This article is about Northampton in England, for other places of the same name see Northampton (disambiguation)

Missing image
Northampton Guild Hall, built 1861-4, E.W. Godwin, architect

Northampton is a large market town and a local government district in central England upon the River Nene, and the county town of Northamptonshire. In 2002 the urban district had a population of 194,122.

Traditionally Northampton has been a major centre of shoemaking and other leather related industries. Although shoemaking is still important, it has been overtaken as the main industry by engineering (bearings, vehicle components), distribution and finance.

Northampton is the most populous district in England not to be a unitary authority. It is also one of the most populous urban districts not to be a London Borough, metropolitan borough or city; on this basis the council claims that it is the largest town in England. Medway and Milton Keynes could also claim this title, but these are not always seen as single towns.

Northampton's population has nearly doubled since the 1960s, largely due to it being declared a new town in the early 60s. Another factor is the direct rail-link and the busy M1 motorway that both lead direct to London. Northampton is around sixty-miles from London, and by car and train it takes approximately ninety-minutes to journey between the two. This transport link to the South East has proved attractive, with already high house prices in and around London rising rapidly since the 1990s causing many people to move further and further away from the area in order to commute. Most of Northampton's housing expansion has happened to the east of the town, and it also around that area that a major new junction on the M1 has recently been constructed.

Borough of Northampton
Template:GBdot-small Northampton

within Northamptonshire

Twin towns:Marburg, Germany
Poitiers, France
Region:East Midlands
Admin. County:Northamptonshire
- Total
Ranked 262nd
80.76 km²
Admin. HQ:Northampton
ONS code:34UF
- Total (2003 est.)
- Density
Ranked 67th
2,417 / km²
Ethnicity:91.6% White
3.3% S.Asian
2.4% Afro-Carib.
Northampton Borough Council
Leadership:Leader & Cabinet
MPs:Brian Binley, Sally Keeble

Early History

The pre Norman town was known as Hamtun and was quite small, occupying only some 60 acres).

Remains have been found in the Northampton area dating back to Roman times. It is believed that farming settlement began in the Northampton area in around the 7th century. By the 8th century it had became an administrative centre for the kingdom of Mercia.

The town became significant in the 11th century, when the Normans built town walls and a large castle in Northampton. The town had one of the largest Jewish population in 13th century England centered around Gold Street. In 1277 three hundred Jews were executed, allegedly for clipping the King's coin and the Jews of Northampton were driven out of the town.

Its original defence line is preserved in today's street pattern (Bridge St, The Drapery, Bearward St & Scarletwell Lane).

The town was originally controlled by officials acting for the King; these officials collected the taxes and upheld the law.

In 1189 King Richard I gave the town its first charter and in 1215 King John authorised the appointment of William Tilly as the town's first Mayor. He also ordered that, "...twelve of the better and more discreet" residents of the town join him as a council to assist him.

Early religious houses

  • A large Cluniac priory colonised from La Charite sur Loire [near Prior St]
  • St James' Augustinian Abbey - est. c.1105
  • Greyfriars - est. 1225
  • Blackfriars [NE of the Castle] founded prior to 1233.
  • Whitefriars [between Abington & Princes Streets - est. 1271.
  • Austin Friars [NW of St John's hospital] founded before 1275.
  • Friars of the Sack
  • Friars of the Poor Clares

Medieval period onwards

After the Normans arrived, the town grew rapidly and out beyond the early defences. By the time of Domesday, the town had a population of about 1500 residents, living in 300 houses.

In 1460, the Battle of Northampton took place - a decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, and King Henry VI was captured in the town by Yorkists.

Northampton supported the parliamentarians during the English Civil War. For this reason the town walls and castle were later torn down on the orders of King Charles II as punishment. The railway station in Northampton stands on the site of the former castle, and for this reason is known as "Northampton Castle Station".

The town was destroyed by fire in both 1516 and 1675, and was re-built as a spacious and well-planned town. In the 18th century Northampton became a major centre of footwear and leather manufacture. The prosperity of the town was greatly aided by demand for footwear caused by the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries..

Northampton's growth was accelerated in the 19th century first by the Grand Union Canal which reached the town in 1815 and later the coming of the Railways in the 1830s. A loop of the major West Coast Main Line was built into Northampton in the 1870s.

Over the coming centuries the town continued to grow rapidly; after 1850 the town spilled out beyond the old town walls and began the growth we see today. in 1800 the population was round 7,000 and this had grown to 87,000 a century later.

1900 - Today

Growth after 1900 was slower. The town's famous shoe industry ceased to grow and other industries arrived slowly.

In the 19th century Northampton acquired a reputation for political radicalism when the radical non-conformist Charles Bradlaugh was elected on several occasions as the town's MP.

Between the wars pressure on housing lead to new council built housing estates being erected. The Borough boundary first extended in 1900 was expanded again in 1932. In 1968 the Northampton Development Corporation (NDC) was set up as the town was designated a New Town . At this time the town also became linked to the M1 motorway.. By the time NDC was wound up twenty years later another 40,000 residents and 20,000 had been added.

