted as possible granaries. Two shallow ditches, 10 m. apart and traceable for over 30 m., may have been flanking ditches of a droveway or track (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 4–5; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 1 (1971), 4). Further E. (at SP 865824) Roman pottery has been found within pits in quarry faces (inf. P. Foster). The general area of Roman settlement extends further N. again into Geddington parish (see Geddington (4)).

a(2) Iron Age Settlement and Roman Buildings and Kilns (SP 884818), N.N.E. of the village, on the tip of a spur at 100 m. above OD, on limestone and Boulder Clay. Before 1720 a 'Roman pavement and foundations' were turned up by the plough in this area, and a 'long trench' stretching a considerable distance into Boughton Park was noted (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 344). This trench is almost certainly the medieval and later hollow-way N. of Weekley village (see (6)). A later authority adds that several Roman and Anglo-Saxon coins were also found here (Whellan, Dir., 814). The site was said by the OS to be at SP 88458174 but no other finds have been made at that location in recent years (OS Record Cards). In 1970 air photographs of the area immediately to the W. revealed a series of rectangular ditched enclosures, and excavations took place before destruction by ironstone-mining. A D-shaped enclosure was excavated, the ditches of which contained late Iron Age pottery. Inside were traces of a single circular hut, not dated, and a number of pits. Another enclosure, rectangular in form, was also examined, and here the surrounding ditch produced large quantities of pottery and kiln debris dating from the late 1st century A.D. The enclosure itself was undated. A third enclosure, also rectangular, with an entrance on the E. side, and with a V-shaped ditch 3 m. deep, was thought to date from the mid 1st century, and may be connected with military activity. Six pottery kilns, producing large storage jars, dating from the end of the 1st century A.D., a lime kiln of the same period, and a length of road were also discovered (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 26; 6 (1971), 18, Plate 10 (4); 7 (1972), 8; Britannia, 2 (1971), 266; 4 (1973), 128–40; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 1 (1971), 7; 2 (1972), 8; DOE, Arch. Excavations 1971, (1972), 12; air photographs in NMR).

b(3) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 901814), immediately S. of Boughton House, on limestone at 115 m. above OD. When the bowling green was made in the late 17th century a Roman coin, and 'foundation stones of buildings, and human bones' were discovered (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 344; VCH Northants., I (1902), 194). Recently more wall footings have been noted to the N. With the exception of the Roman coin it is not known whether these remains are Roman or part of the deserted village of Boughton (8).

Medieval and Later

A penny of Offa was found in about 1944 (at SP 88428024; OS Record Cards; lost).

(4) Anglo-Saxon Burial (?) (unlocated), found in 1846 at Weekley. Two skeletons, a dagger and a spearhead were discovered (Meaney, Gazetteer, 196).

a(5) Moat (SP 89038063; Fig. 135; Plate 7), lies in the S.E. of the village, on limestone and clay at 67 m. above OD. It is situated on ground falling S. and E. to the R. Ise, and was originally filled by springs within and to the N.W. of it. A roughly L-shaped island is surrounded by a trapezoidal ditch which widens considerably at the S.E. corner. On the W. the ditch has largely been filled in and on the S. it is now a modern garden. Elsewhere it remains about 1 m. deep, with a very wide, spread, outer bank on the S., E. and N. sides which presumably retained the water. There are no indications of any original entrances or causeways. The interior slopes considerably from N.W. and S.E. and is occupied by an 18th-century house and garden. On a map of 1730–50 (copy in NRO; original in private hands) the ditch is shown complete and water-filled with the island the same shape as now, and the present house already there. A bridge is depicted crossing the ditch at the S. end of the W. side, and on the N. side of the island is written 'where the old Hall stood'. Also marked on the map, in an earlier hand, are some imaginative representations of buildings in the interior. A few sherds of medieval pottery, including one piece of Lyveden-type green-glazed ridge tile, as well as limestone rubble, have been found on the site. One medieval coin (undated, lost) is also recorded.

