An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 5, Archaeology and Churches in Northampton. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1985.
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(OS 1:10000 SP 76 SW)
The parish of Dallington covers an area of 615 hectares bounded on the N. by Chapel Brampton, on the W. by Harlestone, on the S.W. by Duston, on the S.E. by Northampton and on the E. by Kingsthorpe. The parish lies for the most part between 90 m. and 100 m. above OD but falls aways to the N.E. where it meets the N. arm of the R. Nene at 60 m. above OD and to the S.W. where it meets Dallington Brook at 60 m.–83 m. above OD. The subsoil is chiefly of ironstone with Estuarine Series deposits and a patch of Great Oolite Limestone towards the centre of the parish and Upper Lias Clay, river gravel and alluvium at the sides of the R. Nene and Dallington Brook.
The parish is chiefly notable for the remarkable complex of cropmarks in the area immediately S.E. of Dallington Heath (Dallington (1–4)) including a possible causewayed enclosure (Dallington (2)). This area of some 150 hectares is now the only place within Northampton where an opportunity exists to study prehistoric settlement.
Prehistoric and Roman
A large number of finds has been discovered in the area N. of Spencer Bridge on the W. bank of the R. Nene, where clay was extensively worked for bricks in the 1920s–30s. From 'Dallington Brickyard' are recorded a mammoth tusk, another mammoth tusk, a mammoth tusk and hipbone and mammoth remains (NM). From 'Martin's Brickyard' (c. SP 747614) are recorded an iron spearhead, a wooden bowl, flint, and two mammoth tusks (NM). Mammoth tusks from 'near Spencer Bridge' and remains of mammoths from 'Martin's pit', both recorded in 1932 (NM records), may be the same find as the last reference. A mammoth tooth recorded as from Dallington (NM) is presumably from this area also.
A fragment of a polished flint axe is recorded from SP 73626187 (NM; NDC P165) and a copper coin of Cunobelinus has been found 'in the suburb of St. James' End' (present whereabouts unknown; Brit Numis J 21 (1931–3), 3; Allen 1961, 234; NM records; NDC P54). Worked flints have been recorded from two locations (SP 73126239; core; NM; NDC P59. SP 74406072; NDC P153. Over 100 flint flakes, blades, cores and retouched implements are recorded as having been found between 1907–12 but are located to the parish only. These include a mesolithic element-two microliths and a few small blades - but almost all the diagnostic types are consistent with a neolithic or early Bronze Age date. These include five leaf-shaped arrowheads, four barbed-and-tanged arrowheads, two tanged arrowheads, scrapers, 'fabricators', a plano-convex knife and a flake from a polished flint axe (NM; NDC P148, 203). Also located to the parish only is a flint arrowhead (NM; NDC P197). A socketed bronze axe-head of later Bronze Age type was found near Martin's Brickyard (SP 74786172) in 1897 (George 1904, 13; VCH Northamptonshire I, 143, 155; NM; NDC P20, 48). Iron Age and Roman pottery has been found at around SP 735621 (NM; NDC P64, R74) and four finds of Roman pottery alone are recorded (Unlocated; NM records; NDC R30. Unlocated; Samian bowl; NM records; NDC R89. SP 74026152, but in soil possibly removed from elsewhere; Roman sherds; NM; NDC R176. Unlocated; NM; NDC R194).
(1–4) Dallington Heath Complex. Aerial photographs taken over the last two decades have revealed a remarkable complex of cropmark sites in an area of some 150 hectares immediately S.E. of Dallington Heath. The subsoil consists almost entirely of ironstone with a small patch of Lower Estuarine Series deposits at around SP 726636. The complex can at the moment be conveniently divided into four major groups though further photographs may well fill the gaps between these.
(1) Enclosures, Pit Alignments, Ring Ditch (SP 73156390). Two square enclosures, approximately 0.2 hectares in area, one of which contains a possible circular house site, lie immediately E. of Grange Farm at 77 m. above OD.
Pit alignments are visible running from SP 73006383 to SP 72946351 and from SP 73236381 to SP 73216362 (air photographs CUAP AFX 16, 17; NDC A40).
(2) Causewayed Enclosure (?),Henge (?),Pit Alignment (SP 72546350). An extremely large enclosure, 5 hectares in area, lies partly on Lower Estuarine Series deposits and partly on ironstone at 100 m. above OD, the highest point in the area. The enclosure ditch appears discontinuous and the site may be a causewayed enclosure; certainly its size compares well with the Briar Hill causewayed enclosure which is 4 hectares in area (Hardingstone (7)). A circular enclosure, 50 m. in diameter, situated centrally within the large enclosure, may be a henge.
A pit alignment runs from SP 72286346 to SP 72576229 (air photographs Hollowell; NDC JW/NOR/26/14A, 15A, 16A; BNFAS 6 (1971), 8; 8 (1973), 26; NDC A37).
