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{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 1.2a

My Cottingham

by Janice Binley with contributions from Alan D Craxford


Janice Binley

Janice Binley Associate Editor

Cottingham is the place I call home, where I was born, and where ten generations of our three combined families have lived since the 1600s. It is a pretty village within the Welland Valley and still surrounded by farmland. Our views from one aspect, on the road to Rockingham, are far reaching. From there, on a clear day we can see the viaduct at Seaton and Ketton Cement Works chimneys standing tall on the horizon. We have been lucky in the fact that we are not isolated as some rural villages are. Corby, the nearest town is only ten minutes away by car and provided work in the steel industry for many years for about three quarters of our menfolk. Market Harborough and Kettering are about 6 miles away. In my youth we had three public houses all within walking distance of each other, a post office, a paper and sweet shop, another sweet cum grocery shop, a Co-operative store, two bakeries, an upholsterer, a bookmeker and a carpenter and undertaker. Just after the second World War we had a fish and chip shop for a time. We also had a coal merchant and garage. And I mustn't forget our factory which had provided our mothers and grandmothers with work since its opening in 1874

Cottingham has grown considerably since my childhood with many more houses. Sadly, with the introduction of supermarkets, only one shop remains, but we still have two public houses. Our school has now been turned into a private house and a new school has been built to cope with the growing number of children. But despite the many changes, our village still retains its charm and our ancestors would still be able to recognise some of the landmarks that were there more than a century ago.

A Village Gallery


Cottingham village sign at The Cross (1)

Let me take you for a gentle walk around the byways of my village. Our starting point is the Cross, the junction of four roads in the centre of the village. This area has changed substantially since the end of the last war when roads were redeveloped and widened. There were several old established businesses here in the old days, most of which have disappeared and the buildings have become houses. We will first head east along Corby Road, which in Victorian times was also known as George Street and Town Street. The corner between Corby Road and Rockingham Road used to be an island on which the Copyholders of the village placed a water pump as part of the village water supply (See "Elizabeth Tilley and the grocery connection" [Article A.]). A branch of the road ran behind the water pump and beyond that in a slightly elevated position is Crossbank House. The island has now gone, has been grassed over and now displays the "Welcome to Cottingham" sign.

The pump

LEFT: The water pump at The Cross (from an old postcard about 1900)
RIGHT: Crossbank House

Heading out of the village along Corby Road, on both sides there were properties which had been home to a number of trades in the past. On the left as far back as the 1860s there was a bakery and grocery shop. Early records show this to be run by the Rayson family before passing to the Aldwinckles and then after the turn of the century the Philpotts. After the second World War it became a fish and chip shop. On the right hand side of the road there was another grocer's store and a haberdasher's shop. Beyond that there used to be a Co-operative store and a second bakery. Directly opposite the Welcome sign now is the newly opened Village Store and Cafe which is a community run project.

The pump

LEFT: Approaching The Cross from Corby Road (about 1950)
Similar view showing the end of the building which housed the bakery and the chip shop


The Village Store and Cafe

Continuing along the left hand side of the road there is now a bus stop and bus shelter. Also at this point there used to be a path which led up to the back entrance of the Royal George, one of the village's public houses. Prior to its redevelopment the next area consisted of a terrace of small houses which faced Corby Road. There was also a flight of steps running from the road into a area of in-fill buildings known locally as Barrack Yard. (There is an expanded article called "The Barrack Yard Preservation Society" [Article B.] here). The whole area was demolished in the 1960s but the embankment was reinforced with a wall and railings and the floor of the passageway leading from the front of Barrack Yard to the Blind Lane level can be recognised by the blue bricks at the base of the upper wall.

Old Chapel

Corby Road: Left About 1900; Right today

Opposite this on the right hand side of Corby Road is the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. This was built in two stages - the first part looking onto the road opened in 1808 and is now used as a function room. The second part which looks onto the corner of The Nook was completed in 1879. The village saw notable celebrations in September 1953 to mark the Chapel's 75th Anniversary. It had also been closed for several weeks for renovations and for the installation of a number of new facilities. Many of the congregation came together for a commemorative photograph of the day. The Nook itself slopes down the hill offering views of St Mary Magdalene Church in the distance.

