Today’s Newsflash


Winter 2023: The site is operating winter hours, and the carpark is locked at 5.30pm.


Tea & Talks 

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Our Tea & Talks programme for 2023 has now come to a close, but don’t worry, we have a fascinating line-up ready for 2024! Still taking place on Tuesdays, our Tea & Talk sessions will bring you local, well-known speakers to deliver a series of talks on a variety specialist subjects. So join us to enjoy a natter and a brew!

Whether food, fashion or industry piques your curiosity, our guest experts will be taking a look at these and various different topics and more, especially in relation to our lovely county of Northamptonshire.


Returning in September 2023, tickets are available to book now. There are a variety of ticket options, which range from £8-£18.50 and all include parking.
Full menus detailed at the bottom of this page and at booking.

All ticket types include free parking for the duration of the event.
You can choose from:

☕ £8.00
A Tea & Talk’ includes the talk, a voucher for a hot drink at our café 

☕ £10.50
‘A cream tea & talk’ includes the talk, a cream tea
☕ £16.00

‘2 course lunch and tea’ Includes the talk, lunch, hot drink

☕ £18.50

‘An afternoon tea & talk’ includes the talk and full afternoon tea

All talks are due to start at 2.00pm and will be approx. 45mins – 1 hour, tea will be served after the talk. If you opt for our NEW lunch offering alongside your talk, this is served before the talk.

Full menus detailed below. Please advise us of any dietary requirements when you book your ticket.

You can book below. Alternatively, please book your space at the reception desk in the visitor centre or email
Group discounts are available for groups over 10. Limited spaces available.

Tea & Talks Spring 2024

The talk “Railway, What Railway ?”
The date & time Tuesday 9th January -2pm
An overview The talk covers the railway that went straight along the Nene Valley and through the centre of the Stanwick Lakes complex before the Lakes were dug. The main focus will be on the area from Irthlingborough through to Thrapston. It will be illustrated with many photographs and artefacts from the railway.

The speaker

Andy Dyks

Andy Dyks was born and raised in Irthlingborough and has lived locally all his life. He worked at Unilever Research Laboratory in Sharnbrook for over 42 years and was lucky enough to take early retirement at the end of 2022; this has allowed him to focus his attention on his passion for local history.


The talk The art of Communication – a hostage and crisis negotiator’s perspective
The date & time Tuesday 16th January -2pm
An overview The most dangerous time in any negotiation is when you think you’re winning. From kidnappings to terrorist incidents, violent armed stand-offs to talking someone back from the ledge: all these make up the day-to-day life of Nicky Perfect’s job as a crisis and hostage negotiator.

The speaker

Nicky Perfect

Nicky spent 31 years as a Metropolitan police officer and the last 10 of those years as an international hostage and crisis negotiator with the elite New Scotland Yard Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Unit.

Nicky was the first female to be posted as the Director of UK Training of the National Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Course to this role and became responsible for designing and training police officers across the UK to deal with life and death situations from suicide intervention to crime in action (kidnaps.)In the 2022 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, she was awarded the British Empire Medal for “meritorious service to the community during the pandemic”.


The talk Northamptonshire Victorian inventors and inventions
The date & time Tuesday 23rd January – 2pm
An overview An illustrated talk looking at some of the good, bad and frankly mad gizmos and gadgets that were invented in Northamptonshire during Queen Victoria’s reign. Featuring inventions that impacted on the boot and shoe industry, agriculture, transport and domestic life from some county personalities and characters from the Victorian period.

The speaker

Jon-Paul Carr

Jon is the owner of History Book Corner, historian, author, talks and tour organiser, historical researcher


The talk My Father’s Journey through WWII
The date & time Tuesday 30th January – 2pm
An overview This talk covers the journey of Andy’s father from February 1940 until March 1946. Historical documents, photos and various other mementos collected during this time will be looked at during the talk, along with how the war impacted on his family life.

The speaker

Andy Tennet

Andy was born and bred in Northampton and has lived in Northamptonshire all his life. He worked for Northamptonshire Police for 30 years and finished his service as Detective Chief Inspector. Currently Andy works for St Andrew’s Hospital and is also a Parish Clerk. Andy and his wife both share a passion for open water swimming, and he is a qualified open water lifeguard and trainer.


The talk

What Makes a Good Story? – Sand Monsters, War Brides, Abandoned Babes and Amazing Journeys.

The date & time

Tuesday 6th February – 2pm

An overview

How do writers capture your interest, surprise and delight you and bring stories to a satisfying ending? Illustrating with readings of her award-winning short stories and flash fiction, author Judith Allnatt will reveal some of the ways writers craft their stories to fire readers’ imaginations. Whether you’re a keen reader or an aspiring writer, come and hear stories of to find out more about how the writer and reader together create magic from the page.

The speaker

Judith Allnatt

Judith Allnatt is an author whose novels have been featured as a Radio 5 ‘Book of the Month’ and shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award and the Portico Prize for Literature. Her short fiction has been listed for many awards including the Commonwealth Short Story Award, Bridport Prize, Radio 4 Showcase and the Manchester Prize for Fiction. She has worked widely as a lecturer and Writer in Residence and has most recently served as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow.


The talk

‘The Language of Flowers’

The date & time

Tuesday 13th February – 2pm

An overview

– A Victorian Gentleman’s amorous adventures described through the now mostly forgotten language of flowers. Flowers, social history and romance; what more could you ask for?

