Place:Towcester, Northamptonshire, England

Alt namesIacodulmasource: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1976) p 476
Lactodorumsource: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1976) p 476
Lactodurumsource: Romano-British Placenames [online] (1999) accessed 16 August 2004
TypeAncient parish, Civil parish
Coordinates52.133°N 1°W
Located inNorthamptonshire, England
See alsoTowcester Hundred, Northamptonshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Towcester is a market town in Northamptonshire, England. It is the administrative headquarters of the South Northamptonshire district council.

Towcester lays claim to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the country. It was the Roman town of Lactodorum, located on Watling Street, today’s A5. In Saxon times, this was the frontier between the kingdom of Wessex and the Danelaw. Towcester features in Charles Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers as one of Mr Pickwick's stopping places on his tour. The local racecourse has hosted many national horseracing events.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Prehistoric and Roman periods

Towcester lays claim to being the oldest town in Northamptonshire and possibly, because of the antiquity of recent Iron Age finds in the town, to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the country. There is evidence that it was settled by humans since the Mesolithic era (middle stone age). There is also evidence of Iron Age burials in the area.

In Roman Britain, Watling Street, now the A5 road, was built through the area and a garrison town called Lactodurum established on the site of the present-day town. Two candidate sites for the Battle of Watling Street, fought in 61AD, are located close to the town, these are Church Stowe which is located to the north and Paulerspury which is to the south. A stone female head, that mixes Celtic and Roman styles, was found on Watling Street outside the town and was given to the British Museum in 1903.

Saxon period and Medieval age

When the Romans left in the 5th century, the area was settled by Saxons. In the 9th century, the Watling Street became the frontier between the kingdom of Wessex and the Danelaw, and thus Towcester became a frontier town . Edward the Elder fortified Towcester in 917. In the 11th century, the Normans built a motte and bailey castle on the site. Bury Mount are the remains of the fortification and is a scheduled ancient monument. It was renovated in 2008 with an access ramp added and explanatory plaques added.

Georgian and Victorian periods

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, in the heyday of the stagecoach and the mail coach, Watling Street became a major coaching road between London and Holyhead, and Towcester flourished, becoming a major stopping point. Many coaching inns and stabling facilities were provided for travellers in Towcester, many of which remain.

The coaching trade came to an abrupt halt in September 1838 when the London and Birmingham Railway was opened, which bypassed Towcester and passed through Blisworth; four miles away but enough to result in Towcester quickly reverting to being a quiet market town. By 1866 however, Towcester was linked to the national rail network by the first of several routes which came together to form the Stratford and Midland Junction Railway. Eventually, from Towcester railway station it was possible to travel four different ways out of the town: to Blisworth (opened May 1866); to Banbury (opened June 1872); to Stratford-upon-Avon (opened July 1873); and finally Olney (for access to Bedford, opened December 1892). The latter line however was an early casualty, closing to passengers in March 1893 although it continued to be used by race specials up until the outbreak of the Second World War. The Banbury line closed to passengers in July 1951 and the rest in April 1952. Goods traffic lingered on until final axing in February 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts. The site of Towcester railway station is now a Tesco supermarket.

Towcester might have gained a second station on a branch line of the Great Central Railway from its main line at Brackley to Northampton, but this branch was never built.

20th century and beyond

During the Second World War, Towcester received many evacuees from London as the Government felt the town was far enough away from any major settlements that could be a target. The town escaped any major aerial attacks but was bombed on two occasions, firstly by a plane that dropped its last two bombs following an attack on nearby Rugby. A few months later a German bomber dropped four bombs on the town during a "drop and run" attack.

The motor age brought new life to the town. Although now bypassed by the A43, the A5 trunk traffic still passes directly through the historic market town centre causing traffic jams at some times of the day. The resulting pollution has led to the town centre being designated an air quality management area. An A5 north-south bypass is likely with plans for expansion of the town being planned by the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation.

Research Tips

A Vision of Britain through Time

A Vision of Britain through Time describes parishes and former parishes from a gazetteer of 1871; provides an outline of the historic administration links for parishes. The OS map of 1900, the OS map of 1935, and the OS map of 1965 all show parish boundaries and settlements within parishes. These maps are all expandable to show individual parishes and are useful for inspecting changes occuring over the 20th century.

Archive Centres

  • Northamptonshire Archives is located at Wootton Hall Park, Northampton, NN4 8BQ, Telephone from the UK: 01604 767562 (from overseas replace the "01" with "44"). The website gives opening times and facilities available.
  • Northampton Central Library, Abington Street, Northampton, NN1 2BA (Telephone from the UK: 01604 26771 (from overseas replace the "01" with "44").

Northamptonshire Family History Society

The NFHS website describes the activities of the society. The Society is presently transcribing the deposited Marriage Registers for the period 1754 through 1837. These transcriptions may provide more details than can be found on other databases where subscriptions are charged.


The main GENUKI page for Northamptonshire lists a number of topics for research.

Victoria County History

  • the Victoria County History of Northamptonshire produced online by British History Online (founded by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust in 2003) contains only some of the Hundreds of Northamptonshire in its collection. Articles that do exist will be referenced under the relevant hundred and parish.

Online Databases

FindMyPast includes (list checked July 2018)

  • Northamptonshire Parish Records (Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, and Probate Index)
  • Northamptonshire Freeholders 1795-1797
  • Northamptonshire Hearth Tax, 1674
  • Northamptonshire Military Tribunals 1916-1918
  • Northamptonshire Militia Lists 1771
  • Northamptonshire, Northampton General Hospital Admissions 1774-1846

While Ancestry offers (list checked July 2018)

  • Census & Voter Lists 1841-1911.
  • Northamptonshire Birth, Marriage & Death
  • Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1532-1812
  • Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912
  • Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1912
  • Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1912
  • Other Birth, Marriage & Death collections related to Northamptonshire. (32)
  • Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Confirmations, 1870-1911
  • Other Schools, Directories & Church Histories collections related to Northamptonshire. (34)
  • A calendar of wills relating to the counties of Northampton and Rutland : proved in the court of the archdeacon of Northampton
  • Other Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal collections related to Northamptonshire. (23)
  • Reference, Dictionaries & Almanacs collections related to Northamptonshire. (21)
  • Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers collections related to Northamptonshire. (7)
  • Northamptonshire Stories, Memories & Histories
Genealogy of the descendants of Thomas French: who came to America from Nether Heyford, Northamptonshire, England and settled
Works of Reverend James Hervey, 1713-1758
The Orlebar Chronicles in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, 1553-1733, or the Children of the Manorhouse
Descendents of Thomas Chichele of Higham-Ferrers, Northampton, England
Rockingham Castle and the Watsons
Other Northamptonshire Stories, Memories & Histories (14)

FamilySearch also has an extensive database online. It is free, but may not always provide the original images provided by the services one pays for.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Towcester. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.