Little Known Facts and Folklore

* In April 2012, a hamster got stuck to its metal cage after swallowing a Spider-Man magnet. Smurf's owner Kate Meech, from Bugbrooke in Northampton, told how she returned from a day out to find it suspended above the ground attached to the outside of the cage.

cliftonville chimney
* How many visitors or locals have wondered what the history behind this structure is? This ornate chimney, opposite Cliftonville Road, has baffled many. Built in 1862, this chimney is the sole surviving relic of a 12 horsepower steam engine pumping house for the town's former sewage works.

* Northamptonshire has borders with Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Lincolnshire (England's shortest county boundary at 19 metres).

* "Kings well" is the spring in Kingsthorpe that has reputedly "never frozen nor failed". It is the outlet for rain water soaking into the limestone in the Moulton Park area of town. It is tapped by a deep well inside Thornton Hall before surfacing at Kings well. The proud boast of the villagers was that it once had greater purity than the towns piped water supply.

* Legend has it that there are two long, upright stones in a field, each marked with an arrow, called Robin Hood and Little John. These stones are set on "a green ridge called St Edmunds Balk in Castor Field" and mark two arrow flights, shot over the river Nene, by the named hero outlaws from Alwalton churchyard.

* 1612 Arthur Bill from Raunds, Northamptonshire was the first man in England to be convicted of witchcraft.

* West Haddon church used to have a steeple but after falling into decay, was removed in 1648.

* The St Crispin hospital lunatic asylum at Duston, was used as a location in an episode of Dr Who, staring Tom Baker, in the 1970s!

* 14th June 1645 was the day King Charles lost the Battle of Naseby. Crude graves were dug for the dead and local legend says that every year on the day of that month, those that took part in that battle return at midnight and fight it all over again.

* The paths of Whittlebury forest still resound to the sound of hounds and their goblin masters on the spectre hunt. The legend of the beautiful lady who spurned her lovers affections to the point that he took his life, and the revenge he sought by chasing her to death with his hounds for eternity, lives on. Listen out for the loud "whoop" as he incites his hounds.

* Church Brampton, in the earliest records, used to be called Brampton Magna.

* John Bayles, a Northampton button maker, was reported to be 130 years old when he died on the 4th April 1706. He lived in three centuries and several reigns.

* The poet William Wordsworth often stayed at the vicarage in Guilsborough.

* St. Peter's Church in Oundle has the tallest spire in the county, standing at 210 feet high

* On the north-west side of town is a spring called Scarlet Well famed for the ancient tradition of Londoners sending their cloth here to be dyed a scarlet colour

* Proverbially called "Naseby Children", the inhabitants of Naseby are said to live to a very old age. Due to Naseby's high position above sea level, it's not subjected to the fog or damp conditions that is so prejudicial to health in the valleys.

* A time capsule of a half guinea, two shillings, a sixpence, a silver penny and a copper halfpenny from the reign of George Ⅲ along with a crown piece of Charles Ⅱ minted in 1816 are buried in the centre of a stone in south bridge. It's covered with a lead plaque inscribed April 5th 1816 to commemorate the rebuilding of the new bridge. It is topped off by a two ton stone. February 16th 1818, the bridge was officially opened to the public.

* A Northamptonshire officer was the first police officer in the world to capture a criminal after a car chase, Sgt Hector Macleod in 1899.

* MP Margaret Bondfield, who was elected as Labour MP for Northampton in 1923, was only the sixth ever woman MP in the history of parliament and the first ever woman in history to gain a place in the British cabinet when Ramsay McDonald appointed her new minister of labour.

* Britain's first black army officer during the First World War was a man named Walter Tull, a Northampton Town FC player.

* Northampton lost almost 500 inhabitants to the plague over a five month period in 1637.

* In the vestry of a Wellingborough church is preserved a lock of hair about a yard in length which was dug up from the church yard over 300 years ago. Known as the Wellingborough Lock of Hair, it is thought to belong to an ancient British queen from an era when it was seen as a considerable honour to have long hair. The first Romans, upon subduing a country, made the people cut off their hair as a token of their submission.

* Superstition surrounds the Triangular Lodge at Rushton. It has long been a tale that an underground passage links the lodge to Rushton Hall.

