Some videos of our past talks

“The Best Burglar in the County” with Neil Lyon

Neil Lyon tells the story of Joan Wake’s work in establishing the Northamptonshire Record Society and raising public awareness of the county’s heritage and archives. In the 1950s she successfully led a campaign to save Delapre Abbey, Northampton from demolition. The building became the home of both the Record Society and Northamptonshire Archives. The Archive subsequently moved to new premises at Wotton Hall, Northampton.

“Northampton’s County Halls” with Richard Blacklee

Richard Blacklee takes us on a tour of Northampton’s County Hall and associated buildings from the 17th century up to the present day. It reveals the many uses these buildings have been put to over the years.

Content warning: The last part of this recording, from 48 minutes 45 seconds onwards includes some discussion of executions on this site in the 18th and 18th centuries.

“Winters in the World” – the Anglo-Saxon year with Dr Eleanor Parker

We welcomed the return of Dr Eleanor Parker of Oxford University, one of our Friends, for another contribution to our talks series. Here she takes us on a tour through the year seen through Anglo-Saxon eyes. It covers aspects of the period’s agricultural, religious, language and culture.

The Old Black Lion Project – a photographic story by Stu Vincent

Photographer Stu Vincent provides an update on work to date on the Old Black Lion Project. A coaching inn is being restored by the Churches Conservation Trust to become a national heritage resource adjacent to the church of St Peter, Northampton. The pictures were taken between May and October 2023.

St Gregory, a ‘lost’ medieval church in Northampton with Graham Ward

St Gregory was a medieval parish located between All Saints and St Peter in Northampton. The parish was annexed to All Saints in 1557 and part of the building was converted into a Freeschool. Little remains on the surface today although archaeological evidence including burials on and immediately adjacent to the site indicates its Saxon origins.

Anglo-Saxon Treasure at Harpole with Paul Thompson, MOLA

This talk summarises the recent excavations at Harpole in Northamptonshire and the discovery of a significant burial from 630-670 CE. Researchers are just beginning the analysis of the finds but this is a find of national significance and international interest.

William Smith and the Oxford Connection – Owen Green, University of Oxford

William “Strata” Smith (1769-1839) the “Father of English Geology” is buried in St Peter’s churchyard, Northampton. There is a bust of him inside the church. He died in a nearby house, Hazelrigg House. Owen Green guides us through Smith’s connection with Oxford and his contribution to map-making and English and Welsh geology.

Medieval Gardens and Gardening – Michael Brown

Michael Brown, the ‘Medieval Gardener’, takes us on a tour of medieval gardens.

Courtship and Marriage 15th-century style – Dr Rachel Moss

Dr Rachel Moss of the University of Northampton provides an insight into the customs around St Valentines Day, courtship and marriage in 15th-century England.

Regimental Badges and Uniforms – Graham Bandy

Graham Bandy, author of Identifying Cap Badges: A Family Historian’s Guide, gave us a talk on identifying units of the British Army by using photographs of soldiers mostly from units associated with Northamptonshire.

St James Abbey, Northampton – Andy Chapman

Andy Chapman, archaeologist, tells the history of St James Abbey, Northampton and the excavations including an extensive cemetery that was uncovered in 1999/2000.

Old Black Lion, Marefair – Revealed! with Hannah Parham

Hannah Parham, Regeneration Project Manager at the Churches Conservation Trust talks about the past, present and future of the Old Black Lion, Marefair.

Hannah traces the history of the pub, a traditional coaching inn with fabric dating to the late medieval period; reveals discoveries made during the recent building works at the Old Black Lion.

St Peter’s and the Old Black Lion project is funded by the National Lottery, West Northamptonshire Council and the Architectural Heritage Fund and led by the Churches Conservation Trust. It aims to revive the Old Black Lion so that it can generate funds for the conservation of St Peter’s Church, support activities in the church, and contribute to the wider regeneration of Marefair and the Northampton ‘Heritage Gateway’.

The Archaeologist’s Tale: All in a day’s work

John Buglass is the archaeologist on the Old Black Lion restoration project. He shares some stories from his working life from the Mary Rose to St Peter’s and many interesting ‘digs’ along the way.

William Smith ‘the father of English Geology’ is buried at St Peter’s Church in Northampton. How did that come about?

Our Speaker Bob Purser brings us his original research to tell the story. Bob is Hon Sec of Friends of St Peter’s: a leading figure in the Northampton Natural History Society Geology section and the Local U3A Geology Group.

St Peter’s, Marefair in the 12th century

John McNeill, an art historian and specialist in Medieval architecture explores the early life and times of St Peter’s, Marefair, Northampton

The festive year in the Middle Ages

Dr Kate Jewell gave us a seasonal talk on festivities through the year in the Middle Ages.

In search of Northampton Castle

Andy Chapman,formerly a professional archaeologist working with MOLA (previously Northamptonshire Archaeology) gives us an overview of excavations at
Northampton Castle since the 19th century.

Early Modern Witchcraft and the Northampton Witches

Dr Cathy Smith, Dean of Research, Impact and Innovation, University of Northampton explores witchcraft in England in the 17th and 18th centuries and the stories of Agnes Browne Joan Browne (or Vaughan), Arthur Bill, Helen Jenkenson, Mary Barber, Elinor Shaw and Mary Philips from Northamptonshire.

From Viking to Martyr, The Story of St Ragner

Dr Eleanor Parker’s lecture explores the Viking origins of St Ragener and how this links with Northampton and the Senlis family.

St Peters and Sir George Gilbert Scott

Graham Ward provides a biography of the architect who designed the restoration of St Peter’s church in 1851. The presentation offers some research and adds to our understanding of the Victorian restoration.

The Old Black Lion Regeneration Project

Peter Aiers, Director of the Churches Conservation Trust gives the story of how the project came to be and some history of the coaching inn itself. Peter is a happy Northampton resident and has been the inspiration behind this innovative project.

Northampton Before the Conquest

Andy Chapman is a former professional working with MOLA (previously Northamptonshire Archaeology). Andy is now Secretary and Editor of the Journal of the Northamptonshire Archaeology Society. He has dug and studied the archaeology if the County since the 1970s.