Take a step back in time with all things historical from the local area

20th Feb 2024

Sulgrave Manor, a symbol of connection

Laura Malpas pays a visit to the ancestral home of George Washington, nestled in the Northamptonshire countryside If you grew up in Northamptonshire, there is a chance is that you may have visited Sulgrave Manor on a school visit. It has a fine reputation for education, as well as being a wonderful place for history lovers to explore. It’s a quintessentially English country house, but is more than that, it’s also home to a unique relationship. This month I’m visiting the tranquil Sulgrave Manor as the team prepare for the coming season. The village of Sulgrave was already an ancient settlement well before the Manor was built. There is evidence of local Bronze Age activity, including a Bowl Burial between 4000 and 5000 years old. Located on Castle Hill to the west of the village, more recent settlements included a fine Saxon timber hall surrounded by an earth ringwork rampart...

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11th Jan 2024

William Hacket, King of Europe? Heresy in Northamptonshire

Over the years, Northamptonshire has produced many radicals keen to change the world. Four hundred years ago it was no different, writes Laura Malpas. The county was a hotbed of religious conspiracies involving both the extreme Roman Catholics at one end of the spectrum, and radical Puritan Protestants at the other, reflecting the alternating preferences of the Tudor monarchs. The Gunpowder Plot originating in Northamptonshire is well known, but less so is the story of an Oundle man who plotted to remove Queen Elizabeth I from the throne and declare himself the new Messiah. Not much is known about the early years of William Hacket. He was born in the mid sixteenth century to a poor family in Oundle and received no formal education, remaining illiterate all his life. He was a Roman Catholic by birth and worked as a serving man in the homes of Northamptonshire gentry, including Sir..

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07th Nov 2023

Ka’iulani, the last Princess of Hawaii

Words by Laura Malpas... There’s an unexpected connection between Northamptonshire and Ka’iulani, the last heir to the Hawaiian monarchy. Her amazing life story naturally enough began in Hawaii in 1875. She was born in Honolulu, 4th in line to the Hawaiian throne, the only child of Princess Miriam Likelike and Scottish businessman Archibald Scott Cleghorn. Ka’iulani’s father was an Edinburgh Scot who had spent much of his youth in New Zealand where his father was Superintendent of the Auckland Government Domain. Aged 16, Archibald travelled to Honolulu with his father to set up a dry goods business. Despite his father dying, Archibald’s business thrived and expanded through the Hawaiian Islands, making him prominent and influential. In 1870, he became a Hawaiian citizen, and married a high-ranking member of the Hawaiian Royal Family, Princess Likelike. Five years later their only child Princess Ka’iulani was born to great celebration, as she was..

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20th Sep 2023

Boughton House Gardens opens for one day only this October

For one day only this Autumn, the Gardens and Parkland of Boughton House will open to the public in aid of the National Garden Scheme. The gardens will open on Sunday 1st October, 1pm-5pm, allowing visitors to explore the stunning landscape and gardens in glorious early Autumn colours, and with a proportion of the proceeds going to the charity. David Cullum, Parks and Gardens Manager at Boughton House, said: “October is a lovely time to explore. It’s the time of harvesting produce from the kitchen garden and orchard, and the colours really start to change across the estate. Look out for the stunning acers and chrysanthemums and the glistening reflections in the historic waterways.” The gardens of Boughton House have a long, interesting history. Ralph, the first Duke of Montagu (1638-1709), was influential in the early stages of the creation of the gardens and landscape at Boughton based on his..

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01st Sep 2023

Explore Northampton’s past through your smartphone: new virtual trail ‘Snapshots in...

The Explore Northampton app now features an exciting new virtual trail called "Snapshots in Time," developed in collaboration between Northampton Town Council and AR Media. This innovative trail offers a glimpse into the architectural history of Northampton, showcasing how 10 key historic sites have transformed over the years. The digital journey is enhanced with vintage photographs, intriguing facts, and additional information. Among the featured locations are long-gone civic landmarks like the Notre Dame Convent School, which was once situated on Abington Street. Though the school was demolished in 1979, remnants can still be discovered in the area. Councillor Jane Birch, who chairs the Community Services Committee at Northampton Town Council, said, "Our town centre boasts a diverse architectural heritage. This virtual trail enables users to learn more about well-known, family-owned businesses that continue to operate today, while also delving into Northampton's captivating history." The trail is straightforward to navigate, thanks..

