Special event to mark centenary of iconic Swanspool House being gifted to Wellingborough

Commemoration activities are being held in Wellingborough this Saturday to mark 100 years since historic Swanspool House and Gardens were gifted to the town.

Swanspool House in Doddington Road, Wellingborough.
Swanspool House in Doddington Road, Wellingborough.

Residents from across the borough are being invited to this Saturday's event, which will include live music, a discovery trail and a display of old photographs depicting the splendour of the 18th century town house and its Edwardian gardens down the years.

The celebration is being organised by The Friends of Swanspool Gardens group, which helps maintain the property's historic parkland gardens, and Wellingborough Borough Council, which uses the house as its offices.

It is being held in the gardens and pavilion area, with the mayor of Wellingborough Councillor Jo Beirne officially openeing the event at 2pm.

The old photographs of the house will be displayed in the pavilion and there will also be live music from the Salvation Army Band, a performance from African drummers, a tombola, discovery trail and refreshments for people to enjoy.

Town primary school pupils are being invited to enter a competition by drawing a picture of the house and the winner will receive a framed copy of their drawing and be invited to join the mayor as she opens the event.

Swanspool House was until 1918 home to four generations of the Sharman family until it was gifted to the town on June 10, 1919, by shoe manufacturer FC Chamberlain, of Palk Road, Wellingborough.

Swanspool ward representative Councillor Valerie Anslow, said: “Swanspool House is one of the town’s most iconic historical buildings and we are delighted to be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gifting of the house and its picturesque gardens to the town of Wellingborough.

“People from across the borough spend time enjoying the beauty of Swanpsool Gardens everyday and I would encourage everyone to come along and join in the celebrations.”

A spokesperson for the Friends of Swanspool Gardens said: “We organise community events and raise funds to enhance the gardens. We recently arranged for a tulip tree to be planted to commemorate the centenary, a fitting addition to the wonderful selection of trees already growing in the garden.”

Councillor Jon-Paul Carr, who is the council's lead heritage adviser, added: “We are fortunate to have this historic parkland within our town centre."

Swanspool House and Gardens history fact file

*Swanspool House was built in the latter half of the 18th century.

*Four generations of the Sharman family lived in Swanspool House. The Sharmans were one of the principal boot and shoe manufacturers in Wellingborough and went on to establish the first shoe factory in the town in the 1850s. Samuel Sharman acquired the house in 1770. He was succeeded by his son Samuel, his son Mark, and finally by Nathaniel Pearce Sharman, who was born in the house in 1827 and went on to live there with his wife Maria in 1866. Nathaniel, who was also a town magistrate, lived there for 52 years until his death in November 1918.

*Before being sold by the executors of the late Nathaniel Pearce Sharman's will, the estate was described by auctioneers as comprising a "substantial residence...situated in its own beautiful grounds with excellent stabling, greenhouses, a farm and 49 acres of rich feeding pasture and arable land".

*The site was initially bought in 1919 by the borough council with plans for redeveloping the area. But as soon as the sale was over, it decided to ask for tenders for the sale of Swanspool House and its grounds. Some were obtained, but the council also received a letter from Wellingborough boot and shoe factory owner FC Chamberlain, who pledged to buy the site and ask that it be maintained “for the use and benefit of the town as a pleasure resort now and for all time”.