Old Chapel

The Wesleyan Chapel, Corby Road

The Nook

St Mary Magdalene Church: view from Corby Road through The Nook

Dale StileThe Nook

Dale Stile and the Lime Kiln (2)

The large house opposite the Chapel belonged to Peach family, who were farmers and owned a butcher's shop. A little further along Corby Road a path called Dale Stile runs behind this house and leads to Water Lane. To the left of the footpath there is a meadow which holds the ruins of an old Lime Kiln. Where Dale Stile meets Water Lane there is a stone wall runs along the left hand side of the road. Halfway along that stone wall it is interrupted by a small gravelled area which houses a tall, narrow, two storey building which was once the Assay Office for the Lime Kiln. The house that can be seen in front of the church was occupied towards the end of the ninteenth century by John Craxford and Sarah Ann Claypole. Immediately beyond this there are some steps which lead up to the front entrance to the church and the churchyard. Beyond the church is a footpath which leads into the pocket park of The Dale. This is now part of a footpath system called the Jurassic Way. Turning right eventually leads to the old school building in Camsdale Walk, Middleton.

Water Lane

Water Lane, looking towards the church
The house in front of the church and on the right was the home of John Craxford and Sarah Claypole for some years

The church of St Mary Magdalene

Our Church is beautiful. It is a grade 1 listed building and has been the cornerstone of our community since the twelfth century. The tower was completed about 1400 and the interior has undergone restorations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (3). Its presence marks all the important events in our lives: we were christened, married and many of our ancestors are buried in the Church yard. The Church stands very proudly on a hill and can be seen from several villages in the Welland Valley. It has a magnificent spire topped by a weather cock. Just before and during the last war Dr Ruby was our Rector. He and his wife were very active in the village and would take families in their car to Kettering hospital if the need arose. (Not many people had cars in those days). Dr and Mrs Ruby were keen on mountaineering and frequently went to the Alps and other places on climbing holidays. The placing of the weather cock on the Church Steeple posed a problem. A lot of scaffolding would be required to enable this to be done. But Mrs Ruby stepped into the breach and climbed to the top with the help of her mountaineering equipment and saved the day.

Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham: a view across the village from Blind Lane

The main entrance to the Church leads into quite a large porch (useful to place umbrellas on wet days and shelter bridesmaids and relatives with cameras waiting for the bride). Beyond the porch the large stained glass window at the far end of the nave leaves a striking first impression. The main central aisle has steps leading up to the chancel with choir stalls on either side. The pulpit is to the right of the chancel steps and the large pipe organ to the left. At the top of the chancel under the stained glass window is the altar. At the back of the main aisle is the belfry where the bell ringers peal the bells on special occasions and where there is access to the clock mechanism.

On either side of the main aisle are two narrower ones flanked by stone pillars. The left aisle has a side door in the centre of the outer wall where coffins and mourners usually enter and exit. There are steps towards the front of each aisle, partitioned off at the top with wooden doors. The left side encloses the choir entrance and the back of the organ and the right side leads to the vestry where newly weds and their witnesses sign the register. The hymn numbers are in a wooden frame on the wall to the left of the chancel steps.

When we were children, there were many occasions when the Church was full to capacity. On Mothering Sunday we went to Church with our parents and each child who attended Sunday School was presented with a tiny posy of violets and primroses, transported from Devon I believe, and we proudly gave these to our mothers. On Good Friday all the schoolchildren of our generation went to Church and again on Easter Sunday. On Armistice Day the Church was also packed to capacity with people who had lost loved ones in both wars and members of the British Legion led a procession from the War Memorial to the Church. Christmas and Harvest Festival was also celebrated by most of the village.

St Mary Magdalene, Cottingham, interior view

St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham: interior

The churchyard spreads in a more or less easterly direction from the back of the church with a large extension to the north. For logistical purposes the churchyard is divided into a number areas (labelled A to K). The oldest, and now heavily overgrown, is Plot A which contains 303 grave plots arranged in 14 rows. The earliest of the headstones is recorded to date back to the 1680s. The churchyard is reached by a path running along the south side of the Church. The main burial areas are to the right of the path, the older (sector B: 120 plots) closer to the west end of the building and separated by a spur of the path from the more recent (sector G: 205 plots). There are much smaller subsidiary ares to the left side of the path and also alongside the path in front of the Church which leads to the pocket park.


