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Desborough is a town in the North Northamptonshire unitary area of Northamptonshire, England, lying in the Ise Valley between Market Harborough and Kettering. It was an industrial centre for weaving and shoe-making in the 19th century and had a long association with the Co-operative movement.
Desborough's origins lie in the Bronze Age of about 2000 BC. Urns from that period have been found in and around the town.
Many archaeological finds from the Iron Age and the Anglo-Saxon period have also been made. Some, such as the 1st-century Desborough Mirror and the Anglo-Saxon Desborough Necklace, are now in the possession of the British Museum.
Domesday Book (1086) refers to Desborough as a "place of judgement". The name itself is thought to have derived from 'Disburg', which meant a sacred and fortified place. In the High Street centrepiece of what is now the Market Square stands a pillar that is called locally the Town Cross, though it is a square column topped by a stone ball. It is thought to have served as a gateway pillar from Harrington Hall.
From the 17th century, Desborough developed around the spinning and weaving industries. The town's factories used local wool and flax to produce fine cloth and linen until the mid-19th century. Silk weaving then developed in a Paddock Lane factory and shoe-making also gained importance.
Between 1857 and 1968, Desborough had a railway station, opened and operated by the Midland Railway (later the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and, after nationalisation, British Rail). This was part of an extension of its network from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin, but it was closed under the Beeching cuts.
St Giles's Church (Anglican) is the oldest surviving building in the town, dating from about 1225. It is believed to stand on the site of an earlier Saxon church. Its relics from the town's history include part of an Anglo-Saxon cross carved from stone, a Tudor rood screen, and reminders of the English Civil War. Close by the church is the 18th-century Church House, with stuccoed Doric pillars. This became Desborough House in the 19th century and is now the Services Club.
On 7 September 1969, an Anglican/ Methodist partnership was inaugurated in the presence of the Bishop of Peterborough and the Chairman of the Oxford District. Since then a Methodist minister has been working in partnership with the Anglican vicar. St Giles is part of the Anglican united benefice of Desborough and Brampton Ash with Braybrooke and Dingley. It has regular church festivals, including one of the United Kingdom's largest and longest-running Christmas tree festivals (over 100 trees, held since 1998). The trees are contributed by local organisations, companies, families and individuals.
The Old Manor House
The Old Manor House in Gold Street retains features of its late 17th-century origins. Ferdinand Poulton, a Roman Catholic lawyer, was Lord of the Manor and reputedly one of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot conspirators.
Government and community
Desborough belongs to the Charter of European Rural Communities, which links it to 27 other EU member towns and villages. It is twinned with Neuville de Poitou in the Vienne department of France and with Bièvre in the Walloon region of Belgium.
The Desborough Community Development Trust campaigns for improvements to the town.
With the intention of preventing exploitation of workers by agents and employers, local men founded the Desborough Co-operative Society in 1863. Starting with local shops and then a corset and lingerie factory, the Desborough Co-op once had a department store, a bank, a supermarket, a travel agents, a ladies' shoe and clothing shop and a number of corner stores.
After several mergers, the town is now served by the Central England Co-op. Over the years, a number of its functions have ceased, including the bank branch and the ladies' shoe and clothing shop. However, a Co-operative undertakers has opened in one of the former corner shops.
The former Co-op Corset Factory, now owned by Wacoal Eveden Ltd makes lingerie and swimwear. The site includes the original Victorian factory, and immediately opposite, Eveden's warehousing and UK factory shop. The former Co-operative Society Sports Ground with a football field and tennis courts is now covered by a housing development, Desbeau Park – Desbeau being the name of a range of lingerie made at the Corset Factory.
Sport and leisure
The town's leisure complex was built in the later months of 2012. It holds a gym, a café, a football court, a basketball court and an outside skate park.
Targetcraft Archers club meets at nearby West Lodge Rural Centre. Desborough Green Space Junior parkrun takes place there every Sunday morning at the Leisure Centre. Local residents organize a free 2-km event aimed at increasing physical activity in children aged 4-14 years and volunteering within the community for all ages.
In birth order:
- John Reynolds (fl. 1600s), a tinker known as "Captain Pouch" and a leader of the 1607 anti-enclosure Midland Revolt, was said to be from Desborough.
- Jane West (1758–1852), novelist, poet and writer of conduct literature, was brought up in Desborough.
- Lewis Cave (1832–1897), a Queen's Bench judge, was born in Desborough.
- Lawrence Holland (1887–1956), played for Northamptonshire and died in Desborough.
- F. R. G. Heaf (1894–1973), professor of medicine and tuberculosis researcher, was born in the town.
- Cecil Kilborn, a Bradford City footballer in 1919–1924, was born in Desborough in 1902.
- Reggie Meen (1907–1984), heavyweight boxer, won the British title in 1931.
- Andy Sawford (born 1976), Labour Party politician and Corby MP, was born in Desborough.
- "Desborough Co-operative Society Jubilee Souvenir". A Family Story. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "British History Online – Desborough". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "British Museum – The Desborough Mirror". Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "About Desborough Heritage Centre – The Official Website for the Town of Desborough in Northants". Desboroughheritagecentre.co.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "British Museum – The Desborough Necklace". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Desborough Heritage Centre Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "Desborough Baptist Church". Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "Desborough United Reformed Church". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Welcome to Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Desborough". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Church partnership marks 40 years". BBC News. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Four Northamptonshire Churches". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Town Council". Desborough Town Council. 31 March 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "Charter Members". Charter of European Rural Communities. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Our twin towns and cities". Kettering Borough Council. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Site under development. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Full Freeview on the Sandy Heath (Central Bedfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Shire Sounds". Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Northamptonshire Telegraph". British Papers. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Harborough Mail". British Papers. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Northampton Chronicle and Echo". British Papers. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Loatlands Primary School". Loatlands Primary School. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Havelock Schools Website". Havelock Schools. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Secondary schools near Desborough Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Stow, John (1615). The Annales, or Generall Chronicle of England. London. pp. 889–890. Retrieved 8 August 2019.