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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For the purpose of this volume, Northampton itself is regarded as that area so defined in medieval times and up to 1901 and probably most clearly seen on Wood and Law's map of 1847 (Plate 11). Northampton covers some 530 hectares and in shape is a very irregular trapezoid bounded on the S. by the River Nene and on the W. by the northern branch of the Nene. The ground rises steadily from c. 58 m. in the S.W. and 56 m. in the S.E. to 92 m. in the N.E. Upper Lias Clay borders the river to the S. and E. This is capped by Northampton Sands over most of Northampton but a broad band of Lower and Upper Estuarine Limestone stretches N.E. from the centre of the town. In the extreme N.E. these deposits are themselves overlaid by Boulder Clay.
Most of the area is now built over. Of particular importance are the remains to the S.W. in the core area of Saxon and medieval settlement. The origins and development of the town are discussed fully in the introduction. For the Inventory, the area is treated as a single unit even though, at least from medieval times, it has been divided into several parishes. The medieval parish system is, however, considered on p. 27.
Five palaeolithic implements (two early Acheulian hand axes and three flake implements) were found in Cow Meadow gravel pits c. 1904–1913 (c. SP 759599; NM; NDC P136). In the same area several large teeth including the molar of a mammoth were discovered in 1881 and five tusks, nine teeth and two limb bones in 1904 (Thompson 1903–4; NDC P25). Neolithic polished flint axes were found in All Saints' churchyard in the late 19th century (c. SP 75496046; NM; NDC P37, 44), in Adams Avenue in the 19th century (c. SP 76696117; George 1904, 17; NM; NDC P39), in Lower Thrift Street in 1855 (c. SP 767607; George 1904, 17; NM; NDC P43), and in Semilong (?SP 751616; George 1903–4c, 17; NM; NDC P45). Neolithic polished flint axes are also recorded from 'in or near Northampton' (NM; NDC P219) and 'near Northampton' (NM; NDC P220). A neolithic polished stone axe (Group VI: Great Langdale) was found 'near Northampton' (NM; NDC P99) and a greenstone axe in Stimpson Avenue before 1904 (c. SP 76806135; George 1904, 17; NM; NDC P39). A neolithic leaf-shaped arrowhead was found in 'Northampton' in 1975 (PM; NDC P122) and a neolithic scraper on Northampton racecourse (c. SP 760619; Harrison 1929–30; NDC P21). A neolithic stone axe was found in 'Northampton' (NM; NDC P62, 162). An early or middle Bronze Age small collared urn, possibly an accessory vessel from a cremation burial, was found in St. Peter's Street during excavations in 1982 (SP 75056037; NDC M115). A middle Bronze Age looped spearhead was found in Northampton (NM; NDC P62, 162). A Bronze Age palstave was found in 1933 in St. Giles' Street (SP 75826050; NM; NDC P18). Three prehistoric flint flakes were found during excavations in 1975 across and to the N. of Bath Street (SP 75166070; NDC M124). A single flint flake was found during the construction of an underpass in 1979 to the E. of Horsemarket (SP 75216067; NDC M95). Seventeen worked flints were found during excavations in 1973 on the W. side of Horseshoe Street (SP 75146033; NDC M118) and a single flint flake in 1974 (SP 75156036; NDC M136). Seventeen worked flints were found during excavations in 1978–9 to the S. of Gregory Street (SP 75106032; NDC M282). A single fragment of a flint blade was found during excavations in 1972 on the site of the Grosvenor Centre (SP 755607; Northamptonshire Archaeol 13 (1978), 154; NDC M100). A Gallo-Belgic E gold coin was found on the site of the Dolphin Hotel between Gold Street and Woolmonger Street in 1889 (SP 75336039; Northampton Mercury 7 Dec. 1889; Gunstone 1971, Pl. 1, no. 4; NDC P53), Gallo-Belgic DB and DC gold coins are reported as having been found in Northampton (Allen 1961, 161, 165) and a possible Ancient British coin blank was found during excavations in Chalk Lane between 1975 and 1978 (see (1) below; Williams and Shaw 1981, 94, 118).
cd(1) Prehistoric Settlement(s) lie(s) at the W. end of Northampton on Northampton Sands at between 65 m. and 68 m. above OD. Various flint scatters, pottery and cut features may belong to a single settlement complex but alternatively may relate to more scattered and sporadic activity.
(a) In 1975–8 an area of 800 m.2 was excavated to the W. of Chalk Lane (SP 74926050) in the area of the inner bailey bank of the medieval castle. Poorly defined structures, pits, post-holes and ditches were located. Over 3,000 flints were recovered, the two principal constituent groups being mesolithic and later neolithic to early Bronze Age. Approximately 40 sherds of abraded prehistoric pottery were found including later neolithic or Beaker, Beaker and Iron Age sherds (Williams and Shaw 1981, 90–4, 108, 126–30 and fiche; NDC M139). Excavations by J. Alexander between 1961 and 1964 immediately to the N. produced a lesser quantity of flints (pers comm; NDC M138).
(b) Two hundred and sixty-seven flints were found in 1977 to the N. of Marefair during archaeological excavations. There was a large mesolithic element with other flints of neolithic or later date, including a barbed-and-tanged arrowhead of early Bronze Age type (SP 74986042; Williams F. 1979, 73f; NDC M178).
(c) One hundred and forty-seven flints mostly of neolithic character but including a small mesolithic element and a single palaeolithic scraper were found during excavations in 1973–6. A possible neolithic or early Bronze Age ditch was located and a few small and abraded sherds of prehistoric pottery were recovered (SP 75036035; Williams J. 1979, 137, 290f; NDC M115).
d(2) Prehistoric Settlement (?) (SP 75656038) at Swan Street on Northampton Sands at 73 m. above OD. Twenty-two worked flints, probably a mixed group but with small blades suggesting a mesolithic element, were recovered during archaeological excavations in 1980. Two possibly late neolithic sherds were found as well as about ten other very small fragments to the E. on the Derngate frontage (SP 75696039; Shaw forthcoming b; NDC M351).
No Roman settlement sites have been identified although numerous finds of Roman date have been made. Roman remains found in the 19th century on the site of Northampton Castle include nine coins (SP 748605; Sharp 1881–2, 244), a 'perfect black urn' (ibid; George 1904, 18), in fact a large beaker (NM), and other possible artefacts. Potsherds were recovered during the 1961–4 excavations by J. Alexander (SP 74926055; pers. comm. J. Alexander) and further potsherds and two more coins (3rd and 4th-century) were excavated in 1975–8 in Chalk Lane (SP 74926050; Williams and Shaw 1981, 94, 108; NM; NDC R41, 56, 197, M138, 139). Sixty Roman sherds were found on the N. side of Marefair during archaeological excavations in 1977 (SP 75006042; Williams F. 1979, 61; NDC M178). About a dozen Roman sherds, one 3rd-century coin (reused as a Saxon ornament?) and four 4th-century coins, and Roman tile fragments were found during archaeological excavations in St. Peter's Street (SP 75036035) in 1973–4. The tile may have been brought to the site during the Middle Saxon period for use in the construction of the (?)minster church (see (8, 24); Williams 1979, 139, 322, etc.; NDC M115). A sestertius of Trajan, a denarius of Severus Alexander and a small brass of Aurelian were found in Freeschool Street (centre point at SP 75076035; Wells 1931–3, 5; NDC R78). A coin of Tacitus and a tetradrachm of Tetricus were found in Green Street (centre point at SP 74906035; NM; NDC R79). A spindle whorl made from the base of a Nene Valley ware colour-coated vessel was found during the construction of St. Peter's Way (c. SP 74926033; NM; NDC M263). A Roman jar was found during the erection of the gasworks in 1889. A causeway and animal bones were also discovered but not dated (area of SP 750600; Northampton Mercury 3 Nov. 1899; Markham 1913–14, 122; NM; NDC R44, 196). Two sherds of Samian ware and a 1st-century Roman brooch were found on the W. side of Horsemarket during archaeological excavations in 1973 and 1974 (SP 75146033; SP 75146039; NDC M118, 123). 'Roman British' pottery was reported found on the site of the Dolphin Hotel between Gold Street and Woolmonger Street in 1889 (SP 75336039; Northampton Mercury 7 Dec. 1889; NDC R68). A cooking pot from Gold Street, illustrated in the Dryden collection (NPL) and labelled Roman-British, is, however, clearly of early medieval date. A bronze stylus and scraper, probably Roman, were found c. 1898 in Woolmonger Street (SP75196028 recorded by OS; Proc Soc Antiq, 2nd ser, 17 (1899), 165; NDC R34). A possible Roman pot base and a 3rd to 4th-century mortarium rim were found on the site of the Angel Hotel in Bridge Street (SP 75426032; NDC R80, M409). A dupondius of (?)Claudius was found in The Parade during construction work in 1952 (SP 75476065; Northampton Chronicle and Echo 27 May 1952; NDC R70). A Roman rim sherd was found in Derngate in 1975 (SP 75806034; NM; NDC M219). A coin of Hadrian was found in Harding Street (centre point at SP 75056110; J Brit Archaeol Ass 10 (1855), 94; NDC R69).
Three Roman sherds were found in Spring Gardens in 1975 (SP 75916052; Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 199; NDC M171). Part of a red-ware jar was found in Sawpit Lane in 1867 (centre point at SP 75176085; NM; NDC R81). A worn sestertius was found in Charles Street in 1973 (centre point at SP 75686016; Northamptonshire Archaeol 9 (1974), 91; NDC R138). Several Roman coins including a small silver of Vitellius was found c. 1900 on the site of Northampton General Hospital (SP 76026031; NDC R33, 208). A Roman grey-ware rim sherd was found in 1979 at Green Park (SP 767604; Northamptonshire Archaeol 15 (1980), 167; NM; NDC R215). A colour-coated rouletted beaker was found in Upper Thrift Street (centre point at SP 76826075; George 1904, 18; NDC R73). A Roman pot was found in 1847 in Billing Road (SP 76976066 recorded by OS; NM; NDC R32, 195). Three 1st-century brooches and a bronze bucket in Peterborough Museum are recorded as found in Northampton in 1858. This date, however, coincides with the early ironstone quarrying at Duston and this provenance is more probable (NDC R150). There are also a number of coins in Northampton Museum 'from Northampton' but some of these may be from Duston or elsewhere.
Medieval and Later
d(3) Saxon Cemetery (SP 77046056), lies to the S. of Billing Road on Northampton Sands at 82 m. above OD. During extensions to St. Andrew's Hospital in 1836 and 1837 a number of skeletons and grave goods were found. Five brooches, a spearhead, a knife, a fragment from a shield boss and six pots have survived and are in Northampton Museum. Two large square-headed brooches are probably of late 6th-century date but Myres suggests that one of the pots is more probably 5th-century. It is not clear whether any of the pots contained or were associated with cremations (Archaeologia 48 (1885), 337; Kennett 1974, 13f; Myres 1978, no. 782; Meaney 1964, 193; NDC AS11).
d(4) Saxon Burial (SP 75816007) lies in Cow Meadow on alluvium at 58 m. above OD. In 1844 two small urns and a circular brooch with pierced swastika design were found in a tumulus as well as a pair of plain bronze tweezers, a small cup-shaped thin metal object and some iron arrowheads of medieval date (Meaney 1964, 193; NDC AS10).
c(5) Saxon Burial (?) (SP 74856051), lay within the area of Northampton Castle on Northampton Sands at c. 68 m. above OD. A small mound, removed in 1879 when the site was quarried away for a railway goods shed, contained a human skeleton together with a scramasax (Scriven 1879–80, 204; 1881–2, 71–2; NDC AS15).
cd(6) Saxon Town Defences. On topographical grounds Lee (1954, 164f) argued that Scarletwell Street, Bearward Street, the Drapery and Bridge Street fossilised an extramural street and Bath Street, Silver Street, College Street and Kingswell Street an intramural street of a Saxon defensive perimeter (see p. 20). Various attempts have been made to test this hypothesis archaeologically but for various reasons the results have been ambiguous.
Site 1: In 1961 a mechanical trench 40 m. long was dug between Scarletwell Street and Bath Street (SP 75096074). A ditch or large pit probably at least 15 m. wide and 3 m. deep was centred at approximately 33 m. from Scarletwell Street. The feature was filled with steeply dipping loam and sand layers and 11th to 13th-century sherds were found in the upper strata. No evidence of a bank was noted (pers. comm. J. Alexander; M448).
Site 2: In 1975 a trench 1.8 m. wide was excavated immediately N. of Bath Street and partly across the road (SP 75166070). A substantial rock-cut quarry containing 12th-century pottery was found overlaid by stone buildings with clay floors of Tudor date. There was a series of metalled surfaces beneath the road, the earliest sealing pottery no earlier than the 13th century (Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 199; NDC M124). Observation of contractors' trenches at SP 75146072 recovered medieval and post-medieval pottery but natural had not been reached at a depth of 2.3 m. below the present ground surface (NDC M132).
Site 3: In 1971 a trial trench was dug between Bearward Street and Silver Street (SP 75236070). A possible ditch approximately 13 m. wide by 3.8 m. deep was identified. The main fill contained one sherd of 12th or 13th-century date (BNFAS 7 (1972), 42; NDC AS14).
Site 4: A trench immediately to the E. of College Street (SP 75346056) in 1979 failed to locate any sign of defences which may lie a little further E. Pottery of probably 12th-century date onwards was found (NDC M285).
cd(7) Medieval Defences. Northampton's town walls are mentioned in Richard I's charter to Northampton in 1189 (Markham 1898, 25) but other evidence suggests that they were possibly in existence c. 1100 and certainly by the mid-12th century. Tradition attributed the building of the medieval town walls to Simon de Senlis I (VCH Northamptonshire III, 3). A charter referring to the time of Simon mentions 'hospites manentes extra fossatum' (BL Cott Vesp E XVII f. 10b). This perhaps relates to the Saxon defensive line. A further charter of Simon himself to the monks of St. Andrew's Priory (ibid f. 3a) talks of 'terram . . . a fossa eorum (the monks of St. Andrew's) usque ad fossam burgi' but at least in 1632 the lands indicated as belonging to St. Andrew's did not extend as far S. as the Saxon defences (Williams 1979, 5) although they were not much short of it; before 1130, however, St. Andrew's Priory had owned some land on the site of the later castle (see (9) below). It is not certain whether this 'fossam burgi' still related to the Saxon defences or whether it rather referred to the medieval defences. If the N. and W. boundaries of the medieval precinct of St. Andrew's are taken as 'fossam burgi', that is as part of the medieval defensive system, and the S. boundary as the 'fossa eorum' all conditions of the charter are satisfied. Alternatively 'fossa eorum' could be interpreted as the N. and W. boundaries with 'fossa burgi' as the S. boundary and perhaps an 11th-century defensive line predating the priory. The use of 'fossa', suggesting earthworks, contrasts with the 'murus' of a slightly later date which seems to indicate a stone wall (see below). Between 1138 and 1154 Earl Simon de Senlis II granted to St. Andrew's Priory 16s. and 14d. rent from the meadow of Estecroftes in exchange for the rent they had lost because of the wall and bailey by which the vill (almost certainly Northampton) is enclosed - 'propter murum et ballium quibus villa clauditur' (BL Royal II B IX f. 7a). This suggests that the construction of the wall and 'bailey' occurred at this time and parallels the situation in 1130 when the priory was paid compensation for land taken into the castle (Pipe R 31 Hen I, 135). It is perhaps possible, however, that only modifications to the wall line were involved. The matter is unclear and requires further research but certainly the new medieval defensive line was in existence by about the middle of the 12th century. An Eastgate Street (probably Abington Street) and an Eastgate, almost certainly belonging to the medieval defences are recorded before c. 1166 (BL Royal II B IX f. 144b). Murage grants were made in 1224, 1251 and 1301, on the last occasion on such a scale as perhaps to suggest rebuilding. Repair work is further evidenced through to the 17th century (VCH Northamptonshire III, 30; Brown 1915–16, 85f). After the restoration of the monarchy in 1662 the walls were largely demolished to prevent the town again becoming a parliamentary stronghold.
Speed's map of 1610 (Fig. 8) shows the walls starting some distance N. of the castle, encompassing St. Andrew's Priory, following the line of St. George's Street, the Mounts, York Road, Cheyne Walk and Victoria Promenade and extending some 250 m. W. to Mervyn's Mill. The area to the N. and S.E. of the castle is shown un-walled. Speed, however, comments in his text accompanying the map (1676, 55) 'This Town . . . is walled about strong and high excepting the West which is defended by a river parted into many streams'. 'Upon the West part of this Town standeth a large Castle mounted upon a Hill whose aged countenance well sheweth the beauty she hath born and whose gaping chinks do daily threaten the downfal of her walls. To this upon the South the Towns wall adjoyneth and in a round circuit meeteth the river in the north extending in compass two thousand one hundred and twenty paces.' Presumably, when Speed relates that 'the Towns wall adjoyneth' the castle, he is referring to that piece of wall descending from the outer bailey wall of the castle, although this wall does not continue to the S.E. of the Hermitage. In 1275 the 'Kings ditch' and a 'common way' ran between the W. gate and Mervyn's Mill (Rot Hund 2, 3) and in 1504 some part of the town wall is recorded as lying in St. Peter's parish, an area lacking walls on Speed's map (NRO, 1504 Rental), except adjoining the castle (see above).
The town walls as depicted on Speed's map (a), including the W. precinct wall of St. Andrew's Priory measure approximately 1950 paces, the W. precinct wall of St. Andrew's (b) measures approximately 265 paces and the distance between the outer bailey wall of the castle and the S. end of the wall (c) is approximately 370 paces. As described Speed's circuit seems not to include (b) but to include (c). This would give a measurement of 1950–265+370 = 2055 paces against Speed's recorded measurement of 2120 paces. Clearly such arithmetic can only be taken as a very rough guide because of the limitations of Speed's surveying and cartography but the description and the measurements perhaps support the existence of the town wall in the S.W. quarter of the town.
