Abington Park Museum

Stop by the Abington Park Museum for a day of entertainment when you stay in Northampton. Enjoy a variety of art, concerts, and jazz bands in Abington Park, or bring your children to spend a day participating in activities and workshops suited for all ages. If you are traveling with the whole family, watch for events such as Theme Days, designed for a full day of fun.

The history

The Abington Park Museum is one of the top historical attractions of Northampton and is a significant landmark of the city. The museum is located within a 15th-century manor house which is itself a piece of history and is listed as a Grade I building.

The manor house once belonged to Elizabeth Barnard, the granddaughter of Shakespeare and the last of his descendants. After her first husband's death, Elizabeth married Sir John Barnard in 1649—a widower who was living with his children in the Abington manor. Sir John Barnard enlarged the house in the 1660s. Guests can visit Elizabeth's memorial plaque in the nearby 12th-century church, St Peter & St Paul.

In 1669, the Thursby family purchased the manor and made further renovations. A remodel in the 1700s brought a classical Georgian style to the home.

In 1841, the property was sold and all its contents were auctioned. Years later, it became an asylum for mentally ill patients. It maintained operations until 1892, when the house and land were donated to the Northampton Council.

The council agreed to convert the house into a museum which officially opened in 1899. A full renovation was done in 1994 and the building was reopened to the public.

What to see

The museum has several galleries containing interactive displays which tell the history of the house. The Oak Room or Great Hall dates back to 1500 and is an impressive sight with its wood paneling.

Check out an exhibition on Northamptonshire's military history displaying original artifacts from the Northamptonshire Regiment. There’s also a display about fashion from the 19th century, including a shoe collection and a leathercraft gallery with objects from all over the world.

Temporary exhibitions are hosted every year, so it is worth checking out the website to see what’s on display during your stay in Northampton.

The museum is surrounded by the beautiful Abington Park, ideal for a stroll along the lakes and a visit to the aviary.

An intriguing tale

It is believed that the Northamptonshire witch trials took place in 1612 in Abington Park. Four women and one man were accused of being involved with witchcraft and as a result, were executed.

It was a significant event not only due to the punishments, but also because it was one of the first times that the ducking stool method was used in England.

Good to know

Admission to the museum is free; however, some events or workshops might charge a small fee, so make sure you check the museum's website before going.