View to Barnack
|Area:||984 square miles|
|Biggest town:|| Peterborough
|County flower:||Cowslip |
The County of Northampton is a shire in the Midlands. The county town, Northampton, which has given the county its name, lies in its the centre, while to the north and northeast is a series of other sizable towns, leading out to the county's largest; Peterborough in the Soke of Peterborough at the north-eastern end of the shire. Northamptonshire has three "new towns"; Corby, Northampton and Peterborough. In all, Northamptonshire has a mixture of the urban and the rural.
The county contains the watershed between the River Severn and The Wash and indeed from the neighbouring slopes of Arbury Hill and Marston Hill thee rivers flow in different directions; the Leam heading westward to the Avon, which is drained by the Severn, the River Nene, which flows north-eastwards to The Wash, and Cherwell flowing south to the Thames. In 1830 it was boasted of Northamptonshire that "not a single brook, however insignificant, flows into it from any other district". The highest point in the county is Arbury Hill at 738 feet.
Northamptonshire's county flower, determined in 2002, is the cowslip.
Few finds have been turned up from the Stone Age. A series of iron-age hill-forts are found constructed at Arbury Camp, Rainsborough camp, Borough Hill, Castle Dykes, Guilsborough, Irthlingborough, and most notably of all, Hunsbury Hill. There are two more possible hill-forts at Arbury Hill (by Badby) and Thenford. In the 1st century BC, most of what later became Northamptonshire became part of the territory of the Catuvellauni, a Belgic tribe, of whom the Northamptonshire area was the most northerly possession.
The Roman road of Watling Street passed through the county, and an important Roman settlement, Lactodorum, stood on the site of modern-day Towcester. There were other Roman settlements at Northampton, Kettering and along the Nene Valley near Raunds. A large fort was built at Longthorpe.
Dark Age and early mediæval
After the Romans had retreated, the area was settled by the ancestral English and in time became part of the Kingdom of the Mercians. The first Christian kings of the Mercians, Peada and his brother Wulfhere, founded Peterborough Abbey (Medehamstede), which became one of the wealthiest institutions in the land.
In about 889 the area was part of the land conquered by the Danes, who remained, with Watling Street serving as the boundary after the Treaty of Wedmore. In 921 the Danish Jarl Thurferth and the Danish barons submitted to King Edward "together with the entire the host which owed allegiance to Northampton as far north as the Welland". This is taken to be the point at which Northamptonshire emerged as a shire. The Norse of York reconquered Northamptonshire in 940 and devastated the area, until the shire was retaken by the English in 942. Northamptonshire still has many Danish place-names. In 963, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Bishop Aðelwold came to the Abbey of Medehamstead (Peterborough) and found it all in ruins. At that point he found hidden amongst the stones an ancient charter granted by King Wulfhere of the Mercians granting the abbey vast lands in the neighbourhood and privileges against interference by King or Bishop, rights of sac and soke over the neighbourhood and other legal privileges. Rather than question the provenance of this conveniently discovered document, King Edgar confirmed the charter. This was the beginning of the separate jurisdiction of the Soke of Peterborough.
The shire was first mentioned by name in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1011, as Hamtunscir; the prefix "North-" was added to the town and the shire distinguish Northampton from the other important Hamtun further south: Southampton. The later Anglo-Saxon period was one of great prosperity in Northamptonshire; something shown by the remarkable number of great Anglo-Saxon churches which survive in the county, most notably those at Brixworth and Barnack.
Rockingham Castle was built for William the Conqueror and was used as a Royal fortress until Elizabethan times.
In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Northampton was fought and King Henry VI was captured.
Early modern period
During the English Civil War, Northamptonshire strongly supported the Parliamentarian cause, and the Royalist forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645 in the north of the county. King Charles I was imprisoned at Holdenby House in 1647.
George Washington, the American revolutionary general and first President of the United States of America, was born into the Washington family who had migrated to America from Northamptonshire in 1656. Washington's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Lawrence Washington, was Mayor of Northampton on several occasions and it was he who bought Sulgrave Manor from Henry VIII in 1539. In the fourth generation after Lawrence's days, John Washington (George Washington's great-grandfather) emigrated in 1656 from Northamptonshire to the colony of Virginia. 
