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A Short History of Delapre Abbey

Originally a Cluniac Nunnery established in 1145, founded by Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton. The body of Queen Eleanor, wife of King Edward I and daughter of Ferdinand, King of Castille, lay in the Chapel in 1290 on its way to Westminster following her death on 28 November. The funeral cortege set out from Lincoln on 4 December 1290 arriving at Delapre on 7 December reaching Westminster on 14 December. At each stopping point the King had built a cross in memory of his wife, twelve in all - the Eleanor Cross in Northampton is located at the southern end of London Road and is one of only three which survive.

1460 saw the Battle of Northampton between the Lancastrian King Henry VI and the exiled Yorkist Edward, Earl of March. The Lancastrians had reigned since 1422 and each family wanted their son to succeed the King. The King was captured soon after the battle commenced and was taken prisoner and held at the abbey until the following day when he was taken to London The Battle of Northampton was the only battle of the Wars of the Roses where a defended position was successfully attacked and breached.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII saw the demise of the nunnery with the Abbess finally surrendering the buildings in 1538 following a demand from the Kings commissioner. It is thought that the buildings were surrendered willingly because if resistance was encountered buildings were usually razed to the ground.

Between 1546 and 1764 the property was in the ownership of the Tate family. Zouch Tate is considered to be responsible for many of the alterations enabling the building to be used for domestic purposes - the new West front, conversion of the North wing and alteration of the east wing. Mary Tate inherited the property in 1749 and with her husband Charles Hardy remodelled the South front, the wing containing the principle reception rooms.

In 1764 the house was sold to the Bouverie family, and it was Edward Bouverie Jnr who had the little easting room demolished and the new library wing to the southwest corner built which can still be seen today.

The War Office requisitioned the property in 1940, when Mary Bouverie moved to Duston following the auction of the house furniture. The Northampton Corporation purchased the building in 1946 and in 1958 Northamptonshire County Council became tenants when the County Records Office moved into the building.