NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Northamptonshire sits at the southern part of the East Midlands, which is sometimes known as the South Midlands. Its border with Lincolnshire is only 19 metres long, England’s shortest county boundary. Northamptonshire’s sights are spread out across the county, and its population is relatively sparse, making for lovely drives along quiet, winding country roads. As with the rest of the East Midlands, Northamptonshire has no lack of picture-perfect towns and grand country mansions, including Althorp House, Princess Diana’s ancestral home where she was laid to rest.

Layout
The county lies in a roughly southwest-northeast orientation. The county capital, Northampton, sits just off the centre in the southwestern half. Other major towns are distributed rather evenly across the county. The M1 major expressway traverses the county just south of Northampton
.

Northamptonshire stately home www.visitnorthamptonshire.co.uk

No prizes for guessing the shape of Rushton Triangular Lodge ! [Rushton, Kettering, +44 1536 710761, ad/ch £3.20/1.60, Concession: £2.70]  A truly unique and interesting building, this folly was built by Sir Thomas Thresham between 1593 and 1597. A Roman Catholic who refused to convert to Protestantism, this building is a bold statement of his faith. The symbolism of the number three permeates the design of the building – not only in the dominance of triangular patterns, but also in the three floors, three triangular gables on each façade, and three Latin inscriptions running around the building. A visit to Rushton Triangular Lodge can easily be combined with one to nearby Kirby Hall as part of a day out in Northamptonshire.

 


Kirby HallAn impressive Elizabethan stately home, Kirby Hall [Deene, Nr Corby,  +44 1536 203230, ad/ch £5.30/2.70] dates from 1570. Sir Christopher Hatton, a prominent member at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, finished the construction of the splendid and ornate building. As the family’s fortunes changed, however, the building fell into decline by the 18th century, and today what remains is just a shell of the once-majestic building. Although roofless in some parts, the Great Hall and State Rooms have been refurbished and restored to their 17th century splendour, as have the beautiful gardens.

 

 


Northampton Lift TowerHuman settlement on the site of current-day Northampton (pop. 189,500) dates back to around the 7th century, but the town remained insignificant till the 11th century, after the Norman Conquest. Its importance grew during early medieval times, as can be seen in the impressive Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the construction of an important castle, now no longer standing. Northampton was the centre of the shoe industry during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially with demand for footwear boosted by the Napoleonic Wars. This legacy can be seen in the many former factories that have since been converted into office space or housing. 

Layout
The town centres around Market Square, which is one of the oldest market squares in England. Close by you will find the pedestrianised shopping areas. The tourist information centre is located in the guildhall, just south of Market Square, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is to the north. The train station is to the west of town. 

Sights
The National LIft Tower is like a 127 metre pencil pointing upwards and dominating the skyline. Officially opened by the Queen in 1982 it is designed to test the operation of lifts and is the only one of its kink in the UK.  Although not particluarlly pretty, it provides Northampton's streetscape with a signature outline that is visible from the distance.

The city’s oldest building, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre [Church Lane, +44 1604 627988], is one of a few remaining Norman round churches in England. It dates from the 11th century, when Simon de Senlis, the first Earl of Northampton, built it after his return from the Crusades.

Whether you’re a fan of shoes or not, the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery [Guildhall Road, +44 1064 838111, free] will dazzle you with its famous collection of shoes from different time periods. Besides footwear, the museum also tells about Northampton’s history through multimedia installations. Its Art Gallery houses a collection of fine art pieces, notably Italian and British art.