Spires and squires
In 1823 Northamptonshire was said to "[enjoy] a very pure and wholesome air" because of its dryness and distance from the sea. Its livestock were celebrated: "Horned cattle, and other animals, are fed to extraordinary sizes: and many horses of the large black breed are reared."
Nine years later, the county was described as "a county enjoying the reputation of being one of the healthiest and pleasantest parts of England" although the towns were "of small importance" with the exceptions of Peterborough and Northampton. In summer, the county hosted "a great number of wealthy families... country seats and villas are to be seen at every step." Northamptonshire is still referred to as the county of "spires and squires" because of the numbers of stately homes and ancient churches.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, parts of Northamptonshire and the surrounding area became industrialised. The local specialisation was shoemaking and the leather industry and by the end of the 19th century it was almost definitively the boot and shoe making capital of the world. In the north of the county a large ironstone quarrying industry developed from 1850. During the 1930s, the town of Corby was established as a major centre of the steel industry. Much of Northamptonshire nevertheless remains largely rural.
The following Northamptonshire towns have been designated "new towns":
- Corby (designated in 1950) 
- Peterborough (designated in 1967) 
- Northampton (designated in 1968) 
Towns and villages
There are several towns in the county with Northampton being the largest and most populous. At the time of the 2008 estimates, a population of 685,000 lived in the county with 205,200 living in Northampton. The table below shows all towns with more than 9,000 inhabitants.
- Large towns
Historically, Northamptonshire's main industry was the manufacture of boots and shoes. Many of the manufacturers closed down in the 1980s, though R Griggs and Co Ltd, the manufacturer of Dr Martens, still has its British base in Wollaston near Wellingborough, the shoe industry in the county is now nearly gone. Large employers include the breakfast cereal manufacturers Weetabix, in Burton Latimer, the Carlsberg brewery in Northampton and other household names. In the west of the county is the Daventry International Railfreight Terminal; which is a major rail freight terminal located on the West Coast Main Line near Rugby. Wellingborough also has a smaller railfreight depot on Finedon Road, called Nelisons sidings.
The region of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and the nearby acres has been described as "Motorsport Valley"; a global hub" for the motor sport industry. The Mercedes GP and Force India Formula One teams have their bases at Brackley and Silverstone respectively, while Cosworth and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines are also in the county at Northampton and Brixworth.
International motor racing takes place at Silverstone Circuit and Rockingham Motor Speedway; Santa Pod Raceway is just over the border in Bedfordshire. A study commissioned by Northamptonshire Enterprise Ltd (NEL) reported that Northamptonshire's motorsport sites attract more than 2.1 million visitors a year, who spend a total of more than £131 million within the county.
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is in Division Two of the County Championship.
Silverstone is a major motor racing circuit, most notably used for the British Grand Prix. There is also a dedicated radio station for the circuit which broadcasts on 87.7 FM or 1602 MW when events are taking place.
Rockingham Speedway in Corby is the largest stadium in the UK with 130,000 seats. It is a US-style elliptical racing circuit (the largest of its kind outside of the United States), and is used extensively for all kinds of motor racing events.
The Santa Pod drag racing circuit, venue for the FIA European Drag Racing Championships is just across the border in Bedfordshire.
