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Delapré Abbey reopens this Sunday with a new exhibition and week of family fun celebrating its medieval past

Black death, a royal love story, and the bloody Battle of Northampton are all explored in a new permanent exhibition celebrating the lives of the nuns who lived and worked at the Abbey between 1145 and 1538.

Little was known about the history of the women who lived at Northampton’s popular Abbey until now, thanks to the research of a small group of female volunteers undertaken during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020/21.

Vera, one of the Delapré Abbey volunteers who worked on the exhibition, said: “This exhibition is the result of two years of work and research into the fascinating lives of our nuns and finding untold stories. We have followed this intrepid group of women down the centuries and seen their courage and their failings.  We are very proud of them. We are excited to share these very human stories delving into the town’s early history with visitors.

The team have worked with creative studio Lima to bring the volunteers’ research to life.  Founder, Lindsay McGuirk added “We’ve been totally inspired by the shared enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers. Through them, we have got to know much more about the community of nuns that lived at Delapré Abbey. The resulting exhibition is lively and vibrant and showcases the group’s research findings alongside artefacts from Delapré’s eventful medieval history.

Delapré’s hands-on approach to bringing history to life makes it a unique family day out. Play, explore, and touch every object in the historic rooms. Try on a helmet, fire a bow and arrow and create a crest in the newly reopened Battlefield room. Exhibition design and build practice, 24 Design, has project managed the move of this interactive, family-friendly room from the 18th century stable block to the heart of the Abbey’s medieval suite of rooms.

There will be lots to captivate curious young minds and grown-ups alike during the Abbey’s half term family fun week with storytelling sessions, craft activities, and live music:

  • Meet the medieval inhabitants of the Abbey with living history specialists Past Alive on Sun 13th, Wed 16th, Thu 17th and Sun 20th
  • Discover what life was like in medieval Northampton with craft activities run by Friends of Northampton Castle on Sun 13th, Wed 16th, Thu 17th and Sun 20th
  • On Wed 16th February, travel back in time to the 1460 Battle of Northampton with Preacher the Storyteller in the Library.
  • Local musician, Max Hohler, will play music inspired by the past on Sun 20th February at 12pm and 3pm in the library.

All activities are included in the cost of admission with free entry for under 18s. Dressing up is encouraged!

The safety of visitors, volunteers and staff is a key priority to the Abbey team and they are proud to be part of Visit Britain’s Good to Go scheme, which means you can visit safe in the knowledge that they adhere to government and industry COVID-19 guidelines.

The Abbey reopens on Sunday 13th February 2022 with a week of family fun and activities celebrating the Abbey’s early history. The House is open for general admission on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The Orangery café, award-winning Hibiscus fine dining, and Common Ground deli will also be open for you to enjoy.

Book your tickets here.

The nunnery exhibition has been made possible through funding by Nenescape and National Lottery Heritage Fund.