It would also seem reasonable that, although no wall was present in Speed's day on the W. side of the town, there had in medieval times been such a wall, for it is hardly conceivable that the minor stream of the northern water of the Nene, although described as a 'river parted into many streams', would have been regarded as adequate defence for a town as important as Northampton during the turbulent times of the Middle Ages and it is interesting to note in this respect the substantial repairs which were needed to the W. wall of the castle in the 13th century (Brown et al 1963, 751f).
In 1275 a North gate, South gate, West gate, Dernegate, Cougate (Cowgate - at the end of Swan Street, formerly Cow Lane) are recorded as well as posterns at 'M'thinesmylne' and 'de Lurteborn' possibly on the N. side of the town (Rot Hund 2, 3). The walls in 1277–8 were embattled and wide enough for six people to walk abreast (Brown 1915–16, 88). Lee, in his history of Northampton written in the early 18th century, says 'The town was walled about and had four large gates. The South, West and North which had chambers over them and inhabited by poor people. But the East gate was a very stately building large and high and embellished with the coats of arms of several persons of quality on the walls cut upon stone' (Lee 1931–2, 68).
The line of the wall is marked on Noble and Butlins's map (Plate 9) from the medieval east gate at Abington Street round to the south gate at Bridge Street and further possible lengths of wall are indicated to the N. of Abington Street. Roper and Coles's map of 1807 (Plate 10) shows the old wall, with different details of plan, surviving with two bastions along the line of Victoria Promenade with the 'Old Ditch' stretching along the line of Cheyne Walk and the Mounts as far as Regent Square. Interestingly there seems to be what could be construed as a ditch stretching westwards from Regent Square to the river. The 18th-century prospects of Northampton (Plate 8) also show ruined sections of the town wall, that of Harris (1726) to the E. and possibly to the W. of the S. bridge, while that of Buck (1731) only shows a possible length of the town wall to the W. of the S. bridge; the course of the wall to the E. can be followed in the field boundaries. It has been argued that an earlier E. defensive line ran to the W. of St. Giles (VCH Northamtponshire III, 30) but excavations in 1980 to the N. of Abington Street (37) indicated that this was unlikely. There are now no remains of the medieval defences surviving above ground.
Excavations in 1973 at the junction of the Mounts and Overstone Road (SP 75786088) uncovered the probable foundations of two periods of wall with a shallow ditch about 8 m. wide and 2 m. deep to the N. The ditch was recut with a narrow channel sometime in the medieval period (Williams 1982c; NDC M116). In 1974 two trenches were cut to the N. of St. George's Street (SP 75126213). No trace of a bank or wall was found but a small ditch approximately 4 m. wide and 2 m. deep was located (Williams 1982c; NDC M125).
cd(8) Saxon 'Palace' Complex (centred on SP 75036038) at St. Peter's Street on Northampton Sands at about 68 m. above OD. In 1973–6 an area to the E. of St. Peter's Church and on either side of St. Peter's Street was excavated by the NDC Archaeological Unit (Williams 1979) and between 1980 and 1982 the investigations were extended to the N. and E. (Williams and Shaw 1983; also forthcoming). An early Saxon presence in the area is attested by a composite disc brooch of late 5th or early 6th-century date and some small sherds of early or middle Saxon date were also found. Remains of perhaps two probably early Saxon sunken-featured buildings were also uncovered.
Subsequently a large timber hall approximately 30 m. by 9 m. was constructed. This seems to have been laid out using a measure virtually identical to the modern foot (1 ft. = .3048 m.). The main hall was a double square, about 54 ft. by 27 ft., with central opposing doorways in the long sides. Annexes, approximately 21 ft. square, were attached to each end this hall. Upright posts were set earthfast into a massive trench about 3 ft. deep at 2 ft. centres. Indeed the building was precisely surveyed and every fourth post appears to have been particularly significant structurally. It is suggested that the building was a highly sophisticated, probably bayed stucture, with the main hall comprising nine bays. It appears to have been roofed in a single span. This major building is most nearly paralleled by the 'palace' structure A3 at the Northumbrian royal site at Yeavering (Hope Taylor 1977). Traces of at least four successive post-in-trench buildings were found further N. but the slots were considerably shallower here and the buildings themselves smaller. They were possibly in part contemporary with the large hall although some may have been earlier. Evidence of further post-in-trench structures was found to the W. and S.W. of the main hall.
The hall seems to have been directly replaced by a rectangular stone hall approximately 37.5 m. by 11.5 m. The foundations, 1.2 m. wide, were extremely well laid in courses in sandy soil but the superstructure was probably bonded with mortar. Subsequently, two rooms were added to the W. of the building increasing its length by about 6 m. Further to the W. and extending under the present St. Peter's Church were the remains of further stone foundations, presumably an earlier church; the E. end of this building, approximately 6.5 m. N.-S., was excavated. The foundations, about 0.5 m. deep by 0.8 m. wide, comprised unbonded rubble with a small amount of soil and the walls above were slightly wider and formed of squared limestone blocks set in a yellow sand and with an internal mortar rendering. To the W. and S. of the large stone hall were the remains of five mortar mixers presumably associated with the construction of the stone buildings. Circular bowls, 2 m.-3 m. in diameter were, in four cases, cut into the natural ground but one had its rim raised up above ground level. At least four were lined with basket work. Lime and sand had been mixed in the bowls to form mortar by paddles suspended from a beam rotating in a horizontal plane. A gully with associated posts ran S. from the stone hall and was possibly some form of boundary.
Radio-carbon dates from material associated with the mortar mixers suggest that the stone complex was erected in the first part of the 8th century and this is supported by the discovery of a sceatta in a context probably post-dating the main stone hall and predating the extension. The earlier timber hall would thus appear to belong to the 7th century. The stone hall probably went out of use during the Danish occupation of Northampton in the late 9th or early 10th century.
The major stone building like its predecessor should be regarded as a palace and as such is to date without parallel in this country although Carolingian and Ottonian stone palaces have been excavated on the continent. While those at Aachen and Ingelheim were on a totally grander scale the remains of those at the Lindenhof, Zurich, and at Frankfurt closely parallel the Northampton example (Williams forthcoming).
The earlier church predating St. Peter's can almost certainly be identified as an old minster for part of the minster organisation was 'fossilised' into the 19th century: the churches of Kingsthorpe and Upton which were royal manors at Domesday and subsequently hundredal manors remained dependencies of St. Peter's - Kingsthorpe up to 1850 and Upton until the present day. For the development of the church see Northampton (24).
The St. Peter's complex represents a pre-urban seat of both secular and ecclesiastical power at least from the 8th century and the seat of secular power from even earlier; this is clearly significant for the later development of Northampton. For the later development of the site see Northampton (24).
c(9) Northampton Castle (centred on SP 74856055) lies at the W. end of Northampton on a small eminence about 7.5 m. above the River Nene, which was immediately to the W., on Northampton Sands at about 68 m. above OD. Only a small part of the castle still survives.
According to the 'Vita et passio Waldevi comitis' Simon de Senlis I constructed the castle (Giles 1854, 18) but some earlier work dating from soon after the Norman Conquest is possible. Waltheof, the Saxon Earl of Northampton, married King William's niece, the Countess Judith, but was subsequently executed for treason in 1076. Simon de Senlis I married Maud, the daughter of Waltheof and Judith, and was probably granted the earldom and the town of Northampton by William Rufus in 1089. Simon died sometime between 1111 and 1113 but the family remained important until the latter part of the 12th century.
In 1130 the king paid the monks of St. Andrew's 3s. 8d. for land taken into 'his castle', indicating that the castle was then in royal hands but the first building works noted occurred in 1173–4 when the houses of the keep and other buildings were repaired for £32 17s. An additional £107 was spent on the keep in 1181–3 and further work was undertaken in 1192–3.
John's recorded expenditure on the castle amounted to approximately £300 and a similar sum was spent in 1217–19 of which more than half related to the tower. Further constructional and decorative work continued to the middle of the century. In 1248 the king ordered the palisade round the great outer bailey to be repaired and in 1251 the sheriff was authorised to repair the castle and bailey wall adjacent to the Nene. In 1258/9 repairs to the gaol and other work were undertaken. In 1266 the king ordered the wall on the W. side of the castle to be repaired and the palisade outside the castle on the same side to be replaced by a stone wall and in 1266/7 £200 was spent on repairs. Approximately £100 was spent on repairs to the castle in 1280–1 and £150 in 1287–8.
By the 14th century the castle seems to have been in a poor state. In 1329 the great hall was repaired for the justices itinerant and a new prison was built in 1385–6. The castle was now militarily unimportant and functioned mainly as a county hall and a gaol. The keep was still standing during the reign of Henry VIII but by 1593 the castle was in a 'ruynous' state although Speed's map of 1610 shows the castle walls reasonably intact. The castle was partly demolished after the Restoration (Serjeantson 1908 and Brown et al 1963, 750f give full accounts of the history of the castle).
In 1879 the greater part of the castle was quarried away by the London and North Western Railway Company to enlarge the station and to erect a large goods shed. No detailed plan of the castle as it was exists. Speed's map of 1610 (Fig. 8) shows an inner and outer bailey enclosed by stone walls with four large towers positioned along the curtain of the inner bailey. A further stone building lay in the S.W. quarter of the inner bailey.
A survey of the castle in 1322/3 indicates that the castle contained a great hall with a long chamber adjacent to the hall to the E. and the great chamber next to the hall to the W. There was also a lower chapel. Besides a new tower there were six small towers. A keep is mentioned and a further chapel; one of the chapels was dedicated to St. George. A plan of 1743 indicates that the inner bailey of the castle contained 3½ acres (1.4 ha.) with the outer bailey a similar size and that the total area of the castle, including defences, amounted to about 15 acres (6.1 ha.) (Serjeantson 1908).
A survey of the castle in 1863 showed the inner bailey enclosed by a ditch with the remains of a substantial wall on the W. and S. sides. Two massive buttresses supported the wall on the W. side and the remains of a projecting circular bastion were visible in the S. wall. In front of the main gate of the castle, which was on the N. side, was a triple rampart of earth. Various other walls formed fragments of buildings in the S.W. quadrant of the enclosed area. A substantial mound about 30 m. across, in the N.W. quarter, possibly formed the base of the keep but only a single wall was recorded in this area (Law 1879–80).
Excavations were carried out by by J. Alexander in 1961–4 on the N.E. side of the inner bailey (SP 74926054; Medieval Archaeol 6–7 (1962–3), 322–3; 8 (1964), 257–8). A full report of the excavations is presently being prepared. A ditch running E.-W. and partly sealed by layers of the extreme inner edge of the bailey bank was interpreted by the excavator as evidence of a motte predating the main castle. This ditch, of shallow U-profile, was approximately 7 m. wide and 2 m. to 2.5 m. deep. Pottery from the infill suggests that it was levelled probably no earlier than the mid 12th century. Evidence from the bailey bank itself which appears to have succeeded this ditch is consistent with construction of the bank in the early 12th century, although a later date is possible. The bailey bank at the point sectioned by Alexander was 13 m. wide and up to 3.7 m. high although the outer face had been cut back during the 19th century. Originally it must have measured about 18 m. wide and 6 m. high. The ditch was c. 27 m. wide and 9 m. deep.
The limited archaeological evidence is consistent with an earth and timber castle dating to the time of Waltheof or Simon de Senlis I with commencement of work on the great medieval castle probably sometime after the death of Simon de Senlis I and before the accession of Simon de Senlis II to the earldom of Northampton, during which time the castle appeared to be in royal hands (see above).
In the N.E. corner of the bailey were two large buildings set against the inner face of the rampart. The northern range contained a succession of hearths and ovens and was presumably a kitchen block. East of this and at right angles to it was a domestic suite with undercroft. Both were probably constructed during the later 12th century and underwent more than one subsequent alteration. The eastern range in particular appears to have been extensively and elaborately remodelled in the 13th century. It appears to have been destroyed by fire, perhaps early in the 14th century and the northern building may also have gone out of use in this period.
Further investigations were carried out between 1975 and 1978 on the site of the inner bailey bank to the S. of Alexander's excavations (SP 74926049) mainly to examine pre-castle levels. Early to middle Saxon occupation was represented by two sunken-featured buildings and a large scatter of pottery and in the late Saxon period there was a complex comprising building, yard area, pits and cultivated ground (Northampton (38)). Two sections cut across the line of the outer bailey ditch (SP 74946046) suggested it was approximately 14 m. wide and 5.5 m. deep (Williams and Shaw 1981, 106f).
The remains of the castle surviving above ground comprise a small section of inner bailey bank (at SP 74936053) together with some of the walls uncovered in the 1961–4 excavations. Extensive collections of finds from the 19th century onwards are deposited in Northampton Museum (NDC M18, 138, 139, 173, 202, 329).
d(10) Site of Guildhall I, Late Saxon Settlement and Medieval Settlement and Cemetery Remains (SP 75156039), on Northampton Sands at between 64 m. and 67 m. above OD. Between 1158 and 1166 Simon de Senlis III had confirmed to St. John's Hospital, Northampton 'the place where stands the chapel of St Mary Magdalene with all the land of Gildhalle and the men dwelling on it quit of pleas aid geld and customs' (Cal Pat R 1401–5, 368). 'Land of Gildhalle' is ambiguous as to whether the Guildhall itself was on this site, although it is assumed it was, but at least the reference indicates the existence of a Guild and Guildhall by this date. In 1568 a lease relating to St. John's Hospital records in Gold Street 'a messuage or tenement called the Harpe . . . one dissolved chapell sometyme called Magdalenes thereunto adjoining' (NRO FH 1118). Analysis of subsequent rentals and other records reveals that these were the only two properties held by St. John's in Gold Street and that they were located at the junction of Gold Street and Horsemarket (Report of the Charity Commissioners Vol 31 (1837), 797, 808; NRO SC 590; Whellan 1874, 200, 206; Williams 1983–4). Henry Lee in his early 18th century manuscript history of Northampton (1931–2, 68) records that 'the Old Town Hall was in a little close adjoining the last house on the right hand in the lane going from Mayorhold to Scarlet well'. Lee also states that 'in the Mayorhold was kept the Market Place and the chief part of the town was built about it and near to it' but his positioning of the Town Hall is not convincing even though it would have been fairly close to the N. and main gate of the castle. It should be remembered that Lee in writing about the medieval period seems to have a substantial basis of fact although erring in matters of detail and interpretation. The situation of the early Guildhall at the centre of the Saxon town is altogether more satisfactory and suggests a pre-Conquest origin. A direct transfer to the site in All Saints', which soon after the Conquest became the commercial hub of the town, would seem most reasonable although an 'intermediate' Guildhall in Scarletwell Street cannot be discounted.
Excavations in 1974 uncovered, below 19th and 20th-century buildings, a series of simple orientated burials. Below these burials were the remains of a stone building with a fine limestone floor sunk below ground level and measuring 2.4 m. N.-S. by 4.80 m. E.-W. Subsequent to the robbing of the walls the sunken area was used as a charnel pit. Rubbish pits containing 10th to 12th-century pottery predated the stone building and cemetery. Observation during subsequent construction works indicated a further charnel pit to the S. and that the southern extent of the cemetery lay at about northing 6063. The cemetery probably belonged to the adjoining chapel of St. Mary Magdalene (Northampton (32)) rather than to St. Gregory's Church (Northampton (27)) some 50 m. to the S.W. (Northamptonshire Archaeol 10 (1975), 168f; 11 (1976), 198f; NM; NDC M123, 136, 145, 170).
d(11) Site of Guildhall II (SP 75516050), lies on the corner of Abington Street and Wood Hill. Cam described it as a 'building of three stories with battlemented parapet, the hall being on the first floor and the ground story originally open. Several pointed two light windows on the first floor long survived though latterly in a more or less mutilated state, but the upper windows were square headed' (VCH Northamptonshire III, 36; see also Cox 1898, 170f). Although this structure was apparently of early 14th-century date it would seem reasonable that the Guildhall was established on this site at an earlier date (cf. Northampton (10)). The building stood until 1864 and the construction of the new town hall, at which time it was sold and demolished (VCH Northamptonshire III, 37).
Medieval Religious Houses
cd(12) Site of Cluniac Priory (centred on SP 75106110), lies in the area bounded by St. Andrew's Road, St. George's Street, Grafton Street, Lower Harding Street and Spring Lane on Northampton Sands and clay at between 61 m. and 78 m. above OD. The priory was probably founded in the late 11th century by Simon de Senlis I as a dependency of the priory of St. Mary de Charite on the banks of the Loire and dedicated to St. Andrew. There is evidence that the house of the monks originally lay in Horsemarket and was subsequently transferred to the site indicated on Map 7 (Cal Pat R 1348–50, 247) but the scope of the endowment by Simon de Senlis I (Mon Angl V, 190) to the priory suggests that the later site was occupied by c. 1100. The monastery was dissolved in 1538 and the site sold in 1550. The net revenue of the priory in 1538 was £263 (Bridges 1791 I, 452–5; Serjeantson 1905–6a; VCH Northamptonshire II, 102–9; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 97). The priory played an important role in the history of Northampton, acquiring the advowsons of all the town's churches by the late 12th century as well as much property in the town and town fields (Williams 1982b).
Speed's map of 1610 and Pierce's map of 1632 (NRO; Fig. 8; Plate 7) both show buildings of the priory surviving into the 17th century but the two plans are not consistent Although Speed appears rather more reliable with regard to the overall plan of the town Pierce should perhaps be followed in respect of the site of the priory since he is specifically recording the former demesne lands of St. Andrew's. The priory was completely surrounded by walls. The gatehouse appears to have lain to the N. of Grafton Street across Upper Harding Street with the priory church perhaps to the N. of the Lower Priory Street. A small square area immediately to the S. of the church on the Pierce map possibly indicates the site of the cloisters. Various other unidentifiable buildings can be noted. The monastic fishponds can be seen in the area of Monks Pond Street. By 1632, if not during the life of the priory, the priory precinct was divided into a series of closes.
