Historic Northamptonshire Guide
by Ben Johnson
Facts about Northamptonshire
Famous for: Shoemaking, Grand Union Canal
Distance from London: 1 – 2 hours
County town: Northampton
Nearby Counties: Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland
Welcome to Northamptonshire! This county boasts several grand historic houses including Althorp, ancestral home of the Spencer family and home to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial. Magnificent Boughton House near Kettering, dubbed “England’s Versailles”, is the Northamptonshire home of the Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry. Royal connections continue with 12th century Fotheringhay Castle near Oundle, the site of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and also the birthplace of King Richard III in 1452.
Not far from Boughton is Geddington where you will find perhaps the best example of an Eleanor Cross. These crosses were erected by Edward I wherever the cortege of his queen Eleanor rested on its journey to London.
Also close by is the peculiar triangular lodge at Rushton. Designed by Sir Thomas Tresham, the father of one of the Gunpowder Plotters, this folly celebrates the Holy Trinity and his Roman Catholic faith.
There is a fine example of an intact Anglo-Saxon church at Brixworth. All Saints Church was built around 670 using Roman bricks from a nearby villa and boasts a 9th century tower built to repel Viking attacks.
One of the most important battles of the English Civil War was fought on Northamptonshire soil at Naseby on 14th June 1645. This was to be the final key battle of the war and resulted in a victory for the Parliamentarians.
Northamptonshire lies in the centre of England and boasts excellent transport links including canals. No longer important for the transportation of goods and freight, the canals are now popular with boaters and holidaymakers. The Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal gives the visitor a fascinating insight into the history of the canals. The historic village of Braunston near Northampton is set at the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union Canals and is also well worth a visit.