After the charming little town of Buckingham, our next stop was just across the border into Northamptonshire, in the town of Towcester…
Status: South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, Town, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Towcester Town Hall, Church of St Lawrence, Market Square, Towcester Post Office, Chantry House etc
Towcester is only small, however the town centre has a lovely historic feel to it. The town was originally founded by the Romans as “Lactodurum”, and it is notable as the oldest town in the whole of Northamptonshire. Until the 1960’s, sections of the towns once extant defensive Wall were still visible, until demolition for more modern buildings.
This was a strategic location, as the main Roman Road called “Watling Street”, which I encountered in London recently, ran from Dover, through London and Towcester up towards Shropshire via the Midlands. Much of the route has now been merged into the A5.
In the centre of the town is the old Market Square, now used as a large car park for direct access to local shops, although local markets are still held regularly around the town. The stand out building in the square has to be the Old Town Hall, shown at the back…
A stunning Victorian creation, it was the brainchild of T.H. Vernon and completed in 1865, the grand new centrepiece of the town encompassing both a new home for the Council, and a Corn Exchange.
The design is quite interesting, as it was designed in the Italianate Style, a contrast to a lot of the big Gothic Town Halls you would find in the North of England built around the same time.
To the left of the Town Hall is the stunning frontage of the towns Georgian Post Office, from 1799. It almost has the image of a small mansion, and forms a nice trio with the Town Hall, and the small Chantry House (AKA 88 Watling Street) to the right of the Post Office itself. This little 15th Century building is one of the oldest structures in Towcester, and was apparently at one point described as the “Banqueting Hall of the Priests” so I assume it is related to the adjacent St Lawrence’s Church.
So our final stop was the Church of St Lawrence, situated just behind the Chantry House, and the Town Hall. It is most likely the towns oldest surviving building, originally constructed during the 12th century, although some of the foundations beneath may have Saxon origins.
The Church tower was added in the mid 15th century during a major rebuilt, and stands out along the main street, the final component of a beautifully historic area of Towcester.
The site the Church occupies was once home to a large public building in Roman Times, and the Church can also claim a few records across Northamptonshire, including:
- The oldest Grammar School in Northamptonshire, now part of Sponne School, was founded here by the Archdeacon in the 15th Century
- The Tower contains more bells than any other Church in the county
Towcester was but a quick stop on our main route from Buckingham to the much larger town of Northampton, however it was certainly worth the stop.
As I said before, the A5 passes directly through the town from North to South, and Northampton and Milton Keynes are only around 10-11 miles away. The M1 Motorway is a similar distance, heading South towards the M25 Orbital Motorway around London, and North towards the East Midlands/Yorkshire, and connections with the M6 for the West Midlands, and the North West.
We moved on, and arrived into Northampton, and set out to explore…