St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham:
Top left: Plan of the churchyard; Top right: Memorial to Phyllis Claypole (See [Article C.])
Bottom left: The Chamberlain family memorial; Bottom right: Headstone for Thomas Christopher Claypole

Church Street

Church Street is a pretty street. Looking down the street from the Church towards the Cross, the vista looks much the same as it must have done in the nineteenth century. One family dominated this area for most of the Victorian era. By 1841 John Neville Chamberlain had married a local girl, Elizabeth Tilley, had four children and established a grocery shop in King Street (the earlier name for Church Street). When he moved on to other enterprises in the village the store passed on to his son John. Opposite the store there is a cul-de-sac called Chamberlain's Yard, on the corner of which used to stand a bakery ([Article A.]). Inevitably change has occurred over the years. The businesses have changed (the grocery shop became the post office for a number of years) and then disappeared and more houses have been added on both sides of the road. One or two barn conversions have been built in former farm yards on the left and a discreet close of two or three modern houses in a paddock on the right are evident, but they do not intrude on the main thoroughfare. The old stone houses and terraced cottages still hold pride of place, fronting both sides towards the High Street and enrich the village by their quiet presence and their hidden history. The old water pump, once fed by the source at the Cross still remains in a wall opposite the old bakery as a further reminder of earlier times.

Church Street 1

Four views of Church Street, centred on Chamberlain's shop
Top left: The shop (from a 1900 post card); Top right: As a post office (from a 1935 post card)
Bottom left: Church Street from the church; Bottom right: the building as it appears today

Church Street 2

Church Street, centred on the old bakery
Left: From a 1950 post card; Right: View today

Continued in column 2...

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Page added: October 18th 2019

High Street and School Lane

Spead Eagle

Spread Eagle public house

Turning left from Church Street at the Cross brings us into High Street. The Spread Eagle is the most famous and dominant building here. Its original thatched roof, still visible in old photographs, has been replaced with a more modern slate roof. In Victorian times it was one of four public houses in the centre of the village but over the years The King's Head, The Crown and The Three Horseshoes have all disappeared. The Spread Eagle and The Crown were beautifully illustrated in a watercolour painted around 1980 from memory by my stepfather, Cyril Loake (See "Aspects of Cottingham: War and more" [Article D.]). The licence for the last named establishment was held variously by the Craxford and Kemshead families (described in "A History of the Tilley family: Cottingham Part 2b, the family of Samuel and Mary Ann Tilley" [Article E.]). On the opposite side of the road is the pub Car Park and is situated on the site where the old Manor House once stood. On both sides of the road thereafter, the buildings are much the same as they have been for many years even though some of their functions have changed with the times. There are a few exceptions in that a house next to the old Spread Eagle was demolished in the 1960s to accommodate a larger new building and after the last house on the left, a bungalow has been erected. A row of cottages on the right have also disappeared but we have gained a small complex of modern houses built in a paddock/orchard towards the bottom right of High Street and they continue around the corner into School Lane

High Street

High Street now and then: Left: current view from Google Street View
Right: About 1900 - the sign for the Three Horseshoes is just discernable in the distance to the left of the boy standing in the middle of the picture.

Bury House

Bury House (from an old postcard)

Moving on from this new housing complex, on the left of the road is a high stone wall which encloses Bury House (4). The land was granted to Sir Christopher Hatton by Queen Elizabeth I. The house was originally built about 1690 of limestone and ironstone topped with a Swithland slate roof. It was the home of first World War hero Colonel George Eustace Ripley who died in October 1916 after sustaining injuries at the assault on Thiepval, part of the Battle of the Somme. In the 1960s part of the grounds were developed into The Hunting Lodge Hotel which sadly had to close about ten years ago. A few yards further on the High Street reaches a T-junction, the left turn leading into Middleton. The road by this corner forms a small triangle and turning right leads past the War Memorial with the new primary school behind it. The War Memorial is well kept and has a fairly recent addition of a metal silhouette of a soldier complete with tin hat and rifle. Turning back to the High Street, on the left side of the road is a bungalow on the corner of Bringhurst Road and then two houses before coming to the old police house on the left of the turn into School Lane.

