Delve into the past this half term with woman who saved Delapré Abbey from demolition

Hear the story of one woman’s tireless fight to rescue Northamptonshire’s archives and save the historic abbey from demolition

By Megan Hillery
Monday, 30th May 2022, 4:35 pm
Popular storyteller, Preacher, will return for a trip through the past with his Library Time Machine
Popular storyteller, Preacher, will return for a trip through the past with his Library Time Machine

Families can see the past come to life at Delapre Abbey this half term with storytelling sessions, craft activities and living history inspired by a new exhibition.

‘Joan Wake the pioneer: her passion and her legacy’ details the story of one woman’s fight to rescue the county’s archives from destruction and save Delapré Abbey from demolition in the 1950s.

The exhibition highlights Joan Wake’s personal story as well as her passion for history and the preservation of archival material.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Trustee at the Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust Margaret Hawkins said: “I’m not surprised that Joan Wake is inspiring so many different events.

“She was an amazing woman; courageous, determined and well ahead of her time.”

Curious young minds can take part in a variety of creative and engaging activities inspired by the Abbey’s time as the home of the Northamptonshire Record Office when it became a vessel for storytelling through archives.

Living history specialists Past Alive will create a window into 17th century life at the Abbey as visitors are taken on an engaging, interactive experience that will see them handle a variety of everyday household items, meet key figures in Delapré’s story, and even try on clothes of the time.

The Curator Educator will also be onsite helping guests to get crafty as they create their own paper archive.

The Abbey’s popular storyteller, Preacher, will return for a trip through the past with his Library Time Machine on Thursday, June 2.

The Abbey is open for half term fun on Wednesday, June 1 and Thursday, June 2 from 11am until 4pm. All activities are included in the cost of admission with free entry for under 18s. Tickets for adults cost £8.

‘Joan Wake the pioneer: her passion and her legacy’ is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays until October 30. Entry is included in the price of general admission.

Visitors can gain more insight into Wake’s life and her campaign to save the Abbey with a talk by local historian and author, Neil Lyon, on Wednesday, June 22 at 6pm. Tickets cost £5.

A fun community sustainability day is also taking place at the abbey in collaboration with Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) on Wednesday, June 1 between 10am and 2pm on the South Lawn.

There will be a nature walk, badge making and a bike powered Scalextric and visits will be able to learn about caring for wildlife and the environment.

Sustainability manager at NPH, Paul Tucker, said: “We’re delighted to be able to bring together so many organisations who do fantastic work to look after our environment, protect local wildlife and improve the health and wellbeing of residents in Northampton.

“At NPH, we’re working to engage with our residents to help us meet our sustainability aims, and we’re looking forward to hearing their views on our plans and encouraging everyone to take an active role in looking after our planet.”

Book tickets at