CONTACT

Below is a whole host of information and links to answer all your questions about archaeology and history in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire and the surrounding area



Archaeology and History Societies


Council for British Archaeology

new.archaeologyuk.org
Educational charity working throughout the UK to involve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations.


Council for British Archaeology South Midlands

www.archaeologyuk.org/cbasm
Local branch of Council for British Archaeology: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire & Oxfordshire.


Council for British Archaeology East Midlands

www.archaeologyuk.org/cbaem
Local branch of Council for British Archaeology: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire & Rutland.


Council for Independent Archaeology

www.independents.org.uk
Body looking after the interests of amateur archaeologists.


The Portable Antiquities Scheme

www.finds.org.uk
The Portable Antiquites Scheme was set up to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public.


English Heritage

www.english-heritage.org.uk
English Heritage champions historic places in the UK and works to protect them for future generations. There are 400 sites open to the public including Chichele College in Higham Ferrers.


The National Trust

www.nationaltrust.org.uk
The National Trust protects and cares for historic houses, gardens, mills, forests, coastline etc.


Pastscape

www.pastscape.org.uk
Information from the English Heritage Archive database.


British History online

www.british-history.ac.uk
A digital library of primary and secondary sources for history of the British Isles.


Victoria County History

www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk
An encyclopaedic record of England's places and people from earliest times to the present day.


The Heritage Alliance

www.theheritagealliance.org.uk
The biggest alliance of heritage interests in the UK representing some 90 members such as the National Trust and lots of smaller organisations.


The Northamptonshire Archaeological Society

www.northants-archaeology.org.uk
The NAS was formed to promote the study and appreciation of the archaeology and history of the county.


Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeology Group

www.northants-iag.org.uk
Exploring Northamptonshire's industrial heritage – canals, foundaries, breweries, mills, ironworks etc – meeting monthly and quarterly newsletters.


The Northamptonshire Natural History Society – Archaeology and History Section

www.nnhs.info/archa
The Section holds a series of talks and lectures usually in the Humfrey Rooms, Northampton by both resident and guest speakers as well as visits to local archaeological sites when work is in progress.


Northamptonshire History

www.northamptonshire-history.org.uk
Local history and Northants news.


RDHS Rushden & District History Society

www.rdhs.org.uk
Meetings are usually held at 7.30pm on the 3rd Friday of each month at South End Junior School, Wymington Road, Rushden. Everyone is welcome £2.50 (£1.50 for members). The RDHS research group has developed a heritage website for the town www.rushdenheritage.co.uk.


Middle Nene Archaeological Group

www.midnag.org.uk
Archaeology Group set up 40 years ago and still going strong in the Oundle area of Northamptonshire.


WAHS Wellingborough Archaeological and Historical Society

Meetings are usually held at 7.30pm on the last Monday of the month in the Friends Meeting House, St John Street, Wellingborough.


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Resources


The HiFARS archive

The Society has built up an archive of books and printed material. Members are welcome to make enquires about using them for their own research. See CALENDAR for details of the HiFARS Heritage Open Day held annually in September in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers.


The HiFARS finds

The Society has a collection of finds from local archaeological sites and digs. These are displayed at various HiFARS events. The Bates Boxes are a portable collection of Roman finds from the Kings Meadow Lane site and are also displayed regularly. If you are a HiFARS member and a teacher and would like to use the Bates Boxes as a teaching aid in your school please get in touch with HiFARS.


The British Library

Euston Road, London
FREE admission, open daily.
Resources, exhibitions and events.
See www.bl.uk for more information.


Higham Ferrers Library

Midland Road, Higham Ferrers, Northants, NN10 8DN
See www.northamptonshire.gov.uk for opening times and more information.


Northamptonshire Record Office

Wootton Hall Park, Northampton, NN14 8BQ
The Record Office holds over 800 years of the county's archival heritage. See www.northamptonshire.gov.uk for opening times and more information.


The Northamptonshire Record Society

www.northamptonshirerecordsociety.org.uk
This society aims to preserve and publish the records of Northamptonshire and promote the study of the county's history. They hold talks and produce the magazine Nothamptonshire Past and Present.