War memorial

The War Memorial

At its junction with High Street, School Lane is a single track road, walled on either side. Renamed when the local school was located here at the turn of the last century, it had been previously called by the rather unpleasant Dag Lane. There was a bungalow on the left, just before the corner at the top which was built in the early 1930s, but it has now been extended into a house. Beyond this there was an orchard belonging to the White House (a property once occupied by Thomas Spriggs and Mary Ann Jarvis, [Article F.]) on the corner, but two private houses now nestle into its landscape. Turning the corner there is another modern house built on our old school playground and then the school itself which has now been made into a lovely and characterful home. Obviously modifications have been made to the school. Now the inner wall of our infant class has become the back wall of the house, which faces the back garden, and still shows the fireplace we sat around during winter afternoons. Opposite the school is the entrance to two of the houses built on the small complex seen from the High Street and beyond this entrance, at the back of the Spread Eagle Car Park are two cottages facing east towards Corby Road. There is another house on the left before School Lane meets the Cross and Rockingham Road.

Rockingham Road


Views of Brickfield Cottages including the dedication plaque inscribed "I.N.C. 1863" which can be seen between the two arches.

Rockingham Road at one time was called Hill Road. An area on the left was known variously as Frog Island and Prospect Place. About three quarters of a mile out along Rockingham Road is where the old brickyard stood. John Neville Chamberlain bought the brickyard and kiln when he gave up running the shop in Church Street and provided work for at least two families of our extended network. He built a row of four cottages on the edge of the site which date from 1863. Nothing remains to hint at the site's previous industial past. The cottages still remain but have now been converted into one large house.

Crossing over the road there is the entrance to Rockingham Park which belongs to the Castle and continuing past this are several fields of arable land on our left. Over to the right the village of Bringhurst can be seen clearly standing on a hill overlooking the River Welland below. As the Cottingham village comes back into view we see a new structure being built on the left on ground which once contained allotments, pig styes and an orchard. Next to this is another bungalow, where pigs and chickens were once bred and then two further houses opposite Prospect Place. The new police house stands towards the corner of Ripley Road and then another three detached houses and a bungalow before a row of cottages and the old Wallis and Linnell factory (5).

Wallis staff

Clothing factory staff. Ernest Jarman is standing second from the right.


The old Wallis and Linnell clothing factory today

Frederic Wallis was born in 1833 in Kettering; John Linnell in Burton Latimer in 1837. They formed the company which was to bear their name in 1856. They opened a number of factories for making clothes in villages around Kettering including Brigstock and Gretton. The one in Cottingham was opened in 1874 and employed 30 villagers, including many of our young woman. Their clothes were sold under the brand name "House of Burleigh" (6) and their head cutter compiled a volume entitled "Guide to The Art of Dress by the House of Burleigh" in 1950 (7). The factory building which was known as Burleigh (or more recently Burghley) House, was taken over as a shoe making concern in the 1980s and finally closed in 2000. It has now been converted into apartments. After the factory there is another row of cottages and a bungalow and two more detached houses before reaching Whitegates which is built behind a stone wall on the left-hand corner of Blind Lane.

Blind Lane

Just before reaching The Cross again, a left hand junction leads into Blind Lane. Immediately inside there is a house and grounds on the right surrounded by a fence. My great grandfather Jeffrey Binley conducted his carpentry and wheelwrights business from here and the house remained in our family from the 1800s to 1950. When I was a child there was no fence and another house was built to the left of the entrance with its back to the lane. There was also a thatched cottage further in the yard which backed on to the wall of the Royal George car park. The house was built in the early 1900s and replaced some cottages that originally stood there. One of these was the scene of a tragedy and crime which shocked the whole village in 1875 when little Christopher Claypole was murdered by next door neighbour Henry Crane ("Death for threeha'p'orth of suckers" [Article F.]).