The cemetery of the priory lay in the area E. of Francis Street and centres on Upper Harding Street. Numerous burials have been found mainly in rough stone cists but six monumental gravestones were discovered in the area of Upper Harding Street (J Brit Archaeol Ass 8 (1853), 67f; Serjeantson 1905–6a, 137–8; J Northamptonshire Nat Hist Soc Fld Club 21 (1921–2), 210–11f; BNFAS 5 (1971), 30f; observation by NDC Archaeological Unit 1980). Substantial foundations were noted at SP 74996114 together with a few further cist burials, and a 20 m. length of monastic drain was recorded at SP 74966110 (observation by NDC Archaeological Unit 1980). Evidence of ditches or water channels and possibly one of the monastic fishponds was seen (SP 74906089; observation by NDC Archaeological Unit 1979). Decorated floor tiles, architectural fragments and other objects have been found on the priory site.
In the area of the monastic cemetery c. 1850 'Upon excavating in forming Francis Street, interments of a very early date were found, apparently Romanized British or Saxon having appearances of cremation. Fragments of urn of black, grey and light red ware were discovered: a large low, broad shaped urn of coarse red ware contained remains of funereal rites' (J Brit Archaeol Ass 8 (1853), 67f). The vagueness of the report, the fact that only fragments of pottery of no clear date were found and the presence of the later cemetery suggest that the claim of a pre-priory cemetery is extremely suspect. Indeed a vessel in Northampton Museum marked 'cinerary urn, British Roman from site of St. Andrew's Priory' is medieval, probably 13th-century (NM; NDC M2, 288, AS8).
d(13) Site of Augustinian Friary (centred on SP 75356016?), probably lies in the area of Commercial Street on Northampton Sands and Upper Lias Clay at around 59 m. above OD. The friary was generally regarded as having been founded by Sir John Longville in 1323 but Cox (1898, 522, quoted by VCH Northamptonshire II, 147) suggests that references to it occur in deeds belonging to the period 1275–90. This is not accepted by Knowles and Hadcock (1971, 240, 242). The friary was dissolved in 1538 (ibid). Decorated tiles have been found on the site (Wetton 1849, 81; Serjeantson 1911–12a; NM; NDC M22).
d(14) Site of Carmelite Friary (centred on SP 75576088), lies in the area bounded by Lady's Lane, Newlands, Campbell Square and the Mounts on Upper Estuarine Clay at 85 m. to 91 m. above OD. The friary was founded by 1270 (pre-1265 - Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 233, 236) and dissolved in 1538. The precinct wall and the gate and main friary buildings can be seen on Speed's map of 1610 and Pierce's map of 1632 also shows what appears to be the main friary complex surviving as a cloister (NRO: Fig. 8; Plate 7). The prospects of Harris and Buck (Plate 8) both show a large house on the site of the friary. As drawn by Buck the building is particularly impressive but it is apparently inconsistent architecturally with that drawn by Harris and the map of Noble and Butlin, drawn a little later, does not appear to indicate a house of such a size in the area. It is possible that parts of the Carmelite friary were incorporated into a house which became the Fleetwood mansion in the late 17th century but which was at least partly demolished by the time of Noble and Butlin's map. A decorated tile floor was found below Kerr Street in 1846 (Wetton 1849, 50). Further evidence of buildings including walls, mortar floors and decorated tiles was found in trial trenching in 1974 between Kerr Street and Park Street (SP 75626090–75636086) but trial trenching between Victoria Street and Kerr Street (SP 75566093–75586084) revealed an area devoid of buildings. A contractor's trench to the E. of Kerr Street (SP 75636082) in 1972 exposed a wall running parallel to Lady's Lane, presumably the friary precinct wall, with three walls set at right angles. At least two burials were noted. Excavations in 1974 at the apparent S.W. corner of the friary precinct (SP 75486080) revealed stone buildings of probably 13th-century date set over a quarry pit of 12th or 13th-century date but the relationship of these buildings to the friary and whether they were part of the friary is uncertain (BNFAS 10 (1975), 169; Northamptonshire Archaeol 12 (1977), 226; Serjeantson 1909–10; VCH Northamptonshire II, 148f; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 233, 236; NDC M28, 102, 121, 122, 182, 205, 333).
d(15) Site of Dominican Friary (centred on SP 75206045?), probably lies in the area to N. of Gold Street and E. of Horsemarket on Northampton Sands at around 67 m. above OD. In 1275 the friars are recorded as having enclosed (within the friary?) a common way from the new cemetery (see (30)) to St. Martin Street (Horsemarket) (Serjeantson 1911–12b, 43). The friary was established c. 1230 and surrendered in 1538. Numerous royal and other gifts to the friary are recorded. No physical remains have been found nor is the extent of the precinct known (Serjeantson 1911–12b; VCH Northamptonshire II, 144–6; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 214, 218; cf also Serjeantson and Longden 1913, 230–1; NDC M24).
d(16) Site of Franciscan Friary (centred on SP 75556070), to N.E. of Market Square within the area of the bus station and the Grosvenor Centre on Upper Estuarine Clay at 79 m. to 86 m. above OD. The Greyfriars came to Northampton in 1226 and moved to this site c. 1235. The friary was dissolved in 1538. John Leland commented that 'The Gray-freres House was the beste builded and largest House of all the places of the Freres [in Northampton]'. It seems to have comprised at least a church, two cloisters and perhaps a separate school and including precincts probably covered an area of approximately 4 acres (1.62 ha.). Various royal grants of timber for constructional purposes are recorded. In the 19th century burials, glazed tiles and other building materials were found on the site. Archaeological excavations were undertaken in 1972 in advance of development and uncovered part of the church and one of the claustral ranges. Several periods of building were noted. Burials were present within the church. Finds included architectural fragments, plain and decorated tiles, coins and jettons, a bronze seal, pottery and other artefacts (Bridges 1791 I, 455f; VCH Northamptonshire II, 146f; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 222, 227; Williams 1978, which contains a full site bibliography; NM; NDC M25, 100).
d(17) Site of House of Friars of the Sack lies in Derngate probably adjacent to the Derngate (c. SP 75926028?). In the Hundred Rolls (Rot Hund 2, 3a) the friars 'have stopped up the common way . . . from the gate called Dernegate to Dandelines Court'. The house was founded before 1271 and had come to an end by 1303 (Serjeantson 1909–12, 13–15; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 247f; NDC M26).
d(18) Site of the House of Poor Clares probably lies in Horsemarket (centre point at SP 75156055) near to the Dominican friary, probably (contra Serjeantson 1909–12, 12) on the E. rather than the W. side of the street for they are recorded in 1265 as residing 'juxta' the house of the Dominicans (Cal Close R 1264–8, 49; see also (15) above). The house is first recorded in 1252 with its latest mention 20 years later. Five sisters were accommodated and it is alternatively referred to as the Hospital of St. Benedict, God's House and the Hospital of St. Mary (Serjeantson 1909–12, 12–13; Knowles and Hadcock 1971, 286; NDC M27). This is the same establishment as that listed separately as the hospital of St. Mary by Knowles and Hadcock (1971, 381).
d(19) Site of Hospital of St. Thomas (SP 75416008), lies at the junction of Bridge Street and Victoria Promenade on alluvium at 58 m. above OD. The hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr was said by Leland to have been founded c. 1450, but possibly this was the rebuilding of an old foundation. The hospital was destroyed in 1874–6 but detailed records were made by Sir Henry Dryden (Dryden 1875–6). The hospital, which measured approximately 76 ft. by 27 ft. (22.8 m. × 8.1 m.) externally, consisted of a domicile on two floors (measuring 54 ft. 8 ins. by 22 ft. 3 ins. (16.4 m. × 6.7 m.) internally) with a chapel (measuring 16 ft. 9 ins. by 15 ft. (5 m. × 4.5 m.) internally) to the E. (Bridges 1791 1, 446, 457; VCH Northamptonshire II, 161f; Cox 1898, 341f; Dryden 1875–6; Serjeantson 1909b; NDC M32).
d(20) Former Hospital of St. John (SP 754602; Figs. 15, 16). The Hospital of St. John was founded c. 1140. It escaped the Dissolution but in 1870 the institution was moved from its ancient site, which was then sold and eventually acquired for the use of a Roman Catholic congregation. In 1955 the two surviving hospital buildings were gutted and, by the addition of a new chancel, converted into a Roman Catholic church.
The hospital buildings in 1870 consisted of a chapel, an adjacent almshouse and, some 60 m. to the E. of the chapel, a master's house (demolished in 1871). All three buildings incorporated substantial medieval fabric and may have maintained their medieval plan. The earliest features were lancet windows and wall arcading, perhaps of c. 1300, in the E. wing of the master's house. The W. front of the almshouse building, which has a tall blind arch enclosing the W. doorway and a traceried oculus above, dates from the mid 14th century although the rest of the building is of the late 15th century or later. The Perpendicular W. front of the chapel belongs to the late 15th or early 16th century although again the other walls have been much rebuilt at a later period.
Documentary evidence, notably a deed of inspeximus of 1307 and regulations issued by Bishop Buckingham of Lincoln in 1345, reveals that the hospital was a substantial foundation with an income in the Valor Ecclesiaticus of just over a hundred pounds and therefore that its buildings were of reasonable size even in the 13th and 14th centuries (VCH Northamptonshire II, 156–8). It is likely that the surviving buildings belong not to this period but to a later refashioning of the hospital, a refashioning prompted by a change in the hospital's function in the late Middle Ages from a hospice offering casual charity to an almshouse with a fixed number of inmates. It is possible that the unusual plan with the late medieval chapel set back beyond the E. wall of the almshouse indicates that the hospital originally consisted of three parallel aisles acting as wards and a chapel at the E. end of the central aisle, like a chancel. Later the chapel was rebuilt on the same site, the N. and central aisles demolished and the almshouse constructed on the foundations of the S. aisle, retaining the W. front of the aisles, which is canted to follow the street line. The considerable distance between the master's house and the other hospital buildings may indicate that in the space between was a large conventual church, for the use of the brethren, living in common in what became the master's house. Documents of 1309 and 1310 refer to the church being rebuilt with four altars, implying a building larger in size than any of the surviving structures (VCH Northamptonshre II, 157; Dryden, 1873–4; Serjeantson, 1911–14).
The formermaster's house was demolished in 1871 but plans, elevations and drawings record its appearance. It consisted of a six-bay range with a crown-post roof (replaced at either end) apparently of 15th-century date. A substantial stack, perhaps late medieval, was inserted between the second and third bay from the E. and two further stacks were inserted later in the W. bays. The chamber in the eastern two bays was raised on an undercroft but the other bays had been floored. The only medieval openings recorded were the lancets already mentioned; the other windows were mullioned with hood-moulds, and, like the two-storeyed porch, were typical Northamptonshire work of c. 1600. It is possible that the original 13th-century building had one large open hall and was the common living quarters of the prior and brethren of the hospital but was made a more conventionally domestic building after it had been appropriated to the master alone.
The former chapel has an ambitious W. front with moulded doorway and five-light panel-traceried window. The facade is however wider than the body of the chapel itself, especially on the N. Since the windows in the N. and S. walls of the chapel were, until a restoration of 1853, classical and round-headed it is probable that the N. and S. walls had been rebuilt inside the late medieval walls. If the Decorated E. window is genuinely 14th-century, then the E. wall may survive from the earlier hospital buildings. (Dryden 1873–4, 211–34; Sergeantson 1911–12, 221–37, 265–90, 1913–14, 1–24, 49–78)
The W. wall of the former almshouse is 14th-century but the building as a whole dates from the late 15th century, perhaps from the time of Richard Sherd who was master from 1474/5 to 1498 and whose name appeared in stained glass in a window in the S. wall (VCH Northamptonshire III, 59–60). The building was designed to meet the needs of the hospital as defined in its late medieval constitution, with a master, two co-brethren or chaplains, and eight infirm. On the ground floor a long passage 1.20 m. wide formed the spine of the plan, with individual chambers for the inmates opening off it. Halfway up the N. side was an open hall and kitchen. Opposite the hall was a staircase, lit by a three-light Perpendicular window, giving access to two large rooms on the first floor, open to the roof, for the use of the chaplains.
Churches, Chapels and Other Religious Sites
c(21) Parish Church of All Saints (SP 754604; Fig. 14; Plates 20, 21). The church of All Saints was rebuilt after the fire in 1675 which destroyed much of Northampton. The church was in existence by 1107 when it was mentioned by name in a charter to St. Andrew's priory. (BL Royal 11 B ix f. 5v; Franklin 1982, 92).
The only parts of the church to survive the fire and the subsequent rebuilding were the lower parts of the tower and the vaulted crypt which lay under the former E. end. Foundations recorded in George Row may have belonged to the pre-1675 church (see George Row, fiche. p. 387). The tower dates from the 12th century, although altered in the 14th or 15th century and again after the fire. The wide openings at ground floor level on all four faces suggest that the tower originally stood at the centre of a cruciform church. The crypt is of 14th-century date. It has no liturgical fittings and may have served only as a charnel house.
Two 17th-century drawings of the medieval church survive. The more reliable is a detail from Speed's map of Northampton of 1610, which shows a large cruciform church with a central tower. The second drawing was made by an artist who accompanied Cosimo III of Tuscany on his visit to Northampton in 1669. It also shows a church with a central tower but the Italianate details cannot be relied upon. A description of the old church was made in 1675 by Henry Lee who was Town Clerk. The church was 'as large as some cathedrals'. The chancel was 'very large with great stalls and large desks before them on the north and south sides, and on the west side very gentile pews with desks before them to lean upon'. The nave had 'three aisles', and in 1534/5 'the middle roof was made and raised very high and lofty'. At the west end were 'very stately gates at the entrance and a very high and large window'. There was also 'a south porch very great and large and over it was a large room in which the spiritual court was held'. Lee also mentioned a tomb and vault built in 1585 'in the place called Lady Chapel in the chancel' and 'an old strong building adjoining to the south side of the chancel reported to be formerly a chapel' in which were the stairs to the crypt (Serjeantson 1901, 245–6).
The medieval church can be reconstructed as a large building, perhaps 70 m. in length, with a central tower and cruciform plan. The chancel which occupied the area of the present church E. of the tower, had a crypt under its E. end and a S. chapel. There were transepts and a clearstoreyed nave with N. and S. aisles and S. porch of two storeys. The tall arches which were cut through the 12th-century tower in the 14th or 15th century give some idea of the scale of the main compartments.
The new church was opened in 1680 but the building was not completed until 1704. Henry Bell appears to have been responsible for the design. A document in Northamptonshire Record Office (formerly Phillipps MS 12165) records a meeting on 18 January 1676/7 at which it was 'Order'd and agreed that Mr. Henry Bell and Mr. Edward Edwards, two experienc'd surveyors now residing in the said Town of Northampton', should be employed as 'managers' for the rebuilding of All Saints' Church (Colvin 1978, 105). The portico appears to have formed part of the original design though it was not finished until 1701. The inscription on the portico 'I Hunt Northton fecit' perhaps indicates that Hunt was responsible for the building of it. He carved the statue of Charles II which stands on the portico (Gunnis 1953, 212).
The new church was built in a classical style except for the window tracery and the belfry openings which are Gothic in form. It was designed as an auditory church and may be compared with St. Mary at Hill in the City of London, by Wren, which was completed by 1676. The plan of both churches is based on a Greek cross inscribed in a square, although All Saints' is much the larger.
The church consists of chancel, built above the medieval crypt, nave, W. tower with vestibules to the N. and S., and a portico. The former central tower was retained as a W. tower and a tall belfry built above. The vestibules originally formed the principal entrances to the church. The colonnaded portico lies across the W. wall screening both tower and vestibules.
Much of the 17th-century church survives to the present day but a number of additions and minor alterations have been carried out. Drawings by James Blackamore show the church with 18th-century furnishings. The chancel had a carved reredos flanking the E. window, with 'four tables containing the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, and two paintings one of Moses and the other of Aaron'. Communion rails ran across in front of the altar. The chancel was panelled to window-sill height but plain above. The plaster ceiling was richly decorated. Under the chancel arch, which was a coffered beam supported on brackets, was a large open screen with a central doorway. The nave had tall box pews, and a small gallery in the N. aisle, possibly that erected in 1714 (VCH Northamptonshire III, 49). The pulpit with an elaborate sounding board was attached to the S.E. column and there was an ornate pew opposite which was probably the Mayor's. The font stood in a pew of its own towards the W. on the S. side. A later illustration of the church in a trade card by J. Powell of Northampton, undated but after 1815, shows the church with the pulpit and reading desk in front of the chancel screen and galleries on three sides of the nave. In 1865–6 the galleries were cut back and the present seating in the nave installed to the designs of E.F. Law (NRO, All Saints 223P/168, 169). The chancel screen, pulpit and prayer desk were also removed at this time. Parts of the screen were reused to form doorways between the vestibules and the nave. The pulpit was re-erected on a new pedestal in 1888.
In the past century several minor alterations have been made to the fabric of the church. The Organ Chamber on the N. was built in 1883 with detailing very similar to that of the 17th-century fabric (NRO All Saints 223P/170, 8 Dec. 1882). In 1888 the chancel was remodelled by E.F. Law (NRO All Saints 223P/171). The E. window was blocked, the present reredos constructed and the decorative plaster work made more elaborate. A new chancel arch was built, supported on attached columns. Pilasters were added on the E. wall of the nave. In 1920 a War Memorial chapel was built to the S. of the chancel to the designs of Sir A. Blomfield and Sons and A.J. Driver. It is a low building in a mixed, late Gothic style. The sills of the two windows in the S. wall of the chancel and the window in the E. wall of the nave were raised. New entrances were made to the chapel from both chancel and nave and the doorway in the E. wall of the nave was moved to the E. end of the S. wall of the nave. In 1967–8 the vestibules flanking the tower were modified by the insertion of floors, which necessitated the blocking of the upper parts of the main entrance doorways into the church from the portico. The doorways from the vestibules to the church had already been altered to accommodate the W. gallery in the nave. The main entrance is now through the small central doorway under the W. tower. In 1982–3 the nave roof was extensively repaired and the whole of the interior redecorated.
