Visit Northampton and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Northampton, Northamptonshire. This is the county town and a county borough in its own right. its entrance from the south is unprepossessing and slightly confusing, but leaving it on the other side, past large modern houses on the road to Wellingborough, it slowly merges into the countryside.
It is an ancient Anglo-Saxon town, and during the Wars of the Roses the Yorkists captured Henry VI here at the Battle of Northampton in 1460. The Lancastrians were defeated through treachery, and as a result Edward IV seized the throne. During the Civil War the trade for which it is now famous, boot and shoe making, became important, since Northampton shod most of Cromwell's army.
In the centre of the town is All Saints' Church, occupying a whole square. Most of the building was destroyed in a fire, but the medieval tower survives. Charles II gave 1,000 tons of timber for the rebuilding and his gift is commemorated by a statue of the king on the wide portico. The west doors of the nave are richly carved and the nave is handsome, with timber and plaster ceilings. The font and pulpit are about 1680, and the crossing dome stands on Ionic columns. The medieval crypt is below the chanced.
By the church, in George Row, is the Sessions House, built in 1676, a small attractive building with cherubs perched on its balustrade and a hipped roof. Opposite is the Victorian Town Hall, an ornate building in the Venetian Gothic style, with a gable flanked by two turrets and a clock tower.
St John's Church, in Bridge Street, was a hostel for travellers in the 12th century and an almshouse at the time of the Reformation. It is now a Roman Catholic church with medieval windows and parts of the original roof. Opposite is the old Charity School. Hazlerigg Mansion, in Marefair which leads from Gold Street, was built just prior to the fire and survived it. Its original owner was Sir Arthur Hesilrigg, a Cromwellian who died in the Tower. Further along is another church which also survived the fire: St Peter's, one of the county's most impressive churches, it is large and predominantly Norman in style, with massive buttresses on the exterior and a 17th-century squat tower. Inside there is no chancel arch but an array of Norman carvings which run from east to west. There are many varied capitals and a 14th-century font with tracery and pinnacles.
Only 5,000 people inhabited this town in the 18th century. During the Napoleonic wars they poured in to make army boots, increasing the numbers to 15,000. It is surprising, for what was once a small town, how many churches of note there are in Northampton.
In Sheep Street, which has several Georgian houses, is the interesting and unusual Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the four surviving round churches in England, built from the time of the Crusaders. It is of ironstone with a tall tower and spire. The original nave, dating from the 12th century, is round, and 50 years later another nave was added to form the choir. The clerestory is 15th-century, with old Norman columns supporting it, and the chanced, which is rich in design, is mid-Victorian. In Campbell Square, on the far side of the church, is one of the town's earliest industrial buildings, Manfield Warehouse, in ornate Italian style with a tall tower and many windows. It was built in the 1850s.
St Giles' Church, in St Giles Street, is a big, golden, ironstone medieval church with a central tower and the only peal of 10 bells in the county. Inside, where the clerestory is of paler stone than the rest of the building, there is a l7th-century pulpit and finely carved oak chair, a 15th-century Gobion tomb, chained books and Victorian glass of note in the east window.
The Market Square, believed to be the largest in England, is reached by a narrow street off Mercer's Row, which is on one side of All Saints' Church. It still has many Georgian and Victorian buildings and in one corner is Welsh House, which also survived the fire and dates back to 1595, with obelisks and heraldic shields on the front. It belongs to the days when the Welsh brought their cattle to the market. There is a large car park in the square and at the far end is a vast ornamented Victorian building called the Emporium Arcade, a covered market with little shops leading off the street inside. On the second floor, with a wooden balcony, are shops and offices, and in the ends and centre is an additional floor.
The railway station is on the site of the old medieval castle. It has a water garden, a statue of St Christopher and a wall decorated with features describing the history of the town's footwear industry.
About 1 ½ miles south of Northampton on the A508 at Hardingstone is one of the Eleanor Crosses, now an Ancient Monument, which Edward I had erected to mark the resting place of the coffin containing his queen as it made its way from Harby in Nottinghamshire to London.
To the south of the town on the A43 is another Ancient Monument, Danes Camp on Hunsbury Hill, really an Iron Age earthwork.
Nearby towns: Banbury, Daventry, Kettering Milton Keynes, Rugby, Towcester, Wellingborough
Nearby villages: Blisworth, Brixworth, Bugbrooke, Brafield-on-the-Green, Earls Barton, Hackleton, Harpole, Kislingbury, Roade
Have you decided to visit Northampton or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Northampton bed and breakfast (a Northampton B&B or Northampton b and b)
- a Northampton guesthouse
- a Northampton hotel (or motel)
- a Northampton self-catering establishment, or
- other Northampton accommodation