Fig. 135 Weekley (5) Moat

The moat is said to be the site of the manor house of Weekley but nothing is known of its history (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 334; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 52; RAF VAP 540/474, 4049–50).

a(6) Hollow-Way and Settlement Remains (centred SP 889811), lie N. of the existing village, on limestone at 76 m. above OD.

The present main street of the village runs N. to the church and terminates in a small open space or green. There has been no through road to the N. since at least the early 18th century (NRO, various maps of Weekley and Boughton), but N.E. of the church and just within the park of Boughton House, a broad hollow-way runs N.E. from the existing green. At first it is well marked, up to 14 m. wide and 2 m. deep, but after about 150 m. it fades out and splits into two. One branch, only 6 m. wide and 0.5 m. deep, runs E. for 100 m. until it disappears on the edge of ridge-and-furrow. The other branch continues the line of the original hollow-way northwards across the park, but only as a very broad, open depression. It can be traced for some 600 m. until it meets the present main road (A 43) at the bend near the Keeper's Lodge (SP 891816). This hollow-way is undoubtedly the original N.—S. main road between Geddington and Weekley, abandoned when the Park was extended during the reign of Charles I; it was replaced by the present road to the W. (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 353).

Near the church the hollow-way also forms one side of a massive enclosure, covering at least 2.5 hectares, immediately N. of the village. Its E. side is the hollow-way, and where the latter bifurcates, as noted above, a scarp, up to 2 m. high and much damaged by later quarrying, turns W. and runs for some 200 m. until, just short of the present main road, it turns S. Here it takes the form of a double scarp 1.5 m. high. It can be traced for about 100 m., after which it gradually disappears and is replaced by a ditch 10 m. across and 0.25 m. deep. This in turn extends to the edge of the village. No S. side to this enclosure can be traced and its date and purpose are unknown. This enclosure certainly existed in the mid 18th century when it and the hollow-way were recognised and described by William Stukeley in 1744. On the evidence of a single Roman coin found near by Stukeley 'judged Weekley camp ... to be another Roman Camp' (Surtees Soc., 80 (1887), 66). Either the enclosure or the hollow-way may be the mysterious 'trench' first recorded by Bridges in the early 18th century and also thought to be Roman (see (2); J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 344).

Fig. 136 Weekley (7) Site of watermills

a(7) Site of Watermills (SP 88958025; Fig. 136), in the extreme S.E. corner of the parish beside the R. Ise, on alluvium at 63 m. above OD. The earthworks are the remains of two mills, known as Weekley Mills, which were still in existence in the early 19th century (NRO, Enclosure Map of Weekley, 1808; 1st ed. 1 in. OS map (1835)). They consist of a long and partly raised inlet channel, now dry, which formerly drew water from the R. Ise some distance to the N.E. To the S. the site of the mill itself is now marked by some ashlar and rubble walling, with later brick additions probably of the 18th or early 19th century. The wheel-pit and two overflow channels all lead into round-headed culverts, which empty into two parallel tail-race channels. These then run S.E. to meet the river.

b(8) Deserted Village of Boughton (SP 901816; Figs. 137 and 138; Plate 22), lies immediately N.E. of Boughton House, on a low spur between two shallow valleys, on limestone at 85 m. above OD.

Fig. 137 Weekley (8) Deserted village of Boughton, (9) Deer park, (11) Garden remains

The village is first documented in 1086 when Domesday Book lists a recorded population of eleven, divided between two manors, the larger belonging to Bury St. Edmunds Abbey and gelding for one hide, the other held by Gunfrid de Cioches and gelding for half a hide (VCH Northants., I (1902), 317–8, 347). The village is mentioned by name in Nomina Villarum of 1316. In the 1334 Lay Subsidy Rolls (PRO, E179/155/3) Boughton was assessed at 9s. 3½d., one of the smallest assessments in the county. In 1377 the Poll Tax Returns (PRO, El79/155/27–9) record 12 tax payers over the age of 14, again among the lowest in the county. In 1473 the smaller manor acquired a crenellated mansion, and the park (9) was constructed. Presumably the village had either disappeared before that date or was then finally removed. This manor was purchased in 1528 by Sir Edward Montagu. The larger manor was granted away from Bury St. Edmunds Abbey at an unknown date and was also eventually purchased by Montagu. In 1547 600 sheep are recorded as being maintained on the manor. By the end of the 17th century the present house and gardens (11) had been constructed and the village had entirely disappeared (K.J. Allison, et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 35–6).