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Education and courses


Go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk for local part time courses in History and Archaeology. Most years there is a 10 week course Beginners Guide to Archaeology taught by Gary Arthur available somewhere in the county. Several members of HiFARS have attended and its a very useful introduction to archaeology.

For GCSEs and A-level courses try individual colleges like www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk and www.bedford.ac.uk.

For online courses try northampton.floodlight.co.uk, www.hotcourses.com and the Open University www.open.ac.uk

www.wea.org.uk is the UKs largest voluntary sector provider of adult education. A range of history courses are taught locally. Go to the website and check the HiFARS CALENDAR for details.


Knuston Hall

Irchester, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN29 7EU
www.knustonhall.org.uk
Knuston Hall is an Adult Education centre in the county offering residential and non-residential courses in many history related subjects. Check their website and the HiFARS CALENDAR for details.


The British Museum

Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
www.britishmuseum.org
FREE admission, open daily
The British Museum has an extensive collection and many ticketed events, see CALENDAR and their website for details. It also offers courses in conjunction with the Open University, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, www.open.ac.uk.


The Museum of London

150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN
www.museumoflondon.org.uk
The museum runs an ongoing programme of archaeology and history courses. Go to CALENDAR and their website for more information.


UCL Institute of Archaeology

www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and one of the most highly regarded centres for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain. Go to their website for more information about courses and lectures.


There are workshops and lectures at Peterborough Museum, Flag Fen and Longthorpe Tower. Go to the CALENDAR and www.vivacity-peterborough.com/museums-and-heritage for more information.


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Higham Ferrers


Higham Ferrers is a small market town in East Northamptonshire. It is situated where the A6 and the A45 meet, 15 miles from the county town of Northampton. It has a population of 6,000 people and boasts many fine old buildings including a beautiful church.

Originally a Roman town on the east bank of the River Nene with a temple and a row of workshops, then a Saxon settlement 'High Ham'. The Vikings settled in Northamptonshire but after they were driven back, Higham was established in its present location with a market and a manor.

By the time of Domesday in 1086 the estate of Higham belonged to William Peverel and a Norman castle was reputed to have been built in the 12th century. In 1155 Peverell forfeited Higham estate to King Henry II, who gave it to Robert Ferrers, Earl of Derby. In 1266 Higham Ferrers was granted to Edmund Earl of Lancaster, and it became part of the Duchy of Lancaster, returning to the crown under Henry IV. Another castle was probably built by the Earl of Lancaster or the Ferrers family, but demolished in 1523. Nothing visible remains except the Castle Field earthworks and the Dovecote.

The town grew slowly but surely, gaining Charters and Borough status, and returning a member of Parliament until the Reform Act of 1832. The development of the boot and shoe industry was slow in Higham Ferrers, the landowners reluctant to sell their land for the factories so they went elsewhere in the Nene Valley, to nearby Rushden and Raunds. At the end of the twentieth century the town began expanding, the Duchy had sold off some land for new housing and with it came opportunities for archeaological digs.


Kings Meadow Lane

This is a track that leads from the north end of Higham Ferrers down towards the River Nene. This is the site of the Oxford Archaeology excavations, lasting for 9 years and uncovering a wealth of evidence for the origins of Higham Ferrers.


St Mary's Parish Church

www.stmaryhighamferrers.org
The Church dates from the 13th century. The 170ft spire and part of the tower collapsed in 1650 but was rebuilt with the original stone, and then renovated again in 2006. Features of special interest are the original font, the sculptures around the West door, the rood screen and the double nave.


The Chantry Chapel, Churchyard

A 15th century building in the 'Perpendicular' style. Originally the Grammar School until 1906, famous for its schoolboy graffitti in the wooden porch.


The Bede House, Churchyard

The Bede House was founded by Archbishop Henry Chichele in 1423, built to provide accommodation for 12 Bedesmen and 1 Bedeswoman ('bede' meaning prayer) who prayed daily for their patrons. Bedesmen lived here until the 18th century. It has a magnificent oak roof and original fireplace.


