Lyveden New Bield (sometimes called New Build) is an unfinished Elizabethan summer house in the parish of Aldwincle in East Northamptonshire, England, owned by the National Trust. It is a Grade I listed building, classing it as a 'building of exceptional interest.'
It was constructed for Sir Thomas Tresham, the fervent Roman Catholic of Rushton Hall, and is thought to have been designed by Robert Stickells. The exact date is unknown but can be estimated to circa 1604–05, the year of Tresham's death. The New Bield was on the estate of Tresham's second home, Lyveden Manor House, also known as Lyveden Old Bield.
Just as at Tresham's smaller folly Rushton Triangular Lodge, his principal estate, the New Bield has a religious design full of symbolism. Designed on a plan reminiscent of a Greek cross, the facades have a strict symmetry. The building has two floors above a raised basement, with mullioned and transomed windows. Each floor had three rooms with a staircase in the south projection of the cross. The exterior of the building is decorated by friezes of a religious nature. The metopes contain the emblems and motifs found also at the triangular lodge, such as the "IHS" christogram.
The house was obviously meant for occupation, as it has a great hall and parlour on the first floor, kitchen and buttery in the basement, and a bedroom on the upper floor. However, it was probably never intended for full-time occupation.
Too close to the main house for use as a hunting lodge, it may have been intended for use as a "Secret House" — keeping a secret house was a custom of the 16th century. Often within a mile of the main house, the secret house was a place where the head of the household would retire for a few days with a minimum of servants, while the principal house was thoroughly cleaned and, bearing in mind the sanitation of the time, fumigated. Similar examples of "secret houses" exist at Leconfield and Warkworth, where their use for this purpose has been well documented.
Lyveden New Bield was never completed. It remains as it was when the builders left following Sir Thomas Tresham's death. Today, it is in the care of the National Trust.
Sir Thomas Tresham died in 1605 following decades of religious persecution, his once vast wealth having been severely depleted. His son Francis Tresham inherited the estate, but within the same year, along with his cousins Catesby and Wintour, he became involved in the Gunpowder Plot. Thus, within a year the estate had a third owner, Francis's son Lewis Tresham. The estate was managed by Lewis's mother until her death in 1615.
After this, Lewis Tresham, a spendthrift, lost the remaining family wealth. The estate was eventually sold following the death of his son in 1643.
Francis Tresham (c. 1567 – 23 December 1605), eldest son of Thomas Tresham and Merial Throckmorton, was a member of the group of English provincial Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy to assassinate King James I of England.
Tresham joined the Earl of Essex's failed rebellion against the government in 1601, for which he was imprisoned. Only his family's intervention and his father's money saved him from attainder. Despite this, he became involved in two missions to Catholic Spain to seek support for English Catholics (then heavily persecuted), and finally with the Gunpowder Plotters.
According to his confession, Tresham joined the plot in October 1605. Its leader, Robert Catesby, asked him to provide a large sum of money and the use of Rushton Hall, but Tresham apparently provided neither, instead giving a much smaller amount of money to fellow plotter Thomas Wintour. Tresham also expressed concern that if the plot was successful, two of his brothers-in-law would be killed. An anonymous letter delivered to one of them, William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, found its way to the English Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, an event which eventually proved decisive in the conspiracy's failure.
Historians have long suspected that Tresham wrote the letter, a hypothesis that remains unproven. Catesby and Wintour shared the same suspicion and threatened to kill him, but he was able to convince them otherwise. He was arrested on 12 November and confined to the Tower of London. In his confession, he sought to allay his involvement in the plot, but never mentioned the letter. He died of natural causes on 23 December 1605.
Lyveden Manor House, now also known as Lyveden Old Bield, the once grand principal house of the estate, had belonged to the Tresham family from c.1450. Today, little remains and what does was probably built by Thomas Tresham's grandson Lewis. The gatehouse has been removed to Fermyn Woods Hall, and the staircase was transported to America, where it was incorporated in the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House near Detroit. One wing remains with mullioned windows.
