Lost Villages in Northamptonshire

The Deserted Medieval Villages Another are another “lost” landscape feature of Northamptonshire. These were extensively researched between 1958 and 1965 and comprehensive details appeared in 1966 as “The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire” 1 by K. J. Allison, M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst. Maurice Beresford subsequently edited a comprehensive gazetteer of lost villages in the UK in 1971 in “Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies”. 2

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Clicking the image above or this link will display an interactive map of the county’s lost villages.

There are 82 villages and hamlets that are known to have disappeared in Northamptonshire in the last 900 years. This represents about 18% of the high point of the total number of villages. The survey categorises each of the villages according to when is ceased to be inhabited, the time period indicated by I, II, III, IV and V, where “N” is used when the date is uncertain.

Period

Time frame

Number of villages “lost”

Percentage of total lost villages

I

1086 (mentioned only in Domesday Book)

4

5%

II

c. 1100-c. 1350

1

1%

III

c. 1350-c. 1450

10

12%

IV

c. 1450-C. 1700

34

41%

V

after c. 1700

19

11%

N

Uncertain date

5

6%

N(III)

Uncertain, but probably c. 1350-C. 1450

4

5%

N(IV)

Uncertain, but probably c. 1450-C. 1700

15

19%

.

.

82

.

There is a common assumption that the depopulation and disappearance of the villages were chiefly as a consequence of the Black Death. This, however, is untrue and at best an oversimplification of the health, social and structural changes that actually occurred. During each of the periods the probable reasons for disappearance can be summarised as follows:

Period

Time frame

Probable cause of the disappearance of village or hamlet

I

1086

.

II

c. 1100-c. 1350

Foundation of an Abbey

III

c. 1350-c. 1450

Depopulation as a consequence of the Black Death

IV

c. 1450-c. 1700

Evictions related to turning arable land over to grazing

V

after c. 1700

Establishing parkland around country houses

The accompanying map shows the locations of 80 of the lost villages. The location of two villages that have disappeared is unknown: Chelversdescote, possibly near Everdon and Hantone which was possibly near Great Addington. Hovering the pointer over the marker will display a pop-up box. This pop-up shows a link to a side-by-side mapping page hosted by the National Library of Scotland (NLS). Clicking the link will display in the left panel a 25-inch map of the area surveyed in the 1890s and in the right panel a LIDAR (1m DTM) ground mapping. Not all areas of the county have been surveyed with LIDAR and consequently, some places will only display an empty panel.

Here is an example of the NLS mapping for Faxton.

Further resources

The University of Hull has an online gazetteer of Lost Villages for the whole of the UK based on the 1971 publication. There is also background material relating to the research and Maurice Beresford.

These three publications are recommended reading:

Allison, K.J., M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst 1966. The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire. Leicester: University Leicester Department of English Local History Occasional Papers 18.

Beresford, M.W. and J.G. Hurst (eds) 1971. Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies. London: Lutterworth Press (1989 edition, Gloucester: Alan Sutton).

Dyer, Christopher, and Richard Jones, editors. Deserted Villages Revisited. University Of Hertfordshire Press, 2010.

The Shire booklet also provides a good introduction to the subject:

Rowley, Trevor, and John Wood. Deserted Villages. 3rd Revised edition, Shire Publications, 2000.

© 2020, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.

  1. Allison, K.J., M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst 1966. The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire. Leicester: University Leicester Department of English Local History Occasional Papers 18.
  2. Beresford, M.W. and J.G. Hurst (eds) 1971. Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies. London: Lutterworth Press (1989 edition, Gloucester: Alan Sutton).
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