Chichele College, College Street

FREE admission to gardens, regular exhibitons in the college
In 1422 Archbishop Chichele founded a college, built around a quadrangle which housed 20 members – 8 chaplains, 4 clerks, 6 choristers and a song and grammar master. Their prime concern was to offer prayers for the souls of the patron and his family as well as education. Henry VIII dissolved the College in 1542 and it laid semi-derelict for many years. In the 18th century part of it was used as an inn, and in the early 20th century it was a farm cottage with an attached granary. The college was taken over by the Ministry of Works in 1948 and restored. The main surviving part is the gabled front with its Tudor door and windows with square hood mouldings. Above the door are empty niches which once held statues. Now managed by English Heritage and Higham Ferrers Tourism the building is used for exhibibtions and the restored Cloister Garth with its exposed foundations is open to the public. Go to www.english-heritage.org.uk for more information about Chichele College.


Medieval Fish Ponds, Saffron Moat

Created in the 15th Century to supply the Chichele College with fish. Known locally as the 'cup and saucer' because of their construction – an inner pond surrounded by a moat fed by drainage ditches from adjoining Saffron Meadows.


Market Square

A square of fine well-preserved limestone buildings including Church House and the Town Hall. The Market Cross erected in the 14th century and 14ft high is one of four originals, two surviving. A Farmer's Market is held on the last Saturday of every month.


The Town Hall

The Town Hall built in 1808 to replace an older building, it has many original features and is still used for council meetings. Until the 1930s it also housed the 'lock-up' and acted as Court House for the town. It houses the Borough Charters, Town Mace and official mayoral robes and chains.


The Manor House

Now a private house at the corner of Wood Street and Midland Road. Once leased by Lawrence Washington, ancestor of George Washington.


The Castle Field

An open space bordered by Midland Road and Kimbolton Road with a 'moat' running along two sides. Possibly the site of the castle, although many think the castle was closer to the church.


The Green Dragon

Originally a coaching inn situated in College Street. Within its grounds is the 16th century Castle Dovecote, recently restored.

For more information about the archaeological history of Higham Ferrers see The Roots of an English Town: Exploring the Archaeology of Higham Ferrers by Alan Hardy & Peter Lorimer, Oxford Archaeology Unit Ltd 2004. Available at events organised by HiFARS.


www.highamferrers-tc.gov.uk
A local government site which gives lots of useful information about Higham Ferrers and the buildings of interest.


www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk
For more information about the town and forthcoming events.


The Higham Ferrers Chichele Society

www.chichelesociety.co.uk
A local history group which meets regularly for talks and lectures.

Henry Chichele
Henry Chichele was born in Higham Ferrers in about 1362. The building thought to be his birthplace is marked by a plaque and can be found at the Toll Bar. The youngest of three sons of a local draper Thomas, who himself was Mayor several times. Henry was sent to Winchester School and then to New College, Oxford. He entered the church and rose quickly to prominenece. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1414 to 1443 and the founder of All Souls' College, Oxford. He also commissioned Chichele College and the Bede House in his home town. He died in 1443 and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

George Washington
George Washington, the first President of the United States was born into the Washington family who had migrated to Virginia, America from Northamptonshire in 1656. His ancestors originated in Washington, Sunderland from the 12th Century. When Lawrence Washington, born in 1500, married widow Elizabeth Gough of Northampton he became owner of various properties including a Northampton townhouse and Church House in Higham Ferrers. He also leased the Manor House in Higham Ferrers in 1530. He was a prosperous wool merchant, became mayor of Northampton in 1532 and 1545, and bought Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire in 1539. Go to www.sulgravemanor.org.uk for more information.


H E Bates

Herbert Ernest Bates was born in Rushden in 1905 and educated at Kettering Grammar School. He was a prolific writer, often setting his stories in Northamptonshire. His many works include The Darling Buds of May, Love for Lydia, My Uncle Silas and The Sleepless Moon which was set in Higham Ferrers. He married Madge Cox, a Rushden girl in 1931. They moved to Kent and raised a family of four children. Bates was created CBE in 1973 and died in 1974. Go to www.hebates.co.uk for a full biography. The money for the Bates Boxes, a portable collection of Roman finds from the Kings Meadow Lane excavation site, was kindly donated by the H E Bates Society.