The church built after the fire of 1675 was uniform in design. Externally all the walling except that on the W. has a moulded plinth, a cornice and a parapet. Windows have semi-circular heads, deeply moulded architraves and boldly projecting scroll-shaped key stones. They are all similar, being of five lights with two roundels in the head or of three with a single roundel. The five-light windows were placed in the E. wall of the chancel, the end walls of the vestibules and in the middle of the nave walls and were given further emphasis by projecting wall panels. The panels on the chancel and vestibules have simple triangular pediments while the central sections of the N. and S. nave walls have raised parapets with segmental pediments. The roofs are flat-pitched and, for the most part, hidden behind the parapets, but the central dome and cupola are prominent features of the design.
The N. wall of the chancel had two three-light openings. The first, originally a three-light window, has been modified to house the organ. The second three-light window remains unaltered. The E. wall has a window of five lights which is still glazed but is blocked internally by the reredos of 1888. The S. wall has two three-light windows which originally matched those on the N. Their lower parts were blocked when the S. chapel was added in 1920. There are two openings with elliptical heads in the lower part of the wall, a doorway and an internal window, between chapel and chancel. The chancel arch, remodelled in 1888, consists of a four-centred arch with architrave and fielded panels on the soffit supported by pairs of Ionic columns which carry an entablature. The reredos and decorative wall plaster are contemporary with the chancel arch. The ceiling though much repainted is mostly of the late 17th century and some of the details match contemporary work in the nave plasterwork. The rose in the centre of the main ceiling and much of the panel over the altar are later additions, perhaps of 1888.
The organ chamber built on the N. side of the chancel in 1883 matches the architectural treatment of the exterior of the nave and chancel, the windows displaced from the chancel and the E. wall of the nave being reused as the E. and N. windows of the new construction. The interior is featureless but excavation for heating ducts has exposed the N. wall and N.E. external corner buttress of the medieval crypt below the chancel (see below).
The S. chapel was designed in 1920 by Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons and A.J. Driver, using a mixture of late Gothic and classical detail. It is a low building running parallel to the chancel. Below it is a passage which gives access to the crypt.
Below the W. part of the chancel, which is raised five steps above the floor level of the nave, is a vaulted undercroft of 14th-century date. The W. third is bricked up and the floor level has been raised but despite this it is still possible to reconstruct its original form. The crypt was square in plan with a central octagonal pier, responds at the corners and mid-way along each wall. The vault is made up of four quadripartite bays separated by ribs. The modern tunnel under the S. chapel leads to the original entrance just E. of the central respond in the S. wall; the opening has been much rebuilt. There are two windows in the E. wall of the compartment and these, coupled with the evidence of the diagonal buttress at the N.E. corner indicate that the E. wall of the crypt lay under the E. wall of the medieval church and that the chancel above had the same external dimensions. Drawings made by Sir Henry Dryden in 1881 confirm this reconstruction and also show the level of the original floor which is some 0.6 m. below the present floor (NPL Dryden collection).
The nave is nearly square in plan and is divided by four Ionic columns which are set on high plinths and support a central dome carried on arches and pendentives. The four barrel vaults which run back from these arches to the outer walls define a cross, the spaces between having flat ceilings. The outlines of the cross are marked by a cornice which runs round the lower edges of the barrel vaults. The semi-circular end walls of the vaults contain oval lunettes; that on the E. is over the chancel arch, but the other two are expressed in the side elevations of the nave. The plaster decoration, although repaired, follows the original design. The dome is shallow and carries a square lantern topped by a domed cupola. The N. and S. walls of the nave have five windows, which are arranged symmetrically, with a pair of three-light windows on either side of one of five lights. The central windows are set in projecting sections of wall which are crowned, above the cornice, by attic gables masking the end of the barrel vaults. The attic is pierced by an oval lunette set in a rectangular, pedimented panel defined by shallow pilasters and flanked by curved brackets. Under the E. window of the S. wall is a small rectangular doorway reset from the E. wall. It has an eared architrave and an eight-panelled door. In the E. wall of the nave N. of the chancel arch is a blocked window below which is a doorway similar to that described above. In the corresponding position to the S. side, the upper part of a three-light window remains in situ; the lower part has been blocked. Originally the arrangement of the wall was symmetrical with a doorway below a three-light window on each side of the chancel arch. The W. wall of the nave has two large doorways which open into the vestibules flanking the tower. The door openings are now rectangular and fit below the gallery of 1865. They were formerly wider and taller with semi-circular heads, the jambs having shallow pilasters and the soffits decorated with coffered panels. The openings matched those on the W. facade.
There are galleries against the N., S. and W. walls of the nave. Their fronts are probably of the late 18th century but the cast-iron supports were inserted in 1865/6 by E.F. Law when he reduced the depth of the galleries. Access is from the vestibules, each of which has a stair built against its end wall.
The W. tower was largely rebuilt after the fire of 1675, but earlier phases of construction can still be distinguished at the lower level. The earliest phase is of the 12th century. A number of short lengths of string course and straight joints in the interior of the ground stage indicate equal openings in all four walls. In the 14th or 15th century these openings were raised in height though they were later blocked, probably in the post-medieval period. The outline of these tall pointed arches can be seen on the N., S. and E. faces of the tower. The vice in the N.W. corner also belongs to the late medieval phase. The present belfry was added after 1675. The openings are of two lights with a quatrefoil over. The tracery may have been made more authentically medieval in the 19th century. The tower is completed by a balustrade and open octagonal cupola.
North and South Vestibules
The vestibules are rectangular compartments flanking the tower, lit by five-light windows in the end walls. They perhaps occupy, at least in part, the foundations of the medieval transepts. The vestibules may have been built later than the nave since there is a masonry break between the walls of the nave and those of the vestibules and also the cornice of the vestibules is ornamented with dentils instead of being plain as in the nave. Both compartments, although now divided by inserted floors, served as matching vestibules, each with large, opposed semi-circular headed doorways, of which those into the nave were originally open. The S. vestibules housed the Consistory Court until the remodelling of 1967–8. The simply moulded plaster ceiling in the N. vestibule is probably original.
In the W. wall of the church are three semi-circular-headed entrance doorways of which the smaller, central doorway gives access to the tower and the two larger open into the vestibules. The portico, which is attached to the W. wall, is seven bays wide and two bays deep. It consists of plain Ionic columns which stand on square plinths. The entablature consists of an architrave of three fascias, an inscribed frieze and a bracket cornice. Above is a balustrade, interrupted by a solid plinth, bearing the Stuart Royal Arms and carrying a statue of Charles II. The inscription in the frieze reads, 'This statue was erected in memory of King Charles II, who gave a thousand tons of timber towards the rebuilding of this church, and to this town seven years of chimney money collected in it. John Agatter, mayor, 1712'. At the S. end of the frieze is the inscription 'I Hunt Northton fecit".
In Nave - E. wall below gallery, (1) Thomas Hall, d. 1810, aged 61. (2) John Conant, d. 1693, aged 86. (3) William Hughes, d. 1794, aged 66; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1801, aged 69; Whiting Sculpt. (4) Alderman George Osborn, d. 1827, aged 73; Frances (wife), d. 1790, aged 29; Thomas (son), d. 1809, aged 21; Whiting Sculpt.
E. wall above gallery, (5) John Portington, d. 1789, aged 63; Judith (wife), d. 1796, aged 68; Judith Mary Portington (daughter), d. 1827, aged 74; Elizabeth Hopkinson (grand-daughter), d. 1849, aged 62; S. Cox Sculpt. (6) Edward Whitton, philanthropist, d. 1774, aged 77; Cox Fecit.
N. wall below gallery, (7) John Lucas, d. 1839, aged 76, nephew of Sir Thomas Ward; Whiting Sculpt. (8) Sir James Stonhouse, Bart., d. 1795, aged 80. (9) Christopher Smyth, d. 1825, aged 90; Whiting Fecit. (10) Dorcas Sargeant, d. 1729, aged 93, wife of Thos. Sargeant; S. Cox Fecit. (11) Anne Stonhouse, d. 1747, aged 25. (12) Major Charles Boycott, d. 1809, aged 33, youngest son of Thomas Boycott; Wilhelmina (wife of Charles, daughter of William Smyth), d. 1807, aged 23; Regnart Fecit. (13) Caroline Lumley, d. 1831, aged 17, daughter of Colonel J.R. Lumley; Arabella (sister), d. 1833, aged 15; John (brother), d. 1852, aged 46; Anne (sister), d. 1859, aged 64. (14) Daniell Greenwood, d. 1711, aged 54; Elizabeth Dand (wife), daughter of John Dand, d. 1714. (15) James Cunningham, d. 1723; Susanna (wife), d. 1723; James (infant), d. 1715. (16) Alderman John Newcome, d. 1763, aged 55; Ann Newcome (wife), d. 1787, aged 81; H. Cox fecit. (17) Mary Kerby, d. 1821, aged 80.
S. wall below gallery, (20) Major Gen. Sir James Rutherford Lumley, d. 1846, aged 72, son of Rev. James Lumley; Caroline (wife), d. 1820, aged 34, daughter of Thomas Wilkinson; Robert Wilkinson Lumley, 3rd son, d. 1820, aged 2; Arabella, d. 1841, aged 25, first wife of James Rutherford Lumley (son of Sir James) and daughter of Rev. Thomas Chambers Wilkinson; Robert Turner Lumley (grandson of Sir James), d. 1848, aged 3; Tablet erected c. 1850 by James Rutherford Lumley (d. 1885, aged 74) and Clare Letitia Lumley (wife, d. 1905, aged 82). (21) Maria Dorothea Jenkins, d. 1835, aged 26, wife of James Samuel Jenkins, daughter of George Lewis Hollingsworth. (22) Anthony Eynard, d. 1739, aged 86; Jane Eynard, wife of Alexander Eynard, d. 1741, aged 30; J. Hunt Fecit. (23) Alderman John Chambers, d. 1835, aged 72; Anne (wife), d. 1840, aged 71; Sarah Bettison (3rd daughter), d. 1834, aged 29; Whiting Sculpt. (24) Jane, d. 1725, aged 43, wife of John Rushworth, d. 1736, aged 67. (25) Daniel Danvers, d. 1699, aged 70; Jane Danvers, d. 1739, aged 96. (26) Frances Wales, daughter of William Wales, d. 1855, aged 46. (27) Maria Catherine, d. 1852, aged 70, wife of John Walls. (28) Benjamin King, d. 1731, aged 45; J. Hunt Fecit. (29) Rebecca Ivory, d. 1720, aged 58, wife of Edward, d. 1728, aged 69; J. Hunt Fecit. (30) Alderman Richard Meacock, d. 1798, aged 59, husband of Frances, d. 1813, aged 69, and nine children. (31) Mary Freeman, d. 1821, aged 47; Charles, son of Charles and Mary, d. 1814, aged 17.
W. wall below gallery, (33) Dorothy Beckett, d. 1747, aged 90, wife of Thomas Beckett; Anne Sargeant, d. 1738, aged 68; daughters of Thomas Sargeant; S. Cox Sculpt.. (34) Richard Backwell, MP, d. 1765, aged 71; Mrs. Catherine Backwell (widow), d. 1771, aged 57; W. Cox Fecit. (35) Mary Lacy, d. 1786, aged 60; John Lacy, d. 1795, aged 74; W. Cox Fecit. (36) Alice Lumley, d. 1799, aged 65, wife of Rev. James Lumley, d. 1811, aged 89; Alicia Anna Lumley, d. 1826, aged 59. (37) Isabella Haldane, d. 1782, aged 69, daughter of John Haldane and widow of Charles Steward. (38) Henry Locock, d. 1761, aged 48; H. Cox Fecit. (39) John Revell, d. 1741, aged 60; Mary (wife), d. 1743, aged 63; Mary, d. 1780, aged 59, wife of Edward Revell, d. 1782, aged 75; John (son), d. 1781, aged 38; W. Cox Fecit. (40) 17th-century monument, illegible.
Paintings, oil on panel, now set on W. wall in pedimented frames but formerly flanking altar: (1) Moses, in a landscape with Burning Bush. (2) Aaron in priestly robes against the apse of a Gothic church; c. 1680.
Reredos, (1) on E. wall of nave, N. of chancel arch but formerly over altar, two panels with cherubim under open pediment and flaming finials, c. 1680; inscribed panels, 19th-century. (2) on E. wall of chancel, Corinthian screen enclosing painting of Rood and Commandment Tables, with lunette above, 1888.
Seating, (1) Pair of chairs in sanctuary in late 17th-century style but probably 19th-century. (2) Pair of churchwardens' seats with desks, now flanking central W. doorway, oak, ornamented with cartouches and cherubs; c. 1680. (3) Mayor's seat and desk in nave, oak, inscribed and dated 1686. (4) Stalls, in choir, oak, made up from late 17th-century panelling and 18th-century pews. (5) Desk and seat with bracketed canopy supporting royal arms of Charles II or James II, from former Consistory Court in S. Vestibule, now reset in part in N. aisle.
d(22) Parish Church of the Holy Sepulchre (SP 754609; Figs. 11, 12; Plates 16, 17). The dedication and the general conception of the church indicate that it was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, interest in which was stimulated by the Crusades. The particular form of the building, however, was perhaps derived from the round churches and baptistries of Northern Italy, in particular those of Lombardy. A close parallel is provided by San Tomaso in Limine at Almenno San Bartolomeo, north of Bergamo. Holy Sepulchre appears always to have been a parish church and there is no evidence of any unusual ecclesiastical connections which might explain either the choice of the round plan or the manner in which the church was used. The form of the church, its size and quality do suggest that it was built for a powerful patron with cosmopolitan interests and large financial resources, traditionally Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton, who died in 1115. There is however no clear documentary evidence for the date of the foundation of the church.
Holy Sepulchre is one of the two surviving early 12th-century round churches in England, the other being at Cambridge. The Romanesque building, with a rectangular chancel, circular nave and vaulted aisle, has only survived in part but most of its features can be reconstructed from evidence in the building and by analogy with the Cambridge Round Church. The 12th-century work in the chancel indicates that it was unaisled and of at least three bays. The considerable change in level between the nave and chancel, caused by the sloping site, and the restricted height of the vault of the aisle through which access was gained to the chancel, suggest that an original small low chancel was replaced during the 12th century. The nave had a three-storeyed elevation of arcade, gallery and clearstorey and was probably entered by an elaborate W. doorway. The aisle was covered by a vault of semi-circular section.
The most controversial feature of this reconstruction of the 12th-century church is the form of the aisle vault. The positions of ten of the attached wall-shafts have been identified. They correspond with the spacing of the external pilaster buttresses. There are also scars of the vault web. It seems likely that each bay of the vault was wedge-shaped and that diagonal ribs ran from the arcade piers to half-shafts on the outer wall with a similar intermediate shaft carrying a further rib which rose to the crown of the vault. The present arcade columns are too high for a semi-circular vault of this type but two features show that the columns, although apparently of 12th-century masonry, were originally shorter. Three of the round scalloped capitals have been re-assembled incorrectly with a band of plain masonry separating the scallops from the abacus. Some of the column-shafts have uncharacteristic narrow courses just at the height the columns would need to have been to accommodate the vault. The extra blocks required to make up the height of the nave columns in the 14th century could have been salvaged from those of the gallery arcade which were probably, as at Cambridge, of the same diameter as those of the nave arcade.
The first alterations appear to have been made c. 1200 when a chapel was built N. of the chancel and the wall pierced by an arcade of two bays. A doorway was also cut through the N. wall of the nave aisle. A further chapel was added N. of the N. chapel in the late 13th century and a window was made just W. of the N. doorway of the nave. The addition of the S. chapel dates from the 14th century, the S. wall of the chancel being reconstructed as a two-bay arcade. In the same century the circular part of the church was almost totally rebuilt. The whole of the upper part of the nave was removed together with the aisle vault, leaving only the lower parts of the nave piers and the outer wall of the aisle. The rebuilding involved raising the height of the nave piers with 12th-century masonry and replacing the rotunda by an octagonal structure on high pointed arches with a clearstorey and pointed roof. Three large winoows were inserted in the aisle and the roof was reconstructed behind a parapet. A large section of the aisle wall was demolished to make way for a W. tower and spire. A new doorway and porch were constructed on the S. possibly re-using 12th-century masonry. The chancel must have been extended to the E. during the medieval period since a tile pavement was found outside the E. end of the chancel during the restoration of 1861 (Cox and Serjeantson 1897, 23–5) but the extension was later removed, perhaps in the 17th century. A plan of 1805 (Britton 1807, Plate 1 opp. p. 11) shows the church with the outer N. chapel removed and the chancel cut back. George Clarke's view of c. 1840 shows that many windows in both nave and chancel had been replaced in the post-medieval period. The difference between the present appearance of the church and that depicted in the views by Britton and Clarke demonstrate the extent and thoroughness of the restoration carried out in the mid-19th century. In 1859 a faculty was granted for the removal of pews, galleries, stalls, screens, altar rails, tables, doors, pulpit, desk, floors, and the taking down of the whole of the eastern walls and the north wall eastwards of the rotunda (Plan of the proposed work by G.G. Scott, NRO St. Sepulchre 241P/107). In 1860–4 Scott added a new aisled chancel with a small vestry to the N., the old chancel and chapels, which were themselves lengthened by about 4 m., being treated as the nave, and re-created the former outer N. aisle. The restoration of the rotunda was carried out mainly in 1868–73 but the work was not concluded until 1879 when the aisle roof was replaced (NRO St. Sepulchre 241P/112). The present N. vestry and organ chamber were built by H.M. Townsend in 1887 replacing the vestry of 1860 (NRO St. Sepulchre's, Faculty with plans). The former nave was now arranged as a baptistry and a new font (a copy of the 13th-century font at Hildesheim Cathedral) was placed in the centre.
