Croxton Park

This house stands on the site of Croxton Abbey. Behind lies the ruins of a Georgian mansion.

The race course at Croxton Park, just outside of Waltham, attracted thousands of visitors in Victorian times. It’s still possible to walk around the old course. Follow a farm track at the far end of the course and you come down to Croxton Park. (The park itself is private.)

Here, in medieval times, was an abbey with extensive fish ponds. You can still see the ponds, but all that remains of the abbey are a few pieces of carved stone displayed on a garden wall. (Click here for information on the abbey.) Behind this wall stands the ruins of what looks like a Georgian mansion. (Click here for information on the ruins.)

The following information is copied from White’s 1877 Leicester and Rutland Directory, on a web page detailing a brief history of Croxton Kerrial posted here. If anyone has anything they can add, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or get in touch using the contact form.

The Duke of Rutland has here a pleasant hunting seat, called Croxton Park, built by John, third Duke of Rutland, about 1730, with extensive stables, near one of the sources of the Deven, about 2 miles S.W. of Croxton village, and 71/2 miles N.E. of Melton Mowbray.

The Park comprises 777 acres, of which about 400 are in the parish of Bescaby. It has extensive woods, plantations, and fish-ponds. Horse Races are held in the Park yearly, for one day in the last week in March or first week in April. They were established about 60 years ago, and are highly popular, being numerously attended by the gentlemen of Melton and neighbouring Hunts.

The principal stakes are the Granby Handicap, the Gold Cup, the Billesdon Coplow Stakes, the Farmers’ Plate, the Melton Plate, and the Scurry Stakes; and the sport is usually of the first order, most of the horses being highly-bred hunters, attached to the Quorn, Belvoir, and Cottesmore Hounds.

Queen Victoria and the late Prince Consort, whilst guests at Belvoir Castle, met the Duke’s hounds in this park, December 6, 1843, and threw off at Melton Spinney.

Croxton Abbey, which stood on the Bescaby side of the Park, was founded about 1150, by William, Earl of Montaigne, Parcarius de Linus, and Sir Andrew Lutterel, for White Canons, or Premonstratensians. It was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, and was richly endowed by subsequent benefactors.

Its church was a large and handsome structure, sometimes called St. John de Valle. The bowels of King John, who died at Newark, were buried here, after the abbot, who had been the King’s physician, had embalmed his body, prior to its being sent Worcester.

The clear annual revenue of the Priory was £385 0s. l0d. at the Dissolution, in 1534, when it was granted to the Earl of Rutland. When excavating for stone near one of the fish-ponds in the Park, a few years ago, a stone coffin, ornamented with a griffin’s head, was found; also vestiges of a large oven some fragments of a tesselated pavement; and nearer to Bescaby are traces of several large buildings.

The history of Croxton Kerrial is closely connected to that of the Belvoir Estate, and Croxton Park to the south-west of the village was formerly a hunting seat of the Duke of Rutland built by John, the third Duke of Rutland about 1730.

On the same site is the ruin of Croxton Abbey, founded about 1150, by William, Earl of Montaigne, Parcarius de Linus, and Sir Andrew Lutterel, for White Canons, or Premonstratensians, and dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. It is said that the bowels of King John, who died at Newark, were buried here.

A number of ancient trackways cross the local area, one running from east to west was called the Salt Way. Salt was produced by evaporation on the Lincolnshire coast and brought inland along the Salt Way throughout the Bronze, Roman and Middle Ages.

Half a mile to the east of Croxton Kerrial at the county boundary with Lincolnshire and running from north to south and crossing the Salt Way at the Three Queens is a trackway known variously as The Mere, Shire Street, The Drift and The Viking Way. It linked the towns of Newark in the north and Stamford to the south. The name Three Queens is said to refer to the burial barrows of three queens of the Bronze Age.

On the border with neighbouring Saltby parish are three other barrows near King Lud’s entrenchments, the entrenchments being possibly part of a tribal boundary of the Bronze Age. The Salt Way was probably a link road in Roman times with Ermine Street and the Fosse Way.

3 Comments

  1. There is a very good picture of Croxton Park published in Life Magazine’s 10th Anniversary issue in 1946 – see page 109.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=cE0EAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false

  2. Many thanks for sending the link to this wonderful photo, Phil. I’ve just put a copy on-line here: http://local-history.org.uk/waltham/photos/croxton-park-hunt/

    I’m trying to discover whatever information I can about Croxton Park. So if you know anything more, please let me know.

    Thanks again

  3. There’s some info on Croxton Abbey on Wikipedia here – particularly the connection to King John: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croxton_Abbey

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