is the oldest town in Northamptonshire.
origins can be traced back to the middle stone age and thus it can
be said to be as old as any community in Britain.
appears to have been settled continuously since, as besides the
Neolithic remains, there is also evidence of Iron Age burials.
of the Romans
it was with the Romans that Towcester became established. Roman
Towcester (Lactodorum) was a garrison town on the Watling Street,
and the street has played a major role in its history ever since.
Roman town was encompassed with an impressive wall strengthened
at strategic points by brick towers.
the substantial remains of one of these lasted right up until the
1960s when it was unfortunately demolished to make way for the telephone
wall was surrounded by an extensive ditch and earthworks and within
its circumference were four gates; two bestriding the Watling Street,
an Eastern gate, possibly now surrounded by Bury Mount, and a Western
gate guarding the Roman road to Alchester.
this suggests that what the town contained within was something
of it can now be found above ground but recent excavations suggest
that much still remains.
Lawrence's Church is thought to occupy the site of a Roman building.
Lawrence's Church for instance is thought to occupy the site of
a substantial Roman public building and by the steps leading down
to the church's boiler room can be glimpsed a small area of neat
Roman tessellated pavement.
church is well worth a visit with its fine monument to Archdeacon
Sponne, the town's first benefactor.
the departure of the Romans at the beginning of the 5th century
A.D. also went their structure of government.
there was little in the way of marked change initially but the incursion
of the Saxons a century or two later brought a different attitude
to the organisation of society and with it came the beginnings of
the system of government we know as feudalism.
Saxons were followed by the Danes and in the tenth century there
was a struggle for supremacy.
initially saw the Danes in the ascendant with the Saxon King Alfred
driven to the far south west of his kingdom.
Alfred the Great fought back and a settlement was reached which
saw the Watling Street used to divide Wessex from Danes law.
Towcester thus became a frontier town, a position it was also to
endure in the English Civil War some six centuries later.
son Edward the Elder fortified Towcester in 917 as part of a campaign
to conquer all of England. He was successful in this and Towcester
became a Saxon Royal Burgh.
remained so until the Norman Conquest when it was confiscated by
William the Conqueror.
However, within a hundred years it had passed from the King's possession
and throughout the middle ages it had a succession of Lords of the
Manor before falling into the possession of Richard Empson, perhaps
Towcester's most notorious son.
was Henry VII's tax collector and whilst earning a knighthood from
his master he earned nothing but loathing from those by whom he
obtained his advancement.
poor, taxed public had their revenge as Henry VIII felt obliged
to stifle their wrath by executing him on Tower Hill on what appears
to be a rather spurious charge.
shortly thereafter found itself in possession of Richard Fermor,
an up and coming merchant in what was yet another age of "new men".
Fermors were obviously more astute than their predecessors and their
line continues to this day as the Fermor-Heskeths.
Normans built a motte and bailey castle early in the 12th Century
as a gentle reminder of the new order.
was not required for that long and fell into disrepair, but the
motte survives to this day behind Watling Street East and abutting
is now covered by Scots Pine, a reminder of 19th century landscape
gardening, but in the English Civil War it was used as originally
intended when Prince Rupert positioned ordnance on it to defend
the town from the parliamentarians of Northampton.