(3) Enclosures, Trackway (?) (SP 73456340). Various rectangular enclosures and other linear marks, including a 'ditched trackway', lie at 75 m. above OD (air photographs CUAP ZU 24; Hollowell (not seen by NDC/RCHM); BNFAS 6 (1971), 8; NDC A41).
(4) Enclosures, Ring Ditches, Pit Alignment, Trackways (?) (SP 72706300). A large area of cropmarks situated N. of Hopping Hill between 84 m. and 94 m. above OD includes: enclosures, one of which is double-ditched with an area of around 0.12 hectares; ring ditches, from 10 m.-25 m. in diameter; a short length of pit alignment continuing the line of that in area (2); a double pit alignment; 'ditched trackways' and other linear marks (air photographs NCC SP 7263/7–9, SP 7262/1–10; Cowley and Foard 1979, 94, Fig. 4; NDC A64).
(5) Roman Settlement (?), Pottery Kiln (?) (c. SP 746618), on Upper Lias Clay, at 75 m. above OD. A large amount of Roman pottery, about 200 vessels including Samian ware, was recovered from a (?) trench revealed in the sides of a railway cutting in 1861. Some of the pottery is described as 'mis-shapen' and the discovery of fire-reddened stones and lumps of clay has led to the indentification of this site as a possible kiln (Sharp 1861–2; NM records; NDC R8).
(6) Roman Coin Hoard (?) (unlocated). A total of 537 Roman coins ranging in date from Gallienus (AD 253–68) to Tetricus (AD 271–3) is said to have been found in a pot during house construction in the King's Heath area in 1936. There is, however, some doubt over the authenticity of this hoard (NM records; NDC R163).
Medieval and Later
A Saxon coin was found in Dallington in 1907 (NM records; NDC AS12) and a 'Saxon pot' was discovered on the Spencer Housing Estate in 1936 (NM records; NDC AS24). A 15th-century pursebar from Dallington is now in NM (NDC M87). Medieval pottery has been found at SP 74026152, but in soil possibly removed from elsewhere (NM; NDC R176).
(7) Parish Church of St. Mary (SP 738618; fiche Fig. 25; Plate 26).
The earliest surviving elements in the fabric date from the early 13th century. The only hints of an earlier, Romanesque, church are the stepped relationship between the N. wall of the nave and the chancel and the uneven spacing of the nave arcades. On this hypothesis, in the Romanesque church the S. wall of the chancel would have run half a wall thickness to the N. of its present position and the W. wall of the nave would have been in line with the present western nave piers. In the 13th century the nave was lengthened and the aisles and tower added. The S. porch was added about 1300. In the 14th century the S. wall of the chancel was moved half a wall thickness to the S. and the present arcades, tower and chancel arches inserted. The clearstorey was probably added c. 1500. The body of the church was restored in 1880 and the chancel in 1883. New windows were inserted in the aisles and clearstorey and the E. wall of the chancel rebuilt 4 ft. to the E. (Northampton Mercury, 11 Dec. 1880; faculty NRO 95P/172).
Although there was a priest in Dallington in 1086 (DB f. 222a) there is no other evidence of a church there at this early date. Throughout most of the medieval period Dallington Church was in the patronage of Flamstead Priory (Herts) founded c. 1150 (Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 258) and the medieval dedication of the church to St. Giles (LAO Register XII, f. 76r; Franklin 1982, 118) perhaps reflects this. It has been customary to date the acquisition of Dallington by Flamstead to some time between 1150 and the 1220's (Franklin 1982, 118, following Bridges 1 1791, 494) but four confirmatory charters in the Flamstead cartulary (HRO no. 17465 f. 13v–14r) clearly indicate the existence of a church at Dallington by the end of the reign of Henry II.
The church consists of a Chancel, North Chancel Chapel/Vestry, Nave, North and South Aisles, South Porch and West Tower.
At the W. end of the N. wall is a 19th-century archway leading into the N. chapel. To the E. of the archway is a doorway with a chamfered, two-centred head, now opening into the N. chapel but formerly into a medieval chapel or vestry. To the E. of the doorway is a straight-headed recess. The E. wall was rebuilt in 1883, one wall thickness to the E. The three-light E. window formerly had reticulated tracery (Clarke). At the E. end of the S. wall is a piscina of c. 1300, with a two-centred head and continuous roll mouldings. The S. wall was also much rebuilt in 1883 but the three two-light windows, though renewed, retain their original quatrefoil tracery design. Under the westernmost window is a straight-headed low-side window. The chancel roof is 19th-century.
North Chancel Chapel
The chapel was built in 1679 as a funerary chapel for the Raynsford family and retains four fine 17th and 18th-century monuments. It is now used as a vestry. The E. window is straight-headed and has three cinquefoil-headed lights with pierced spandrels.
