Golf Course Update

You may remember the story a few weeks ago that the golf club had dug up part of the battlefield without permission? We can now reveal that this was relatively close to where the cannonball was found. The deadline for a response from the club has now passed and it appears that they will be applying for retrospective planning permission.

We hope those concerned have read the Council’s own Conservation Management Plan for the battlefield, which on pages 80 and 81 states

Overriding Policy 1

“Any operations which may result in disturbance of potential archaeological evidence or contamination with metallic artefacts should be appropriately assessed by a battlefield archaeologist to ensure that any archaeological evidence is recorded, interpreted and protected”

Overriding Policy 2.

“Conserve and enhance the historic and planned elements of the Registered battlefield’s built environment and landscape including remnant medieval features and the designed parkland.”

Overriding Policy 6.

“Maintain the landscape assets of the site, key views linking the town of Northampton to the battlefield, parkland within the site, the quality of the Abbey Grounds”

Overriding Policy 7.

“Ensure that the natural and built components of the site are maintained in a manner which conserves and enhances their heritage, ecological and amenity value ….”

One other question. If you or I built something without permission what would happen? We would be ordered to put it back to how it was and fined heavily. What is going to happen here?


Oldest cannonball found in England

A lead ball, believed to be the oldest surviving cannonball in England, has been found at Eagle Drive on the site of the Battle of Northampton.

The battle was fought between Yorkists and Lancastrians on 10 July 1460 in the area now known as Delapré Park and the 50-60mm diameter ball was originally found on farmland in the area of Eagle Drive, Northampton, part of the English Heritage registered battlefield.

The ball was actually found several years ago by the late Stuart Allwork, but had been believed lost until last year. Since its rediscovery the cannon ball has been subjected to detailed analysis by Dr Glenn Foard, one of the UK’s leading experts on medieval artillery and noted battlefield archaeologist from Huddersfield University.

Dr Foard also led the team that found the true site of the Battle of Bosworth. A programme of research and scientific testing of the ball is ongoing, Dr Foard has concluded that “It is highly likely that the projectile was fired during the battle in 1460”.

The Eagle Drive Cannon Ball itself has suffered massive impact damage from at least two bounces, and one gouge still contains small fragments of Northampton Sand and Ironstone. A testimony to the immense forces in play as the shot ricocheted across the battlefield.

Other damage may have been caused by the cannon ball hitting a tree. But whatever caused the damage it is a vivid reminder of the dangers of a medieval battlefield which could at any moment maim or kill without favour the lowliest peasant conscript, one of the most powerful nobles in the Kingdom or even a King. In August the same year James II of Scotland was killed by an exploding cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle.

The whole area in which the cannon ball was found is of immense archaeological importance.

Not only is it part of the 1460 battlefield, which contains large and well preserved areas of the medieval field system over which the battle was fought, it is also the site of a Roman villa or settlement. A possible Neolithic cursus of national importance and evidence of ancient trackways criss-cross the site of the find, showing the importance of the area during even earlier periods. Indeed, a number of other important finds from the Stone Age have also been found in the area.

The Battle of Northampton itself is also unique in British military history.

It was the only time a fortification was assaulted, the last time protracted negotiations proceeded a battle, and the only time a whole army was excommunicated during the Wars of the Roses. In its aftermath, Richard of York, the father of Richard III, laid claim to the throne for the first time, setting in train the series of violent and tragic events which eventually saw his son die on the field at Bosworth twenty five years later.

Contemporary accounts suggest as many as 12,000 men could have been either killed during the battle, or trampled to death or drowned in the rout as the defeated Lancastrian Army tried desperately to escape.

Both the Yorkist and Lancastrian armies are known to have had artillery available during the battle, although some contemporary accounts suggest that the Lancastrian guns failed to fire because of the rain. Therefore, the ball most likely originated as the Yorkist gunners targeted Lancastrian troops in their defences.

Thus the find of the Eagle Drive Cannon Ball supports current theories about the position and orientation of the battle which form the basis of Northampton Council’s Conservation Plan for the site which was adopted in 2014.cannonball1

The 1460 Cannonball

History of Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire has always played an important part in the history of Britain. Sadly it is a current trend that modern historians leave the county out of narratives of important events such as the wars between Saxons and Vikings, the sealing of the Magna Carta, the Second Barons War, the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

In an attempt to redress the balance, we are making available below a potted history of the county as two pdf’s. Part 1 covers Saxons to the mid 15c, Part 2. the Wars of the Roses to the Black Watch Mutiny.

northants history part 2 northants history part 1

NBS wins ‘Community Star’ award

We are pleased to announce that Northampton Battlefield Society has been awarded a Community Star Award by the NN48 Community Group which covers the area around Delapré, Far Cotton and Briar Hill in Northampton. There are ten awards in total including the Community Group Award, The Charity Champion Award and the Good Neighbour Award. NBS has been awarded ‘The Roy Connell Award’ for a Community Group have fought for what they believe in. The award itself is in memory of the late Roy Connell, who was the chair of Far Cotton Residents Association and who fought tirelessly for what he believed in for the benefit of the community.

