Pages vii-viii

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 6, Architectural Monuments in North Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1984.

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To complement the archaeological survey of Northamptonshire, presented in its first five volumes on the county, the Commission began comparable work of comprehensive architectural investigation on the assumption that it would likewise record and publish it on a parochial basis for the whole of Northamptonshire. This volume on the historic architecture in the northern part of the county is the outcome. The twenty-four parishes studied were selected as forming a unified geographical group, partly within the Forest of Rockingham, as well as being representative of some aspects of the architecture beyond their bounds. This Inventory illustrates the quantity, variety and often richness of the architecture surviving in the area studied, but no single monument is so large or complicated as to cause imbalance in the presentation of the material as a whole. Although a certain degree of selection has been exercised it is believed that no significant building has been omitted. It is hoped too that the historical aspects are adequately covered.

For the foreseeable future, this volume will be the only one providing for the historic architecture of Northamptonshire what was attempted for the archaeological sites in the county. There are many demands on the Commission as a national body and several constraints on its relatively slender resources. The size of Northamptonshire and the quantity of material therein, advances in the technology of communication and the ever-increasing costs of book-production are all factors at a practical level contributing to what will appear as a change in the way in which the Commission publishes its work. Underlying this, however, is a conceptual change in the way the Commissioners now perceive their task. The accumulation of records is not of itself an adequate way of executing their Warrant in the later twentieth century. Personal investigation by the Commissioners and their staff of the historic environment of course remains both the primary task and the principal method of study. The creation of an adequately researched and assessed inventory of England's archaeological and architectural heritage is now accepted, however, as a complex and infinite task. It is not necessarily best carried out by routine, parish by parish, coverage nor are counties always the most appropriate units for publication.

One of the purposes of this survey is, therefore, to provide material and ideas from which broad-ranging discussion, better-informed assessments and specific studies may develop. Accepting the need for selection and its desirability, Commissioners already have well in hand the next two projects dealing with historic architecture in Northamptonshire. They are based on themes and not geographical coverage by parish, emphasize analysis rather than description, and are as much concerned with the preparation of a useable archive as with the production of a book. The subjects are the churches of Northamptonshire and a group of the larger country houses; the former important buildings have hitherto lacked a satisfactory analysis, and the latter have become increasingly vulnerable to drastic alteration, or even destruction, before their origins and growth have been adequately studied at first hand.

Meanwhile, the preparation of this Inventory has created a considerable archive which will be deposited in that part of the Commission known as the National Monuments Record. This is a public archive, open daily at the Commission's headquarters, but as a matter of convenience, those wishing to consult the records relating to Northamptonshire are advised to contact the Secretary in advance. Copies of photographs published here, and many similar ones in the archive, can also be purchased on application to the Secretary.

I would like to add a special word of gratitude to the owners of property, and others in different fields, for their goodwill in allowing and encouraging these historical enquiries to be made. Such co-operation has produced this Inventory and it is greatly to be hoped that similar invaluable help will continue to be extended to the Commissioners and their staff in the pursuit of their future work in the county and elsewhere in England.

Fortress House, Savile Row, London W1



February 1983