November 2015 ....

Click images to see enlarged view

How old is the Bullring?

Several of the features in Eastfield Park, such as the Lake, the ponds and the ha-ha, date back to the first quarter of the 20th Century when the land was part James Manfield's Weston Favel House Estate. Some, however, are much older. When the Estate was put on the market in 1923 the Bullring, then a circle of 26 lime trees, was described in the Sale Catalogue as being over 200 years old. That would put its formation back to the first part of the 18th Century.

Bull Ring 1923

Bullring (1923)


Bullring (2011)

The Bullring is shown on the first edition of the six inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map of the area, dated 1886, and also on a map of Abington dated 1840. (Before 1900 the western half of what is now Eastfield Park was in the Parish and Lordship of Abington.) Eyre & Jeffery's 1791 map of Northamptonshire, despite its relatively small scale, also shows the Bullring as a conspicuous feature, much larger than the ring actually is.

The circle of trees, however, is not shown on a large scale plan of the Abington Estate dated 1671. On that map the enclosure that would later contain the Bullring appears wooded, consistent with its name, 'Bushie Close'. A 1742 large scale plan of the estate shows the Bushie Close without any trees at all but it is possible that such detail was simply not included. What is clear is that by 1798 the Bushie Close had been divided into three fields and the Bullring was located at the intersection of two avenues of trees that did not extend beyond the limits of the original Bushie Close.

Extract from map of the Thursby Estates (1798)

Extract of 1798 map showing Bullring cc

These features are clearly shown on a 1798 map of the several estates held by John Harvey Thursby (the 3rd of that name) who inherited the Abington Estate that year. The map is kept in the Northamptonshire Record Office (Map 470) and we have permission to reproduce it here. Only the relevant portion of the map is shown. The red line marks the boundary between Abington (to the left) and Weston Favell (to the right).

So, it seems certain that the Bullring is an 18th Century feature although there is doubt as to exactly when in the 18th C it was formed. A more interesting question is what was it used for? There has been speculation about it being used for bull-baiting (banned in 1835). If it was simply a lanscape feature, why was it planted so far from the manor house in Abington? Do let us know if you can throw light on these questions.

The plinth and statue of a hunter and dog killing a wild boar were, of course, features added to the Bullring by James Manfield. The plinth is still there but the statue was removed by the Borough Council after it was damaged by vandals.

Other News ....

On 20th November, Northampton Borough Council, in partnership with the FoEP, submitted a grant application to the Veolia Environmental Trust for additional funding for the Junior Play Area. We won't know if we have been successful until March 2016.

Number of Patrols: Thirteen
Dog Issues: Good number of walkers, fouling seemed to be at a static level.
That is not to say it has greatly improved but at least it does not appear to have increased partially through the colder weather I would guess.
Littering Issues: Low level litter
Graffiti Incidents: None reported to me.
Vehicle on the Park incidents: Further reports of incidents but not witnessed by myself.
Anti-Social Behaviour: Continued signs of alcohol consumption and damage to the park.
Complaints received from the public: None.
Length of Grass: Acceptable, in view of the wet underfoot conditions.
State of the litter bins: Appeared to be managed.

November has been a fairly quiet month on Eastfield Park. However, on Thursday 19th November I was called by Amey staff concerned about a bonfire located near the lake at the benches and dog bins. On arrival, Jason Toyne and I found two men and a boy (17) fishing and having started a fire to keep warm. They were drinking and refused to put out the fire and so we called the Police. Two and a half hours later we were still there ensuring that the fire was out. The Police did not attend and through foul means and fair we managed to get their names. These have been fed into the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit and a Warning Letter will be generated to alert the Police to the type of anti-social behaviour carried out by these two. This can then be used by the Police as a stepping stone to other more effective action in the future.
Dog owners are very largely picking up their dogs mess and levels of mess indicate the colder weather is beginning to persuade some owners not to venture out onto the park. Owners who fail to pick up their animals mess will be dealt with by the Ranger when witnessed. I am continuing to carryout spot checks on dog walkers and asking individuals if they have dog bags on them. This challenging process hopefully will encourage people to carry bags at all times.
Patrols are up as compared with last month but is a flexible issue but hopefully it will be sustainable.

Eastfield Park Ranger's Report

November 2015

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