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Resources for exploring Northamptonshire’s past
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Every town and village has its legends. There's haunted houses, scenes of gruesome crimes and sites of saucy scandals. If you know such a story, tell us - we could share it in our Blog. Often (but sometimes not) there is a foundation for these tales in real events but it can be hard to know how how deep the facts are buried under the layers of fantasy.

There is fun in fiction and nothing wrong with tall tales but it is a different matter when supposition or, worse, deliberate deception, is presented as reliable fact.

Wellingborough Castle - not! Wellingborough Castle - not!

For example, there is an area of Wellingborough known as "The Castle" which includes the Castle Theatre, Castle Lane, Castle Road, Castle Street, Castle Fields and so on. There are people alive today who believe that a stone-built fortress stood near to where Wellingborough Fire station is now; they were told so by their teachers who had seen this drawing of it. We can be quite sure, though, that this is not Wellingborough Castle.

Mackworth Castle

The sketch is very obviously copied by some Victorian romanticist from an earlier drawing of the gatehouse to Mackworth Castle in Derbyshire! It's a blatant case of someone manufacturing false support for a rumour or assumption.

At the moment, there is no clear explanation for the designation. It might be from a farmer's family name. However, this being solid, defensible ground above the river's floodplain, like so many other "castles" around the country, it may have been the site of an ancient settlement, fortified with a wooden palisade. If so, the name ties modern Wellingborough directly to prehistory.

Mackworth Castle

The sketch is very obviously copied by some Victorian romanticist from an earlier drawing of the gatehouse to Mackworth Castle in Derbyshire! It's a blatant case of someone manufacturing false support for a rumour or assumption.

At the moment, there is no clear explanation for the designation. It might be from a farmer's family name. However, this being solid, defensible ground above the river's floodplain, like so many other "castles" around the country, it may have been the site of an ancient settlement, fortified with a wooden palisade. If so, the name ties modern Wellingborough directly to prehistory.

So where can we find reliable information about Northamptonshire's past?

Don't dismiss Google and Wikipedia and so on out of hand. As a starting point for research they are invaluable. But anything you find from open and publicly edited sources should be treated as a "lead" to be checked and verified carefully.

Enjoy Northamptonshire's Heritage is part of the Northamptonshire County Council website. It offers the opportunity to "Learn about Northamptonshire's rich and varied history."

Archives, heritage and history is an introduction the Northamptonshire County Council's Records Office.

A History of the County of Northampton at British History Online is a wonderful and scholarly, but accessible resource. Originally part of the Victoria County History (1930), it has a section for each parish and pages on such topics as Trades, Churches and more.

Try searching Google for History of Northamptonshire. We can't endorse any of the groups or privately run pages you will find there but it's worth checking them out. Of special note is the list of Local History Societies

1810 Map of Northamptonshire 1810 Map of Northamptonshire

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