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19th Jul 2023

Steep yourself in county’s top tourist treasures this summer – all for under a tenner...

Northamptonshire’s tourism treasures take centre stage in a new campaign showcasing the county as a brilliant place for great value days out. The campaign is highlighting 30 destinations – including Silverstone, Wicksteed Park, Shambala, Greenbelt and a host of hidden gems – that are welcoming visitors for a day out at under £10 this summer. Funded by West and North Northamptonshire Councils, the initiative is being delivered by the Northamptonshire Britain’s Best Surprise team. “Northamptonshire’s people and places offer an incredible variety of great value days out and experiences to visitors,” says chair Rachel Mallows. “We look forward to continuing our efforts to help sustain and grow local tourism and hospitality businesses and are grateful to the North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Unitary Authorities for funding this campaign.” West Northamptonshire Council is pushing the delights of its unique market towns Brackley, Daventry and Towcester as well as the county town..

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26th Jun 2023

Hello Summer – Hello Museums

Milton Keynes Museum With school out, finding ways to keep the little ‘uns entertained for six whole weeks can feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Milton Keynes Museum is on hand to make things easy for you, and fun for them! On July 15, the Museum will mark its 50-year anniversary with a special celebration party, and then between July 24 and September 1 the Wolverton-based history hub will be offering additional activities to take attention. All the usual attractions will be open as usual of course; start your visit with a look inside the Victorian farmhouse, play on music machines from the era, make hot buttered toast in the parlour, see what the role of a servant entailed and look back on more than a century of toys. Then stroll through the Street of Shops with its many original facades from stores that once served residents of Stony Stratford, Newport..

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21st Jun 2023

Say hello to summer with Chester House events

Chester House in Little Irchester has a summer of the sensational planned, with a varied programme sure to sate the entertainment appetites of the majority. On July 8, 21st Century ABBA Live will deliver smash hit after another; from Waterloo and Mamma Mia to Super Trouper, but there are other outside events to indulge in too - 21st Century Queen (July 21) will offer a royally ace set, and Spider Training (July 22) will weave a web of wonder around little folks. Suitable for ages 4+ Spiderman and Spidergirl will offer an hour-long workshop teaching little folks the moves of a real superhero. There are five sessions running across the day. A Kids Summer Festival (July 29 & 30) will boast inflatables, interactive live stage shows, tractor rides around the estate, a circus workshop, crafts, sandcastle building and a chance to discover the Archaeological Resource Centre. Youngsters can Adventure into..

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21st Jun 2023

Punk pages by Pete Pulse

Music fans with a penchant for the Northampton scene will want to know all about a new-to-the-shelves release which shines a light on the punk and new wave scene, specifically between 1976-1980, writes Sammy Jones. A To Z NN Punk New Wave 1976 To 1980 is a comprehensive release – with more than 200 pages to devour. It is the work of Pete Pulse, and was realised during the pandemic. “To be honest, it kept me sane and helped me connect with the outside world,” Pete told me, “All the interviews were conducted by email, and most people were happy to contribute. So much information is online now and I didn’t want to regurgitate lots of facts, rather I wanted the participants to tell their stories in their own words.” Pete was too young to enjoy the original punk movement, but rabid fandom mixed with a healthy intrigue helped to..

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19th Jun 2023

Make an entrance

This month Rosie Kinsella explores the often neglected yet crucial aspect of interior design: the hallway. Rather than focusing solely on individual rooms, consider the entire house as a cohesive unit. Hallways, often regarded as transitional spaces, have the potential to make a lasting impression and serve as stunning entrances. From flooring choices that connect different areas to clever storage solutions, this article explores some practical tips for maximising your hallway's functionality and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, it highlights the significance of lighting, mirrors, and incorporating elements from adjacent rooms to create a harmonious flow. By treating the hallway as a distinct space and giving it the attention it deserves, homeowners can transform it into a remarkable entrance that sets the stage for the rest of the home. Whether you are moving into a new house or renovating your existing one, it’s easy to concentrate on the interior design of each..