Chair Mike Ingram said, ‘ We are honoured and grateful to receive this award, and although it may sound like a cliché, this really is an award for all those in the community who have said enough is enough, this is our green space and our battlefield, and we don’t want it destroyed. A big thanks must also go to those people and organisations such as Mortimer, the Battlefields Trust and English Heritage who have been helping behind the scenes’.

Northampton Borough Council agrees the Conservation Plan for the Battlefield

Last night, on the eve of the anniversary of the 1460 Battle of Northampton, a cabinet meeting of Northampton Borough Council agreed a conservation plan for the 1460 battlefield. In essence they

1. Approved the adoption of the Battle of Northampton 1460 – Conservation Management Plan as a Supplementary Planning Document.

2. Approved the Battle of Northampton 1460 – Conservation Management Plan to inform the activities of the Council and its tenants in the wider management of its assets which are not subject to regulation through the statutory planning process.

3. Approved the submission of a funding bid, working in association with interested parties and the community, to enable further survey work to be undertaken in accordance with a brief, agreed with the County Archaeologist and English Heritage, to try to establish the location of the Lancastrian encampment and further understand the wider battlefield.

4. Agreed to the development of a Battlefield Visitor Centre to showcase the Registered Battlefield, the results of any further survey work and any associated archaeology and local history in association with interested parties and the community.

The full report can be found here

King Richard’s Bane

In the hours before the Battle of Northampton, as was tradition, King Henry knighted a number of his men. Little did they know that in just over twenty years, several of them would be instrumental in the downfall of Richard III.


Henry Stafford(4 September 1455 – 2 November 1483)

Henry was the grandson and heir of Humphrey Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Northampton, his own father dying at the Battle of St. Albans five years earlier.. Henry was not even five years old when he was knighted at Northampton. On his grandfather’s death at Northampton, he soon became the ward of Elizabeth Woodville, so he probably spent much of his youth with the Woodville’s at Grafton Regis in Northamptonshire. Sometime around 1465 and before he was ten years old, Henry married Elizabeth’s sister Catherine, three years his junior. Although three of his four grandparents were descended from Edward III, Henry played little part in politics of the time. That is until he seems to have become close confidant of Richard of Gloucester, helping him to take the throne. In 1483, Buckingham led a major rebellion against Richard which ended in failure and his execution.

Thomas Stanley (1435 – 29 July 1504)

No doubt through his father’s influence, Thomas had become a Squire to King Henry by 1454. After the death of his father in February 1459, Stanley inherited his father’s titles, including those of Baron Stanley and King of Mann as well as his extensive lands and offices in Cheshire and Lancashire. He therefore, probably came to Northampton in 1460 at the head of the infamous Cheshire archers. His brother William seems devoted to the Yorkist cause and if one chronicle can be believed, sacked the Royal baggage train at Gayton in Northamptonshire after the battle. Thomas would go on to help his stepson Henry Tudor to the throne, whilst his wife Margaret Beaufort would retire to Collyweston in north Northamptonshire.

Sir William Norris  (1433-1506)

Norris was the son of John Norris of Yattenden and Bray in Berkshire, and married to Jane, daughter of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford. After the battle, he too changed sides, and in 1462, took part in Edward’s invasion of Scotland. His wife became a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth Woodville and by 1468 he was Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. He must have been trusted by Edward as in 1483 he was created a Knight of the Body. After Edward’s death he was at the coronation of the new King, Richard III on 6 July, but then in the October, joined Buckingham’s rebellion. Initially he was one of the leaders in the Newbury area then with John Cheyne led a force blocking the way from Poole to Westminster. On 23 Oct Norris was proclaimed a rebel and attained, but by this time had probably fled to France to join Henry Tudor. When Henry Tudor returned in 1485, Norris was part of his army, fighting at Bosworth. He would go on to command part of the royal army at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487 and again against Perkin Warbeck ten years later.


Thomas Dymoke (ca.1427- 1470)

Thomas was the son of Sir Philip Dymoke and Joan Conyers and was married to Margaret, third daughter of the Lancastrian commander, 6th Lord Welles. After the battle he seems to have changed sides as on 28 June 1461, he is noted as being King Edward IV’s champion at his coronation. However, in 1469          he joined with his brother-in-law, Richard Welles, 7th Lord Willoughby in supporting Warwick’s plot to restore Henry. In            1470, along with Lord Welles, his son, Sir Robert Welles and Sir Thomas de la Launde, he attacked the manor of Sir Thomas Burgh in Lincolnshire. Both Dymoke and Lord Welles were subsequently commanded to appear before the Privy Council, but because of Edward’s rapid move north, they were sent after the army. On hearing that Edward wanted them to explain Sir Robert’s conduct, they took sanctuary in Westminster; after being pardoned, they promised to disband his army, which they failed to do. Dymoke was arrested along with Lord Welles when Robert Welles army began to march south. King Edward with his own army moved to intercept them. On 12 March 1470, the two sides met at the Battle of Empingham better known as Losecote Field.  On the same day, both Dymoke and Welles were executed at Stamford in Lincolnshire.