At the turn of the millennium, Northampton applied unsuccesfully to be granted city status as a part of the "millennium cities" scheme. This distinction for the Midlands area, was instead granted to Wolverhampton.

Leisure and culture

The town is noted for its many parks, which include Abington Park, The Racecourse (home to the annual Balloon Festival), Delapre Park, Bradlaugh Fields, Becket's Park (named after Thomas Becket, who also lends his name to the nearby Becket's Well) and Iron Age hill fort Hunsbury Hill. Leisure park Billing Aquadrome is situated on the town's outskirts, which incorporates a caravan site, marina and funfair.

As well as three modern indoor shopping centres, the town also claims to have Britain's largest market square, which dates back to 1235. The square and surrounding shopping streets host the annual St Crispin Street Fair, held during the October half-term school holiday since 1993.

The Derngate and Royal theatres are situated next door to each other in Guildhall Road, opposite Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. There is also a smaller museum in a former mansion within Abington Park. Roadmender is a leading venue for art and music in the region. Three cinemas are also located in the town: Vue at Sol Central, UGC at Sixfields and the Forum Cinema at Lings Forum.

Notable buildings

Missing image
All Saints church in central Northampton
  • Northampton's oldest standing building, the Church of The Holy Sepulchre is one of the largest and best preserved round churches in England. It was built in 1100 on the orders of the first Earl of Northampton, Simon de Senlis, who'd just returned from the first crusade. It is based on a plan of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
  • The current All Saints church (see picture right) was constructed mostly in the early 18th century, after the original was burnt down in 1675.
  • The guildhall in Northampton (see picture at top) was constructed mostly in the 1860s in Victorian Gothic architecture, and extended in the 1890s. It is built on the site of the old town hall.
  • Terry Wogan conducted a phone in during the 1980s to come up for a name for the 127.45 metre tall Express Lift Tower, a dominant feature in the area. "Northampton Lighthouse" was suggested as Northampton is one of the furthest places from the sea. It is also known as Cobblers Needle. It was built to facilitate the testing of new lifts at the Express Lifts factory. It is visible from most of the town, but is now redundant. The tower has however been listed as being of architectural importance in the town.
  • Northampton Castle (now only remaining in the hill on which it stood) was for many years one of the country's most important castles. The country's parliament sat here many times and Thomas Becket was imprisoned here until he escaped.


  • All Saints
  • St Andrew
  • St Giles
  • St John Baptist
  • St Peter
  • Holy Sepulchre
  • St Edmunds [now demolished]

Celebrity associations



Transport links

Northampton is situated on junctions 15, 15a and 16 of the M1 motorway. The A45 and A43 also go through the town and the A14 is close by. By rail, Northampton railway station is served by the Northampton Loop of the West Coast Main Line, and has regular services to London and Birmingham provided by Silverlink Trains (to London) and Central Trains (to Birmingham). Virgin Trains also provide some services to London, with serveral Pendolinos running each day. Sywell Aerodrome is the nearest airfield.


Three newspapers are published in the town:

  • The Chronicle and Echo,
  • Mercury and
  • Northants on Sunday.

Radio stations:

Regional television news is provided by:

At one point during the late 1990's - early 2000's, Northampton also had its own local TV station, Northants TV. It was transmitted on both cable and later terrestrial, mostly showing local adverts, sport, and documentaries on the surrounding countryside and activities.

Sport in Northampton

The town is home to:

Population growth of the town

American Cousins

Settlers from Northampton moved to the United States and set up various new towns there; as a result Northampton is now also a popular name for cities and towns in the United States:


The Northampton Development Corporation produced a single which was released nationally by EMI entitled 60 Miles by Road or Rail by Linda Jardim (who was also a vocalist on Buggles's Video Killed the Radio Star) in an attempt to generate publicity for the growing town. 60 miles is the approximate distance from the town to London, which many people commute to. The B-side was Energy in Northampton, about aliens choosing Northampton as a landing site. Strangely, neither song took the charts by storm, but for those interested, and unable to obtain a copy on ebay, the A side is still played daily in the town's museum!

External links

Districts of England - East Midlands Flag of England

Amber Valley | Ashfield | Bassetlaw | Blaby | Bolsover | Boston | Broxtowe | Charnwood | Chesterfield | Corby | Daventry | Derby | Derbyshire Dales | East Lindsey | East Northamptonshire | Erewash | Gedling | Harborough | High Peak | Hinckley and Bosworth | Kettering | Leicester | Lincoln | Mansfield | Melton | Newark and Sherwood | Northampton | North East Derbyshire | North Kesteven | North West Leicestershire | Nottingham | Oadby and Wigston | Rushcliffe | Rutland | South Derbyshire | South Holland | South Kesteven | South Northamptonshire | Wellingborough | West Lindsey

Administrative counties with multiple districts: Derbyshire - Leicestershire - Lincolnshire - Northamptonshire - Nottinghamshire


de:Northampton sv:Northampton, England


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