History of East Carlton Countryside Park

East Carlton Countryside Park was formerly the deer park surrounding the hall, which was the country seat of the Palmer family until the 1930s.

The present hall, constructed in 1870, was designed for the Palmer family by E.P. Law of Northampton. It is in an Italianate style with French pavilion roofs. Law was responsible for the design of a number of buildings in the area including the former Rectory on the western side of the village.

The previous hall, built in 1775, was designed by John Johnson of Leicester. This was in the Palladian style and was built at a cost of £7,000. Remnants of the foundations of this hall are still visible in the cellars of the present structure. The cellars are still equipped with the domestic brewing utensils once common in a country house before the turn of the century.

In his ‘History of Northamptonshire’, published in 1761, Bridge states the ‘Sir Jeffrey Palmer, Lord of the Manor, hath here an old mansion-house’, this would indicate that the hall then standing was of some age in 1761 and was rebuilt in 1775. It is likely that this original hall was of timber construction although little information is available.
There was another hall at Carlton, as it was then known, called the West Hall. Little is known about this hall.

Bridge mentions ‘a mansion, now ruined, pertaining to West-hall Manor’ (History of Northamptonshire 1761). It is thought that this ruined mansion was probably located to the rear of the church, although another possible location is nearer to what are now the main gates.

Carlton came to the Palmer family in 1408 through the marriage of William Palmer to Anne, the daughter of Nicholas Warde, the then owner of Carlton.

Geoffrey Palmer, a descendant of William Palmer ‘declined the King’s cause’ and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was appointed Attorney General in 1660 after the Restoration and was created a baronet on 7 June 1660.

In the 1920s the Hall and the park were leased to the Firth family of Sheffield steel fame. It was sold to Stewarts and Lloyd in 1934 and housed the offices of Stewarts and Lloyd when they evacuated them from the danger zone around the steel works. The air raid shelters that serviced the hall still exist although it is said that these were for protecting documents, not the staff!

Immediately after the war it was used as accommodation for management trainees and company guests.

This story was once told many times, but now is only mentioned at Halloween. If you are easily scared, leave now!

In the 1800s there lived a very rich couple, who lived in East Carlton Hall. Their names were James and Ann. They were very much in love. 

James and Ann had maids, butlers, cooks and gardeners so no work was required from the couple. There were no children and no animals. Their favourite spot within the park was overlooking the pond, where they wiled away the hours enjoying the view of the valley.

James loved lavender, believing it brought him luck. He had it all round the grounds and outside the house. 

Ann had a favourite thing too, a red cloak James had had made for her. She never took it off. She wouldn’t even let any of the workers touch it!

In early October James became very ill. He had lavender all round his bed, but nothing would work. The doctor said he had about 2 to 3 weeks left to live. Sadly he died late at night in mid-October.

As Ann was grieving she realised there was a strong scent of lavender. She knew what she had to do. As she climbed the many stairs, right up to the roof, she put on her red cloak. She shouted James’ name over and over. A maid came up but before she could grab her Ann had jumped!

“NO!” screamed the maid as Ann plummeted to her death. Ann’s body landed on a lavender bush. The date was 31 October 1856.

Now Ann roams the grounds of East Carlton Park, so if you smell lavender you better run and hide, she may be there waiting for you, or even watching you. Don’t get nightmares!

The Corby area has Middle Jurassic rocks from around 175 million years ago. At this time this area was part of a narrow seaway between areas of low-lying land. The sea level rose and fell over thousands of years. This led to layers of limestone from tiny sea creatures and sandstone deposited on land or shallow water.

Corby was located roughly where the Sahara and Mediterranean are now.

Flora and Fauna

The area that is now Corby was further south and much warmer 175 million years ago. There was abundant plant life.

This was the time of the dinosaurs. Sauropods were found in many parts of the world, and would have been in this area swimming in the shallow waters and roaming the swampy land. They were herbivores which could grow over 20 metres long and weigh over 80 tons. The remains of one were found near Harlestone in the Northamptonshire sandstone.


The rocks around Corby contain iron. Romans settled here and the iron was used until the 1980s. Stewart and Lloyds used a dragline to scrape up the rocks before they went to the furnaces in Corby to make steel.
The dragline was a similar shape to the sauropod with a big heavy body and long neck. At 96m long and weighing 1600 tons the dragline was much bigger. The bucket could lift 27 tons.

Local stones

Many of the sandstones of this area were laid down in shallow seas. Slightly further north are limestones formed by the shells of small sea creatures. In both, fossils can be found in many of the stones used for older buildings.

Last updated 01 April 2022