One of Northamptonshire’s most important heritage sites will have its manor house turned into a visitor centre.
The National Trust has had plans approved to turn Lyveden Manor near Oundle into a visitor attraction and will renovate the former great hall and open a cafe inside.
The grade one listed manor, which once built by the Tresham family in the 1570, was in private ownership until it was brought by the National Trust in 2013 and over the years many of its original features have been removed.
However work will start in the summer to renovate the great hall and it is expected that it will open as an attraction next year.
Speaking on behalf of the National Trust at East Northamptonshire Council’s planning meeting on Wednesday (Jan 9) Ian Cooper said: “Lyveden has a rare and important Elizabethan garden created by Thomas Tresham as an expression of his tastes and catholicism. It gives visitors today a unique experience.
“The National Trust is very proud of Lyveden but recognises it has limitations. The car park is unfinished and the main facilities are in a cottage adjacent to the lodge
“Our proposals are informed by extensive research into the manor.
“We will reinstate the great chamber on the first floor and we have worked hard to design a new scheme. We believe our proposal will result in significant visitor growth.”
Mr Cooper said 34,000 people visit Lyveden each year. The National Trust has a fundraising project to gain £1m for improvements.
In approving the new plans cllr Andy Mercer said: “Lyveden is not just a local asset it is the finest example of its kind in Europe and anything that enhances it has got to have our support.”
An aerial picture taken by the Luftwaffe was rediscovered by a researcher in 2010 and has revealed the extent of the original garden design. Its 120 metre concentric design is heralded as of international importance.
The current main attraction on the site is Lyveden New Bield, a unfinished Elizabeth summer house designed by Thomas Tresham more than 400 years ago. It was heavily influenced by the symbolism of his catholic faith. Work stopped on the house and gardens when Thomas died in 1605, the same year that his son was involved in the gunpowder plot. Lyveden remained in the Tresham family until 1649.
Rushton Hall near Rothwell was the principal family seat of the Treshams and in 1821 plans for the Lyveden garden were found hidden in a wall. They papers are now kept at the British Library.