The church comprises a Chancel, with North and South Chapels, a North Vestry and Organ Chamber, a Nave with two North Aisles and a South Aisle (formerly Chancel and North and South Chapels), and a Baptistry, with aisle (former nave), West Tower and South Porch. The church is built of a mixture of coursed blockwork, ironstone, sandstone and limestone. Roofs E. of the rotunda are steeply pitched. The circular aisle has a low-pitched roof and the central octagon a polygonal, pointed roof.
Chancel and North and South Chapels
The chancel and the N. and S. chapels were built by G.G. Scott in 1860–4 in late 13th-century style. The E. window of the N. chapel, which is of mid 13th-century date and the two large 14th-century brackets which flank it, were reused from the former E. wall of the N. chapel. The N. vestry and organ chamber were built by H.M. Townsend in 1887 in mid-13th-century style, replacing the small vestry by Scott.
Nave (former Chancel)
The former chancel was constructed in the 12th century. Corbel tables of this date have survived in part both on the N. and the S. walls but that on the S. is reset as the wall below appears to have been rebuilt. The N. wall is of the 12th century as far as the W. respond of the arcade, beyond which it is of 1860–4. The 12th-century wall appears to have been external with three semi-circular-headed windows (Sharpe et al 1880, Plate 16) of which only the W. window is now reliable in detail. About 1200 a two-bay arcade was cut through this wall, presumably as part of the construction of a N. chapel. The central pier of this arcade and perhaps the two arches were replaced during the 13th century. The W. part of the S. wall was rebuilt in the 14th century as an arcade of two bays. The lower part of the 12th-century wall may be preserved in the responds and the bases of the piers. The W. wall contains the former chancel arch which dates from the 13th century and was modified in the 14th. The three-light window above is also of the 14th century. The roof is 19th-century but is supported on a series of late medieval wooden corbels carved with musicians (cf. Duston Church).
North Aisle (former North Chapel)
The former N. chapel was added in c. 1200. The piers of the N. arcade, opening into the outer N. chapel, are of the late 13th century but the wall above, all of the E. end and the roof are of 1860–4. The arch in the W. wall, communicating with the former nave, is of c. 1400. The awkward relationship of the W. wall with the nave aisle suggests that there was originally no communication between nave and chapel.
Outer North Aisle
The outer N. aisle, formerly a chapel, is all of 1860–4 except for the arch in the E. wall which was constructed in 1887. The plan of the aisle is said to be that of the medieval chapel, taken down perhaps in the 17th century.
South Aisle (former South Chapel)
The former S. chapel is perhaps of 14th-century origin. All that remains from this period is the W. end of the S. nave arcade, the arch which leads to the nave and probably much of the masonry in the lower parts of the S. wall. The windows in the S. wall were replaced in 1860–4 in early 14th-century style; below is a blocked doorway of unknown date. The roof is 19th-century.
Baptistry (former Nave)
The former nave has an arcade of eight piers, the lower parts of which date from the mid 12th century. They were raised in height during the 14th century with reused 12th-century masonry and capitals. Above, the walls are octagonal in plan. The arcade arches are of a single chamfered order and are sharply pointed. The clearstorey has two-light windows on the cardinal faces. The roof is of unusual design and is probably post-medieval. It is undecorated and consists of two main beams which cross at right angles and have straight braces to wall posts. Spanning between the beams are four members which form a square; four short ties run from the centre of these members to the other corners of the octagon. This horizonal frame-work supports a central mast, which is down-braced to the main beams. The purlins are supported by four queen posts. Rafters, every third of which goes to the apex, are laid on this structure. Each of the eight triangular planes of the roof are boarded and the whole is covered with lead.
The major part of the outer wall of the 12th-century aisle remains. Externally it is divided into bays by pilaster buttresses rising nearly to the head of the wall, seven of which survive wholly or in part. The wall is also divided into three horizontal stages by chamfered weather courses. The lowest stage is blank and has a plinth consisting of a number of chamfered steps. The second and third stages had a series of small windows, alternating between upper and lower stages. The windows had semi-circular heads and chamfered labels; one in the lowest stage and two in the upper remain open. The wall is capped by a parapet which was presumably added in the 14th century. Much of a 12th-century chamfered eaves course survives below the parapet.
There are a number of later insertions in the aisle wall. The N. doorway is of c. 1200 but has been heavily restored. It has a pointed arch of two plain orders resting on angle shafts with foliated capitals and moulded bases. The rear-arch is semi-circular. The S. doorway, perhaps of the 14th century but re-using earlier masonry, has a pointed arch with three continuous unchamfered orders. There is also a small lancet window in the N. wall with a skewed rear arch. Its W. jamb was probably rebuilt when three large windows were inserted in the 14th century. They now have 19th-century tracery. On the internal face of the wall the outline of the 12th-century vaulting web and the positions of ten of the wall shafts are visible. The bases of these shafts were raised a little above floor level, as demonstrated by a surviving fragment, just S. of the arch into the S. aisle. To the N. of the tower arch is a tall half-round recessed wall shaft with a scalloped capital, now carrying a sculpted panel. The shaft is too tall to have carried the vault and is incompatible with the spacing of the 12th-century wall shafts. It is, however, built of half-round masonry blocks of 12th-century date, possibly reused from wall shafts demolished, along with the aisle wall, in the 14th century, to make way for the tower.
Tower and Spire
The W. tower and spire were built in the 14th century. The tower has a vice at the junction with the aisle on the S., a W. doorway and large diagonal buttresses at the outer corners. The four belfry openings are of two lights each with a quatrefoil in the head. The octagonal spire which rises from behind a crenellated parapet has three tiers of lucarnes on the cardinal faces.
W. wall, (3) John Pettifer, d. 1833, aged 69; Mary (wife), d. 1818, aged 45; John Pettifer (nephew), d. 1837, aged 35. (4) General John Manners Kerr, d. 1843, aged 76, son of William Kerr. (5) Lady Jane Davy, d. 1855, aged 74, daughter of Charles Kerr, married (1799) Sir Shuckburgh Ashby Apreece Bart and (1812) Sir Humphrey Davy, President of the Royal Society.
South Aisle - N. wall, (11) Alderman George Tompson, d. 1786, aged 64; Susannah, d. 1794, aged 75. (12) William Tompson, d. 1798, aged 48, third son of George Tompson; Frances (wife), d. 1823, aged 73. (13) Ann, d. 1841, aged 75, wife of Joseph Walker; Sarah Tompson, d. 1826, aged 48, daughter of William and Frances Tompson; Judith Tompson, d. 1840, aged 57, daughter of William and Frances Tompson; Frances Tompson, d. 1843, aged 62, daughter of William and Frances Tompson; Whiting Sculpt.
In Rotunda on Aisle Wall - starting N. of W. tower, (17) William Gooding, d. 1797, aged 79; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1806, aged 93. (18) George Coles, settled his estates for charitable purposes in 1640, monument dated 1836. (19) William Steer, d. 1797, aged 75; Anne (wife), d. 1815, aged 92. (20) Rev. Thomas Watts (Rector of Quinton), d. 1775, aged 51; Beatrice (wife), d. 1788, aged 64; Rev. Thomas Watts (son), Vicar of Holy Sepulchre, d. 1820, aged 61. (21) Robert Morris, d. 1778, aged 79; Ann (wife), d. 1777, aged 73.
Piscinae. (1) reset in E. wall of N. chapel, with roll-and-hollow moulded head; 13th-century. (2) in outer N. aisle, attached to first pier (former E. respond) of S. arcade, pillar piscina with rectangular bowl with nail-head decoration on black marble shaft and moulded base; perhaps 13th-century in origin but heavily restored. (3) in S. wall of former S. chapel, with two-centred head and hollow-chamfered jambs; 14th-century.
Stonework. (1) flanking E. window of N. chapel of chancel, two carved brackets supported on head corbels; 14th-century. (2) in E. wall of S. chapel, head corbel; 14th-century. (3) in N. wall of outer N. aisle, fragment of coffin lid carved with a raised chevron pattern; 13th-century. (4) in N. wall of outer N. aisle, fragment of grave marker carved with foliate cross; 13th century. (5) in S. wall of outer N. aisle fragment of grave marker with cross; 13th or 14th-century. (6) in S. wall of outer N. aisle, a small moulded and carved bracket; 13th-century. (7) on wall-shaft in N. wall of circular aisle; tympanum(?) crudely carved with human figures and a dragon; 11th or early 12th century. (8) in E. wall of S. porch, scratch dial. (9) loose in outer N. aisle, cross carved with Crucifixus; 15th-century (?), found on demolition of a nearby house and placed in the church in 1962. (10) loose in church, five fragments of decorated coffin lids; 13th-century (?). (11) on offset of circular aisle wall at gallery level, a number of 12th and 13th-century architectural fragments, mostly of attached shafts, perhaps from the wall of the circular aisle; 12th-century(?).
d(23) Parish Church of St. Giles (SP 759606; Fig. 13, fiche Fig. 33; Plates 18, 19). The church was perhaps founded as a consequence of the post-Conquest expansion of Northampton to the E. of the Saxon burgh. The first mention of St. Giles' church is in a charter of St. Andrew's Priory (BL Add Chart 57166) datable to March 1122. Although the reference to St. Giles' is part of an alteration to the text it has been demonstrated that this alteration was part of the original draft and that St. Giles' formed part of a royal grant to the priory from ancient demesne in 1122 (Franklin 1982, 95).
The earliest fabric is of the 12th century but none of the surviving features can be dated more precisely. The 12th-century work consists of the lower parts of the central tower together with the stair turret at the N.E. corner which survives to its full height and must have given access to an upper chamber. The tower was originally pierced by four large semi-circular arches. Thus the Norman church consisted of, at least, chancel, central tower, N. and S. transepts and nave. Evidence of the 12th-century chancel is preserved on the E. face of the tower and stair. The S. wall of the present chancel is also 12th-century in origin as a small amount of Romanesque masonry and part of a Romanesque doorway survive just E. of the present S. chancel chapel. The original chancel was axial with the tower and must have been almost as long as the present compartment. The existing transepts probably occupy the same area as the early transepts, the end walls of which perhaps survive. They are thick and equidistant from the tower. The nave before its extension in 1853 was 49 ft. (15 m.) long and had a large 12th-century W. doorway of three orders, presumably the doorway, now much restored, in the present W. wall (shown in a drawing by Buckler of 1824, BL Add MS 36371). The plan suggests that the S. wall of the nave may occupy the line of the 12th-century wall and that the N. wall has been rebuilt a little to the N. This would give a 12th-century nave with an internal proportion of just over a double square.
In the 13th century the N. wall of the chancel was rebuilt some 1.30 m. to the N., in line with the N. face of the stair turret, and the whole compartment was raised in height to accommodate large lancet windows, three of which survive. Later in the century the tower arches were under-built presumably to stabilize the structure. Also of the late 13th century are the E. respond and the easternmost pier of the S. arcade. According to Serjeantson that it may have been the insertion of the arcade in the nave that disturbed the stability of the tower (Serjeantson 1911, 115–6). In the 14th century a chapel was added N. of the chancel and the E. wall of the chancel was reconstructed. The W. part of the medieval S. arcade also dates from this time. In the 15th century the S. chapel was built and somewhat later the N. chapel was extensively remodelled, perhaps in 1512 (Serjeantson 1911, 128). Much of the upper part of the tower fell in 1613, probably towards the N.W. since the stair turret at the N.E. angle and the medieval chancel and S. nave aisle survived undamaged. The resulting reconstruction in 1616 is recorded by plaques set in the N. wall of the nave. It consisted of rebuilding the top of the tower in its present form with a ringing chamber and belfry, rebuilding the N. wall of the nave and the clearstorey. No more major alterations to the fabric can be detected until the 19th century when the church was surveyed by G.G. Scott in 1844 (NRO St. Giles' 233P/215) and then restored and extended by E.F. Law in 1853 (NRO St. Giles' 233P/150). The work consisted of opening up the E. and W. tower arches, rebuilding the N. aisle and S. porch, lengthening the nave and aisles and adding an outer N. aisle and N. porch. Law also remodelled the arches between the aisles and the transepts, replaced all the roofs W. of the tower, and renewed the windows in the S. aisle and transept. In 1876 the chancel was reordered, the roofs of the chancel and chapels renewed and the tracery of the S. chapel window replaced, again under the supervision of E.F. Law (NRO St. Giles 233P/152).
The church comprises a Chancel with North and South Chapels, central Tower, with North and South Transepts, a Nave with two Aisles on the north and a single on the south, and North and South Porches. Walls are constructed of blockwork of differing character and some rubble. Architectural detail is generally of freestone. The clearstorey is rendered. All roofs are shallow-pitched. The stair which serves the tower is constructed with a spiral vault built in stone and plastered on the underside. The roof is also of stone.
The E. jamb and part of the arch of a 12th-century doorway survive in the S. wall of the chancel just E. of the E. wall of the S. chapel, demonstrating that this part of the S. wall is 12th-century in origin and that the length of the 12th-century chancel must have been approximately that of the present compartment. The small 12th-century doorway at the far E. end of the S. wall must be reset as it is surrounded by 14th-century masonry. The N. wall of the 12th-century chancel was demolished in the 13th century but its outline can be seen on the E. face of the stair turret. The eaves height is preserved as an off-set 4.5 m. above the present floor level of the chancel. The 12th-century chancel was axial with the tower but slightly wider, and had a roof-pitch of about 45 degrees, defined by the interval between the top of the wall and the level of a 12th-century string surviving in part on the E. face of the tower. The 13th-century N. wall was built lining up with the N. face of the stair turret. The chancel was lengthened a little. The S. wall was remodelled and raised in height to match the N. wall. Lancet windows and pilaster buttresses of this period survive on both the N. and S. sides. The E. wall was rebuilt in the 14th century, perhaps for structural reasons as both the N. and S. walls were considerably out of plumb by that time. The E. window has reticulated tracery. Below the window are two shallow buttresses which may survive from the 13th-century E. wall. The N. wall was pierced by an archway In the 14th century to give access to the N. chapel and the S. wall was similarly treated in the 15th century. The present floor and roof are of 1876.
The N. chapel was added in the 14th-century in the angle between chancel and N. transept. It was connected to each of these compartments by wide archways. The windows are much later and may perhaps be 'the new work in our lady chapel' recorded in 1512. This compartment has always been roofed parallel to the chancel although the present roof is 19th-century.
Central Tower and Stair Turret
Only the stair turret and the lower parts of the tower at the N.E. corner survive from the 12th century. A break in the bond between the turret and the N. wall of the tower may indicate that the turret was a slightly later addition. The tower was built with wide arches in each face but in the later 13th century these arches were blocked. The blocking on the N., E. and W. conformed to the thickness of the existing tower walls but that on the S. was constructed so that the wall was thickened to the S. The E. and W. arches were unblocked by E.F. Law but their detailing is allegedly derived from 12th-century evidence. Their form is probably correct, judged by the outline of the arch and E. jamb of the original arch on the N. face of the tower. The upper parts of the tower were rebuilt in 1616. Two small areas of 12th-century walling remain on each side of the turret. They can be identified by surviving horizontal strings and the character of the block work. The upper part of the tower now consists of a ringing chamber with a belfry above. The ringing chamber probably occupies the position of a 12th-century upper chamber, served by the stair turret which has risen higher than this level. The ringing chamber is lit by two-light windows on the N. and S., each light having a semi-circular head. This stage is separated from the belfry by two weathered strings. Each face of the belfry has two openings, each with two cinque-foiled lights divided by a central mullion and transoms. The crenellated parapet stands on a weathered string and has plain finials at the corners. This work dates from the 19th century but appears to follow the outline of the 17th-century work. The 12th-century stair turret survives to its full height. It was originally partly external and stood in the angle between chancel and N. transept. On the E. face of the turret are three small windows, one above the other, and three horizontal string courses. Access to the turret is through a round-headed doorway in the E. wall of the N. transept.
There are two-centred archways in both E. and W. walls, that on the E. is of the 14th century, and that on the W. is by E.F. Law. In the N. wall is a 14th-century window of three ogee trefoil-headed lights and tracery of elongated quatrefoils but the wall itself is thick and lies parallel with the N. wall of the tower and so is probably 12th-century in origin.
There are two-centred arches in both E. and W. walls, that on the E. is 15th-century and that on the W. isby E.F. Law. In the S. wall are a window and a doorway of 19th-century date but the window at least is a replacement of an earlier one. The wall itself lines through with the S. aisle wall on the exterior but is appreciably thicker so it may be of 12th-century origin, as the N. wall of the N. transept. Both transepts are the same length from N. to S. when the thickening of the S. wall of the tower is discounted.
Nothing remains of the 12th-century nave but it is possible that the present S. arcade occupies the line of its S. wall. The earliest identifiable parts of the fabric are the E. respond and the easternmost pier of the S. arcade, the moulded capitals of which appear to date from the late 13th century. The remainder of the pre-19th-century three-bay S. arcade was built in the late 14th century. The length of the nave was 49 ft. (15 m.); the old W. wall appears to have been just W. of the third pier from the E. of the present arcade. The N. arcade was destroyed in the early 17th century by the fall of the tower and rebuilt in 1616. It was probably at this time that it was moved half a wall thickness to the N. The two W. bays and the W. wall of the nave were added by E.F. Law in 1853, continuing the forms of the existing building. The clearstorey of the pre-19th-century nave is of 17th-century date, perhaps replacing an earlier one.
