Towns

Historic house and gardens

From the historic market town of Northampton to the vibrant city lights of Peterborough, travel the Nene Valley and visit our beautiful bustling towns full of independent shops, places to eat and culture.

Oundle

Oundle, has been occupied continuously since the Iron Age. In Roman times there was an extensive settlement at Ashton, near the old railway station.

The first written reference to Oundle occurs in Saxon times: the Venerable Bede writing in the eight century states that Saint Wilfrid died ‘in his monastery in the region of Oundle’. This suggests that Oundle was already a place of some importance.

The town comprises many listed buildings, churches, restaurants, pubs, cafés and shops including two supermarkets. 

Oundle  Oundle Heritage Trail  Riverside Walk  Markets

Thrapston

Thrapston has a late Bronze / early Iron Age ringworks, possibly a mini hill-fort, dating from around 700 – 800 BC which was partially excavated in the 1990s.

In 1205 Baldwin de Vere, the Lord of the Manor, requested the permission of King John to hold a market in the town every Tuesday. King John awarded the market charter in return for two palfreys (small riding horses) and they are now represented on Thrapston’s civic badge and flag. The Charter is still celebrated in June every year, when the annual ‘Charter Fair’ is held on the High Street which is closed to traffic for most of the day.

The earliest remains in the church date from mid-13th century although the earliest record is of monks from the Abbey at Bourne in Lincolnshire coming to serve the church around 1133AD. 

Markets  Thrapston Heritage 

Raunds

In the mid-1980s, during sand excavations in the Nene Valley, the remains of a Roman villa were discovered. Excavation of the area, near Stanwick, was delayed by several years while archaeologists studied the remains. 

Raunds played a role in the boot and shoe industry until its decline in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1905 a dispute arose about wages to be paid to army bootmakers, which culminated in a march to London in May that year.

Nearby Stanwick Lakes is a 750 acre countryside attraction and nature reserve located in the heart of the Nene Valley. There are extensive and imaginative play areas, open spaces and paths that families, walkers, cyclists and nature lovers can explore at leisure. 

Raunds  Market Stanwick Lakes 

Higham Ferrers

Higham Ferrers contains many historic buildings around the Market Square and College Street.

The first Charter of 1251 was due to the Lord of the Manor, William de Ferrers, who created the Borough in order to promote a prosperous community at the gates of his castle, where people had begun to settle in numbers and to trade in the ancient market.

Henry Chichele (c. 1364 – 12 April 1443) was born in Higham Ferrers. He was Archbishop of Canterbury and founded All Souls College, Oxford.

Heritage Trail  Farmers Market  Nene Wetlands

Irthlingborough

Irthlingborough is an ancient settlement. Evidence of pre-historic and Roman occupation has been found, together with an Iron-Age hill-fort on Crow Hill, the second largest discovered in Northamptonshire. The Roman road from Lowick to Irchester passed through the parish.

The Battle of waterloo was filmed in 1913 at Irthlingborough and was one of the biggest films of its day. It was made by an American named Charles Weston and he chose the location because the real Duke of Wellington, on visiting the area commented that the countryside resembled the battlefield at Waterloo.

Rushden

Set in the heart of the Nene Valley, Rushden town centre offers a wealth of independent businesses as well as well-known high street brands within an attractive late Victorian/ Edwardian setting, an enduring reminder of Rushden’s rise to prominence as a ‘boot and shoe’ town.

Rushden Lakes offers an exciting new dimension to the town with 30 acres of high quality shopping, restaurants (and soon a 12-screen cinema) and opens up 214 acres of lakes for leisure activity in an area of outstanding natural beauty within the Nene Valley for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Northampton

Originating about 1100 as a walled town with a castle on the River Nene, Northampton was granted its first charter in 1189.

Historically Northampton was known for its shoe and leather industry. The town is now an important retail and market centre. 

Love Northampton Heritage Trail  Market

Wellingborough

The medieval town of Wellingborough housed a modest monastic grange – now the Jacobean Croyland Abbey – which was an offshoot of the monastery of Crowland (or Croyland) Abbey, near Peterborough, some 30 miles (48 km) down-river. 

Heritage Trail