The speaker

Michael Brown

Michael has been interested in history and gardening for as long as he can remember. He became a qualified gardener and worked his way up to become Head Gardener at the Menagerie at Horton and later Cosgrove Hall. Later he researched medieval gardens and the uses of the plants, which was very useful when he created the medieval gardens at the Prebendal Manor at Nassington, Northamptonshire.

Michael studied for his MA in Garden History at Birkbeck, London whilst he was a full-time college lecturer in Horticulture.

The talk

“Wartime Tragedy”

The date & time

Tuesday 27th February – 2pm

An overview

On 22nd February 1944 two American wartime bombers collided in the skies close to Irthlingborough. One of the doomed plane crash landed in the position of what is now “Bright Water Lake” close to the visitor centre. A memorial service will be held in February next year to commemorate exactly 80 years to the day when the disaster occurred with the loss of 17 brave aircrew. This service will be the start of fund raising to pay for the construction of a permanent memorial to the men.

The talk will cover the events of the day, using eyewitness accounts, photographs, and relics from the crash site. It will also coincide with a weeklong exhibition being staged, covering the involvement that the US airmen had locally.

The speaker

Andy Dyks

Andy Dyks was born and raised in Irthlingborough and has lived locally all his life. He worked at Unilever Research Laboratory in Sharnbrook for over 42 years and was lucky enough to take early retirement at the end of 2022; this has allowed him to focus his attention on his passion for local history.

The talk

“Glennis Hooper: She’s One Crazy Lady!”

The date & time

Tuesday 5thth March – 3pm

An overview

A strange topic for a talk! Listen to Glennis as she talks of her personal journey through having had breast cancer and how she founded a local charity that, in its twenty-year history, raised an incredible £3.4 million and made such a significant difference to breast cancer care in Northamptonshire. It really is an inspiring and uplifting story that is honest, often humorous, sometimes sad but written from the heart – all written in her recently published book.

The speaker

Glennis Hooper

Glennis was born and bred in Kettering and taught in Rushden, Wellingborough and Kettering Primary Schools. She also played tennis and table tennis at county level and loves to be creative. Just three months after having secured her first Headship at Highfields Primary School in Kettering she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unable to return to teaching, her career was brought to an abrupt end, but Glennis did not sit back …. she used her experience and skills to set up a very -unique kind of charity that was loved by everyone.


The talk Political Coins, Medals and Tokens in the Eighteenth Century
The date & time Tuesday 21st November, 2.00pm
An overview This talk will examine a range of coins, tokens and medals from the 18th century, exploring how Georgians used these objects to express political sentiments. The production of low-denomination coins was left to private manufacturers, meaning that anyone with the means could produce tokens to circulate as currency. As they were shared in the local area, they are brilliant artefacts of local history, reflecting the concerns and interests of society at the time.

The speaker – Kerry Love


Kerry is finishing her PhD at the University of Northampton on political objects in the 18th and 19th centuries. She has published her work in Parliamentary History journal and contributed to the recent volume ‘Tokens of Love, Loss and Disrespect’. She also works in Higher Education, running the National Saturday Club programme for the Widening Access team at the University of Northampton.

The talk

The life and book of Mrs Beeton

The date & time

Tuesday 12th March – 2pm

An overview

Many people will have heard of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, but few know the story of inspiring story or the sadness behind its creation. Come and discover the real Victorian Mrs Beeton and what she did for English cookery.

The speaker

Sharn Matthews

Sharn worked in and with museums for over 40 years, starting with the Wisbech and Fenland Museum and culminating in running the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. Currently she volunteers with Northampton and Oundle Museums. Most of her work has been with costume collections but she has also explored various aspects of social and decorative art history on the way. Sharn is also a keen embroiderer and lover of historic recipes.

The talk

Call of the Kingfisher – a year by the River Nene

The date & time

Tuesday 19th March – 2pm

An overview

Call of the Kingfisher is the enchanting nature-writing debut from musician and wildlife recordist Nick Penny. He’ll be talking about his book, which he describes as a “love letter to a short stretch of Northamptonshire’s River Nene”, and celebrating a year taking in the glorious sights and sounds of the riverbank.

The speaker

Nick Penny

Nick Penny grew up in many different parts of the world before doing an arts degree at Oxford University. He then set up his own workshop making musical instruments, as well as writing music and playing the Paraguayan harp. After moving to Oundle four decades ago, he became fascinated by the birdsong in his local woods, starting to record it and use the sounds in his own music. He also began to watch and photograph the kingfishers on the River Nene close to his home – experiences captured in his nature-writing debut, Bradt’s Call of the Kingfisher.

Cream tea includes 
Homemade fruit scone, clotted cream, jam, butter and pot of tea

Afternoon tea includes
Finger sandwiches, fruit scone with clotted cream, jam and butter and a selection of cakes and pastries.


Lunch menu – all Items must be pre-ordered.

Choose from: 

Freshly made soup of the day with sourdough roll
Mushroom risotto with roquette & parmesan salad
Fish, chips & peas
Jacket potato with beef or vegan chilli

followed by:

Apple pie and custard
Eton mess
Lemon tart & berry compote
Fresh fruit & ice cream


Please advise us of any dietary requirements when you book.

All talks start at 2.00pm and will be approx. 45mins – 1 hour.

Please book your space at the reception desk in the visitor centre or email to book in.

Group discounts are available for groups over 10 – limited spaces are available.