Our History

The history of the Great Oakley Estate is rich and diverse

The history of the Great Oakley Estate is rich and diverse

The history of the Great Oakley Estate is a rich one. It has been under the ownership of the Brooke & de Capell Brooke family in some form since the late 1400s – but with previous Lords and Stewards going as far back as the late 11th century.

Oakley is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning ‘oak clearing’ which suggests that Great Oakley was formed during woodland clearance in the 9th or 10th century. At this time it is thought the settlement was part of a large multiple estate comprising several later parishes.


Early stewards

In 1086, at the writing of the Domesday Book (in which Great Oakley is featured), there was one manor of Great Oakley which was held by a Lancelin family. This was followed in the 12th century when the manor was held of the Honour of Huntingdon by de Houton – it was around this time that the boundaries of the village would have been established. In the prevailing centuries the main manor can be traced through a number of families, perhaps most notably the de Lyons – an eminent noble Anglo-Norman family who arrived in England with the Norman Conquest, and were granted lands by William the Conqueror.


The Brooke & de Capell Brooke Family

The manor was later divided but was brought back together after 1495 by the Brooke family, that would later include the de Capell Brookes when Richard Supple married Mary, the daughter of Arthur Brooke and later inherited the Great Oakley Estate in 1797 from his great-uncle Wheeler Brooke. In obedience of the testamentary injunction of his great uncle, he took the surname Brooke as well as the original name of his family, de Capell – becoming Richard de Capell Brooke.

The Brookes and de Capell Brookes were the most influential family in the parish for centuries – dominating the economic, social and religious life. In 1557 they incorporated the church, built of stone in the 13th century, and part of the village into the grounds of the newly built Oakley Hall, which still stands as the centre-piece of the estate today and is home to current steward Alexander de Capell Brooke.


Modern Day

The industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries saw Great Oakley become part of Corby as it grew (Corby and Great Oakley had once been similarly sized villages!) and the family embraced the agricultural history of Great Oakley at the dawn of the 21st century by becoming a partner in Harpers Brook Farms – a joint venture of Home Farm, Great Oakley, and Manor Farm, Little Oakley – which now covers more than 2,000 acres of crops.

The family has continued to contribute to the community – in 1921 Sir Arthur de Capell Brooke had a village hall built for the use of the local community for social activities. This was later replaced by a new village hall in 2011, built on land donated by Great Oakley Estates and partly funded by Harpers Brook Farm – in which Great Oakley Estates is a partner. A key pillar of the estate has also been education which you can read more about on this very website.



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