Royal George

The Royal George, Blind Lane

A few yards further on is the courtyard and entrance to The Royal George. Parts of the building have been dated back to the thirteenth century. The roof is supported by crucks - ancient wooden trusses which rise from the walls - making it the oldest known "cruck building" and the oldest inn in England. The name was bestowed in the 18th century in honour of HMS Royal George which was a Royal Navy flagship of the time. The vessel led the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780 which was the same year that the inn received its liquor licence (8). In the 1920s my great uncle Alfred Thomas (Tom) Jackson and his wife Caroline held the licence before passing it on to their son Bernard in the 1940s (see "The Jacksons, my Middleton family" [Article G.] .

The old smithy

The barn on Blind Lane

Blind Lane carries on past The Royal George up a gentle incline. There are two more cottages on the left hand side of the road before reaching a prominent barn. This stood on the corner of the entrance to Barrack Yard and the property was occupied during the second third of the ninteenth century by John Claypole, a blacksmith who probably used it as his smithy. There were about ten dwellings in Barrack Yard (the number varies from census to census), with many members of our extended families living there [Article B.]. The area was demolished and cleared in the early 1960s and now a detached house stands in its place.

There are a number of both modern and old stone built houses on the left hand side of the road. Almost opposite the place where Barrack Yard used to be there is a new road called Welland View which leads into a cluster of modern houses and bungalows. Blind Lane now runs down an incline called Pinfold Bank to join Corby Road almost opposite the Dale Stile path. The right hand corner is a grassed area on which is sited a wooden bench. Before redevelopment a water pump stood here.

Continuing along Corby Road away from The Cross, the whole quadrant to the left behind Blind Lane used to be open fields until the early 1950s. The only visible landmark was the ruin of our old windmill which stood starkly against the skyline. Now a road to the left leads into a development called Millfield Estate. At the top of this road the renovated mill has been converted into a lovely family home (9). The fields and countryside still continue after the entrance to Millfield on both sides of Corby Road and the ones to the left reach Rockingham Park.


The old Cottingham windmill

Personal recollections of my childhood and schooldays can be found in the companion article at: A Child's Stamp Album [- JB]

Links to the articles mentioned in the text are in italic capitals below:

Article A: About Copyholders and Chamberlains the traders Elizabeth Tilley and the grocery connection
Article B: The souls between Blind Lane and Corby Road The Barrack Yard Preservation Society.
Article C: Account of the Claypole family before and after the first World War The Sorrows of Mary Atkins
Article D: The village before, during and after the second World War Aspects of Cottingham: The Recollections of Cyril Loake
Article E: About Samuel and Mary Ann TilleyA History of the Tilley Family: Cottingham Part 2b, the family of Samuel Tilley and Mary Ann Tilley
Article F: The murder of Thomas Christopher Claypole Death for threeha'p'orth of suckers
Article G: All about my family The Jacksons, my Middleton family

Further Reading


Map of Cottingham

i. Downloadable A4-sized booklets with maps and descriptions of these two interlinked Northamptonshire villages can be obtained from Cottingham and Middleton Walks

ii. If you would like to find out more about the history of the village of our ancestors, I can recommend having a look at this site. Edited by Jane Smith, it is a wonderful resource of photographs, anecdotes and historical data of the village of Cottingham in Northamptonshire.

iii. An illustrated description in: Cottingham and Middleton Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan Supplementary Planning Document Corby Borough Council April 2016


1. Photograph: Cottingham village sign © Michael Trolove, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
2. Photograph: Dale Stile and the Lime Kiln in: Walk 93: Cottingham Village Walk: Possibly the oldest inn in England ...: Northamptonshire Walks
3. The Church History: Church of St Mary Magdalene, a Grade I Listed Building in Cottingham, Northamptonshire in British Listed Buildings
4. The Bury House, a Grade II listed building in Cottingham, Northamptonshire in British Listed Buildings
5. Wallis and Linnell Burton Latimer Heritage Society
6. The "Burleigh" brand name Records of Wallis & Linnell Ltd., Northamptonshire Record Office
7. F.A. Downing "Guide to the Art of Dress by the House of Burleigh", head cutter, 1950
8. A history of The Royal George, Blind Lane Cottingham website
9. The Cottingham windmill, Northamptonshire in Windmill World

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