Beckett's Park (also known as Cow Meadow)6621

Northampton, England, Northamptonshire, Northampton

Brief Description

Beckett's Park developed as an area for public promenading and recreation through the 18th and 19th centuries on a grassy riverside area. The park features tree-lined walks whose layout dates back to the late 18th century, as well as recreational facilities.


The first pleasure walks were laid out at the beginning of the 18th century on what was then known as Cow Meadow. The New Walk was laid out and planted in 1783 and replanted and extended in the mid-19th century. There have been mid- and late 20th-century improvements and renovations to the park.

Visitor Facilities

This is a municipal park for general public use.

Detailed Description

The park is situated on the north bank of the River Nene just to the south of the town centre. It occupies ground sloping to the south down to the river. The Long Distance Footpath, the Nene Way, passes through the park.
  • Riverside Walk
  • Description: Promenades along the River Nene.
  • Earthwork
  • Description: Possible earthwork remains of terraces, perhaps marking the site of structures that may have been associated with the nearby wells.
Bowling Green
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

This is a municipal park for general public use.

Detailed History

This strategically-placed site has prehistoric origins as evidenced by implements found there. The park may have been part of the Norman defence of the town. In 1460 during the War of the Roses, the river was crossed from the south into the area now occupied by the park. In the late 16th century it was the site of a mill.

The open area was used for public recreation as early as 1612 when flat racing took place there. In 1703 £30 was made available for the purpose of planting trees and laying out walks, and the first pleasure walks were laid out in what was then known as Cow Meadow.

New Walk (later known as Victoria Promenade) was laid out in 1783 to link St Thomas a Beckett's well to the north-east of the park to the former St Vigo's Well, a chalybeate spring which had been discovered in 1702. This walk was lined with poplar trees, which were replaced in 1841 when the avenues were also extended towards the river.

From the mid-1920s to about 1937 various recreational facilities were developed in the park and the promenade was improved as part of the Festival of Britain. There have been renovations to railings and paths and a new bridge built across the river between 1999 and 2003.


  • 18th Century
  • Late 18th Century