In 2013, the National Trust acquired Lyveden Manor House. It is open to the public. The National Trust's long-term aim is to restore the historic gardens and open them to the public. Tresham designed extensive gardens between the manor house and the New Bield, but for centuries little evidence of the gardens remained.
In 2010, National Trust experts studying photographs taken by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War discovered the remains of an Elizabethan labyrinth, garden and orchard in the grounds. The gardens were subsequently upgraded to a Grade I listing by English Heritage. The National Trust has reconstructed Tresham's orchard, and restored the moat on three sides of the labyrinth.
** – The Orchard – **
Sir Thomas Tresham’s orchard was described as ‘one of the fairest orchards that is in England’ before its premature abandonment in 1605. Since 2000 the National Trust has set about restoring the orchard to its former glory by replanting many of the old varieties of fruit specified by Tresham himself.
Sir Thomas Tresham's pleasure garden was never completed after he died in 1605, but aerial photos suggest that the orchard was planted. Records show that Lady Tresham sold a large number of fruit trees to Robert Cecil (Secretary of State to King James I) in 1609, which were probably dug up from this orchard.
In 2000 they began re-planting the orchard at Lyveden, taking inspiration from contemporary records and Tresham's letters to his workmen. They could see from these letters that Tresham planned to include apples, pears and damsons as well as a 'walk' of cherries and walnuts. The orchard now features over 300 trees of 19 different varieties planted in formal avenues. Some of the species, such as the Winter Queening apple, were listed in Tresham's letters. Others were recorded locally in the early sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Orchards were the height of fashion in Tudor garden design. An orchard was the ideal setting for walks, picnics and relaxation, and money could be made from the bountiful supply of fruit.
In Tudor times, the rich served cooked fruit as an accompaniment to meat dishes, adding flavour and aiding the digestion of their rich, meat-heavy meals. This is something we still do today - roast pork and apple sauce anyone?
But this was only part of the picture. The orchard was also a medicine cabinet, offering cures for all manner of ailments, from stomach ache to infertility. Fruit had a deeper meaning too, featuring heavily in Christian symbolism and English folklore. For example, cherry trees were a Christian symbol of Paradise and pears were believed to bring good fortune to those who ate them.
** – Visiting + Facilities – **
** – The Lyveden Way – **
The Lyveden Way is a true taste of Northamptonshire, including sheltered woodland, open fields, attractive wildlife and pretty villages. The Lyveden Way begins at the Fermyn Woods Country Park, home to many varieties of butterfly, fallow deer and even a few rare and striking red kites.
As the route leaves the Country Park, it turns east along the perimeter of Fermyn Woods and emerges into open countryside. It then follows the perimeter of Lady Wood Head and turns towards Lyveden. Why not drop in to the Cottage Tearoom at Lyveden for a break and some refreshment? As you rejoin the walk, it approaches the village of Wadenhoe through Lilford Wood.
Passing through the village, it turns into pasture fields before re-entering woodland and is completed by rejoining the outward route after Lady Wood Head. Please take clear directions, an ordnance survey map, sturdy footwear, water and warm clothing with you on the Lyveden Way. Take care when crossing or walking on roads.
You can download the Lyveden Way map here (PDF / 1.8MB)
Other walks at Lyveden: Lyveden is a perfect starting point for a stroll. Many walks link Lyveden to the surrounding woodland and rural villages including Wadenhoe, Brigstock and Benefield. The wider countryside is bursting with history and wildlife. Around the site there's plenty to see from the labyrinth to the orchard and around the perimeter of the moats. If you have a four legged friend with you please keep them on their leads across the whole site at Lyveden.
The National Trust encourage visitors to use the site for picnics, and have a handful of benches available for use in the car park. Takeaway hot drinks and a selection of cold drinks are available from the tearoom if you need some refreshment on your walk, and ice creams are sold in the Visitor Centre.
Location : Lyveden, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, PE8 5AT
Transport: Kettering (National Rail) then 10 miles bus. Bus routes: Bus (X4 Gold) runs between Northampton and Peterborough stations.
Opening Times : Daily, 10:30 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £7.20; Children under 18 are free.
Tel. : 01832 205158