Deene Park, Northamptonshire

Richard Cavendish unravels Crimean and other military links at Deene Park in Northamptonshire.

As the 7th Earl of Cardigan set himself to lead the Light Brigade at Balaclava in the most famous cavalry charge in history, he muttered: 'Here goes the last of. the Brudenells.' Someone had certainly blundered, but it was no decision of his and, whatever his faults, no one ever accused Lord Cardigan of lack of courage. On his chestnut charger Ronald he rode ahead of his gallant six hundred into the jaws of death, as cannon to right of him, cannon to left of him, cannon in front of him volleyed and thundered. 'I considered it certain death,' he wrote afterwards to a brother-in-taw, 'but I led straight and no man flinched.'

Memories of Lord Cardigan are still vivid at Deene Park today, but the Brudenells had been there for three hundred years before Balaclava, and are there still. Sir Robert Brudenell (1461-1531), a shrewd Tudor lawyer, made himself a fortune and bought Deene and its medieval manor house in 1514. Today he lies in state with his two wives in. Deene church, near the house which his descendants rebuilt and enlarged over the centuries.

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