The Clue’s in the Name

Most early street names are intended to give an indication of what you might find there, or they may provide you with the destination of where the street leads to.

Sadly, the vast majority of Northamptonshire’s historical architecture has been lost to fire, retribution, or development. However, many fascinating street names remain, with the odd risqué one thrown in, and these provide important insights into our rich history.

Cow Lane

Linking Victoria Promenade and Angel Street, Cow Lane is one of the oldest thoroughfares in Northampton. As the name suggests, it was where the Freemen of the Borough could lead their cattle to graze in fields to the south of the town. The name was changed to the more elegant Swan Street in the mid C19th.

Dychurch Lane

Running parallel to the pedestrianised part of Abington Street and dating from the C16th, Dychurch Lane was originally known as Grope**** Lane, owing to the brothels which plied their trade in this area.

Gold Street

Gold Street is named after the goldsmiths who operated along the eastern end.

The Horsemarket

Northampton is well known for its shoe industry; however, it should probably be more famous for horses. There are many equine references to be found in street names and places throughout the county. These include The Horsemarket, Horseshoe Lane (probably where the Blacksmiths operated) and The Marehold which housed the pens separating horses and mares prior to market. Marehold is now, inaccurately, named Mayorhold. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with confining the mayor!

Malt Row, Corn Hill, Potters Hill, The cand Butchers Lane

These are all self-explanatory and are locations where produce, stores and supplies were kept around the edge of the market square.

St. Leonards Road

St. Leonards Road is named after the leper hospital and church of St. Leonard.

Scarletwell Lane

Scarletwell Lane links Horsemarket to the river and is the site of a famous well which was used for dying cloth. The later Victorian structure which was erected around the well has now been demolished and the well is sadly concealed beneath a basketball court.

To find out more about Northamptonshire’s hidden history, pick up a copy of Mike Ingram’s fantastic new Book: Northampton, 5,000 Years of History.

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