Fig. 138 Weekley (8) Deserted village of Boughton

Clearly the earthworks that exist represent only part of the original village. The rest may have lain on the site of the present house, stables and gardens to the S. In the gardens 'foundation stones of buildings' are said to have been dug up when the bowling green was made in the late 17th century (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 344). More recently other wall footings have been noted immediately to the N. (local inf.). However it is not known whether these are medieval or part of a Roman site (see (3)).

The main feature of the existing earthworks is a deeply cut hollow-way running N.—S. and crossing the lower part of the spur. It is up to 20 m. wide and 2 m. deep, although the central section has been almost completely filled in. To the W. of the hollow-way are at least two well-marked platforms bounded by scarps, the larger of which has a rectangular depression in its S.E. corner. Further N. are other scarps. To the E. of the hollow-way is a series of low banks and scarps, forming no coherent pattern except for one possible building platform cut back into the hill-side. These earthworks are separated from the adjacent ridge-and-furrow to the E. by a well-marked ditch. This may not be contemporary with the rest of the village remains.

b(9) Deer Park (centred SP 900815; Fig. 137), lay somewhere in the area of the present ornamental park around Boughton House. In 1473 Richard Whitehall obtained licence to enclose a park at Boughton, presumably covering the land formerly belonging to the deserted village of Boughton (8). In the 17th century this park was enlarged by Sir Edward Montagu (see (11)). This enlargement seems to have been the area W. of the R. Ise and N. of Weekley village (see (6)). Since then the park has remained part of the formal and informal landscaping around the gardens of Boughton House (11) (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 220).

The exact area of the original late medieval park is not known with certainty. Hardly any of the boundaries survive on the ground and it is probable that it was never surrounded by the massive earthen bank which characterised many of the earlier parks. However it is possible to suggest a tentative outline, partly from field evidence and partly from early 18th-century maps. The N. boundary of the park was probably the same as the present walled and hedged boundary of the 18th-century park which follows the modern Geddington-Grafton Underwood road (SP 89948216–91148133). Along this section a large but much spread bank, with traces of an inner ditch, survives in places.

Fig. 139 Weekley (10) Pillow mound

From the N.E. corner of the present park (SP 91148133) the boundary of the medieval park probably continued S.W. and then W., following the line that exists today, and as it was in 1715 (Map of estate, Boughton House, copy in NRO) though no trace of a bank other than a modern hedge bank is visible (SP 90558063–89458075). To the E. of Weekley village this line runs into the marshy ground along the R. Ise, and the land beyond appears to be the area brought into the park in the 17th century. From this point the boundary of the park probably followed the original course of the R. Ise, before the latter was altered to form part of the gardens (11) in the late 17th century.

b(10) Pillow Mound (?) (SP 90158152; Fig. 139), lies immediately E. of Boughton House, on the S.W. side of a small valley, on limestone at 80 m. above OD.

The remains lie on a long curving scarp, up to 2 m. high, which is a headland and positive lynchet formed by the ploughing of the adjacent ridge-and-furrow to the S.W. At this point the existing ridge-and-furrow terminates short of the headland which is surmounted by a low rectangular flat-topped mound only 0.25 m. high. It appears that the mound has been constructed on the earlier headland, thus preventing the latter from being ploughed. The field in which the mound lies is called The Warren on a number of maps dating from between the late 17th and early 18th centuries (at Boughton House, copies in NRO).

a(11) Garden Remains (centred SP 896815; Figs. 140, 141, 142, 143; Plates 23, 24 and 25), lie around Boughton House on either side of the shallow valley of the R. Ise, on sandstones and limestone between 66 m. and 85 m. above OD. The outstandingly well-preserved remains of the important early 18th-century gardens consistute one of the major monuments of Northamptonshire.

