Wolfampcote: a stroll through history

Wolfampcote is mainly an abandoned medieval village of which little remains, but that does include the old church of St Peter.  I visited on a (mainly) circular walk in late February 2020 on a dullish day, though I had been before, on a pleasant September day in 2018.  This is a short walk and is undemanding, but those interested in history will find much to muse on.

The nearest modern settlement is Braunston, Northamptonshire, just off the A45, an important location on the canal network, with the junction of the Oxford Canal (northern section) and the Grand Union Canal.  My walk did not include the junction, but it is only a short diversion.  Braunston itself has a couple of pubs (for future reference, hopefully), an independent convenience store, a butcher / greengrocer, chippie and a few others.

As the route is circular, you can start anywhere, but I began at the aqueduct over the River Leam, as my boat was moored there.

wolfhampcote walk map
A sketch map of the route (pink dots) and nearby features.

And zoomed in:

wolfhampcote walk map c

When first constructed this canal was very circuitous, following contours to cross natural water courses, such as the River Leam (pronounced ‘Lemm’ as in Leamington Spa), but this, along with some sections of the Oxford Canal were straightened in the early 1830s to save time.

GUC br 95 sw
Straightened canal from bridge 95 towards the Leam aqueduct and beyond.
GUC br 97
Bridge 97, with historic boat beyond.

And soon bridge 98 is reached, where a lane crosses towards Wolfhampcote.

GUC from br 98 sw
Looking south west from bridge 98.

About 300 metres along the lane is a bridge over the line of the dismantled Grand Central Railway.

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Next the lane crosses the old line of the canal, which has some water on the south side.  There is a footpath passing the west end of the churchyard, which might allow more exploration of the old line, but it was rather wet when I was there.

Old Oxford Canal nr Wolfhampcote Hall 2
Old line of canal south of Wolfhampcote Hall.

Then Wolfhampton Hall appears on the left.

Wolfhampcote Hall
Wolfhampcote Hall

After an old cottage is the church of St Peter.

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Some features are very old, 13th-15th century.  There is a useful guide for visitors.  This church is quite plain, but I think that adds to its charm.  It is a peaceful spot.  After emerging continue towards Braunston.

St Peter Wolfhampcote (2)
Looking back from the east end.
Wolfhampcote R Leam
River Leam, just east of the church.
St Peter Wolfhampcote approach
Looking back along the lane to the church.
Wolfhampcote medieval
The undulations in the foreground indicate the location of the medieval village of Braunstonbury.
St Peter Wolfhampcote gated road
The gated road toward St Peter …
Gate
… and this road leads to a water treatment plant, but go through, and cross the ridge-and-furrow field to the right – there is a stile by the bridge upper right.
GUC br 95 changeover
Back on the Grand Union Canal at bridge 95.

From the two gates access to the village is easy enough, though there is a steepish path up to the church.  Here are a few images:

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