Thomas Thorpe (died 1461)

Thorpe was of unknown parentage, but was almost certainly a native of Northamptonshire, where he later acquired the manors of Barnwell All Saints and Lilford. He obtained employment in the exchequer, where by about 20 July 1437 he was a summoner. He probably owed his subsequent advancement to the patronage of the Beauforts, with whom Thorpe was associated in the grant of a wardship in 1443. His parliamentary career began in Oct 1449 when he was elected junior knight of the shire (MP) of Northamptonshire along with Thomas Tresham. By 1452 he was the Third Baron of the Exchequer and Knight of the Shire for Essex. In 1453, he was elected Speaker for the first part of the 19th Parliament of King Henry VI. However, the following year, he was imprisoned in the Fleet Prison for falsely confiscating property of the Duke of York and was replaced as Speaker by Sir Thomas Charlton.

In 1455, Thorpe became Chancellor of the Exchequer and was with the King at St Albans where he was among those subsequently accused of having fled ‘and left ther harneys behynde them cowardly’. Afterwards the Duke of York accused him of intercepting messages to the King which might have prevented the Battle of St Albans and Thorpe was stripped of all his public offices. On his return to favour in 1457 he was made Keeper of the Privy Wardrobe in the Tower of London for life and in 1458 was appointed Second Baron of the Exchequer, serving until 1460. At the Parliament of Devils in 1459, he helped to draw up the bill of attainder declaring York and his leading followers to be traitors.

In 1460 he was captured at the Battle of Northampton and brought back to London as a prisoner first to Newgate and then Marshalsea. However he managed to escape disguised as a monk complete with tonsure, but was recaptured and sent to the Tower. He managed to escape a second time, but on 17 February 1461, was caught in Harringay by a London mob and summarily beheaded.


Sir Henry Lewys (1439 -1480)

Henry’s father was John Lewys of West Horndon and his mother Alicia, another one of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford’s daughters.  was another close associate of the Beauforts, marrying Sir Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Somerset’s daughter Elizabeth, sometime after the battle. Their daughter Mary would go on to marry Anthony Woodville, Lord Rivers . Sir Henry’s half-sister Margaret, from his father’s second wife Anne Montagu (d. 1457), who was the daughter of John Earl of Salisbury,was also married to Sir William Lucy. Lucy was also killed at Northampton along with his nephew and heir, Walter Hopton, and his great-nephew William Vaux. Margaret possibly had an affair (and a child) with King Edward but would later go on to marry Sir Thomas Wake. Wake was a prominent Northamptonshire squire, formerly sheriff, and Commissioner of Array, probably fighting for the Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton. After the death of Buckingham he became a Warwick retainer, accusing his neighbour, Jacquetta, Elizabeth Woodville’s mother of witchcraft.

After Northampton, Sir Henry took part in the Battle of Towton on the Lancastrians side, managing to escape the carnage again.  Along with his brother-in-law Henry Beaufort, he was attained during Edward’s first Parliament in 1461. And the following year, they were both at Dunstanburgh when it surrendered to Yorkist forces in Dec 1462. Both swore their allegiance to Edward, but by 1470 Henry was involved with Welles plotting and rebellion.


William Tyrrell

Confusingly there were two William Tyrrell’s knighted at Northampton. The first was William from Gipping in Suffolk, the younger son of John Tyrrell of Heron in Essex, chief steward of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was married to Margaret, the daughter of Sir Robert Darcy. Surviving Northampton, he fought for the Lancastrians at Towton but seems to have escaped an attainder. However, he seems to have not forgotten his Lancastrian sympathies. Tyrrell seems to have had connections to the Earl of Oxford who had a strong affinity in Essex and Suffolk, In 1462, some compromising correspondence between Oxford and Queen Margaret was intercepted. It was read, copied, re-sealed and carried on to Margaret. Her reply was dealt with in the same way, and the Government soon had the details of a possible French landing. King Edward IV immediately arrested the 12th Earl along with his oldest son Aubrey de Vere (who was married to the daughter of the 1st Duke of Buckingham), Sir John Tuddenham and Tyrrell. They were convicted of high treason before the Constable of England, John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester. Aubrey was executed on Tower Hill on 20 February 1462. Tyrrell followed three days later, and then Oxford on 26 February 1462.

The other William Tyrrell, was from Beeches in Rawreth, Essex, and like his namesake, survived Northampton and Towton without attainder. He was married firstly to Anne Fitz Simon, the daughter of William Fitz Simon, by whom he had his son and heir, Sir John Tyrrell, and secondly Philippe Thornbury, the daughter of John Thornbury. He also seems to have been in the retinue of the Earl of Oxford and was probably with him when he slain at the Battle of Barnet in 1471

John de Ashton or Assheton (died 1508),

John was the son of Sir Thomas, King Henry’s alchemist, and would become Knight of the Shire for Lancashire in 1472.


J.S. Roskell, Parliament and Politics in Late Medieval England.

W.A Shaw. The Knights of England  Vol 2 (London 1906) p. 12

M. Hicks. Edward V: The Prince in the Tower

M. Hicks. Richard III and His Rivals: Magnates and Their Motives in the Wars of the Roses