The two manors of Boughton were acquired by the Montagu family in the early 16th century and soon afterwards Sir Edward Montagu bought other properties in Weekley, Warkton, Kettering and Cranford. By the time of his death in 1557 he owned a compact block of land in this part of Northamptonshire which was later to be landscaped on a large scale. The core of the area was an existing medieval house, surrounded by a large park (9) which had been created in 1473 by an earlier owner, Richard Whitehill (Cal. Pat. 1467–77, 292). The estate passed to the second Sir Edward and thence to his son, the 1st Baron Montagu, who died in 1664. During the reign of Charles I Sir Edward had leave to enlarge the park by 100 acres, probably to the W., so causing the existing road N. from Weekley village to be diverted (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 353; see (6)). The 1st Baron's grandson, Ralph Montagu (1638 ?–1709), later created 1st Duke of Montagu (1705), acquired the Boughton estate on the death of his father in 1684. Ralph Montagu was Ambassador in Paris in 1669–72, 1676 and 1678–9. He was much influenced by contemporary French architecture and garden design and as early as 1669, when at Versailles, he 'formed Ideas in his own Mind, both of Buildings and Gardening'. The work of rebuilding the house at Boughton in its present late 17th-century French style began soon after 1683. The elaborate gardens which were to be the setting for the new house were probably started a little later, for in 1685 'a new gardener' was sent to Boughton. This was probably the Dutchman, Van de Meulen, who was to work there for 32 years.

Fig. 140 Weekley (11) Garden remains; conjectural plan of garden in 1709

Details of the process of construction of these gardens are not known, but by 1694 Charles Hatton could speak of 'great talk of vast gardens at Boughton, but I hear my Lord Montagu is very much concerned that ye water which he hoped to make so fine fountains hath failed his expectations'. In 1700 St. Evremond wrote enthusiastically about the Cascade in the S.W. corner of the garden, so this must have been in existence by that date. In March 1706 a letter, in the Boughton papers, records that Van de Meulen 'has about half graviled ye Middle Walk of ye lower parter that goes to the Octagon and no more'. The earliest drawing of the gardens, made by William Stukeley apparently in 1706 (Bodleian Library), although wrong in detail also indicates that the gardens fronting the house to the W. were largely complete. In the following year Thomas Drew, one of the masons, was setting up pedestals in the same area. By 1708 the gates and piers to the Outer Court in the N. seem to have been in place.

From these sources it is possible to deduce that by 1709, the year Ralph Montagu died, all the main work on the garden was finished. The details, (summarised in Fig. 140) are depicted on a plan of part of the gardens of 1712 by Delahay (Bodleian Library) and on estate maps of Boughton of 1714 and 1715 (at Boughton House, copies in NRO). The gardens are also described in some detail by Morton in the same year (J. Morton, Hist of Northants., (1712), 491).

The major task of these years must have been the diversion of the R. Ise from its old course along the valley into the three straight alignments or canals with two right-angle bends, and the construction of another canal on the N. side of the garden and the rectangular pond above it to the E. known as the Grand Etang. These latter were filled by a small stream which flowed S.W. and which was diverted and culverted to run into the Grand Etang, then through the canal and thence to the diverted Ise. There was also another short canal or pond in the S.W. corner of the formal garden. All these canals were tree-lined by 1712. Within the rectangle bounded by these canals and by the house on the E. was a formal garden of great complexity. Immediately below the W. front of the house was the area known as the Parterre of Statues. This was divided into two identical rectangles, each with a circular pond in the centre approached by diagonal paths. These paths, and those surrounding the parterre, were edged with trees and, presumably, statues. The latter are not shown on the 1712 map but are marked on the map on 1715.