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Northamptonshire and surrounding area


www.britainonshow.co.uk

A general tourist website for Northamptonshire.

www.visitengland.com

The official tourist site for England.

www.britainexpress.com

A non government tourist site for the UK.

www.northamptonshireletyourselfgrow.com/museumsandhistorichouses

A very useful website with details of most local museums, galleries, collections and historic houses.

www.northamptonshiretimeline.com

An animated graphic history of Northamptonshire.


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Museums


Northampton Museum & Art Gallery

Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP
www.northampton.gov.uk/museums
FREE admission
The archaeology collection covers Bronze Age pottery, Iron Age finds from Hunsbury, Roman finds from Duston and Irchester, pottery, weapons and jewellery from Anglo Saxon cemeteries. Also the Ancient Egyptian Collection, geology, military history, coins & medals, fine & decorative art. The museum also holds the nationally recognised shoe collection.


Abington Museum & Art Gallery

Park Avenue South, Northampton NN1 5LW
www.northampton.gov.uk/museums
FREE admission
The 'museum in the park' shows Northamptonshire life 100 years ago, the Yeomanry, costumes and leather craft.


Manor House Museum and Alfred East Art Gallery

Sheep Street, Kettering, NN15 7QX
www.kettering.gov.uk/homepage/283/kettering-museum-and-art-gallery
FREE admission
The archeology collection consists Roman and Saxon artefacts, also prehistoric and medieval. Roots is an image database of the museum's arachaeological collections. Also natural history, geology, social and industrial history. Changing exhibitions and events.


Wellingborough Museum

Dully's Baths, 12 Castle Way, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 1XB
www.wellingboroughmuseum.co.uk
FREE admission
Local archaeology, Victorian and WWI artefacts, a 1940s living room and kitchen, a haberdashery shop and ironmongers, a working model railway and a GPO sorting office. Lots of local history and regular events.


Peterborough Museum

Priestgate, Peterborough PE1 1LF
www.vivacity-peterborough.com/venues/peterborough-museum
An archaeology collection which includes items of Nene Valley Ware from local Roman pottery industries, a rare Iron Age sword and grave goods from Anglo Saxon burials. Also replicas of the finds from Durobrivae. See the website for opening times.


Oundle Museum

The Courthouse, Mill Road, Oundle, PE8 4BW
www.oundlemuseum.org.uk
Exhibits from the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods. See the website for opening times.


Upper Nene Archaeology Society

www.unas.org.uk
The Piddington Villa Museum, Chapel End, Piddington, Northamptonshire NN7 2DD
The museum has a display of finds from the excavations at Piddington Villa. Volunteers are able to dig at the site, see the website for details.


Others local MUSEUMS of interest:

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Archaeological Sites


Flag Fen

The Droveway, Northey Road, Peterborough PE6 &QJ
www.vivacity-peterborough.com/venues/flag-fen
Flag Fen is an archaeology park most famous for its 3,500 years old wooden causeway. Open to the public – tours, events, workshops available see website for details.


Stanwick Lakes

Stanwick roundabout on the A45, Northamptonshire NN9 6GY
www.stanwicklakes.org.uk
Stanwick Lakes is a 750 acre countryside attraction and nature reserve in Northamptonshire. The Heritage Trail depicts the history of the site from Neolithic to Medieval times, and the Exhibition Centre houses a small exhibition of the finds from the excavated Roman Villa and the deserted medieval hamlet of West Cotton. Go to the website for more information.


Naseby Battlefield

Naseby, Northamptonshire
www.naseby.com
The site of Battle of Naseby 1645, the decisive fight of the English Civil War.


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Houses, Buildings and Monuments


The Prebendal Manor, Tithe Barn Museum and Gardens

Prebendal Manor, Church Street, Nassington, near Peterborough, Northamptonshire PE8 6QG
www.prebendal-manor.co.uk
Prebendal Manor is one of the most historic properties in Northamptonshire. Archaeological excavations have been in place since 1984 and Time Team visited in May 2003. See the website for more information, events and opening times.