North Aisle and Outer North Aisle
The N. aisle and the outer N. aisle are both by E.F. Law but replace a N. aisle of the same length as the former nave and of the same width as the N. transept. The former N. aisle is shown in a drawing of 1824 by Buckler (BL Add. MS 36371).
In Chancel - N. wall, (1) John Saint Mawe, d. 1820, aged 25, son of John and Sarah Mawe (London). (2) Sarah, d. 1820, aged 30, wife of John Shaw Smith, d. 1828, aged 44; Whiting Sculp. (3) Anne Whiting, d. 1825, aged 52, third daughter of William Andrew of Harleston and Mary his wife, daughter of Wayte Carr of Church-Brampton. (4) John Schofield Holt, d. 1830, aged 33; Samuel (father), d. 1830, aged 68; Elizabeth (mother), d. 1846, aged 77; Whiting Sculpt. (5) Edward Watkin, d. 1786, aged 77; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1749, aged 38; (daughters) Elizabeth, d. 1825, aged 82; Catherine, d. 1813, aged 68; Martha, d. 1835, aged 88. (6) Edmund Bateman, d. 1731, aged 78; Mary (wife), d. 1722, aged 70; William (son), d. 1732, aged 47; H. Cox fecit. (7) Edmunda Isham, d. 1706, aged 66, daughter of Sir Justinian Isham, Bart. (8) James Keill, d. 1719, aged 47.
S. wall, (11) Emma Harriet Percival, d. 1842, aged 7 months; Samuel Percival, d. 1848, aged 54; Jane Goodchild (wife), d. 1870, aged 62; T. Gaffin of London. (12) George Palmer Gent, d. 1723, aged 60, son of Rev. John Palmer; tablet erected 1758; H. Cox fecit. (13) Miss Sarah Mansel, d. 1751, aged 25; H. Cox Sculpt. (14) Thomas Taylor, d. 1838, aged 91; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1831, aged 81; William (son), d. 1781, aged 5; Sarah (daughter), d. 1842, aged 65; Whiting Sculpt.
S. wall, (16) John Markham, d. 1803, aged 53; Hannah (wife), d. 1820, aged 61 and four sons and three daughters; Whiting Sculpt. (17) Charles Markham, d. 1846, aged 68; Elizabeth Mary (wife), d. 1858, aged 73, with 9 children, last d. 1907.
S. Chapel - N. wall, (18) John Russell, d. 1801, aged 65. (19) Ann Scriven, d. 1820, aged 80; Sarah Scriven (sister), d. 1820, aged 76; Elizabeth Scriven (sister), d. 1826, aged 88. (20) Ann Dodd, d. 1871, aged 90, daughter of William Sutton; Utley Sculpt.
E. wall, (21) Mr. James Sutton, d. 1801, aged 77; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1790, aged 67; William (son), d. 1838, aged 78; Martha (wife of William), d. 1792, aged 29; Charles James (son of William and Martha), d. 1811, aged 23; Whiting Sculpt. (22) Harriet, d. 1835, aged 38, wife of William Henry Sutton; Frederick Buller (son), d. 1840, aged 19; Rose Isabella (3rd daughter), d. 1848, aged 14; Cornelius Graham (4th son), d. 1854, aged 30; Whiting Sculpt. (23) William Goodday, d. 1797, aged 66; Margaret (wife).
S. wall, (24) Arthur Goodday, d. 1683, aged 21, son of Arthur and Elizabeth. (25) William Tyler Smyth, d. 1838, aged 70; Frances Smyth (wife), d. 1814, aged 39; Elizabeth Smyth (mother), d. 1809, aged 68; T. Marsh, New Road, London. (26) Matilda, d. 1782, aged 68, wife of Rev. William Jackson, Rector of Pisford, d. 1795, aged 80.
S. wall, (29) Ann Woolston, d. 1726, aged 48; John Woolston (husband), d. 1746, aged 60, Christian (daughter), d. 1717, aged 4; S. Cox Sculpt. (30) George Gambell, (mason), d. 1736, aged 58, husband of Elizabeth. (31) John Woolston, d. 1761, aged 49; John (son), d. 1766, aged 24. (32) William Woolston, d. 1778, aged 36. (33) Mary wife of Thomas Gambell, d. 1761, aged 43, and children.
S. Transept - N. wall (34) John Wye, d. 1807, aged 71; H. Rouw of London. (35) Mary, d. 1747, aged 61, wife of Henry Stanyan (butcher), d. 1749, aged 63; S. Cox fecit. (36) Elizabeth daughter of William Ward and wife of John Wye; John William Wye (son), d. 1805, aged 38. (37) John Gibson, d. 1837, aged 77. (38) Catherine Gibson, daughter of Elizabeth and William Gibson, d. 1810, aged 41. (39) Elizabeth Gibson, d. 1798, aged 61, wife of William Gibson, d. 1813, aged 82. (40) Joseph Harden (surgeon), d. 1812, aged 67; Mary (wife), d. 1834, aged 88. (41) Susanna Manlove Thackeray, d. 1846, aged 61, wife of Joseph Thackeray. (42) William Price, d. 1727, aged 79; Elizabeth (wife), d. 1721, aged 49; S. Cox fecit.
S. wall, (43) Samuel Pennington, d. 1745, aged 64; William (son), d. 1740, aged 25; John Pennington (son), d. 1749, aged 28; J. Hunt fecit. (44) Jane Wright, d. 1704, aged 74, daughter of Rev. Samuel Clarke of Kingsthorpe; first husband Rev. Lucas Ward of Weston Favell; second husband John Wright of Brixworth; Maria (sister), wife of Rev. Daniel Goldsmith, d. 1693, aged 73. (45) Sarah Plackett, d. 1797, aged 65. (46) William Gates, d. 1819, aged 75; Ann (wife), d. 1806, aged 59; George Barratt (son), d. 1789, aged 6.
Panels, on N. nave wall, stone inscription panels (1) '1616/ John Battison/ Hump. Hopkyns/ church wardens]/ when this built (sic)/ began'. (2) 'B[isho]p, Chanc[el]lor and/ clergie/ nobles knights/ and gent[lemen]/ countrie par-/ the (sic) ishes . . . gave/ All S[ain]ts North[amp]ton/ St. Sepulchers/ . . . Without breefes. (3) 'Rob[ert] Sibthorpes Care/ to God's True Feare/ this Downefalne/ church got/ Helpe to Reare/ 1616./ Will[iam] Dawes Mason'.
Reredos, in chancel, with five cusped niches, of which the cental one rises into a pinnacled gable and the others enclose oval panels inscribed with sacred monograms and Eucharistic symbols, designed by E.F. Law c. 1876.
Seating, (1) pair of mahogany arm chairs with pierced Gothic backs, mid 18th-century in style but probably reproduction. (2) large oak canopied chair, dated 1640 and 17th-century in style but 19th-century in all but a few fragments.
Tomb Chest, alabaster, in S. chancel chapel but removed from N. aisle, chest with six panels along each side and two panels at each end, each with a pinnacled canopy, and decorated alternately with standing angels carrying shields and bearded bedesmen; 15th-century.
c(24) Parish Church of St Peter (SP 750604; Figs. 9, 10; Plates 12–15). Excavation E. of St. Peter's Church has shown that the area was occupied, probably from the late 7th to the late 9th century, by a hall which was presumably the major element in a palace complex (Northampton (8)). It was built of timber and subsequently replaced in stone. Discovered at the same level were the stone foundations of the E. wall of a building, the rest of which lies under St. Peter's Church, 1.2 m. below the present ground level. This building, presumably constructed in the 8th century, is likely to have been a church. It is more or less in line with the hall, and may belong to the same complex. It is not known when the site was first used for religious purposes and whether or not this use was continuous although it is perhaps significant that the site is now occupied by a major 12th-century church. Two large carved stones of late Saxon date which had been reused in the 12th-century church were discovered during the restoration of 1850 and could have belonged to an important late Saxon church. This, coupled with the difference in level between the 8th and the 12th-century churches suggests that there was at least one major rebuilding of the structures on the site before the Conquest.
The present church was built in the mid 12th century. The proximity of the castle, the unusual form of the church and the quality of the fabric suggest an important lay patron, perhaps the Earl of Northampton or even the Crown. St. Peter's may have been a royal possession at that time since, in the late 13th century, the king was successful in regaining the advowson from St. Andrew's Priory. The church is lavishly decorated with carving of a high quality. The tower arch, the former W. doorway and the arcade arches carry rich architectural ornament and the arcade capitals are treated even more ambitiously with vigorous carving of animals, foliage and interlace which shows both native and Lombardic influences. It has been argued that this work is the product of a local group of masons based on St. Andrew's Priory (Maguire 1970) but the style and quality of this carving together with the basilican form of the church suggest influences from Northern Italy. The style of the carving can be compared with fragments from Reading Abbey founded by Henry I.
The main compartment of the church was a long rectangle structurally undivided and lying under a single roof. The form of the N. and S. walls does, however, indicate that it was arranged in three distinct areas. The W. part, originally longer, was defined by arcades of six arches divided into three bays by quadripartite columns, the inner faces of which consist of half-round shafts which rise to the head of the clearstorey wall. The central area has arcades of three bays with simple circular columns. The eastern part, rebuilt by G.G. Scott in 1850, was probably originally a short, aisleless compartment of the same size as the present one. The N. and S. aisles conformed to the same pattern, the western parts being differentiated by transverse arches. The arcaded clearstorey runs the whole length of the church. The W. tower was rebuilt in the 17th century one bay E. of its original site. Scott reported to the restoration committee in 1850 that it was said to be impossible to dig graves immediately W. of the present tower. It appears to follow the form of the 12th-century tower. The E. arch, although not in its original position, must have always been the tower arch as it could not have fitted in any other position in the church. In the W. wall of the tower, built flush with the face, are the voussouirs of a large, elaborately decorated 12th-century arch which, by the same argument, was probably that of the W. doorway of the original tower.
The form of the building is quite unlike that of any parish church of the period but not dissimilar from that of a conventual church. Thus the eastern part could have accommodated a choir and sanctuary flanked by chapels, and the western part may have served as a parochial nave and, together with the aisles and tower, have been used for processions. The church was probably served not by monks or canons but by a small group of priests following a corporate pattern of worship, who also had some parochial functions. This suggests the survival of something of the organisation of the Saxon minster, which, it has been suggested, previously occupied the site (Franklin 1982, chp. 2 passim; Williams 1982b, forthcoming).
The 12th-century church appears to have survived the Middle Ages without major alteration but it was reduced in size during the 17th century. The E. end was demolished and a new E. wall built across the chancel and aisles in line with the E. responds of the arcade. When this wall was demolished in 1850 a coin of Charles I was found within it. At the W. end, the tower was dismantled and rebuilt to the E., probably shortening the nave by one bay. The rebuilding of the tower is remarkable for the re-use of 12th-century decoration in conjunction with the 17th-century features of a high plinth and buttresses made up of clusters of circular shafts which rise in diminishing stages.
The church appears to have remained in this state until the restoration by G.G. Scott in 1850. Scott rebuilt the E. end of the church, following the original foundations. He also reconstructed much of the clearstorey and replaced the roof over both nave and chancel (Scott's restoration report was published as an Appendix to Sergeantson 1904, 259–64).
The church comprises an undivided Nave and Chancel with continuous North and South Aisles, a West Tower and a North Porch. The church is built of blocks of roughly coursed sandstone and Oolitic limestone, much of the interior detail being carved in light coloured limestone. The lower part of the tower is banded with courses of light coloured limestone and sandstone. The upper part is built entirely of light coloured limestone.
The E. ends of the chancel and of the N. and S. aisles were rebuilt by G.G. Scott in 1850. This included the E. responds of the N. and S. arcades of the chancel, the original capitals being reused. The walls were said by Scott to follow the footings of the mid 12th-century chancel but the detail appears to be entirely 19th-century, in spite of contemporary reports of the discovery of Romanesque carved work in the former E. wall at the time of demolition. The E. wall of 1850 has angle buttresses of three stages, the upper two of which are narrow and set back from the external angles of the chancel. Windows of mid 12th-century style are arranged in three tiers with horizontal string-courses at their sills. In the centre is a half-round shaft which rises to the sill of the third tier, which consists of a single central window flanked by two cusped roundels. The second tier has two pairs of windows, two on each side of the shaft. They take the form of pierced arcades both inside and out. Arches have roll-moldings and plain chamfered labels. Shafts are circular with scalloped capitals and bell-moulded bases. The bottom tier is much plainer and consists of a pair of windows, one on each side of the central pilaster. Labels are double-chamfered and rise from a horizontal string. There is a similar string at sill level. The N and S. walls added in 1850 are identical and have single light windows similar to those of the E. wall. The N. and S. walls of the chancel W. of the sanctuary are of c. 1140 except for the E. responds which have been rebuilt. Each consists of an arcade of three bays with semi-circular headed arches of a single rectangular order decorated with chevron ornament. Capitals are richly carved with foliage, animals and interlace. The E. responds are semi-circular in plan and the first and second piers are circular. The first piers also have shaft rings. The third piers, which mark the division between the nave and chancel, are composite and are of quatrefoil plan. There is also a change in floor level at this point, although the nave and chancel arcade bases, which stand on high plinths, are all at the same level. The clearstorey runs the full length of the church and will be described after the nave.
The nave is all of c. 1140 and has no E. wall, there being no structural division between nave and chancel. The arrangement of the N. and S. walls of the nave is different from that of the chancel. They both now have arcades of five arches divided into two and a half bays by composite piers and internal wall shafts rising to the full height of the building. The nave originally consisted of three of these bays and thus both walls had six arcade arches which formed a balanced composition with alternating composite and simple piers. The simple piers are circular in plan, similar to those of the chancel. The composite piers are quatrefoil in plan and have four capitals, three of which are at the same level and support the arcade arches and the transverse arch over the aisle. The fourth capital is carried on the semi-circular shaft facing the nave, which rises uninterrupted to the head of the clearstorey wall and perhaps marked divisions in the original roof. The capitals, like those in the chancel, are carved with foliage and interlace, in some cases enclosing beasts and birds. One capital on the S. side depicts a nude male figure being devoured by a beast's head. (The W. wall to the nave is described with the tower.)
The clearstorey is essentially of mid 12th-century date but was heavily restored in 1850. The part over the sanctuary was completed by Scott when he rebuilt the E. end. The clearstorey windows are of simple design with deeply splayed rear arches and sloping sills. Externally each window is expressed as a simple semi-circular arch which forms part of a blind arcade running the full length of the building. The blind arches of the arcade are slightly smaller and more elaborate, having circular shafts with capitals and bases. The windows are more or less equally spaced, being separated by five or six arches. Above is an eaves course with elaborately carved corbels, much renewed in 1850. The arrangement within the nave is symmetrical within the original length of three double bays. The E. wall of the tower now cuts the western clearstorey windows in half.
North and South Aisles
The narrow N. and S. aisles are essentially of the mid 12th century. They have doorways at their W. ends. The walls have been much repaired, buttresses and parapets added, all the windows replaced and the E. and W. ends rebuilt, the former by Scott in 1850 and the latter perhaps in the 17th century. All the windows in the S. aisle are of the same late-medieval type, rectangular and of three plain lights. Two of the windows in the N. aisle are of three lights and one of two. The easternmost (recently replaced) is of the 14th century, the other two are late-medieval or 17th-century. Just to the E. of the doorway at the W. end of the aisle is a narrow, blocked opening at window level. Only the jambs remain, but the blocking is the same width as the clearstorey windows and directly below one of them. This may indicate that the fenestration of the 12th-century aisles matched that of the clearstorey. In the nave both aisles were spanned by arches springing from the composite piers of the arcade but all have now been removed. The spacing of these arches precluded the use of vaulting. Before the N. aisle was extended in 1850 there was a crypt or vault which ran E. from the aisle (sketch and note by Sir Henry Dryden in NPL Dryden collection).
The W. tower was rebuilt in the 17th century some 3 m. E. of its original site. Most of the carved stonework visible in the tower is of the mid 12th-century, although other stones reused from a building of 13th-century date were found by M.H. Holding during the restoration of the tower in 1901. One such stone, the voussoir of a roll-and-hollow moulded arch, is preserved in the church. The plan of the present tower with a large stair turret distinct from the main structure may owe something to the form of the 12th-century tower. The tower arch of three richly decorated orders is of a size that indicates it must have served as such in the original building. It has been reassembled accurately except for some small details. The tower rises in three stages. It has a high moulded plinth, and at the external corners are diagonal buttresses of five stages composed of groups of three circular shafts diminishing in size to the top stage. The lower part of the tower is built of alternating courses of brown and white stone. The top is mostly of white limestone. The lower stages on the N. and S. are blank except for two bands of carved stone-work consisting of a running lozenge pattern design. On the W. is a three-light window of 1850 above a small blocked opening of unknown date, probably a doorway. Immediately above this window the voussoirs of a mid 12th-century arch of three orders are reset flush with the wall surface. This may have been part of a large western doorway in the 12th-century tower. In the second stage on the N. and S. are two tiers of reset 12th-century blind arcading, and on the W. is a single tier of arcading level with and similar to the upper tier of the N. and S. The belfry has four identical two-light openings with trefoil heads and transoms, of post-medieval date. The parapet is crenellated and stands above a moulded string course.
The chancel and nave are covered by a single roof with a pitch of about 45 degrees designed in 1850 by Scott. It is covered with stone slates. Over the nave the roof is of scissor-brace construction with a central purlin below the braces. It is divided into bays by principal trusses with crown posts on the beams which rest on the capitals of the wall shafts. Over the chancel the roof is also of scissor-brace construction but is undivided except for rafters of slightly greater size which mark the bays. The underside of the rafters and braces have a curved profile.