Below the Parterre of Statues was the Parterre of Basins, a long rectangular area divided into three pairs of unequal blocks laid to grass and edged with trees, with an axial path leading from the house and upper Parterre. Each of the two central blocks had a rectangular roundended pond or basin within it, with a fountain in the centre of each. Steps led down to this area from the higher Parterre to the E. Below it, and reaching to the canalised R. Ise, was another Parterre known as the Water Parterre. In the centre of this there was a large octagonal basin said by Morton to be 216 yards in circumference; it actually measured about 65 m. across. In the centre was a fountain which played water to a height of 'above fifty feet, surrounded by other jets d'eau' according to Morton. On either side of the Octagon Basin were smaller circular basins, some 30 m. in diam., also with central fountains. On the N. side of these Parterres, between them and the N. canal, was a large rectangular area called the Wilderness of Apartments. This had a central oval pond or basin, and rectangular round-ended ponds at each end, surrounded by a complex pattern of trees and flower beds and linked by an axial path which connected a series of rectangular and lozenge-shaped areas of grass. The water-filled Grand Etang to the E. of this was edged by trees and had a central fountain. To the E. again there was a large open area, with a drive leading to the main N. front of the house.

By 1709 a variety of features had been constructed to the S. of the main set of parterres. S. of the Water Parterre, and bounded on two sides by canals, was an almost square area planted with trees, through which footpaths ran to a central round-ended feature, also tree-covered. E. of this were three pairs of rectangular blocks planted with trees, bounded on the E. by a formal garden of geometric design with flower beds separated by footpaths.

The area immediately S. of the house was divided into four square plots, one called the Bowles which was down to grass, one occupied by a pond, one covered with trees and one occupied, in 1712, by what appear to have been four square flower beds. By 1715 these flower beds had been replaced by a tree-planted parterre with a central pond and fountain. S. of these four plots was a long, walled area probably the kitchen garden, which was only partly in use in 1712. A small block at its W. end apparently lay outside the main garden. A windmill is depicted in this area on the 1712 plan and another building in the same position on the 1715 estate map. This is an unusual place for a windmill and it may have been a wind pump used to lift water in order to provide enough head of water to work the fountains. However there is no proof of this.

The S.W. part of the garden also seems to have been completed by 1709. This consisted of a rectangular area bounded on the N. and W. by the canalised R. Ise, and by tree-lined avenues on the E. and S. The N.W. corner was divided up by a series of narrow water-courses laid out in a geometric pattern. The islands formed were planted with trees. The larger S.E. part was a Wilderness of trees which Morton describes as being 'ten equidistant walks concentrating in a round area and adorned also with statues'. There were also other walks and open glades, and a pond in the centre of the S. side, while to the E. were squares planted with trees and interlaced by paths. S. of this, beyond an avenue, was another group of formal gardens and plantations, together with a pond.

In the extreme S.W. corner of these gardens was the Great Cascade and Star Pond. Here the canalised Ise was dammed and the water fell down the cascade into a large pond. Morton described this as 'a very noble cascade. The walls on each side ... at the head of the basin that it falls into are adorned with vases and statues. The cascade has five falls, the perpendicular about seven feet. A line or range of jet d'eaux, in number thirteen, are placed at the head of the cascade and possess the interval where the water enters upon its first fall. These throw up their water as that of a canal descends ... there are also several jet d'eaux in the basin beneath ...'. Below the basin was another water garden made up of narrow intersecting channels and islands planted with trees.

In addition to the garden itself work began on the surrounding park in these years. The detailed process is unknown and all that can be said is that by 1715 a number of avenues were in existence (Fig. 141). These included a broad avenue composed of double rows of trees which continued the main axis of the garden, W. across the park, across the Kettering—Stamford road and into what were, at that time, the common fields of Weekley. At its W. end these avenues turned N. through a right-angle and ran on for some distance across the fields. To the N. of this, but confined to the park, was another avenue made up of two parallel rows of trees extending the line of the N. canal westwards, while a similar one on the S. ran W. from the cascade. Its line was extended E. by the main axial path from the cascade which beyond the Wilderness was continued by another avenue. In the park, N. of the house three parallel rows of trees were arranged in a rectangular pattern on the N. side of the house. Elsewhere individual trees and clumps were planted.