Places of interest
|Accessible open space|
| ||Museum (free/not free)|
- Althorp, near Northampton
- Barnwell Country Park
- Barnack Church
- Barnwell Manor
- Billing Aquadrome
- Borough Hill, Daventry (Iron Age hill fort)
- Boughton House (home of the Dukes of Buccleuch)
- Blisworth tunnel
- Brampton Valley Waylinear park on a disused railway line)
- Brixworth Church
- Brixworth Country Park
- Burghley House], near Stamford
- Canons Ashby House, Daventry
- Castle Ashby (home of the Marquess of Northampton)
- [ http://www.cotonmanor.co.uk/ Coton Manor Garden]
- Cottesbrooke Hall
- Daventry Country Park
- Deene Park, Corby
- Delapré Abbey
- Easton Neston
- Fermyn Woods Country Park
- Fotheringhay Castle & Church
- Franklin's Gardens (rugby stadium), Northampton
- Geddington Eleanor cross
- Holdenby House
- Irchester Country Park
- Jurassic Way (long-distance footpath)
- Kelmarsh Hall
- Kirby Hall
- Knuston Hall, Rushden
- Lamport Hall
- Lilford Hall
- Longthorpe Tower, Peterborough
- Lyveden New Bield
- Peterborough Cathedral
- Pitsford Reservoir
- Prebendal Manor House, Nassington
- Naseby Field
- Northampton & Lamport Railway
- Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway
- Rockingham Castle
- Rockingham Forest
- Rockingham Motor Speedway
- Rushden Hall (hotel) 
- Rushden, Higham and Wellingborough Railway
- Rushden Station Railway Museum
- Rushton Triangular Lodge
- Salcey Forest
- 78 Derngate (The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House & Galleries), Northampton
- Silverstone Circuit
- Southwick Hall
- Stanwick Lakes
- Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum
- Sulgrave Manor
- Summer Leys nature reserve
- Sywell Country Park
- The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
- Watford Locks
- Wellingborough Museum
- Whittlewood Forest
- Wicksteed Park
Yearly events include:
- Gretton Barn dance
- British Grand Prix at Silverstone
- Burghley Horse Trials
- Crick Boat Show
- Hollowell Steam Rally
- Northampton Balloon Festival
- Rothwell Fair
- Rushden Cavalcade
- St Crispin Street Fair
- Wellingborough Carnival
- World Conker Championships
- ↑ UK Genealogy Archives: Transcript from Pigot & Co's Commercial Directory, 1830. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- ↑ Northamptonshire Genealogy: Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- ↑ Greenall (1979) p.19
- ↑ Greenall p.20
- ↑ Greenall p.20"
- ↑ Greenall p.20
- ↑ Wood, Michael (1986) The Domesday Quest p. 90, BBC Books, 1986 ISBN 0-563-52274-7.
- ↑ Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Laud Chronicle), 963
- ↑ Mills, A.D. (1998). A Dictionary of English Place-names. Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. p256. ISBN 0-19-280074-4
- ↑ Rockingham Castle. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- ↑ Stearns, Peter N., Langer. William L.: The Encyclopedia of world history: ancient, mediæval, and modern]. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- ↑ Mott, Allan. BBC - Cambridgeshire - History: Mary Queen of Scots' last days. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- ↑ Edmonds. 1848. Notes on English history for the use of juvenile pupils. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- ↑ The Writings of George Washington: Life of Washington. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- ↑ Brookes, R., Whittaker, W.B. The general gazetteer, or, Compendious geographical dictionary, in miniature. 1823. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- ↑ Malte-Brun, C. Universal geography: or, A description of all parts of the world. 1832. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- ↑ Andrews, R., Teller, M. The Rough Guide to Britain 2004. Rough Guides. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- ↑ GENUKI: Northamptonshire Genealogy: Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- ↑ London Gazette: . 4 April 1950. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- ↑ London Gazette: . 1 August 1967. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- ↑ London Gazette: . 20 February 1968. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- ↑ GENUKI: Northamptonshire Genealogy: Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles. 1887. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Kellysearch.co.uk: R Griggs & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ . Retrieved 23 August 2009.
- ↑ Prologis RFI Dirft Daventry. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ FirstGBRf: FirstGBRf opens unique depot at Wellingborough. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ GB Railfreight: Locations, Wellingborough Retrieved 11 November 2010
- ↑ Coe, N.M., Kelly, P.F, Wai-Chung Yeung, H. Economic geography: a contemporary introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. pp 141-143. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Russell Hotten. Motor racing battles to stay out of pits. TimesOnline. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Official site of Mercedes GP Formula One Team: Contact us. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- ↑ Force India F1 Team: Contact us. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Cosworth: Contact. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines Ltd: Contact. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Silverstone Official Website: Contact Numbers. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Getting to Rockingham. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Santa Pod Raceway: Contact/find us/postcode. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- ↑ Motorsport to grow 30% in next decade. Northants Evening Telegraph. 25 June 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
- Greenall, R. L. (1979) A History of Northamptonshire Phillimore & Co. Ltd. ISBN 1-86077-147-5.
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- 1894/5 description
- Northants Forum
- Local Theatre in Northamptonshire
- Northamptonshire History Website
- Northamptonshire Tourism Website
- Northamptonshire Guide Website
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