Family Days Out: Lyveden New Bield

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There’s more than meets the eye at Lyveden New Bield than just a derelict building.

Designed by Sir Thomas Tresham and set in the heart of rural Northamptonshire, Lyveden New Bield was left unfinished when it was abandoned on his death in 1605 – and has remained incomplete ever since.

One of more than 300 historic houses and gardens in the control of the National Trust, the unfinished Lodge offers a great piece of history for all of the family to discover and enjoy.

The surroundings here are magnificent – you can literally see for miles around.

After arriving in the car park, I headed towards the visitor office to pay and gain entry.

Prices are very reasonable at £6 per adult and free for under-18s.

All of the staff here work on a voluntary basis and their love for where they work is clearly evident.

Such as Susan Lees, who has been a voluntary visitor assistant at Lyveden for the past eight years.

She talked to me passionately about the history of Lyveden and what’s on offer for children.

And it isn’t long before I came to realise what has kept her working here for such a long time.

Susan guided me through to the Family Den which has been created specifically with children in mind.

Here they can find fun activities such as Jenga which they can play outside on the grass (there is plenty of space to do so); binoculars to watch the wildlife plus 50 things to do at Lyveden work sheets to help keep the kids entertained during their visit.

But first up was a visit to the Lodge itself.

Standing outside the building, you can really understand why Sir Thomas Tresham wanted to build a home here.

All of the staff here work on a voluntary basis and their love for where they work is clearly evident.

The views are picturesque, and with it being such a sunny day when I visited the views were even more spectacular.

To view inside the Lodge you need to take the few steps down and enter the open doorway – which is pretty low for anyone taller than 5ft 4in!

If you want a detailed explanation of what you’re looking at as you wander around, you can opt to use the free audio tour.

Otherwise, you can pick up one of the information sheets situated in a little alcove on the left as you enter the Lodge – which is what I opted for.

Walking around you can get a real sense of how this building would have looked if it had been finished – even without any floors being present!

There is a small winding staircase to the ‘upper level’ of the building which again gives fantastic views.

It’s no wonder that Lyveden draws in so many visitors.

In fact, last Easter weekend more than 2,000 people came!

After taking the tour, I headed to the tea room which is situated in a beautiful cottage-style building.

It has outdoor seating plus enough seats to sit 19 inside.

Decorated with a real cottage feel, the tea room is open from 11am to 4pm and serves drinks and a small selection of food including soup, cake and scones.

Having been told that visitors often come here just for the scones, I opted for the cream tea which was delicious.

Lyveden itself is really geared up for family fun with lots of activities taking place this year, such as:

Cadbury Easter Egg Trail

Friday, April 3 to Monday, April 6, 11am to 4pm

For a small fee (£2), you can hunt around the grounds to find the hidden clues and claim your Cadbury prize when you have succeeded.

Lyveden Alive!

Monday, May 25, to Sunday, May 31, 10.30am to 5pm

Visit the Family Den and tick off some of the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenges.

You’ll also be able to hunt for bugs in their wildflower meadow or try your hand at pond dipping in the moats.

As a lover of historical buildings and outdoor spaces, my visit to Lyveden was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

And I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun there’s to be had here for children – the Family Hut is a fantastic addition.

If you have any bookworms within the family, then why not take a peek at the little bookshop (near entrance) where you can buy once loved books for as little as 50p.

A quirky and unique experience, our family will definitely be back for fun and adventure.

Entry fees

Admittance is £6 for non National trust members (or £5.40 without gift aid). Under-18s and National Trust members go free.

Car parking is free.

Getting there

Open daily from 10.30am to 5pm until October 31 (and then just weekends after) you’ll find it sign posted from the A116 Thrapston to Corby and the A427 Oundle to Corby roads.

Beware though! The roads approaching Lyveden are single carriageway at times but there are some passing places available.

On the approach to Lyveden there are also quite a few potholes so heed signs to go slow!

Using SatNav to get you there?

Then pop in Lyvden’s postcode – PE8 5AT.

For more information, visit

Top tip

Take advantage of the masses of open space by taking your own picnic with you.

Did you know?

Monty Don from the BBC visited here recently to make a new series – 400 Years of Garden History – which is due to be aired this spring.

Lyveden New Bield

Lyveden New Bield