Fig. 141 Weekley (11) Garden remains; rides and avenues associated with Boughton Park

The first Duke was succeeded in 1709 by his son, John Montagu, as the second Duke (1688 ?–1749). For some years little seems to have been done to the gardens, and it was not until around 1721 that the Duke began modifying and enlarging them. In that year there is a reference to a plan for the gardens and mention of a canal being dug, although it is not clear to which canal this refers. It may concern the removal of the Water Parterre and its replacement by a large rectangular pond with a central fountain, as shown on the plan published in Vol. III of Vitruvius Britannicus of 1725 (Plate 24). Apart from this pond and some minor alterations in the kitchen garden and in the area immediately S. of the house, the plan of the garden remained the same as it was in 1715. However the 1725 plan clearly depicts only part of a changing situation and soon afterwards other alterations took place. Some of this work was carried out by the Duke, his agent and his gardener, Joseph Burgess, but from 1726 to 1731 Charles Bridgeman was employed at Boughton, certainly in an advisory capacity and possibly more directly. Unfortunately it is impossible to be sure how much of the alterations and additions at this time were due to Bridgeman or to the Duke's own men. Bridgeman may have proposed extensive alterations which were never carried out (see below). The major work, probably completed in 1725, was the enlargement and extension W. of the new pond, thus doubling its size. The earth removed from it was used to construct a large square mound immediately to the S. This mound had a ramped walkway leading to the summit on the W. and was surmounted by a circular hedge; it was built by one William White.

The other alteration during these years, or soon after, involved the complete clearance of the ponds, fountains, footpaths, trees etc. in the Parterres of Statues and Basins W. of the house and their replacement by grass. In addition there were radical changes in the area to the S. The elaborate garden at the W. end was swept away and grassed over, while half the area to the E. was cleared of trees and also put down to grass. The garden area S. of the old Parterre of Statues was cleared and planted with trees. N. of the House, immediately E. of the Grand Etang, the Great Court was removed and replaced by a smaller walled courtyard with a gateway. The gateway may have been altered at an earlier date for in 1723 there is reference to a 'new arch' in the Great Court. S. of the house three of the existing plots remained, but the fourth, closest to the house, was changed, although it is not certain what form it now took. On an undated set of plans, probably by Bridgeman, showing various proposals for the garden (Bodleian Library and Boughton House, copies in NRO), a large curved amphitheatre facing the house and planted with trees is depicted, but whether this was carried out is unknown. Certainly by 1739 (Plate 25) a sloping grass area had been constructed (Vitruvius Britannicus, IV (1739)).

The changes carried out elsewhere in the late 1720s were minor in detail though they must have been important visually. The most significant was the simplifying of the Star Pond with the removal of surrounding paths and the destruction of the Great Cascade and all the fountains, and its replacement by a simple waterfall.

Beyond the gardens and indeed outside the park, these years saw the construction of an elaborate system of rides and avenues laid out across the surrounding countryside connecting the park with the existing woodland on the estate. The construction of the rides and the planting of the avenues probably took many years to complete, and their actual dates are not known. In the Bridgeman plans of 1730 the E. edge of the park is lined by trees and the great avenues to the N.E. are shown. All the work was certainly finished by 1750 (NRO, map of Estate, c. 1750), but a map of 1730–37 of Stanion (original at Deene Park, copy in NRO) shows that the rides and avenues which had been laid out within the parish by 1750, had not been constructed when the survey for the earlier map was carried out. A correspondent writing in 1744 implies that most of the work had been completed by then (J.A. Gotch, The Old Halls and Manor Houses of Northants., (1936), 50).

The arrangement, in its final form (Fig. 141), consisted of around 36 kilometres (c. 23 miles) of tree-lined rides linking various blocks of existing woodland. Within the woods were more rides, in total covering almost as great a distance. Many of these were new, but older ones were also incorporated into the scheme. Some of the new rides were carefully laid out in a pattern radiating from the centres of the woods as in Geddington Chase and Grafton Park Wood and some were aligned so that the steeples of the neighbouring parish churches could be seen along them. Thus a ride through Geddington Chase has Stanion church as a focal point, while another in the same area is aligned on Geddington church.