* Merry Tom Lane at Chapel Brampton is so called because John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer broke the neck of his favourite horse, Merry Tom, whilst out fox hunting. The Red Earl paid for a monument to be erected at the Brixworth end of the Lane, engraved 'Here Lies the body of Merry Tom'. A local wag scratched on it: "ridden to death by careless John" (from Wikipedia). There is no memorial or any other mention of this so far in the history of the Earl or Brixworths heritage. I have to believe it is folklore until evidence comes to light. The Red Earl also has the dubious distinction of reputedly having introduced barbed wire to England.

* In the centre of Creaton village are the foundations of the house where Amphylis Twigden, great-great grandmother of George Washington, first President of the United States was born and lived.

* The Grade I listed Prebendal Manor at Nassington near Peterborough is the oldest inhabited house in the county

* From 1932 the BBC Empire Service (now the BBC World Service) was broadcast from Borough Hill, Daventry. The radio announcement of "Daventry calling" made Daventry well-known across the world. The station closed in 1992. 77 Years ago on Tuesday 26 February 1935, the first practical demonstration of radar was realised using the transmitter on top this hill.

* Harlestone House, demolished in 1940 is thought to be the inspiration for Jane Austen's, 'Mansfield Park'. It is known she resided at the house for a period because letters have been discovered written from there

* Little Brington church has a spire but no nave.

* The former Chancellor of the Exchequer of Margaret Thatcher, Nigel Lawson has a home close to the village of Newnham near Daventry.

* An ornate plasterwork in Northamptons Sessions House, of a devil’s mask, on the ceiling above the Judge’s seat in the criminal court reputedly wags whenever a lie is told.

* Where the Mounts swimming pool now stands used to be the exercising yard for prisoners of the old Northampton gaol

* Arbury Hill, nr Badby at 225 m (738 ft), is the highest point in Northamptonshire. Lying at 200 metres (656 ft) above sea level, Cold Ashby is the highest village in Northamptonshire.

* An Italian maiden, betrayed by Lord Cullen, is said to roam the vaulted hall of Rushden Hall. Dressed in bridal white with her hands clasped together, seeking in vain her souls release.

* The largest Roman camp in Britain is reputed to be at Borough hill, Daventry. Hedgerows and pathways are supposedly overgrown with daneweed which sprung from the blood of Danes slain in battle. On a certain day of the year, if you cut it, it bleeds.

* The Geddington Feast, a bygone festival from the 13th century, had a sport that involved tying a live squirrel to the top of the Eleanor Cross and to pelt it to death with stones as part of their partying and fun. Over the years, this merriment is reputed to have contributed greatly to the damage of the cross.

* The last woman to be hanged at Northampton took place in 1851 when Elizabeth Pinkard was executed for the murder of her mother-in-law. The last execution in Northampton was of John Eayrs in 1914.

* Kingsthorpe, the Royal Manor, had a strange custom of brewing ale for the profit of the Church. Begging had to be allowed but it was regulated.

* Semilong got its name from the tract of land it sits on. It is a corruption of "South mylne wonge", the meadow of the South Mill.

* Elinor Shaw and Mary Phillips, both from Oundle were the last two individuals in England to be executed as witches. They were hanged at the Sessions House in Northampton.

* Milk Thistle, the emblem of Mary, Queen of Scots is reputed to flourish profusely around the residencies of where she was held captive, from Dunbarton to Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire.

* The Queens Crown Jeweller, Major Harry Sebastian Garrard lived in Welton, Northamptonshire. He was charged with the upkeep of the British Crown Jewels, from 1843 to 2007. His home, Welton Place sadly went into a period of rapid decline culminating in being demolished in 1972.

* Stanford-on-Avon's church contains the oldest organ pipes surviving in Britain. They date from the 1630s before Cromwell's time.

* King Charles the 1st and his queen camped next to the purifying spring called Red Well for a whole season in 1628 in order to drink the health giving water from the source.

* The oldest part of Abthorpe village hall was built in 1642 during the English Civil War.

* The village of Broughton, near Kettering has an ancient ritual, which still exists, called "Tin Can Band". It is held annually on the second Sunday in December at midnight. A group of people walk around the village making as much noise as possible by banging on tin-cans, pots, pans and metal dustbins to scare away evil spirits just before Christmas.

