My NN: Morcea Walker MBE shares her favourite local places
The Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire has a passion for historic places
By Sarah Becker
Morcea Walker MBE, has been Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire since last January.
With the Mayor of Northampton, she will be opening Northampton’s Coronation Community Festival in Guildhall Road today.
A key figure in celebrating and valuing Northamptonshire’s diverse communities, Morcea is also event co-ordinator for the Northampton Carnival Arts Consortium and Interim Chair of the Northamptonshire Black History Association.
Originally from Jamaica, 74-year old Morcea has lived in The Arbours, Northampton since 1973 when she moved from London. She is married with three children and a grandmother.
She took a moment from her busy schedule to reflect on her favourite places in Northamptonshire - some of which reflect the county’s rich history.
Can you give a glimpse into your diary over the Coronation weekend?
“The week leading up to the King's Coronation has been extremely busy with multi-faith groups in Northamptonshire organising over 70 to 80 events. Some of the events I attended included the Citadel Kettering Symphony Orchestra; the Eid Festival at Becket’s park and the County Service of Choral Evensong at the All Saints Church in Northampton.
“Today I will be opening the Coronation Community Festival along with the Mayor of Northampton, the Chair of West Northamptonshire and the High Sheriff.
“Tomorrow I will be attending St. Peter & St. Paul Church Service in Kettering before going on to The Big Lunch at Delapre Abbey.
“And on Monday I will be visiting three projects engaged in The Big Shout Out based in the Kettering/Corby area.
Which is your favourite cultural building in Northamptonshire?
“I love the Guildhall because the history of the county is weaved into it, from the statues outside to the sculptured tableaux and wall murals in The Great Hall inside.
“A statue of Queen Eleanor, for example, is one of the 14 statues on the front of the building. She is of course famous for the Eleanor Crosses put up after her death by Edward I– incredibly two of the only remaining three are in Northamptonshire.
“You can see the range of different cultures that would have inhabited the county on the paintings and wall murals.
“The building really is a fascinating starting point to exploring the history of Northamptonshire.”
Where is your favourite restaurant?
“I enjoy going to Coconut Grove, a small Caribbean restaurant at the bottom of Gold Street Mews – there are only four or five tables in there and it’s closed on a Monday. I like going there with friends and having fried dumpling, plantain and ackee and salt fish. It’s run by a marvellous lady called Claudette. Another firm favourite of mine is Caribbean Jerk Takeway in Kingsthorpe. The owners usually provide food for Northampton’s Carnival in June.”
Where is your favourite “hidden gem”?
“Hidden gem’ suggests hidden information that when you find it, you want to investigate more.
“I’m the interim Chair of The Northamptonshire Black History Association. There are a number of hidden gems in Northamptonshire in records about where black people have had an impact. You can go as far afield as Geddington where you can find a ballad about James Chappell, a servant of the owner of Kirby Hall, Christopher Hatton who rescued the Hatton family from an explosion in the 17th century. There is a ballad that children learn about him and it’s a lovely piece of history about the county.
“Hidden information is also found if you head towards The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Sheep Street. It’s one of three round churches in the world and a copy of one in Jerusalem. It’s a hidden gem with lots of history and now it’s being used for drama and community events.
“I find these nuances so interesting.”
What is your favourite street?
“I have two favourite streets, St. Giles Street and Wellingborough Road, both through which the Northampton carnival parades which is a wonderful display of cosmopolitan communities coming together to celebrate.
Although it’s changed, St. Giles Street has a variety of shops that is attractive: a Turkish restaurant, a funeral parlour and I can find my favourite coffee Jamaica Blue Mountain, in the wonderful coffee shops there. I do miss Colemans, the stationery shop though.
I like the Wellingborough Road as well – it has some very attractive pubs and by the time the carnival comes, it’s lovely to see the hanging baskets that come out and adorn the buildings.”
On a Spring Day where is your favourite place to go for a walk in nature?
“My favourite country park is Brixworth Country Park. It reminds me of Jamaica. I used to live on a hill in Jamaica and I would see the ships when they used to come in from England. Sometimes, Pitsford Reservoir makes me feel a little homesick – the sailing boats on the reservoir remind me of home.
“We are blessed in this county we can get into rural countryside quite quickly. I also love going over to the bluebell woods at Everdon Stubbs near Daventry. In Spring the woodlands become a sea of violet blue.”