The second Duke died in 1749 and the estate at Boughton passed, through the female line, to the Buccleuch family. From then on the main changes in the gardens and park came to a halt and, apart from day to day maintenance and replacement of trees, few additions were made. The park and gardens remain today largely intact as do the rides in the woodlands. The major avenues, however, have suffered greatly through neglect, agriculture and in more recent times from ironstone-quarrying and a war-time airfield.

The outline of the gardens, virtually as they were in the mid 18th century, as well as traces of the earlier parts, is almost completely preserved along the bottom and on the E. side of the valley of the Ise (Fig. 142). The original course of the river is still visible, N. and N.W. of the gardens, within the park, as a broad sinuous depression, 15–25 m. across. The present course of the Ise follows the bed of the original early 18th-century canals which, in the S.W. part, are edged by broad flat treelined terrace-walks up to 1.5 m. high (Plate 23).

The main garden to the W. of the house is almost completely preserved. Immediately fronting the house the layout of the Parterre of Statues is recoverable, with the positions of the two circular ponds marked by slight depressions. Below them is a well-marked scarp, 1.5 m. high, which turns W. at each end and extends down the slope towards the river. This formed the boundary of the Parterre of Basins. The E. ends of the two ponds which lay in the centre also survive as slight depressions. The great pond of the 1720s exists intact as a shallow rectangular area 1 m. deep edged by two terraced walkways. The gardens terminate, in this direction, in a steep scarp or haha, the ditch of which partly survives. In the centre the upper terrace-walk extends outwards forming a space to hold a stone plinth which was once the base for statuary.

N. of the central expanse of the garden, beyond the terrace-walk and in the former Wilderness of Apartments, traces of the original ponds remain as grassed-over depressions, and to the N. of this the northern canal survives as a deep marshy trench, up to 3.5 m. deep, with another terrace along its N. side. N.W. of the house the Grand Etang is now a rectangular area 2 m. deep again with a terraced walk around its sides. To the E. of this no trace of the Great Court survives, except for a single scarp 0.5 m. high running N.

Fig. 142 Weekley (11) Garden remains at Boughton House

Beyond, to the S.W. of the main pond, the mound of c. 1725 remains, almost exactly square, with its ramped walkway, now much degraded, still visible on the W. side. E. of the mound, across the canalised Ise, is a small rectangular area of grass, bounded by terraced walks and the E. extension of the central canal. Until recently this still retained on it the original layout of paths and beds constructed before 1709 and cleared in the 1720s. The existing features, when surveyed, were only 10–15 cms. high and only just visible (Fig. 143). E. of this the land has recently been ploughed and returned to grass, but at its E. end slight earthworks indicate the position of the early 18th-century flower beds here, and on air photographs taken before the ploughing the greater part of the original layout is visible.

Fig. 143 Weekley (11) Garden remains; detail of flower beds

The old kitchen gardens, bounded by a stone wall, are still in use, and the four original garden plots immediately S. of the house remain, although the former Bowling Green has a modern swimming pool in it. The large pond in the adjacent plot is still water-filled. The scarps cut into the hillside, bounding these level areas, remain up to 3 m. high. The two N. plots are now occupied by modern gardens and shrubberies.

Of the great Wilderness little remains apart from isolated trees, the scarped outer edges, some minor interior scarps and the site of the pond on the S. The latter is now a rather irregular depression 1.75 m. deep.

In the former Water Garden to the N.W. some of the channels or drains survive as narrow ditches less than 0.25 m. deep. Of the gardens to the S. and E. of the Wilderness nothing can be seen in the present Wilderness Spinney except, at its W. end, a large rectangular pond 2 m. deep with a massive bank or dam on its N., W. and S. sides.