N. aisle - N. wall, (1) Harriet wife of Thomas Treslove, d. 1778, aged 29; perhaps by W. Cox. (2) Thomas Treslove, d. 1749, aged 65; Samuel (son), d. 1785, aged 75; Penelope (wife), d. 1785, aged 75; Thomas (son of Thomas Treslove), d. 1790, aged 77; W. Cox Fecit. (3) George Evans, d. 1757, aged 54; Dorothy Evans (wife), d. 1772, aged 80; Ame (sic) Stanton (sister of Mrs. Dorothy Evans), d. 1766, aged 76; H. Cox Fecit. (4) Timothy Goodfellow, d. 1746, aged 26; H. Cox Fecit. (5) Rev. John Basely of Sywell, d. 1708; Elizabeth (wife); John (son); monument erected 1708; John Hunt Fecit.
S. aisle - S. wall, (6) Rev. John Stoddart (headmaster of the grammar school), d. 1827, aged 63; Ruth his wife, d. 1828, aged 56; Maria, d. 1828, aged 20. (7) Rev. Edward Lockwood, (Rector of St. Peter's for 52 years), d. 1802, aged 82; Lucy (1st wife) d. 1764; R. Blore of London. (8) Alderman Nicholas Jeffcutt, d. 1739, aged 51; Mary Jeffcutt (sister), d. 1740, aged 43; Mr. Richard Jeffcutt (nephew), d. 1757, aged 31; S. Cox Fecit. (9) Alderman George Thompson, d. 1735, aged 49; Judith Tompson (wife, and daughter of Mr. Henry Jeffcutt), d. 1737, aged 49; Cox Fecit. (10) Mary wife of Rev. William Shortgrave, Rector of Harlestone, d. 1732, aged about 70; William (son), d. 1725, aged 27; J. Hunt Fecit. (11) George Bowes of London, d. 1732, aged 56. (12) Alderman Henry Jeffcutt, d. 1712, aged 63; Alice (wife), d. 1737, aged 77; Christian Farrin (daughter) wife of Stanford Farrin, d. 1767, aged 75; S. Cox Fecit. (13) Robert Neal Fleetwood, d. 1810, aged 15; Whiting Sculpt. (14) Alderman Richard Jeffcutt, d. 1750, aged 65; Martha (wife), d. 1779, aged 88; H. Cox Sculpt. (15) Esther wife of Samuel Trueslove, d. 1768, aged 22. (16) George Baker (the historian of Northamptonshire), d. 1851, aged 70; Anne Elizabeth Baker (sister), d. 1861, aged 75.
W. wall, (17) William Smith LL.D. (Father of English geology), d. 1839, aged 70; M. Noble Sculp. (18) John Smith (the Mezzo-tint engraver), d. 1742, aged 90; Sarah (wife), d. 1717 and two children; J. Hunt Fecit
Stonework. (1) Fragment of carved trefoil capital; 12th-century. (2) Voussoir with chevron ornament; 12th-century. (3) Voussoir with roll-and-hollow mouldings; 13th-century (removed from tower in 1901). (4) Two 12th-century respond bases removed from chancel in 1850; both reused, as the lower surface is decorated with Saxon interlace. (5) Coffin lid, richly carved with interlace, animals, birds and a human head; c. 1140; (Zarnecki et al 1984, 180).
d(25) Site of Church of St. Bartholomew (c. SP 75406145), lies on the E. side of Barrack Road on Northampton Sands at around 82 m. above OD. The church is first recorded in the late 12th century when it was confirmed to St. Andrew's Priory (Mon Angl V, 191). It is mentioned in the early 15th century (Cox and Serjeantson 1897, 139) but does not appear in the Feudal Aids of 1428. A chapel of St. Bartholomew is mentioned in a will of 1490 (Serjeantson 1911, 237). By the time of the Dissolution, St. Batholomew's seems to have been re-dedicated to St. Lawrence and to have become a chapel whose main function was as the collection point of the tithes of the demesne land of St. Andrew's Priory within the town (PRO E315/339). The subsequent history of the chapel is unknown. The cemetery was disturbed in the 19th century when many cist burials were found (Wetton 1849, 44; NDC M200).
d(26) Site of Church of St. Edmund lies in Abington Square in the angle between the Kettering and Wellingborough Roads (c. SP 76106084?). The church is first mentioned by name in the late 12th century (Mon Angl V, 191). In the early 15th century the church was annexed to the rectory of St. Michael and then had the same incumbent (Bridges 1791 1, 449) although separate incumbents are recorded in 1535 (Valor Ecclesiasticus, 316). The church seems to have fallen out of use in the mid 16th century and the parish to have been subsequently regarded as part of St. Giles' parish (PRO E134 40/41 Eliz; NDC M199).
d(27) Site of Church of St. Gregory (SP 75106035), lies to the N. of Gregory Street on Northampton Sands at 65 m. above OD. The church is first mentioned by name in the late 12th century when it was confirmed to St. Andrew's Priory (Mon Angl V, 191) although a Saxon foundation is probable. During excavations in 1979 several orientated graves were found immediately to the S. of Gregory Street, some 15 m. from the church and one appeared to be sealed by late Saxon deposits. Three radio-carbon dates, AD 590 ± 100 (AD 615 ± 100), AD 690 ± 70 (AD 720 ± 75) and AD 810 ± 70 (AD 840 ± 75) (HAR 4390, 4810, 4809), suggest that there was a middle Saxon cemetery, perhaps with its own church or chapel, contemporary with the palace complex to the W. (see Northampton (8)). The last recorded institution as rector was in 1532. In 1556 the parish was annexed to All Saints' parish and the site and church of St. Gregory, then in ruins, was granted for a grammar school and the vicarage house as a dwelling for the master. In 1840, when the school buildings were pulled down, a Norman arcade and other parts of the church were revealed (Serjeantson 1901, 88f). Early 19th-century illustrations of the school show it as a simple rectangular block approximately 23 m. by 7 m. with two rooms to the S. about 9 m. by 7.5 m. and about 5 m. by 5 m. (Lees 1947). The S.W. corner of the church still stands to a height of c. 2.5 m. and the S. edge of a window in the W. wall is visible (NDC M36).
c(28) Site of Church of St. Mary (?) (SP 74996061), lies at the junction of Chalk Lane and Castle Street on Northampton Sands at 71 m. above OD. This is presumably the site of St. Mary's referred to as 'juxta castrum' but commonly thought to lie in St. Mary's Street. St. Mary's is first recorded at the end of the 12th century (Mon Angl V, 191) but was probably founded by 1100. The parish was incorporated into that of All Saints in 1590.
The site was trenched in 1962. Above late Saxon occupation, interpreted as domestic in character, a stone building, orientated E.-W. and measuring probably 17 m. by 11 m. was constructed in the early post-Conquest period. The nave, about 8 m. long by 4 m. wide (internally), widened out into a chancel approximately 7.5 m. long by 7 m. wide, which had an apsidal end. Two apparently rectangular rooms of uncertain function were attached to the S. of the nave but the area to the N. of the nave was not examined. The church was destroyed sometime in the 16th or 17th century (Serjeantson 1901, 92f; pers. comm. J. Alexander; NDC M40).
d(29) Site of Church of St. Michael (c. SP 75606075?), lies towards the N. end of Wood Street. The church is first mentioned in the late 12th century when it was confirmed to St. Andrew's Priory (Mon Angl V, 191). St. Michael's was a parish church throughout the Middle Ages and is mentioned in the early 16th century (Serjeantson and Longden 1913, 164f). The parish was subsequently incorporated into that of Holy Sepulchre (Bridges 1791 1, 540). The church was situated somewhere at the N. end of Wood Street. Le Newelond (Wood Street) is described as leading from Abingdonestrete to the church of St. Michael (Rchms 1975, nos. 6, 7). The cemetery encountered in 1972 to the W. of Wood Street may have been the cemetery of St. Michael's (Williams 1978, 104) but no remains of a church were found. A chapel-like building situated on Speed's map outside the gate of the Whitefriars could conceivably be St. Michael's but there is no positive evidence for such an identification.
d(30) Site of Chapel of St. Katherine (centred on SP 75246052), lies on the N. side of St. Katherine's Street on Northampton Sands at 71 m. to 74 m. above OD. St. Katherine's chapel in the 'new cemetery' is first recorded in 1471 (Serjeantson and Longden 1913, 161) but the new cemetery itself is mentioned in 1274 (Rot Hund 2, 2) and 'vico novi cimiterii' in 1205–20 (BL Royal II B IX f. 150a). In 1641 it was ordered that the stones of St. Katherine's decayed chapel be taken down and used to repair breaches of the town walls (Brown 1915–16, 98) and by Bridges' time the chapel was demolished and the cemetery was a cherry orchard (Bridges 1791 I, 451; NDC M34).
d(31) Site of Chapel of St. Martin probably lies somewhere in Horsemarket, formerly St. Martin's Street (centre point at SP 75156055). In 1348 it was recorded as having been the original house of the Cluniac monks in Northampton before the founding of St. Andrew's Priory (Cal Pat R 1348–50, 247). It was regarded as having been waste for over 20 years in 1274 (Rot Hund 2, 2a) yet John Chaumberleyn was presented to St. Martin's in 1372 (Cal Pat R 1370–4, 217; NDC M39).
d(32) Site of Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene (SP 75146039), lies on the S. side of Marefair on Northampton Sands at about 67 m. above OD. The chapel, then a hospital, was mentioned at the time of the foundation of St. John's hospital c. 1138 (Serjeantson 1912–13) and had been granted to the hospital by 1154, probably earlier (Cal Pat R 1401–5, 368). It was dissolved by 1568 (NRO Finch Hatton deed 1118) and its subsequent history and location can be traced in later rentals (Report of Charity Commissioners vol 31 (1837), 797, 808; cf. also NRO SC 590). The chapel was adjacent to the site of Northampton's first Guildhall (?) (see Northampton (10)) and the medieval burials on that site probably relate to the chapel.
d(33) Site of College of All Saints (c. SP 75306052?), on the W. side of College Street on Northampton Sands at around 74 m. above OD. The college was established as a house in which the various guild chaplains of All Saints' might live together under a definite rule. It was granted a foundation charter in 1460 although 'divine service has for a long time been daily maintained . . . after the manner of a college' and 'the vicar and priests . . . have spent and are spending their lives . . . like fellow members of a college . . . not only in the church . . . but also in a certain messuage . . . commonly called the priests' house' (Serjeantson 1901, 68). The lane in which the college was situated was referred to as 'le College lane' in 1458 (Cat Anc Deeds 4, A8384). The college was closed in 1548 (Serjeantson 1901, 67f; VCH Northamptonshire II, 180f; NDC M46).
d(36) Site of Jewish Synagogue lies in the former Silver Street (centre point at SP 75276067; PRO SC12 26 no. 12). This is probably the same synagogue as recorded in the 'Parmentry' (NRO Northampton 1504 Rental) which is most likely an earlier name for Silver Street.
Medieval pottery was found at SP 75616061 in 1972 (NDC M112). Part of a 13th to 14th-century jug and a complete 14th-century jug were found at the corner of Dychurch Lane in 1955 (SP 75576053; NM; NDC M60). A 15th-century pottery candlestick was found on the site of the Library in 1908 (c. SP 75786062; NM; NDC M49). Part of a 13th to 14th-century jug (NM; NDC M416), a medieval lozenge-shaped pendant (post-1340) and an annular bronze brooch (NM; NDC M23) have been found in 'Abington Street' (centre point at SP 75726062). Trial excavation in 1981 immediately to the N. of St. Giles' churchyard (SP 75936064), followed by a watching brief to the N. revealed evidence of extensive medieval quarrying as suggested in documentary sources. Three orientated burials approximately 6 m. N. of the present boundary of St. Giles' cemetery, and cut through quarry waste, suggest that the cemetery expanded northwards over the quarry in the medieval period and subsequently contracted (Williams 1982c, 72f; NDC M289).
d(37) Medieval Settlement Remains lay on Lias Clay to the N. of Abington Street between Wellington Street and the Mounts at between 85 m. and 88 m. above OD. Trial trenches were cut in 1980 over a distance of approximately 130 m. between SP 75746074 and SP 75866079 to test for early post-Conquest defences suggested in the area (see Site (7)). No traces of defences were recorded and there was little indication of medieval settlement over the E. three-quarters of the area investigated. Presumably this was open land or cultivated ground in medieval times. To the W., however, at SP 75756074 post-holes and other cut features were associated with medieval pottery of 12th-century date onwards (NDC M291).
Three skulls and several complete skeletons were found in 1963 while digging foundations for the Nissen Ward, Northampton General Hospital (SP 76216048). The burials were identified at the time as medieval or earlier and not in their original resting place. Some doubt as to their antiquity is cast by the discovery at the same time of a set of false teeth (Northampton Chronicle and Echo 5 July 1963; NDC M69).
A medieval N. French flask (c. 1500) was found on the corner of Bridge Street and George Row in 1922 (SP 75416041; NM; NDC M372). A 14th to 15th-century costrel or pilgrim's bottle was found on the corner of Bridge Street and Gold Street in 1897 (SP 75396041; NM; NDC M366). Four metalled road surfaces and medieval sherds were found at the same location during observation of a GPO trench in 1975 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 12 (1977), 201; NDC M228). Some 12th to 16th-century pottery was found at 22 Bridge Street in 1976 (SP 75396034; NM; NDC M406). A 14th to 16th-century costre was found on the site of the Woolpack Inn in 1857 (SP 75396033; NM; NDC M385). Some 12th to 14th-century pottery was found on the site of the Angel Hotel (SP 75426032; NM; NDC M409). Two 13th to 14th-century jugs were found on the site of the EMEB building in 1910 (c. SP 75436030; NM; NDC M330). During construction work on the E. side of Bridge Street (SP 75426022) in 1979 three metalled surfaces were seen to overlie a slot cut into the natural which lay at about 2 m. below the present surface. Two 12th to 13th-century sherds were found in the slot and a single sherd of Stamford ware was also recovered (NDC M287). Some 13th to 15th-century pottery was found in 1866 on the site of Phipps' Brewery (centre point at SP 75405980; NM; NDC M51). A medieval circular bronze pendant and a bronze buckle were found in Bridge Street, not necessarily together (centre point at SP 75416000; NM; NDC M52).
One early to middle Saxon sherd, two late Saxon sherds and a quantity of 12th to 16th-century pottery were found during the construction of flats to the S. of Castle Street in 1955 (c. SP 75056059; NM; NDC M401).
c(38) Saxon Settlement Remains (SP 74926050), on Northampton Sands at around 70 m. above OD. Excavations were carried out between 1975 and 1978 beneath the site of the inner bailey bank of the later castle (Northampton (9)). Early to middle Saxon occupation was represented by two sunken-featured buildings and a large scatter of pottery. In the late Saxon period the initial occupation probably comprised two sunken-featured buildings. Subsequently, perhaps in the late 9th or early 10th century, during the Danish occupation of Northampton, a timber building about 10 m. by 3 m. was constructed; this was defined by six post-pits and had an internal square cellar at one end with a substantial sunken-featured building outside at the other end. The area may have been essentially open but some rather enigmatic post-holes (?) to the W. perhaps belonged to one or more structures set at right angles to these buildings. By probably late in the 10th century the settlement lay-out seems to have been organised but not densely built-up, with separate areas for main buildings, yard, rubbish disposal by means of pits, and cultivation. This would have been basically continuing the pattern of the preceding phase, providing that the enigmatic post-holes noted above do not relate to structures. Among the finds were three St. Edmund memorial pennies and one of Aethelred II, an Urnes-style copper alloy terminal in the form of an animal head, numerous fragments of crucibles used in silver working and some probably for copper alloy working, and a few fragments of high quality Saxon glass (for a full report of the site see Williams and Shaw 1981; NDC M139). For later occupation on the site see Northampton (9).
Some 15th to 16th-century pottery was found in a GPO trench in 1975 (SP 75686041; NM; NDC M410). Medieval pottery was recovered from a contractor's trench in 1975 (SP 75806035; NDC M134). Medieval and later pottery was found in Derngate in 1949 (SP 75616043; OS Records; NDC M445). Trial trenching to the S. of Derngate showed a build-up of loose soil at least 3.5 m. deep. The build-up is undated (SP 75836029; NDC M185).
GPO trenches (between SP 75806034 and SP 75946026) were observed in 1975. At SP 75896030 was a wall aligned approximately N.E.-S.W., of a minimum width of 1.60 m. and cutting natural to a depth of at least 2.5 m. below present ground level. A clay floor to the S.E. of the wall rested immediately above natural at a depth of approximately 1.6 m. There were no finds. At the junction of Derngate and Spring Gardens (SP 75926029) metalling was revealed at depths of 1.1 m. and 1.4 m. below present ground level. Natural was present at 1.9 m. Late medieval pottery and painted glass were found. Tile fragments, animal bone and pottery of 14th to 16th-century date were found in a large pit (?) at SP 75926028. Some 12th to 15th-century pottery was found at SP 75806034 and 14th to 16th-century pottery at SP 75916029 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 198f; 12 (1977), 200; NM; NDC M142–4, 219–23).
d(39) Medieval Settlement Remains lay to the S. of Derngate (SP 75696039) and in Swan Street (SP 75656038) on Northampton Sands at 73 m. above OD. Limited excavations in 1980 indicated occupation in the area from around the time of the Norman Conquest. A watching brief of the area further from the street frontages (centred on SP 75676035) during subsequent constructional works revealed extensive medieval quarrying (Shaw forthcoming b; NDC M351).
