This is a small village situated approximately two miles from Corby, and five miles from Kettering. Much of Great Oakley has been in the ownership of the Brooke family for over five centuries, and the present lord of the manor is Hugh de Capell Brooke, who lives with his family in Great Oakley Hall, which was extensively renovated in th 1960s.
In the grounds of the Hall is St Michael's church, which was built of stone in the 13th century. The nave roof is built of Collyweston stone slates. Both the nave and the small tower, which houses three bells, were added to the church in th 16th and 17th centuries. The church register dates from 1718. Inside the church there are several monuments to the Brooke family, and the oak choir stalls are said to have come from the Cistercian abbey at Pipewell.
In the centre of the village is the village hall. This was erected in 1921 by Sir Arthur R. de Capell Brooke for the villagers to use for social activities. Next to the hall is the old vicarage, in the grounds of which there is a large grass mound. Rumour has it that a vicar once had this made so that he could feel nearer to Heaven !
A stream flows through the village called Harper's Brook, and this stream was once the boundary of Rockingham Forest. There is a well in the village called Monk's Well. This was mentioned in the Domesday Book, and at one time the villagers used it as their water supply. It can still be seen, and is situated in the grounds of Bridge Farm in Brooke Road.
Although in recent years extensive new housing estates have been built at the top end of the village, much of Great Oakley remains unchanged. A preservation order exists on all trees and stone houses in the village, and this will help to ensure that the character of Great Oakley remains for future generations.
(The above extract from 'The Northamptonshire Village Book', compiled by the Northamptonshire Federation of Women's Institutes, is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire)
Bob Hartley is in the process of recording Monumental Inscriptions in the churchyard of St Michael's Church. For details of inscriptions Bob can be contacted by e-mail at Hartlovap@aol.com.