Earls Barton shown within Northamptonshire
|Population||5,387 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference||SP8563|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
|Website||Earls Barton Parish Council|
Earls Barton is a village and civil parish in Northamptonshire, notable for its Anglo-Saxon church and shoe-making heritage. The village is in the Borough of Wellingborough. At the time of the 2011 census, the population was 5,387. Earls Barton is renowned for its remarkable Anglo-Saxon heritage.
The first Anglo-Saxon settlement at Earls Barton was one of various settlements built on a spring-line on the northern bank of the River Nene. The site is on a spur above the flood plain. Originally (i.e. before 600 AD) the Anglo-Saxon village was known as Bere-tun - which means "a place for growing Barley." Following the Norman invasion, the Domesday Book records the village as being called Buarton(e), with Countess Judith, the King's niece is listed as both the land and mill owner. She married Waltheof, son of Siward, Earl of Northumbria who in 1065 AD became Earl of Northampton - it was from these links and with another Earl - the Earl of Huntingdon, that gave the village its prefix "Erles" from 1261 AD.
In The King's England: Northamptonshire, edited by Arthur Mee, it notes that:
It was here when The Conqueror gave these lands to his niece the Countess Judith, and except for the clock and the battlements it looks today as it looked then... It is called Earls Barton because it was the Earl of Huntingdon's barley farm; his house stood where the church stands and the remains of its moat can be seen.
Nikolaus Pevsner however, seems to disagree with this assessment and describes it as:
...a conspicuous and quite unmistakable Norman castle-motte. It is so close to the church that it stands partly in the church-yard; on this side it appears to have been cut back to make more room. To the N it is protected by a particularly fine ditch.
He goes on to argue that the castle was founded at the time of the Norman conquest of England and its builder ignored the then existing church, leaving it in its bailey, for a later demolition that never happened.
In the 14th and 15th centuries a major change took place in the local economy, when sheep rearing gave prominence to the manufacture of woollen cloth, which remained a major cottage industry until the shift to the newly industrialised north several centuries later.
Another change took place in the 13th century when shoes began to be made from leather bought in nearby Northampton. At this time the village had its own tanyard, which remained in operation until 1984. The census of 1801 shows that the population had by then grown to 729. By 1850 the population had trebled.
Barker have been making shoes in Earls Barton since 1880; Barkers built a new factory and offices in 1986 in the centre of the village.
Between 1913 and 1921 ironstone was quarried locally with the ore being removed either by train or by an aerial ropeway.
The Church of England parish church of All Saints has been a feature of the village for many centuries. Its Anglo-Saxon tower dates to ca 970 AD. Pevsner says that the church tower as built was not originally followed by a nave, but a chancel. He also describes the tower's bell openings as being very unusual - having five narrow arches each on turned balusters.
All Saints' underwent two phases of Norman enlargement, one at either end of the 12th century.
Other notable features include:
- a Norman or Anglo-Saxon door and arcading on the western end of the building - this was the original entrance to the church,
- a medieval rood screen,
- a Victorian font and pews, and
- a modern 20th-century inner porch and windows
Apart from the Saxon tower, the church is mainly built from Northamptonshire ironstone and limestone, while the tower was constructed from Barnack stone and infilled with local limestone.
Another feature is that every century from the 10th century onwards is represented in either the fabric or the fittings of the church building. It is decorated with the work of the local artist Henry Bird.
The church was featured on a 1972 postage stamp issued by the Royal Mail, as part of a set depicting village churches.
There are three other churches in Earls Barton: Methodist, Baptist and Roman Catholic. Another Anglo-Saxon church can be found nearby in Brixworth. The Methodist Church is on Broad Street; the church building is over 200 years old and is home to many village groups including the 1st Earls Barton Boy's Brigade, badminton club and wives group.
The village was the inspiration for the film Kinky Boots and part of the film was shot here. It is based on the true story of a local boot factory which turned from DMs, their own Provider brand and traditional boots to producing fetish footwear in order to save the ailing family business and the jobs of his workers. The village has a history of ingenious industry including the Barker's shoe factory, a woven label company, and the White & Co factory that produced Tredair and DM boots until 2003.
In the village's small market square there's a pharmacy run by a member of the Jeyes the chemists family, who invented and manufactured Jeyes Fluid and the Philadelphus Jeyes chemist chain and who lived nearby at Holly Lodge in Boughton.
Earls Barton is renowned for its 'Dr Fright's Night' halloween shows hosted at White's farm and is popular with neighbouring villages and towns.
In snowy conditions Kensit's field becomes a popular attraction for sledgers due to its steep hill.
The village has a cricket team. The exact date that this club was established is unknown however there has been cricket in Earls Barton since the late 19th century. The club at present has three teams that play in the Northamptonshire Cricket League on Saturdays and a friendly team that plays on Sundays. It also has Kwik Cricket, U11's, U13's, U15 & U17's teams.
The local football team, Earls Barton FC was formed in the late 19th century - with the exact date now not known. When Northampton Town FC (The Cobblers) was first formed in 1897, their first game was against Earls Barton United (EBU) on 18 September 1897. The final score Cobblers 4 - EBU 1. Currently Earls Barton United Football Club compete in the Premier Division of the Northants Combination, which is at Step 7 of the English non-league pyramid.
A speedway training track operated at Earls Barton in the early 1950s.
"Earls Barton Motors" was home to Britain's 1957 stock car World Champion, Aubrey Leighton, who was a recognised innovator and builder of stock cars, as well as a racer.
A Project Group made up of local residents, elected members and a project manager with experience of planning was formed and meets monthly. Following an appropriate framework, the group is working with the village residents to produce a Plan, which will be adopted or otherwise after an appropriate referendum is held.
- 1st Earls Barton Boys Brigade
- Badminton Club
- Earls Barton Fire Station
- Earls Barton Historical Society
- Earls Barton Junior School
- Earls Barton Library
- Earls Barton Museum of Village Life
- Earls Barton Music
- Earls Barton Parish Council
- Earls Barton Police Station.
- Earls Barton Tennis Club
- Earls Barton Youth Club
- Saxon Pre-School
- Starfruit Youth Theatre Company
- The newly refurbished Co-op
- Under The Tower - Drama Group
- Earls Barton Village centre
- Earls Barton Church
- The Old Church Door
- Office for National Statistics: Earls Barton CP: Parish headcounts Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- Times (29 April 2000) Henry Bird, Obituary The Times
- Palmer, Joyce. Earls Barton: The history of a Northamptonshire Parish. ISBN 0-300-09632-1.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (revision) (1973) . The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 195–196. ISBN 0-14-071022-1.
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