Until recently the Star Pond remained overgrown and abandoned but it still retained its original form with the later waterfall in fine ashlar connecting it to the canalised Ise. In mid 1975 this was drained and cleared and much new information came to light, including the discovery of tree trunks of elm, bored in the centre for use as drain pipes. These lay in the N. side of the pond and appear to be running S. from the Water Garden, and were presumably laid to allow water to pass from the garden to the pond. Other finds included stone balusters, undoubtedly from a balustrade, and cylindrical earthenware pipes some 50 cms. long and 15 cms. in diam. with conical heads, which were probably the jets for the fountains. The removal of the earth on the W. side of the pond revealed parts of a stone wall with pilaster buttresses, below which were the remains of a limestone-rubble pavement with a wooden curb of elm. Against the existing waterfall the pavement swung out to form a projecting stone step which was presumably the lower part of the original cascade. The shallow ditches of the water garden below, S. of the Star Pond, were largely destroyed by the restoration work on the pond in 1975.

Fig. 144 Weekley (12) Common fields (drawing based on a plan of 1719)

Of the 36 kilometres of avenues laid out around the park and extending into the modern parishes of Newton, Geddington, Warkton, Corby, Stanion and Grafton Underwood most have now been destroyed by later activities (Fig. 141). Those which still remain, or which survived until recent years are marked on modern OS 1:10000 and 1.2500 plans. However those which were removed for agricultural purposes many years ago can still be traced, either on the ground or from air photographs. For example the long avenue which extended from just N. of Newton village (SP 881843) for a distance of 4 kilometres in an exactly straight line (to SP 893876) is still visible from the air as a feature resembling the agger of a Roman road; on the ground it survives as a low ridge some 20–25 m. across and up to 0.25 m. high made of limestone rubble (RAF VAP F21 82/RAF/ 865, 0243–4, 0337–8). Other avenues such as those N. of Geddington (SP 881843–899843), W. and N.W. of Newton (SP 868834–867841–881843), and the complex group of intersecting avenues N.W. of Grafton Underwood (centred SP 913814) are also still visible.

Within the woodland the rides still exist. Most of them are lined with recut drainage ditches. Where the original woodland has been cleared for agriculture as at the N. side of Geddington Chase the lines of the rides are visible from the air as straight stony features, here cutting across the line of the Roman Road 57a (Fig. 170; Country Life, 153, no. 3945 (11th March 1971), 536–9; RAF VAP 540/474, 3050–3, 4050–3).

(12) Cultivation Remains (Figs. 144 and 145). The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1807 (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1808). The earlier arrangement of these fields is shown on a series of early 18th-century maps (originals at Boughton, copies in NRO). At that time three fields existed, all N.W. of the village, Windmill, North and Wood (or Middle) Fields.

Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists over much of the area covered, in end-on or interlocked furlongs, many of reversed-S type. The pattern of ridge-and furrow which is recoverable on the ground and from air photographs is interspersed with areas where no ridge-and-furrow can be traced. This is not entirely the result of modern destructions, as might be assumed, but reflects the arrangement of the strips and furlongs as they were in 1719 when large areas of common existed around and across the fields (map in Boughton House, copy in NRO). An attempt has been made to correlate the surviving pattern with the situation in 1719 (Fig. 144 and 145). In addition surviving ridge-and-furrow in the common pasture called Wind Mill Hill in 1719 indicates that at least part of these commons had been under cultivation at an earlier period.

Fig. 145 Weekley (12) Surviving ridge-and-furrow in one part of the common fields

The date of enclosure of the common fields of the deserted village of Boughton (8) is not known but it probably occurred before the late 15th century when the deer park (9) was laid out. They occupied the N.E. part of the parish around and E. of Boughton House. Field names on a map of the parish of 1715 suggest that there may have been at least a Middle and a North Field at some time. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists over much of Boughton Park and is extremely well preserved. It is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs, many with reversed-S curves, and minor details such as headlands, access-ways etc. are visible. Further ridge-and-furrow of these fields can be seen on air photographs, S.E. of the park along the Warkton boundary (RAF VAP 540/474, 3045–52, 4047–53; 541/602, 3119–27, 4118–26; 541/611, 3044–8, 4044–6; F21 82/RAF/865, 0325–30; F22 82/RAF/865, 0332–4; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0129–33).