Longthorpe Tower

Thorpe Road, Longthorpe, Peterborough PE3 6LU
www.vivacity-peterborough.com/venues/longthorpe-tower
The Tower is the surviving part of a 14th century manor and houses a set of medieval wall paintings. See the website for opening times and prices.


Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens

Kelmarsh, Northampton, NN6 9LY
www.kelmarsh.com
An 18th century house in rolling countryside 5 miles from Market Harborough. Famous for its Festival of History which takes place in the summer each year. See the website for details.


Eleanor Cross

Geddington, Northamptonshire
Monument dating from 1294 and thought to be the best surviving example of the Eleanor Crosses, the resting places in the funeral process ion of Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I. There is another surviving cross in London Road, Hardingstone, Northamptonshire.


Others BUILDINGS of interest:

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Castles


Rockingham Castle and Gardens

Rockingham, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 8TH
www.rockinghamcastle.com
A castle built on the instruction of William the Conqueror and now family owned but open to the public with a full programme of events, see the website for details.


Barnwell Castle

A ruined castle south of Oundle. It is a scheduled monument and not open to the public.


Kimbolton Castle

High Street, Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire
www.kimbolton.cambs.sch.uk/castlevisits
Originally a medieval castle, now a school, but visits are possible by arrangement, see website for details.


Fotheringhay Castle

Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire PE8 5HZ
Probably founded around 1100 by the Earlof Northampton. King Richard III was born there, and Mary Queen of Scots was tried and executed there in 1587. It fell into disrepair and was later demolished. Now a scheduled monument, all that can be seen are the earthworks and some masonry.


Yielden Castle

Bedfordshire MK44
12th century motte-and-bailey, in decay by 1360. A scheduled monument with only earthworks visible today.


Northampton Castle

www.northamptoncastle.com
Now situated under the train station car park, but importantly the site of Parliament for over 200 years. For more information go to the Friends of Northampton Castle website.


Warwick Castle

www.warwick-castle.com
A scheduled monument and top tourist attraction – dungeons, towers, trebuchet, jousting, gardens, birds of prey etc.


Belvoir Castle

Leicestershire
www.belvoircastle.com
Originally a Norman castle, rebuilt four times, the present castle was completed in the 19th century. The seat of the Dukes of Rutland and open to the public.


Oakham Castle

Castle Grounds, Off Market Place, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6DR
www.rutland.gov.uk
With a 12th century great hall famed for its collection of horseshoes, see website for information.



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HiFARS Dig-for-a-Day


A project for members of HiFARS to get hands-on experience of archaeology and learn practical digging skills under the leadership of Stephen Morris, HiFARS member and Senior Project Supervisor at Northamptonshire Archaeology. The site is in Higham Ferrers and owned by Spire Homes who have kindly allowed us to use the land for our training digs.

We aim to dig once a month from Spring to Autumn, weather permitting. We start at 10.30am on either a Saturday or Sunday, please refer to the CALENDAR for upcoming dates, and cancellation. HiFARS has insurance but any member taking part must read and sign our risk assessment form.

Members must dress sensibly according to the weather – waterproofs in wet weather; sunhats and suncreen in summer. Please wear sturdy footwear – steel toe capped boots are recommended – and a pair of gloves.

Please bring your own tools as required – trowel, spade, bucket, sieve, metal detector etc. Finds trays and bags will be provided by HiFARS. You might want to bring a pen and paper, and a camera.

There are no facilities on site. Please bring water, a drink or a flask of coffee! a packed lunch and snacks, and a blanket to sit on. Members can come and go as they please (there are no toilets on site), and we finish when everyone is too tired to carry on! usually mid afternoon.

The location of the site will only be given to HiFARS members when they let us know that they want to take part in the project. Parking is restricted at the site as it is in a residential area so please park considerately.

If you are already a HiFARS member and want to take part go to CONTACT. If you would like to become a member of HiFARS please go to JOIN US on this website.


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All information on this website is correct to the best of our knowledge. Please go to CONTACT with any corrections.