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Grid reference: SP805835
Location: 52°26’23"N, 0°49’2"W
Population: 10,697  (parish est.)
Post town: Kettering
Postcode: NN14
Dialling code: 01536
Local Government
Council: North Northamptonshire

Desborough is a town in Northamptonshire, in the Ise Valley, between Market Harborough and Kettering. In the 19th century, the town was an industrial centre for weaving and shoe making. It has a long association with the Co-operative movement.[1] Modern Desborough is a residential centre, with new homes and industry being developed to the north of the old town centre.

The town

Desborough developed around the spinning and weaving industries, by the nineteenth century specialising in silk.

The Cross

In the High Street, as a centrepiece of what is now the Market Square, stands a pillar. Locals call it the Town Cross, despite it being a square column with a stone ball on top. It is perhaps better referred to as an obelisk. Its origins are thought to be a gateway pillar from Harrington Hall.

Many archaeological finds from the Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon period have been made in the town, some of which are in the collections of the British Museum. The Desborough Mirror is an example of this.[2]

Desborough is 5 miles from each of Market Harborough (northwest), Kettering (southeast) and Corby (northeast).

The A6 Rothwell-Desborough Bypass opened on 14 August 2003.

Notable buildings in the town include the thirteenth century parish church.


Desborough's origins lie in the Bronze Age some 2000 years BC. Urns from this period have been found in and around the town. The most important archeological find was the 1st Century Desborough Mirror which is now in the British Museum[3] as is an Anglo-Saxon necklace[4] found in the Paddock Lane area of the town which comprises gold beads, a gold cross and a red garnet. Other stone artifacts are on display in the parish church of St Giles.

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), as part of the extension of a line from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin. It was closed in 1968 as part of the Beeching cuts.

St Giles Church

St Giles Church is the oldest surviving building in the town having been built in about 1225 AD. It is believed to stand on the site of an earlier Saxon church. Relics of the town's history including part of an Anglo-Saxon cross carved from stone, a Tudor rood screen and reminders of the Civil War. Close by the church is the 18th century Church House the 19th century Desborough House with its stucco and Doric pillars, now the Services Club.

On 7 September 1969 the Church of England and Methodist partnership was inaugurated in the presence of the Bishop of Peterborough and the Chairman of the Oxford District. Since that time a Methodist minister has been working in equal partnership with the Anglican vicar. St Giles is part of the United Benefice of Desborough and Brampton Ash with Braybrooke and Dingley.[5]

St Giles has regular church festivals including one of the UK's longest running (since 1998) and largest (over 100 trees) Christmas Tree Festival. The trees are contributed by local organisations, companies, individuals and families.

In addition to the parish church there is a Baptist church,[6] a United Reformed Church and the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity.

The Old Manor House

The Old Manor House in Gold Street retains many features of its late 17th century origins. Ferdinando Poulton, a Roman Catholic lawyer was Lord of the Manor, reputedly one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators.


In the 17th century the town developed as a spinning and weaving centre. Using local wool and flax, the town's factories produced fine cloth and linen until the mid 19th century. Silk weaving then developed in a Paddock Lane factory.

To counter exploitation 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 still has a department store, a bank, a supermarket, a travel agents, a ladies' shoe and clothing shop and a couple of corner stores.

The former Co-op Corset Factory is now owned by Eveden Ltd[7] making 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 its football field and tennis courts is now the site of a major housing development called Desbeau Park. Desbeau was the name of one of the range of lingerie made at the Corset Factory.

The Desborough Co-op was recently purchased by the larger East Midlands Co-op who have since closed the bank and the ladies' shoe and clothing shop. They have also turned one of the corner shops into a funeral director's.

The former RS Lawrence's shoe factory site on the High Street was sold by the Midland Co-operative Society to the council.

To the north of the Town, on the Harborough Road, is Rigid Containers which has just undergone a £4 Million refurbishment.

Sport and leisure

  • Football: Desborough Town FC, who play at Waterworks Field.

Desborough has a leisure complex, built in the later months of 2012, with a gym and café alongside the usual football court, basketball court and even an outside skate park.

Outside links