Exhibition explores Corby’s rural past

Rowlett School fields looking towards the steel works at Corby. Courtesy the Malcolm Seaborne Collection

Rowlett School fields looking towards the steel works at Corby. Courtesy the Malcolm Seaborne Collection

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The heritage, people and traditions of farming life in the past is explored in a new touring exhibition.

Combine aims to capture the region’s rich agricultural past by focusing on six historic farms, one in each of the East Midlands’ six regions.

This is thought to be at Great Oakley. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

This is thought to be at Great Oakley. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

Corby Heritage Centre is the only venue in Northamptonshire that will host the touring exhibition.

Heritage development worker Billy Dalziel said: “Most people think of Corby as an industrialised, new town but it goes a long way beyond that.

“For much of its life it was a farming and forestry community that lived off the land. It was only in the 20th century that it became industrialised.

“Corby was fairly unusual in that it didn’t have a manor house. The heritage centre is in what was the manor farm house and the man who lived there was the lord’s agent and would have controlled several smaller farms round about.”

The site of Corby Boating Lake

The site of Corby Boating Lake

The exhibition will include a display on Home Farm near the village of Laxton.

Home Farm is run by David and Elizabeth Simpson and covers 209 acres. It has been in the Simpson family since 1925 and is mostly arable with a small number of chickens and pigs. It has remained more or less the same size over the years.

The farm house is about 400 years old and is built from local limestone. It was built by Lord Carbery as a model farm to provide food for Laxton Hall, which is just off the A43.

Work started on the Grade II listed Laxton Hall in 1759 and it was rebuilt between 1806 and 1816.

The site of the present day Exeter estate in Corby. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

The site of the present day Exeter estate in Corby. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

The village of Laxton was also rebuilt in the 19th century by George Evans-Freke, Lord Carbery, at the same time as he built Home Farm, to create the only estate village in Rockingham Forest.

In 1924 Dominican friars opened a boys boarding school at the hall.

It is now a residential care home which is run by the Polish Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

The touring exhibition will also include working implements to show visitors how people used to farm the local landscape before mass industrialisation.

Gamekeepers' cottages in Willowbrook Road. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

Gamekeepers' cottages in Willowbrook Road. Courtesy the Malcom Seaborne Collection

Combine is at Corby 
Heritage Centre, in Corby Old Village, from Monday, November 26, until Friday, February 1, 2013.

The centre is open from 1pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Enclosure map showing Corby in the 19th and early 20th century. This is hand painted and would have been expensive to buy

Enclosure map showing Corby in the 19th and early 20th century. This is hand painted and would have been expensive to buy