This is a mainly rural county of gentle beauty, with large areas of farmland, forests and great country estates. The area has been influenced by it strategic position in central England, since the time of the Romans.
Transport links by road and then by water, have made Northamptonshire a prosperous trading centre. Its iron and steel heritage has dwindled over the years but the canal era still lives on. The many rivers, canals and water meadows providing a haven for wildlife and gentle cruise boats. Traditionally the county was once the main centre of shoe manufacturing and its many museums bare witness to this and other past trades. At the height of the Industrial Revolution Northamptonshire was reputed to be the tanning capital of the world. Production of leather is still one of its key trades and shoe manufacturing still continues, to a lesser degree.
The land around Towcester in the south is fairly hilly. In the west of the county the limestone hills are a continuation of the Cotswolds. The Grand Union Canal winds its way through the county, and the Waterways Museum, housed in a restored cornmill in the picturesque village of Stoke Bruerne, is an ideal place to explore and learn about its canal heritage.
The county was once a favourite royal hunting ground and is often dubbed the county of Spires and Squires, due to the many stately homes and churches within its boundaries. In its small villages you will find many quaint thatched cottages made from the local red iron stone.
The county town of Northampton, situated on the River Nene, has no surviving castle. The town was destroyed by fire in 1675, which enabled the local people to build a spacious and well-planned town, its market square was once one of the largest in the country.
'Northampton is the handsomest and best built town in all this part of England. The beauty of it is owing to its own disasters, for it was so effectually and suddenly burnt down, that very few houses were left standing. It is now finely rebuilt with brick and stone, and the streets made spacious and wide. The great new church, the town hall and all their public buildings, are the finest in any country town in England.'
|Northampton - distance to London: 67 miles (108 km)|
|Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire.|
|East Midlands Trains|
|Birmingham (International), Luton (International)|
|M1, A14, A5, A43, A45|
|Arbury Hill, 734 feet (223 m)|
|Avon, Nene, Swift, Welland|
|Northamptonshire clanger - a type of suet pudding.|
Earls Barton leek pie - traditionally eaten by villagers on Shrove Tuesday.
First recorded in 1011 as Hamtunscir, Northamptonshire comes from the Old English 'North Hamtune', meaning northern home farm or town. During the Civil War (June 1645) the decisive Battle of Naseby, to the north of the county, began as a long series of victories for the Parliamentarians.
The Roman road of Watling Street (now under the A5) passes through the county, and the important Roman settlement of Lactodorum once stood beneath the town of Towcester.