The honeypot and a pavilion pair

Stoke Bruerne is one of those ‘honeypot’ locations that attracts boaters and visitors alike. Boaters passing through will arrive from the north via the 1¾ mile long Blisworth Tunnel or from the south via the flight of 7 locks.

For boaters Stoke Bruerne provides a bit of respite (two canal side pubs, one with Bistro and restaurant, one Indian takeaway, and a small café attached to the museum). Visitors by car can “gongoozle” at boaters’ efforts at the locks, take a circular stroll to the tunnel via the towpath and the Woodland Walk,    take a boat trip, buy an ice cream (a popular choice) and visit the Canal Museum.

So a mooring at Stoke Bruerne is a naturally attractive option – but mooring notices are clear and regulations are enforced.

It had been a long time since the Cleddau crew visited the Museum. The ground floor now is a relaxed extension of the café with plenty of books to look at and some soft seating too. Didn’t there used to be a section of an old narrow boat here?

Up the stairs the first floor is given over to canal artefacts and activities for young school children.

Loved this:

From the window to the rear can be seen a building named The Learning Centre – school groups must be a regular sighting here.

Up the stairs again to the second floor, the place now for the beautifully painted rear end of a working family’s narrow boat.  You can peep into the tiny cabin’s living space…

An information panel explains the impact the coming of the canal in 1801 had on the small Stoke Bruerne village…

Here was an item not seen before, a tunnel brush for cleaning the soot, cobwebs and debris from tunnel roofs…

On a Tuesday morning there was little of the “honeypot feel” and the Museum galleries were empty of other visitors…


Somewhere there had been mention of a pair of impressive pavilions near Stoke Bruerne: a webpage stated that the site would be open in the afternoons this week but questions at the Museum about the location were met with a blank. Not to be deterred Google and the elderly Geo canal map were referred to and Boatwif made a footpath recce.

In light rain (Tuesday afternoon) the Captain and Boatwif set off, passed the Museum, crossed the Top Lock, took a grassy track parallel to the canal until it veered away  and after a while trudged across two fields. Here it was then.

Past the rear of a stable block and a fine farmhouse to this notice:

A terrace, flanked by two fine buildings, overlooks a rectangular pool. An elaborate stone fountain played in the centre  and a duck house was anchored nearby. Beyond the water feature was a view across Northamptonshire parkland.

What once had been a medieval hunting lodge had been replaced in the 1630s by an impressive new country mansion in the Italianate Palladian style. At each end of the grand house was a lodge or pavilion, one a chapel, one a library.   The house was burnt down in 1886, the replacement was left in a poor state after its requisitioning in World War 2 and now it is the Pavilions    and Italianate colonnades that remain.

Views inside the East Pavilion.

Glorious planting. 

The niches in the walls were a reminder of the Temple of British Worthies at Stowe Gardens 

Visitor access to Stoke Park Pavilions is limited to a certain number of days per year – so it was a lucky coincidence to be passing through Stoke Bruerne this week!

After a damp but rewarding visit the Captain and Boatwif made their way back across the fields,  back to “honeypot” Stoke Bruerne. In the late afternoon rabbits scampered and cows grazed peacefully in the nature reserve between the second and third locks. Hopefully the female coot which had been nurturing her family of two deep in the hedge by the boat had found it quiet enough to introduce them to water…

From honeypot to honey jar:  Boatwif is promised a honey jar from Uzbekistan. Now who would be providing that?!

Onward, the next day, heading south, where somewhere Northamptonshire meets Buckinghamshire…

Southbound from Crick trip so far, details unchanged:  21 miles, 2 tunnel passages, 14 locks

2024 Totals: 112½ miles, 8 tunnel passages, 62 locks, 4 swing bridges

 *2024 Monkton Moments* (Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections) – now 10 (1 from widebeam Delilah: “Cleddau… I’m from Llansteffan”. 2.   passing walkers: “We love Pembrokeshire…!”) 3. “Grew up in Llangwm”.)

Tudor Rose enquiries: 1. “Why have you got a Welsh name and an English rose…?”


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