The N. arcade is of four bays, the westernmost being shorter than the others. The piers are polygonal, carry polygonal capitals and stand on polygonal bases. The bases are set on plinths (550 mm. high). The three clearstorey windows have two trefoil-headed lights each. In the long E. respond of the arcade is a two-centred arch, probably of the 19th century; it is repeated on the S. wall. The chancel arch is symmetrical with the chancel but not with the nave; the arch is of two orders, the outer continuous, the inner carried on polygonal shafts with moulded capitals. The N. and S. responds differ in their detailing. Above the arch is an oculus, now blocked, set within moulded frame. In a drawing of 1851 by G. Clarke it was filled with quatrefoil tracery. The S. arcade is similar in spacing and in detailing to the N., except that the capitals, especially those of the E. respond and the westernmost pier, are more elaborately moulded. The clearstorey windows are the same as on the N., although in the Clarke drawing of 1851 the windows are shown with straight heads but no mullions or tracery. The tower arch is of three chamfered orders, linked by a single chamfered base. The innermost order is carried on polygonal half-shafts with moulded capitals. The arch-braced roof is late-medieval. The octagonal font at the W. end of the nave is Perpendicular with shields enclosing quatrefoils on the bowl and a tracery-panelled stem.
The N. wall has a continuous sill moulding running below the windows and around the buttresses. The wall appears extensively rebuilt, except around the N. doorway. The three windows are double lancets. The central mullion is expressed internally as a shaft. The N. doorway has a two-centred head and a simple impost moulding. The pointed arch of the doorway appears to have been originally semi-circular. The arch in the E. wall leading to the chapel is 19th-century. To the N. of the arch is a stone bracket. The W. window is a single lancet with a shafted rear-arch. The 19th-century roof is a lean-to but the gables of the medieval roof remain visible at the E. and W. ends. Set in the internal face of the N. wall is a stone fragment, carved with curious human or animal forms. It may be part of a Romanesque lintel set on end (Plate 35).
The E. window is of two lights with a quatrefoil in the head. The internal face is shafted. In the S. wall are three double lancet windows of the 19th century, imitating the N. aisle windows. Under the easternmost window is a trefoil-headed piscina. The S. doorway has a round arch of two chamfered orders, the outer being carried on shafts with crude foliated capitals.
The E. window in the porch has two lights, and the W. one; both appear 13th-century. The outer S. doorway has two continuously chamfered orders and a trefoil-headed niche above.
The tower is unbuttressed and rises in two stages. The W. window is an insertion of 1863 but the belfry openings are double lancets. The parapet is battlemented and has small angle pinnacles.
(8) Fishponds (SP 731622–737619; fiche Fig. 26), lie along the bottom of the S.E.-draining valley of the Dallington Brook, cut into the underlying Upper Lias Clay between 68 m. and 76 m. above OD. The remains consist of three ponds, all probably medieval in origin, though the lower two have been considerably altered by post-medieval landscaping as part of the park of Dallington Hall in which they are situated. The upper pond, now dry, still retains its original form. The lower ponds are shown in their present form on a map of Dallington of 1725 (NRO) and are called Middle and Lower Ponds. The upper one is depicted as dry and divided into two areas called Upper and Nether Fish Dam. The alteration of the ponds probably dates from about 1720 when the present hall was built by Sir Joseph Jekyll.
The lower pond is L-shaped with a rectangular flat island at its N.W. end. Its dam at the S.E. end is only a narrow one, faced with ashlar, and presumably early 18th century in date but with later repairs in brick. The centre pond, roughly rectangular in plan, has a large earthen dam at its S.E. end 2.5 m. high. Its upper side has a modern concrete facing with an 18th or 19th-century ashlar and brick sluice and channel through it. The upper pond has been formed by the cutting back of the valley sides to produce a flat-bottomed area 2.5 m.-3 m. below the natural hill slope. The dam at its S.E. end is a massive feature up to 3 m. in height, though much altered by later landscaping including a low rubble wall at its rear. The Dallington Brook which once flowed down the valley is now in an artifical leat to the N. of the ponds and has 18th or 19th-century sluices which passed water into the lower ponds. The leat has modern concrete retaining walls in places, but is almost certainly medieval in origin (CBA Group 9 Newsletter 12 (1982), 41; NDC M339; RAF VAP, V58–RAF-1122, 0197–9).
(9) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of Dallington were enclosed in 1820 by private agreement (Baker 1822–34, 129). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields can only be traced on air photographs in two places in the N. of the old parish (SP 732635 and 736635). There, slight indications of two separate furlongs are visible. Elsewhere modern urban development and the cultivation of the light soils has removed all trace. (FSL 6565, 1921–3; V58–RAF-1122, 0082–6, 0095–101, 0135–43, 0155–61, 0194–8, 0214–9; CPE/UK/1994, 1252–4)