* During the years 1672-73, a local man became Mayor of New York City. Matthias Nicoll lived in Islip, Northamptonshire and practiced law there until 1664 when he moved to the States.

* The A361 runs from Kilsby in Northamptonshire to Ilfracombe in Devon making it the longest '3-digit' road in Britain.

* Northamptonshire's smallest church, the Abbey Church of St. Mary is a mile from Corby in Pipewell village. It was originally an old school house before becoming a church.

* For a time during the second world war, Clark Gable was stationed at Polebrook where he flew five combat missions in B-17 Flying Fortresses earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.

* Margaret Thatchers dad, Alfred Roberts, was born in Ringstead, Northamptonshire.

* Stanwick, near Raunds, holds a yearly fundraising event for St Laurence's church in which Teddy bears wearing parachutes are dropped from the top of the church. More than 160 assorted teddies and other favourite soft toys brave the drop.

* Blisworth Tunnel, at 3,076 yards long, is one of the country's longest navigable canal tunnels. Two men were killed and two seriously injured through fumes from a steam powered barge in 1861 whilst navigating this tunnel. 14 men died while constructing the tunnel when it collapsed. Boaters often report of ghostly flickering candles at the point of collapse.

* The Wig and Pen pub in St Giles street, Northampton is haunted by an old landlord from the 1800s called George, who lives in the bar. Apparently he wants to stay because he still thinks it's his pub!

* White Elephant, Northampton was originally built as a hotel to accommodate visitors to the adjacent Northampton Racecourse, the building became a "white elephant" (useless object) when horse racing was stopped at Northampton Racecourse in 1904.

* The men of Grendon go by the name moonrakers. Folklore has it that drunken revellers leaving the pub in olden days tried to fish the reflection of the moon from the brook by means of rakes under the impression it was a cheese!

* Workers at St Mary's church in Woodford uncovered an embalmed heart buried in the wall. It is thought it belonged to a knight, Roger de Kirketon who died in 1280. It can be seen today behind a glass panel near the top of a pillar in the south aisle.

* According to Northamptonshire folklore, a cure for baldness was to rub pigeon droppings into the scalp!

* Here's one to keep you looking! According to folklore, somewhere in Northants is a statue dating around the 1700's of a witch caught in the act of practicing her craft by a warlock. To stop her in her nasty deeds, he cast a spell and turned her into stone for evermore.

* The estate wall surrounding Overstone Hall, according to village folklore, is said to be seven feet high, be seven miles long and took seven men seven years to build.

* Yardley Hastings is the village in which Marianne Faithfull's character Maggie lives in the 2007 film Irina Palm.

* One of the traditional lucky charms of Northamptonshire is a "Lucky bone." It is a T shaped cross taken from the skull of a sheep.

* An old proverb used in the county : "A whistling woman and a crowing hen, is neither fit for God nor men," bodes evil and death of a member of the family follows.

* There is a belief in folklore that whether you chop or hack a snake, it can never die till sunset.

* Only one case on record of this fearful punishment of being "pressed to death" carried out in Northampton. It was reserved for those who, being charged with felony, refused to plead. The prisoner would be laid naked on his back on the bare floor as great a weight of iron as he could bear, and more was placed on his torso. On the first day, three morsels of the worst bread; and on the second day, three draughts of standing water were given, alternating daily till he died.

* Do you pronounce the name of the River Nene as Nen or Neen? It depends which area of the county your'e from. Upstream of Thrapston we pronounce it as Nen; downstream towards Peterborough it's pronounced Neen. Either way, it is the River Nene so who is right? And to confuse you more; during the 18th century, it was called Nine!

rothwell church
* Rothwell Holy Trinity church is the longest parish church in the county at 173 feet long. In the year 1700, a gravedigger fell through the roof of a long forgotten crypt into the skulls and femurs of 1500 people.

* In 1854 Kingsthorpe was home to a coal mine shaft. The New Great Central Coal Mining Company had started exploration for coal seams at the top of Boughton Green Road.

* George Catherall, who had assumed, in imitation of the old highwaymen, the name of " Captain Slash," was hanged in 1826 for his infamous violence and determined robbery of travellers late at night at Boughton Green Fair. He was also a prize-fighter, being known as " the Lancashire youth."