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18th Jun 2023

Charmed by Cottesbrooke

This month I’m taking the rare opportunity to visit one of Northamptonshire’s loveliest estates. It’s a rare treat as it opens to the public for a few days a week over summer months only, but it’s so worth a visit, writes Laura Malpas. You can expect glorious gardens and parkland, and a grand house that manages to feel inviting and cosy despite its grandeur. In the words of my guide, ‘this house feels like a hug’. The ancient village of Cottesbrooke is set in the heart of rural Northamptonshire. It’s quite central to the county, halfway between Northampton and Market Harborough.  The Cottesbrooke estate was purchased in 1635 by a wealthy gentleman from Cold Ashby, John Langham. John’s background was humble, but he had ambition. After his father died, John argued with his widowed mother and left home for London on foot, vowing never to return until he had made..

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21st Jan 2023

Gargoyles and Gorgeous views

If one were to imagine the quintessentially English village it might look very much like Easton on the Hill. Built largely of blonde local limestone, with roofs of Collyweston slate, the village is nestled into the summit of the Jurassic ridge which runs between the Nene Valley in the south, and the Welland in the north. It’s in Northamptonshire, but only just! And it’s the perfect spot for a winter wander, writes Laura Malpas. Although settlement was certainly present in earlier centuries, Easton on the Hill is first mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, where it was recorded as a thriving settlement of thirty-one households, with three owners listed. These included Eudo, a powerful French noble who acted as steward to both William the Conqueror and his son. Eudo held the land during his lifetime and it may well have been he who started construction of the Church. After..

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12th Feb 2022

Delapré Abbey reopens this Sunday with a new exhibition and week of family fun celebrating its...

Black death, a royal love story, and the bloody Battle of Northampton are all explored in a new permanent exhibition celebrating the lives of the nuns who lived and worked at the Abbey between 1145 and 1538. Little was known about the history of the women who lived at Northampton’s popular Abbey until now, thanks to the research of a small group of female volunteers undertaken during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020/21. Vera, one of the Delapré Abbey volunteers who worked on the exhibition, said: “This exhibition is the result of two years of work and research into the fascinating lives of our nuns and finding untold stories. We have followed this intrepid group of women down the centuries and seen their courage and their failings.  We are very proud of them. We are excited to share these very human stories delving into the town’s early history with visitors.” The team have worked..

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18th Sep 2021

Ceilings and serenity

The story of Stowe is a tale of rise, fall and rise again but has left us with a glorious house and a beautiful landscape to enjoy writes Laura Malpas. It’s nearly in Northamptonshire, our county surrounds this prodigious treasure on three sides, so this month I’m visiting Stowe. The house dates back some 350 years and has been shaped by indulgence and towering ambition. Its landscape setting tells tales of vice, virtue and liberty. The estate was nearly lost, but a collaboration between the National Trust who manage the grounds, and the Stowe House Preservation Trust who maintain the house, means we can be inspired and impressed in equal measure. The visit begins at the coaching inn built specifically to cater for Georgian tourists over 300 years ago. We can visit and enjoy refreshments in much the same way. And then the walk to the gardens, entering through the..

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16th Sep 2021

Enjoy the annual peek into our history and culture

The largest festival of history and culture in the country is ready to reveal itself, and Northamptonshire is playing its part in this year’s Heritage Open Days (HOD) season, giving you plenty of opportunity to discover new places and try new experiences, between September 10 and 19, writes Sammy Jones. Daventry Museum has a tasty new exhibit to share which explores the town’s culinary heritage; displays will feature old kitchen utensils and some cooking devices of old that we still recognise today. A photographic archive has been raided to share images of past food retailers and celebrations from the town, and wartime cookbooks give up their tips for eating well while being frugal. Traditional Northamptonshire recipes will be shared too; anyone for Hock and Dough or Curd Cheesecakes? Visit daventrymuseum.org.uk for dates and times. Remember the smell and the feel of an old United Counties bus? As a wee nipper,..

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