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Holdenby or Holmby, Northamptonshire

Historical Description

Holdenby or Holmby, a village and a parish in Northamptonshire, 1½ mile NE from Althorpe station on the L. & N.W.B., and 6½ miles NW from Northampton. There is. a post, money order, and telegraph office at East Haddon, under Northampton. Acreage, 1865; population, 209. Holdenby House was built by Sir Christopher Hatton, lord high-chancellor in the time of Elizabeth, was a magnificent edifice in florid Tudor after designs by Thorpe, was sold to James I. by the great-nephew of Sir C. Hatton, became a royal palace; was for a short time the prison of Charles I. in 1647; was in great measure taken down in 1652, and the remains of it were given, with the title of baron, by James II., to the French Marquis of Blancfort. It was restored in 1873-75, and again in 1887-88, and it is now the residence of Viscount Clifden. Sir C. Hatton, the builder of it, was. a native of Holdenby, and the poet Gray said of him " His bushy beard, and shoe-strings green, His hiyh-crowned hat, and satin doublet, Moved the stout heart of England's queen, Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it"

The living is a rectory in the diocese of Peterborough; net value, £417. Patron, the Crown. The church, which is a. building of stone in the Early English, Late Decorated, and Perpendicular styles, consists of nave, chancel, and aisles, with embattled tower.

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 parishHoldenby All Saints 
Poor Law unionBrixworth 

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

Church Records

The register of baptisms dates from the year 1796; marriages, 1754; burials, 1795., in association with the Northamptonshire Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Northamptonshire online.


Church of England

All Saints (parish church)

The church of All Saints, a quarter of a mile from the village, is a building of stone in the Late Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, nave of three bays, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower containing 2 bells: the chancel was rebuilt in 1845, from designs by the late Sir Henry Dryden bart. of Canon's Ashby, in the Early English style, and the rest of the church restored in 1868 under the direction of the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott R.A. during which a font of 15th century date was destroyed, the Holdenby House Elizabethan pew, or parclose, at the east end of the north aisle, removed, the chancel screen much mutilated and the Renaissance south doorway replaced: the Renaissance chancel screen dates from about 1580: on the walls of the church are inscriptions from the Bishop's Bible, with interesting borders, said to be the work of the famous architect, John of Padua, in the 16th century: there is a slab of alabaster, with incised effigies of a knight in armour and a lady, with inscription to William Boldenby and Margaret his wife, both of whom died at the end of the 15th century, but the exact dates were never filled in; there are also several undated inscriptions on brass to the Holdenby and Batton families: the church plate includes an Elizabethan chalice and cover: there are 100 sittings: in the churchyard is a monument of marble to various members of the Agar-Ellis family, Viscounts Clifden; the late Sir Edward Hall Alderson kt. baron of the exchequer, d. 27 Jan. 1857, is buried on the south side of the tower, his remains having been removed from Risby, in Suffolk, where he was first interred.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Holdenby or Holmby from the following:

Land and Property

Holdenby, or Holmby House, anciently held by the Hattons, was the birthplace, in 1540, of Christopher Hatton K.G. Lord Chancellor in Queen Elizabeth's reign, who rebuilt here the largest mansion in England, John of Padua (afterwards called John Thorp) being the architect: he died November 20, 1591, after having had the honour of entertaining Queen Elizabeth at Holmby. In 1607 it was purchased by the Crown and was a favourite summer residence of James I. and his Queen, but in 1709 became the property of the great Duke of Marlborough; the third Duke sold it to his son-in-law, H. W. Agar-Ellis, 2nd Viscount Clifden; it was restored in 1873-5, under the direction of Mr. R. H. Carpenter, and again in 1887-8 by Mr. W. E. Mills A.R.I.B.A. of Banbury, and then became the residence of Lord and Lady Annaly; the original mansion was a magnificent and extensive structure, consisting of three quadrangles, the foundations of which may still be traced; two gateways remain, which bear the date 1583: Charles I. after his surrender to the Scottish army, was brought here as a prisoner, February 15, 1646-7, and remained till the following 3rd June, when he was removed by the Parliamentary forces under Cornet Joyce: the south side of the present house originally formed the north side of the inner court, and has some good chimneys and woodwork: the house is now, with the additions made by Mr. Mills, a very considerable building, though not more than an eighth the size of the original structure.

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

Newspapers and Periodicals

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