* The punishment for treason was to be hung, drawn and quartered. Hung by the neck until almost dead. "Drawn" by having the genitalia cut off and slicing open the stomach to remove the entrails for burning before the condemned's eyes. The body would then be "quartered" into four parts and finally beheaded. Guy Fawkes, after sentence for treason, cheated his executioners. Weakened by torture, he was hanged until almost dead but managed to jump from the gallows with the rope still around his neck so his neck broke and he died before suffering the rest of his punishment.

* Henry VIII's village of Grafton would have been known as Grafton Wydevyle, but because of him it changed to Grafton Regis.

* Most residents will remember the Easter floods of 1998 but the worst flooding recorded with similar consequences saw the waters rise as far as St johns hospital. It washed away many houses and also the two supporting arches of Southbridge. It was called the May Flood and happened on 6th May, 1663. On a cottage in Kislingbury is set a stone about four feet six inches from the ground level. It records the flood of this year with an inscription: May Flood so high, 1663. The earliest found record happened in 1587 where it reached St Johns hospital. Men, women and children had to be brought up from the south quarter on horseback. It washed away many houses.

* In 1673 Richard Blome made a map of the county, upside down so Brackley is in the top left hand corner and Peterborough is in the bottom right.
Later, John Cary and William Lewis made maps of Northamptonshire in a mirror image. So that Peterborough is in the top left hand corner and Brackley is in the bottom right.

* Northamptonshire has nine rivers rising within the county: the Avon, Cherwell, Ise, Leam, Nene, Ouse, Tove, Welland and Willow Brook. It's the only county in Britain which can claim that not a single stream runs into Northamptonshire from outside.

* The village of Maidwell used to have two churches. One dedicated to St Peter and one to the Blessed Virgin. Near the church is a spring called Maidwell from which the village was named.

* According to folkelaw, Cromwells troops stripped the lead off the church roof at Moulton to make bullets for the battle of Naseby.

* The building at the upper end of Gold st, facing Bridge st and recognisable by its pillars and other embellishments, was built from materials brought from Holdenby house

* Pocket Parks were the brainchild of Northamptonshire man Alan Teulon MBE. We now have over 80 and counties nationwide have adopted the scheme.

G016 Npton Fire Station 1
The Mounts Fire Station has the longest fireman’s pole in the UK at 70 feet.

* John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich from Barnwell near Oundle, created the sandwich.

* In the 17th century, horse racing took place on Harlestone heath, for a gilt silver cup donated by the then Lord Spencer of Althorpe. This was discontinued by 1740.

* It was the year 1910 before the first aeroplane passed over Northamptonshire. Its pilot was Grahame White who was attempting to win a prize of 10,000 for the first flight from London to Manchester, a distance of 183 miles.

* The first passenger flights by air from Northampton were made flying a Bleriot in Delapre Park on March 28th, 1914

* 1557, the first recorded execution of burning to death in Northampton. The victim was a Syresham shoemaker, John Kurde, who, refused to attend Holy Communion at the parish church. He was sent to Northampton Castle, tried in All Saints' Church, and was there sentenced to death and burned in the presence of thousands of people at the "Stone Pits," Kingsthorpe.

* Towcester is the oldest town in Northamptonshire. Its origins can be traced back to the middle stone age making it as old as any community in Britain.

* 1998, Kathleen Yeoman, a 46-year-old divorced mother of two, staged a fake burglary to win back Paul Cockerhill, her neighbour in Brixworth. She ransacked her house, tipping out drawers and throwing jewellery on her bed, taped her mouth, put a plastic bag over her head and tied her hands together. Leaving her front door open, she lay across the front doorstep of her former lover. As she waited for his return, she vomited. Unable to remove the tape from her mouth as her hands were shackled with self-tightening plastic ties, she choked to death. Police at first treated the death as suspicious, but they reviewed the case when they found that nothing had been taken and she still had 918 in her handbag

* On 9 August 1911, Raunds in Northamptonshire had the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK since records began in 1875. Peaking at 98F (36.7C), it was a record which stood until 1990.

* Thorpelands, once an ancient enclosure of Moulton parish, became famous for the assassination of Sir William Tresham in 1451. He was speared by Symon Norwich while returning home to Sywell.

* Walter Watkins was crossing the west bridge on March 18th 1789 when his horse, spooked by lightning, leaped over the wall with him into the river. It was about half an hour before they were rescued uninjured.