Metalled road surfaces were recorded and late Saxon and medieval sherds and leather off-cuts and fragments, including shoe soles and knife sheaths, were recovered during observation of GPO trenches in 1975 (SP 75396056–75406042; Northamptonshire Archaeol 12 (1977), 201; NM; NDC M230–4). A 14th to 15th-century jug and a glazed ridge tile were found at 19 The Drapery in 1892/3 (SP 75396050; NM; NDC M59). Some 13th to 16th-century pottery has been found on the same site (NM). Part of a 13th to 14th-century jug was found in Swan Yard in 1884 (SP 75366053; NM; NDC M417). Two 12th to 14th-century cresset lamps were found on the 'W. side of the Drapery' (centre point at SP 75406052; NM; NDC M411) and a 16th-century pipkin was found in 'the Drapery' (centre point at SP 75406052; NM; NDC M369).
d(40) Medieval Settlement Remains (SP 75386048), lay on Northampton Sands at 74 m. above OD. A medieval groined cellar of 'decorated architecture' was noted by Wetton (1849, 70f). The site was developed in 1860 (Northampton Mercury, Supplement 23 June 1860, 30 June 1860) when the cellar was described: 'The arches forming the cellar sprang almost from the ground; the impost in each of the four corners having been formed of one large single block of stone; a colossal grotesque mask nearly filling up the angle . . . The lips are of great thickness and the tongue is thrust out of the mouth with a leering expression' (NDC M58).
A Saxon or Danish bone comb was found in Fish Street in 1896 (centre point at SP 75676054; NM; NDC A59). Three 12th to 14th-century cresset lamps were found in 1898 (NM; NDC M261, 371) and part of a 14th to 16th-century costrel in 1900 (NM; NDC M412).
Observation in 1975 of GPO trenches in George Row to the S. of All Saints' Church (between SP 75406042 and 75556045) revealed a build-up of layers up to 3 m. deep and medieval pottery was recovered. Large blocks of ironstone, possibly foundations of the pre-1675 church were noted at SP 75436042 and a short length of wall, 2 m. S. of All Saints', was recorded at SP 75446042. [...] were at least ten inhumations, three in stone cists at between 0.75 m. and 1.75 m. deep at SP 75436042 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 12 (1977), 200–1; NDC M147, 151, 224–7). A late Saxon rim and 12th to 14th-century sherds were found (NM).
d(41) Medieval Settlement Remains (SP 75476042) lay on Northampton Sands at 74 m. above OD. A medieval stone vaulted undercroft, probably of 14th-century date survives to the present day (Giggins 1980). The undercroft was surveyed by Sir Henry Dryden (NPL Dryden collection).
Observation of contractors' trenches at SP 75176041, SP 75196041, SP 75306042 and SP 75376042 showed a build-up of medieval to post-medieval road surfaces and silts of up to 1.7 m. Bedrock was observed, on only one occasion, at a depth of 2.5 m. Some 11th to 16th-century pottery was recovered (Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 198; 12 (1977), 201; NM; NDC M150, 152, 153, 229). Pottery of 12th to 13th-century date was found during construction work at 60 Gold Street in 1954 (SP 75796045; NM; NDC M63, 64, 423). At 34 Gold Street six wells were recorded during development in 1970 and pottery of 12th to 16th-century date, a jetton and other material were recovered (SP 75266045; BNFAS 5 (1971), 31; 7 (1972), 45; McCarthy 1977; NM; NDC MI). A 13th to 14th-century baluster jug was found at SP 75306041 (NM; NDC M374). A 12th to 14th-century cooking pot and cresset lamp base were found on the site of the Dolphin Hotel in 1889 (SP 75336039; NM; NDC M66, 373). A three-bayed medieval cellar was recorded in the angle of College Street and Gold Street to the W. of College Street (SP 75336043; Wetton 1849, 37; NPL, Dryden collection; NDC M56). A 13th to 15th-century pitcher was found during construction work in 1958 (SP 75376043; NDC M65). A 13th to 15th-century jug was found on the same site in 1902 (NM; NDC M368).
d(42) Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains lay to the S. of Gregory street (centred on SP 75116033) on Northampton Sands at 66 m. above OD. Excavations were undertaken in 1978/9. Four orientated graves lay at the N. end of the site and radio-carbon dates suggest that they belong to a middle Saxon cemetery perhaps containing its own chapel or church (see Northampton (27)). One of the graves was sealed by late Saxon metalling contemporary with which were two rectangular post-hole structures which measured 3 m. by at least 10 m. and 4.5 m. by at least 10 m. The latter building had been re-built several times and burnt floor levels survived. Slag and hammer-scale showed that metal-working had been practised. A series of stone buildings, succeeding a post-Conquest timber structure, fronted on to Gregory Street from perhaps the late 14th century through to the present day (NDC M282).
Medieval pottery of 12th-century date onwards, a well, walls and possible quarry pits were observed during the construction of an underpass in 1971 to the E. of Horsemarket (SP 75216067; NDC M95, 98). Medieval pottery, mainly of 12th to 14th-century date, was found in 1971 (SP 75246059; BNFAS 7 (1972), 44; Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 134f; NDC M92). Late Saxon pottery associated with occupation levels was found in a contractor's trench in 1971 at SP 75156057 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 9 (1974), 46; NDC M101).
d(43) Site of Late Saxon Pottery Kiln (SP 75156054) lay on Northampton Sands at 72 m. above OD. A shallow bowl-shaped feature approximately 1.25 m. across and filled with burnt material, charcoal, etc. was cut by a contractor's trench in 1971. A large quantity of uniformly sandy pottery, mainly cooking pots, fired variously grey, buff and red, was recovered. The site is almost certainly that of a kiln and the pottery, similar to Stamford ware, has been termed 'Northampton Ware'. The kiln was probably operational in the 10th century (Williams 1974a, 46f; NDC M99).
Anglian Water Authority and other trenches were observed, mainly in 1975, between SP 75146018 and SP 75176035. Road surfaces were recorded to a depth of 2.6 m. Pits and walls were noted and medieval pottery recovered. The medieval street was confined to the E. portion of the modern street (Northamptonshire Archaeol II (1976), 198; 12 (1977), 200; NM; NDC M128–31, 154–5, 162–4, 172, 216–8, 332).
d(44) Late Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains lay at SP 75146033 on the W. side of Horseshoe Street on Lias Clay at 64 m. above OD. Excavations carried out in 1973 revealed a series of pits and gullies, some containing late Saxon pottery, under a deep deposit of 'garden soil'. Two sherds of early or middle Saxon pottery were also found (Northamptonshire Archaeol 10 (1975), 169; NDC M118).
An Anglian Water Authority trench at the bottom of Kingswell Street (SP 75376017–SP 75396019) was examined in 1975. At SP 75376017 there was a build-up of road surfaces, the lowest of which was composed of heavy limestone slabs at a depth of 2.7 m. and overlay a mixed grey silt. Natural was not observed even at a depth of 3 m. Finds from the trench included one probably late Saxon sherd, medieval pottery and leather (Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 199; 12 (1977), 199; NDC M149).
Medieval stone walling and floors overlying pits were observed in contractors' trenches on the S. side of Marefair in 1975 (SP 75146040; Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 198; NDC M135, 140). Observation in 1972 of a contractor's trench immediately to the N.W. of the Horsemarket-Marefair road junction revealed the remains of probably three human skeletons, possibly medieval (SP 75166042; NDC M183). Late Saxon and 12th to 15th-century pottery was found in Marefair between 1897 and 1899 (centre point at SP 75036041; NM; NDC M264, 375–9, 414).
c(45) Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains (centred on SP 74986043), lay to the N. of Marefair on Northampton Sands at about 68 m. above OD. Excavations in 1977 ahead of development revealed one or two early or middle Saxon post-in-slot timber buildings set parallel to Marefair. A small amount of copper and iron-working debris was found in association with them. Several periods of late Saxon occupation were revealed and evidence of copper, iron and silver-working was noted but no buildings were identified. Parts of medieval and post-medieval stone buildings fronting Marefair were excavated and a 15th-century drying oven was uncovered in the area behind the building (Williams, F., 1979; NDC M178).
c(46) Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains (SP 74926039) lay to the W. of St. Peter's Church on Northampton Sands at 65 m. above OD. On the Marefair frontage a V-shaped gully, as yet undated, was traced for a distance of 5 m., running roughly parallel to Marefair. The gully was overlaid by a series of late Saxon pits. Towards the S. of the site a possible post-in-trench building of early or middle Saxon date was succeeded by late Saxon timber post-hole buildings. Medieval stone buildings fronted on to both Marefair and St. Peter's Street; the buildings on the latter frontage were clearly rebuilt several times before being burnt down in the early 16th century (cf. Northampton (51); Shaw forthcoming a; NDC M443).
d(47) Medieval Settlement Remains lay on the E. side of the Marehold (SP 75216075) on Northampton Sands at 74 m. above OD. Excavations in 1971 demonstrated occupation from at least the 12th century onwards. The site was badly disturbed but there were apparently stone buildings within the period of the 13th-16th centuries (Bnfas 7 (1972), 55; Mynard 1976; NDC M93).
Two medieval jugs (13th to 16th-century and 16th-century) were found at No. 2 The Parade (SP 75396063; NM; NDC M380). A fragment of a 13th to 14th-century jug was found on the site of the 'New Arcade' in 1900 (c. SP 75466064; NM; NDC M259). Late medieval and post-medieval pottery was found on the N.E. side of the Market Square in 1952 (c. SP 75476065; NM; NDC M71). Some 12th to 14th-century pottery was found on the E. side of Market Square in 1960 (SP 75506057; NM; NDC M323).
A discontinuous series of road surfaces of medieval date onwards overlying pits of a) 12th-century b) late 13th to 14th-century date was observed in a contractor's trench in 1972 (SP 75496067; NDC M114).
d(48) Site of Pottery Kiln (c. SP 75456075?), lay to the W. of Newlands. Whellan (1849, 117) states 'at the west end of Newlands is a field . . . called the Potters Field . . . The kiln attached probably in this field . . . similar in construction to those discovered by Mr. E.T. Artis'. Fragments of yellow and red pottery, some with a green glaze, were discovered. The green glaze suggests a medieval ware (McCarthy and Williams 1978; NDC M4).
d(49) Medieval Settlement Remains (SP 75706054), on Northampton Sands and clay at 78 m. above OD. Excavations in 1981–2 revealed a number of pits contained medieval pottery dating from the early post-Conquest period onwards. These were succeeded in late medieval times by a substantial stone foundation, well and metalled area which continued in use into the post-medieval period. The site lay in the area of Gobion Manor which was still standing at the time of John Speed and was probably the large building marked in this area on his map of Northampton of 1610 (Fig. 8). The Gobion family was important in Northampton from at least the 12th century and owned considerable property in the town and town fields. Gobion Manor is known from the 13th century; it was bought by the Corporation in 1620 and was destroyed by the great fire of 1675. On Noble and Butlin's map of 1746 (Plate 9) the area is referred to as the 'Riding Ground' (Williams and Farwell, C., forthcoming; NDC M403).
Some 12th to 15th century pottery was found on the site of the 'New Post Office' in 1914 (SP 75686046; NM; NDC M419). A lead bulla of Pope Alexander III was found in St. Giles' churchyard (c. SP 75956055; NM; NDC M80). A 13th to 14th-century skillet handle was found in 'St. Giles' Street' in 1897 (centre point at SP 75756051; NM; NDC M415). A 13th to 14th-century sherd was found at SP 75916053 in 1975 (NM; NDC M438).
d(50) Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains (SP 75276027), lay in St. James' Square on Lias Clay at around 61 m. above OD. Excavations in 1981 uncovered late Saxon deposits about 1 m. deep comprising a series of timber-lined pits, metalled surfaces and occupation debris including a large quantity of animal bones. The site lay on the valley bottom at the foot of a fairly steep slope and the waterlogged nature of the ground which had preserved the pits' timber lining suggests that the area between the site and the river may well have been damp in Saxon times. Above the late Saxon levels was about a metre of medieval and later deposits (Williams and Farwell, D., forthcoming; NDC M407).
Two medieval vessels, one of which was a 13th to 15th-century storage jar, were found in St. Katherine's Street in 1931 (centre point at SP 75266049; J Northamptonshire Nat Hist Soc Fid Club 26 (1931), 39; NM; NDC M81, 203, 382).
d(51) Saxon and Medieval Settlement Remains (centred on SP 75036035), at St. Peter's Street on Northampton Sands at between 64 m. and 68 m. above OD. The early Saxon remains and middle Saxon development of the site as a royal and ecclesiastical seat of authority is discussed under Northampton (8).
The late Saxon period saw a dramatic intensification of activity on the site and the initial phases may belong to the period of the Danish occupation of Northampton. A number of rectangular post-built structures and four sunken-featured buildings were constructed but the organisational pattern of the site was irregular. There was also increasing industrial activity including metal- and bone-working, and finds, particularly of pottery, were more prolific. Three St. Edmund memorial pennies and three other late Saxon coins were found.
After the Norman Conquest St. Peter's Street as such was laid out with rectangular timber buildings set close to the street on either side of it. These were gradually replaced by stone buildings from the middle of the 13th century and c. 1400 the whole of the street was rebuilt. The houses measured 8 m.-12 m. by 6 m. and were set parallel to the street with two rooms on the ground floor. At least four round ovens and three large rectangular drying ovens were excavated. Numerous fragments of pottery, animal bones, metal objects, etc. were found associated with the buildings and in pits at their rear. The whole street was apparently destroyed by fire in the early 16th century (cf. Northampton (46)). Between the late 16th and 17th centuries at least two and possibly four tanneries occupied part of the area between St. Peter's Street and the Green (full publication of 1973–6 excavations on site M115 and complete bibliography in Williams 1979; see also Williams and Shaw forthcoming for later work on site M115 and Shaw forthcoming c for site M446; NDC M115, 395, 446).
Metalled road levels up to 1.5 m. below the existing street surface were noted in contractors' trenches at SP 75356078 in 1973. Some 12th to 16th-century pottery was recovered at a depth of just over 1 m. (Northamptonshire Archaeol 9 (1974), 107; NM; NDC M181). A 16th-century pilgrim bottle was found probably at c. SP 75386068 (NM; NDC M418).
Some 14th to 15th-century pottery was found in a contractor's trench in 1971 (SP 75296065; NDC M97). One early to middle Saxon sherd, medieval pottery and leatherwork including many shoes, a dagger case and a wallet were found in a contractor's trench in 1971 at SP 75286068. Part of a 13th to 14th-century jug was found at SP 75256068 (Bnfas 7 (1972), 45f; NM; NDC M96, 195, 336, 338).
A 10th to 12th-century cooking pot and an early 16th-century money box were found at 14–18 Wood Street in 1900 (SP 75636065; NM; NDC M387). Part of a 12th to 14th-century cresset was found in Wood Street in 1900 (centre point at SP 75626067; NM; NDC M77). A base silver penny of Philip and Mary (1554–8) was found in 1976 (NM; NDC M325).
Coin Hoard. In 1873 a small earthenware jar, containing 197 pence of Edward I and two Scotch pence of Alexander III was discovered by workmen while repairing a canal at Northampton. The hoard is dated c. 1280–90? (Thompson 1956, 110; Numis Chron (3rd ser) 2 (1882), 108f; NDC M242, 393).
bd(52) Cultivation Remains. The town fields of Northampton extended to the N. and W. of the medieval walled area and apparently comprised a three-field system. A deed of 1357 (NRO NBR Private charter 37) mentions a North Field, a South Field and an East Field as well as Portmede and a deed of 1373 (NRO NBR Private charter 42) records that the North Field contained Whetehul, Nether Whetehul and Bartholomew furlong, East Field contained Monkespark furlong and Brerewong and Mede furlong belonged to South Field. In 1538 Cundit or Conndit furlong was mentioned (PRO E 315 399, pp. 254–69). In 1632 the fields were known as North Field, Middle Field and South Field and the meadow and common included Northampton Heath, Monks Park, Pye Leaze and Rushmill meadows (NRO Marcus Pierce map; Plate 7). In 1553 Cowe Meadow, the Horse Meadow next to it and Rawlines Holme are recorded, in 1582 Cow Meadow, St. George's Leys, Balmes Holme and Foot Meadow and in 1632 Gobion's Holme and Nunmill Holme (Cox 1898, 215–9).
A substantial part of the town fields comprised the demesne of St. Andrew's Priory (see Map 7; Plate 7; cf. also Williams 1982b). The Marcus Pierce map is 'a true Plot and description of all the Ancient Demesne Lands belonginge to the Priorye of St. Andrewe' and tallies well with 'The book of Demaynes of the late suppresside house of St. Andrewes - in the town of Northampton' dated 1538 (PRO E315 399 pp. 254–69) although there are places where direct correlation is difficult. Taking the Marcus Pierce figures and disregarding enclosed land which is almost entirely the site of the monastery itself the demesne lands comprise 267 acres (108.1 ha.) of arable and 77 acres (31.2 ha.) of meadow. Simon de Senlis I, Earl of Northampton, had granted to the priory c. 1100 three carucates of land, three portions of meadow and one river meadow (Mon Angl V, 191; BL Cott Vesp E XVII fol 1b). Although there may have been some small additional acquisitions or exchanges, and allowing for the vagueness of 'carucate' as a unit of measurement, the comparable size of the two blocks of land and the silence of the cartulary regarding further land grants suggests that the demesne land mapped in the early 17th century was essentially that granted to the priory by Simon over 400 years earlier. This seems to indicate a fragmented rather than a consolidated or centralised holding yet it would appear that the holding of Earl Simon in the Northampton fields included at least another two hides (Cal Chart R 1300–26, 477).
The demesne lands of St. Andrew's Priory were outside the medieval parochial system and even after the reallocation of land during the enclosure of the town fields in 1799 (NRO Enclosure Awards, vol. E) there continued to be 'extra-parochial' land and this is clearly marked on Wood and Law's map of 1847. This extra-parochial land, not being subject to the Poor Rate, was the first to be exploited for development purposes during the expansion of the town in the 19th century and the Enclosure field boundaries determined the street pattern of the expansion (pers. comm. V. Hatley). The beginning of this process can be seen on Wood and Law's map.
As almost the whole area is now built over, no ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists except for very faint traces in the centre of the Old Race Course Recreation Ground visible on air photographs (V55–RAF-1122, 0186–94, 0219–25, 0245–53).