|Owthorpe: Colonel Hutchinson's fish pond|
Owthorpe is one of the smallest villages we have visited. It sits on a road signposted as a dead end! At a glance it is a small cluster of residential farm buildings, a community centre and a padlocked church. You might think there's no reason to visit here unless you know one of the residents. You would be wrong. This "out of the way" feel is actually a selling point. Sitting next to the Grantham Canal, just outside the main village, you will find The Little Retreat Spa offering relaxing treatments and cream teas. Close by is Woodview Cottage offering trout and course fishing holidays. The village is surrounded by beautiful countryside a perfect location to get away from it all.
We parked on the verge of a country road that was surprisingly quite busy. No wonder the council had dug out a couple of unusual signs:
|Owthorpe: Community Hall|
A footpath takes you passed the hall to the old village church of St Margaret.
|Owthorpe: St Margaret's Church|
|Owthorpe: Church tower|
Parts of the church date back to the 12th century when it was a much bigger building. Colonel John Hutchinson had this smaller version built in 1659. It is a strange mixture of stones and colours and the old clock needs some attention but the swifts like it ... there was a nesting pair and their young making a fabulous din in the bell tower the whole time we were there.
A large padlock prevented us entering so this internal shot was taken through the glass window:
|Owthorpe: Church interior|
|Owthorpe church yard|
Colonel John Hutchinson (1615 - 1664) is the most famous resident of the village ... but the fame should really belong to Lucy, his wife (1620 - 1681). She was born in the Tower of London where her father, Sir Allen Apsley, was the Lieutenant in charge of such famous prisoners as Sir Walter Raleigh (it was Lucy's mother who paid for his famous chemical experiments whilst he was incarcerated) and King James I's ex-partner, Robert Carr, the Earl of Somerset. With Robert Carr in prison the King now had a new favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Apsley was married to one of Villier's relatives which helped a great deal when they appointed the new Lieutenant to the Tower. This could be quite a lucrative, and responsible, position. (Oddly enough, before the Hutchinsons bought Owthorpe manor members of the Villiers' family had lived there).
|Owthorpe: Church clock|
Hutchinson served in Cromwell's government until 1651 when he retired to a quiet life in Nottinghamshire. The old manor house had been almost destroyed by the Royalists and had to be completely rebuilt. The new house was in the field close to the church. Large stone steps took you into a spacious entrance hall with a long table and welcoming fireplace. A staircase lead up to a galleried landing big enough to accommodate an orchestra for the upstairs ball room. The family quasrters were on the left of the Hall while three entertainment rooms for guests were situated on the right. These rooms opened to an outside terrace and bowling green type lawn with flower borders and a shrubbery. Trees had been cut to allow views across the countryside towards Langar and Belvoir Castle.
He planted the trees that are still growing around the fishpond he created in his grounds. A local group called The Friends of Fishpond Wood have recently worked on this area and on the lost garden (more details here).
|Owthorpe: Colonel Hutchunson's fishpond|
They arrested him in October 1663 as he walked to church, a short distance from his secure house. They accused him of being involved in the Farnley Wood Plot, an uprising against the King. It was probably a trumped up charge to get him imprisoned. Twenty six men were arrested and sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered ... again Hutchinson was not one of them.
They kept him on the Tower of London but transferred him to the less salubrious surroundings of Sandcastle in Kent where he died of a fever in September 1664. Lucy was granted permission to bring his body home but it was not an easy journey. A hearse with six horses in full mourning gear was sent. Firstly the castle Governor demaned a ransom then some of the villagers along the route were rather hostile to the late Roundhead and skermishes broke out. It would have been quite a relief once he was laid to rest in St Margaret's Church.
|1712 headstone in memory of James Watson|
|Owthorpe: Village House with sun dial on the gable|
|Owthorpe: Street view|
The Bromleys rented out the house but it fell into disrepair then, around 1825, it was destroyed by fire and the whole place was demolished in 1832. The large ornate garden pots were removed to Stoke Hall ... who knows, they might still be there.
Map of Owthorpe: click here.