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Rothwell, Northamptonshire

Historical Description

Rothwell, a small town and a parish in Northamptonshire. The town stands 2½ miles SSE of Desborough station and 2½ SW from Rushton station (both on the main line of the M.R.), and 4 NW of Kettering. It is bounded on the N and NW by the river Ise, was in former times a place of some note and importance, and had an Augustinian nunnery founded by the Clare family. It has a bank, and boots and shoes are manufactured in considerable quantities. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office under Kettering, and a fair is held on Trinity Monday and the four following days for stock and pedlery. The market-house was commenced between 1575 and 1580 by Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton, and has since remained unfinished. Jesus Hospital, founded by Owen Ragsdale in 1593, now maintains twenty-six poor persons. There are also several small charities, which are distributed in the form of food, fuel, and clothing. The church is a fine building in the Norman, Early English, and later styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and a western tower. A crypt beneath the S aisle was discovered about the middle of the 18th century, and contains human bones stacked in order, and computed to have belonged to at least about 3800 persons. These bones are supposed to have been merely a clearance from an old burial-ground. The church contains many very ancient and interesting tombs and monuments. There are Congregational and Wesleyan Methodist chapels. The parish contains also the hamlet of Thorpe Underwood and the township of Orton. Acreage, 4613; population of the civil parish of Rothwell, 3378; of the ecclesiastical, 3451; of Orton, 73. The manor belongs to the Tibbits family. There is a petrifying spring. The living is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of Orton, in the diocese of Peterborough; joint gross value, £155 with residence.

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 parishRothwell Holy Trinity 
Poor Law unionKettering 

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


The Cemetery, purchased and laid out in 1902, at a cost of about £2,500, is divided into consecrated and unconsecrated portions, and has a chapel and lodge.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1708., in association with the Northamptonshire Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts for Northamptonshire online.


Church of England

The Holy Trinity (parish church)

The church of the Holy Trinity is a fine structure in the Transition Norman, Early English and later styles, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, and a western tower with small pinnacles and a flat pyramidal roof with vane, containing a clock and 8 bells: under the south aisle of the church is a vault or charnel house, discovered about the year 1650, and containing the bones, stacked in order, of many thousand persons, some of the bones being of great size: in 1912 the stone work in the charnel house was restored, and the most perfect of the skulls were re-arranged round the walls and the thigh bones were placed in the centre; the bones of 11,000 persons were counted at this time: the spire fell in the year 1657 and broke down two bays at the south side of the east end of the chnrch: the south side of the chancel and the doorway leading to the tower are Transitional: the chancel has four sedilia, and a piscina with three drains; on the eastern gable of the nave is a sanctus bell turret: in the church are several interesting brasses; the earliest is the effigy of a priest vested in a cope, his head resting on a pillow, supported by angels; at his feet is a prayer in Latin, and an inscription in Norman-French to William de Rothwelle, archdeacon of Essex, ob. c. 1361.; another has effigies of a man and his wife in civil costume, and is inscribed to Edward Saunders, of Haryngton, founder of a chantry in this church, ob. 1514, and Johanna, his wife; the third is affixed to the north wall of the south aisle of the chancel and displays the kneeling figure of a man in ruff and long robe, with a quartered shield of arms, crest and mantling, and above, an invocatory prayer; below is a large tomb, inscribed to Owen Ragsdale, founder, in 1593, of the hospital: the chancel was restored in 1848, and the church since 1893: in 1902 the north aisle was restored, at a cost of £1,000, and in 1903 the south aisle, at a further cost of about £1,000, when a double piscina and a low side window were discovered: in 1904 the west end was restored, the west arch opened out and the groined roof disclosed, two new bells and a new clock were added, and the old oak beams in the belfry replaced with steel girders and an iron frame, at a total cost of £1,200: in 1910 the restoration of the nave was undertaken; the deal roof was replaced by oak, the plaster on the walls removed and a block floor put down, and the old vestry was also restored; the total cost was £1,950: in 1911 the window in the lady chapel dedicated to Queen Victoria was restored, and two other windows inserted, one being dedicated to His Majesty King Edward VII. and the other erected in commemoration of the coronation of H.M. King George V.: there are sittings for 750 persons.


Congregational chapel

The Congregational chapel, first founded in 1656, was restored in 1893 at a cost of £400.


Wesleyan Methodist chapel

The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was erected in 1833.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Rothwell from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Rothwell 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:

RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtNN14
Post TownKettering