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Daventry, Northamptonshire

Historical Description

Daventry (popularly Danetree), a market and union town, and municipal borough in Northamptonshire. The town stands on the ascent and summit of an eminence, half engirt by a range of hills, near Watling Street, the Grand Junction Canal, and the sources of the rivers Learn and Nen, 12 miles W by N from Northampton, and 74 from London. It is about 4 from Weedon station on the main line of the L. & N.W.R., and a branch line from Weedon to the town was opened in 1888. The town dates from the times of the Saxons, or perhaps from those of the ancient Britons, and was occupied in 1645 by Charles I. before the battle of Naseby. It contains some good houses, and presents a cleanly and respectable appearance. It is a borough by prescription, was first chartered by Elizabeth in 1756, is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, who also act as the urban sanitary authority, is the head of a petty sessional division and county court district; and has a head post office, two banks, some good hotels, a town-hall, remains of an ancient priory, two churches, Roman Catholic, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels, a workhouse, an endowed grammar school, an endowed charity school, and other charities amounting to about £600 a year. The priory was Cluniac, founded in 1090 by Hugh de Leycestre, and given by Henry VIII. to Wolsey for his colleges, and the remains of it consist chiefly of doorways and windows supposed to have belonged to the refectory. The church of the priory was long used as the parish church, but gave place in 1752 to a new edifice, a building of stone in the Classic style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and a western tower with an octagonal spire. The other church, which was erected in 1840 as a chapel of ease to the parish church, is a building of red brick consisting of chancel, nave, and bell turret. Markets are held on Wednesdays, and a fair for the sale of cattle the second Tuesday in every month, and on the 27 Oct., or, when this falls on Sunday, on the following day. Fairs are also held for cheese on the second Tuesday in April and Oct., and a horse show is held in September. Daventry was formerly noted for the manufacture of whips, but this trade has declined, and the chief industry now is the manufacture of boots and shoes. The town is municipally coextensive with the parish. The Finch-Hattons, Earls of Winchelsea, take from it the title of Baron; and Holland, the translator of the Rhemish Testament, Bishop G. Andrew, and Smith the engraver, were natives.

The parish includes also the hamlet of Drayton. Acreage, 3633; population, 3939. A vast camp, called Danes Hill or Borough Hill, foot-shaped, 17,900 yards in circuit, defended variously by two, three, or four valla, and divided toward the north by two ramparts, lies in the south-eastern vicinity of the town, and has been attributed by different antiquaries to the Britons, the Romans, the Danes, and the Saxons, but seems most likely to have been the Roman station Benavenna. A parallelogramic camp of about an acre is 300 yards distant½ a spot called Burnt-walls, where arched vaults and substructions of buildings have been found, is near; and vestiges of a fortification, called John of Gaunt's Castle, but evidently Roman, are contiguous. The living is a rectory, with which the perpetual curacy of St James' is united, in the diocese of Peterborough; net yearly value, £250 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Peterborough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyNorthamptonshire 
Ecclesiastical parishDaventry Holy Cross 
Poor Law unionDaventry 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1560., in association with the Northamptonshire Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Northamptonshire online.


Church of England

St. James's chapel

St. James's, a chapel of ease to the parish church, erected in 1840, is a structure of red brick, consisting of chancel, nave and a turret containing one bell: in 1909 the church was restored at a cost of about £300: there are 450 sittings.

The Holy Cross (parish church)

The church of the Holy Cross, the foundation stone of which was laid on the 8th of April, 1752, occupies the site of an older structure, and is a building of stone in the Classic style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a western tower with octagonal spire containing 8 bells and a clock with chimes: the stained east window was presented by the Watson family: the nave is divided from the aisles by lofty columns of the Doric order, and there are galleries on three sides: in 1874 the church was re-seated and in 1884 the chancel and body of the church were renovated and the whole interior re-decorated at a cost of about £300: there are 800 sittings: the church stands in an extensive burial ground, containing a fine avenue of trees.


Congregational chapel, Sheaf Street

The Congregational chapel, in Sheaf street, was erected in 1722, and has 480 sittings.


Wesleyan chapel, New Street

The Wesleyan chapel, in New street, built in 1824 with school rooms and minister's house, added later, has sittings for 500 persons.

Roman Catholic

St. Mark's Catholic Church, London Road

The Catholic Church, erected in 1882, and dedicated to St. Mark, is a plain building with presbytery adjoining and will seat 60 persons.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Daventry from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Northamptonshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Daventry are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Northamptonshire papers online:

Poor Law

Daventry was the head of a Poor Law Union which comprises the following parishes in 1914 :-Ashby St. Ledgers, Badby, Braunston, Brockhall, Byfield, Canons Ashby, Catesby, Charwelton, Daventry, Dodford, Everdon, Farthingstone, Fawsley, Flore, Helidon, Long Buckby, Newnham, Norton, Preston Capes, Staverton; Stowe-nine-Churches, Watford, Weedon Beck, Welton, West Haddon, Whilton, Winwick & Woodford-cum Membris. The population of the union in 1911 was 17,325; area, 64,510 acres; rateable value in 1914 was £150,085


Daventry Endowed Grammar, founded in 1576 by Wm. Parker, a native of this town and citizen draper of London, restored in 1857, reorganized in 1882 and the buildings enlarged in 1887-8; in 1740 William Sawbridge left a sum of money for the purchase of a house for the head master; the new house for the head master, known as the Warden's lodge, erected in 1888, is a structure of brick in the Jacobean style, from designs by Mr. N. M. Brown A.R.I.B.A. and includes a lofty dining hall; new chemical laboratories were opened in 1905; the old school, in New street, was later used as a parish room.

The Abbey School, founded in 1710 under a memorandum of agreement entered into by inhabitants of the borough and augmented by benefactions by Dr. Maynard, Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, and others, and subsequently incorporated with the National school. The old building was enlarged many years ago by the conversion of premises formerly the Borough Police station.


The Union Workhouse, London road, standing on an eminence, is a structure of red brick and is surrounded by extensive gardens and fronted by a broad terrace ornamented with shrubs and evergreens; it would hold, 230 inmates.

RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtNN11
Post TownDaventry