Most of this vibrant county town was destroyed by fire in
1675 but it was quickly rebuilt and laid out
around one of the largest market squares in
England. Afterwards, the writer Daniel Defoe
described it as ‘the handsomest and best built
town in all this part of England’.
It dates back to Saxon times and lies on a curve of the River Nene. The town’s beautiful Guildhall is considered a gem of Victorian Gothic architecture, but it is only one of many fascinating old buildings.
|Once the main centre for the manufacture of both boots and shoes, Northampton’s Central Museum boasts one of the largest collections of footwear in the world. Its exhibits include Queen Victoria’s wedding slippers, Margot Fonteyn’s ballet shoes and an enormous boot worn by an elephant that took part in 1959 in a recreation of Hannibal’s remarkable crossing of the Alps. During the English Civil War, the town’s shoemakers made 1,500 pairs of shoes for Cromwell’s army, a fact that later led a vengeful Charles 11 to destroy its castle and town walls.|
A small terraced house at No. 78 Derngate is the
creation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the
celebrated Scottish architect. His last major
commission, it was his only work in England.
Nearby is Sulgrave Manor, ancestral home of George
Washington, while Canons Ashby was built by the
family of the poet John Dryden in 1551.|
Five churches survived the fire of 1675 and one,
the 12th century round Church of the Holy
Sepulchre, imitates one found in Jerusalem.
Hassling House - built around 1620 - and 16th
century Welsh House also survived the flames.
On the outskirts of the town is an Eleanor Cross, which was built by Edward 1 in memory of his wife whose body rested in Northampton on its way from Nottingham to London for burial. The cross is one of only three that have survived from a total of 12 along the route.
Nine miles from the town is the 800-acre Pittsford Water, a reservoir famous for fishing, boating and sailing.
The town stages a number of annual festivals, most notably a month-long celebration of music and the arts each June, the world famous Annual Balloon Festival in August, and the St Crispin Street Fair in October.