It’s not always easy to peer back through the mists of time but the county archaeologists are certain of one thing at least – people have been living at Chester Farm near Irchester for 10,000 years.
The long term heritage project, bought by the old Northamptonshire County Council in 2004 and the recipient of a £3million lottery grant, has just completed the second phase of its restoration and development.
North Northamptonshire Council which has taken it over with some support from West Northamptonshire Council says it is on course to be open to the public in October.
When it is open it will offer a range of possibilities from a free to visit heritage attraction, a place to store and display archaeological finds but also venues for eating, shopping for local produce and holding events.
Business Manager, Jack Pishhorn says it’s now all hands on deck to furnish the buildings and welcome their tenants into the courtyard, with the likes of Saxby’s Cider, a farm shop, My Little Vintage and the Chester House gift shop all set to move in.
He said: “We’ve got a fantastic team of volunteers who are building bespoke furniture, a bar for the events space and fixtures that will beautifully furnish and compliment the buildings.
“We’re especially excited to be welcoming our educational partners including Moulton College, University of Leicester and the Creating Tomorrow Multi Academy Trust who will all have bases here to utilise the visitor and educational opportunities that will be available on site.
“It really does feel like we’re on the home stretch now.”
The project, near Irchester, is being supported by North Northamptonshire Council, West Northamptonshire Council and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Cllr Helen Howe, North Northamptonshire Council Executive Member for Sport, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “It’s great news that the next phase of the project has been completed. This phase will be of particular benefit to local residents with a farm shop and local producers on site, offering a real taste of Northamptonshire to everyone who visits.
“We are all really delighted to be in the final stages of this project and can’t wait to share it with you all. It will bring another great tourist attraction along the river Nene, to North Northamptonshire”
Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of North Northamptonshire Council said: “I am delighted that the second phase of the project has been completed and look forward to seeing the courtyard and events spaces when they have been fully furnished”.
“The Learning and Community Department will be a huge asset to the wider Northants community.”
For more information on the Chester House Estate project, sign up to the newsletter at www.chesterhouseestate.org