Help us celebrate town’s history and heritage at The Amazing Northampton Run

Our flagship half-marathon, The Amazing Northampton Run, returns to the town on Sunday, September 15.

We’re really excited to see the race near its second outing, with one of the aspects of Northampton it allows us to celebrate being our amazing – and all too often forgotten – history and heritage.

We took to the town centre recently, camera in hand, to take a look at just three of Northampton’s less well-known bits of history.

If you want to learn more about The Amazing Northampton Run – and enter this year’s race – you can do so by visiting https://www.theamazingnorthamptonrun.co.uk/half-marathon

Right, on with today’s history lesson…


Northampton may be best known as a shoe town, and the home of our Amazing Northampton Run of course, but its history goes way beyond that industry – all the way back to 1100.

Over the years it has been destroyed by fire and punished for being on the wrong side in the English Civil War.

It has also played host to a number of famous faces, seven of whom are celebrated in the courtyard of Northampton’s beautiful Guildhall, which runners will pass during the race.

Simon took a trip to meet some of those historic figures and get a quick training run in.

Here’s our run down of the magnificent seven statues that grace the Guildhall:

  • Born in Weston Favell, Francis Crick was a renowned molecular biologist and physicist, most famous for co-discovering the DNA molecule with James Watson. In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Another statue commemorating Crick, and in the shape of the double-helix of DNA, can be seen in Abington Street.
  • Composer Sir Malcolm Arnold worked across a host of musical genres, including nine symphonies, numerous concertos, concert works, chamber music, choral music and music for brass band and wind band. He wrote extensively for the theatre, with five ballets commissioned by the Royal Ballet, ant produced scores for more than a hundred films, including The Bridge on the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar.
  • Edgar Mobbs captained Northampton Saints for five years, and represented England at Rugby Union. After initially being turned down as too old to join the army in the First World War, he raised his own sportsman’s company, the Mobbs’ Own, for the Northamptonshire Regiment. He rose to command his battalion, but was killed in action in July 1917 while attacking a machine gun post.
  • Northamptonshire’s peasant poet, John Clare, was the son of a farm labourer who found fame for his depictions of the English countryside. In 1841, he was committed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum – now St Andrew’s Hospital. Clare took regular walks around the town and would sit writing in the portico of All Saints’ Church.
  • Walter Tull was only the third person of mixed-race heritage to play in the top flight of English football, appearing for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909. Two years later, he joined then Southern Football League outfit Northampton Town. It was during the First World War when Tull’s trailblazing life went to the next level. He was the first mixed-heritage man to be commissioned as an officer and would have received a Military Cross but for the fact black soldiers were not allowed to. He was killed in action in 1918.
  • One of the wealthiest women of her time, Lady Wantage, Harriet Sarah Jones-Lloyd was a well-known art collector and benefactor who set up the National Aid Society, a forerunner of the British Red Cross. In 1892, she donated Abington Manor House and land from her estate to the people of Northampton to be used as a park and museum.
  • Margaret Bondfield was a prominent female figure In British politics and became Northampton’s first female MP (Labour), representing the town in Parliament from 1923 to 1924. Margaret later made history when she became the UK’s first female Cabinet Minister in 1929.


One of the things people rightly always say about Northampton town centre is ‘Look Up’.

We have a lot spectacular architecture perched on top of our modern shops – but there is one place where this sadly isn’t quite as true.

Along one stretch of Abington Street, we have some particularly Brutalist buildings. And that’s because someone in their wisdom decided to demolished a truly spectacular building in the late 1970s to build High Street shops.

That building was the Notre Dame convent school, which once dominated the centre of the town with its ornate chapel, orchard, tennis courts and extensive gardens.

All that remains is a small cemetery tucked away behind Abington Street, where the graves of around 80 nuns who once taught at the school can be found – including some who died from typhoid.

It can be found in Notre Dame Mews, and is well worth a visit…


Another place our runners will snake past is the pretty St Giles’s Church, which contains the grave of no less a man than ‘The Father of the Pilgrims’ Robert Browne.

It was Browne’s acolytes who famously set sail on The Mayflower in 1620, leaving England for the New World.

Known as the Pilgrims, they settled in America and their ship has become a cultural icon in that country’s history.

Browne himself was born in Rutland and became the standard bearer for separatists wishing to separate from the Church of England.

He later returned to the Church of England and became a priest in Thorpe Achurch in Northamptonshire from 1591 until 1631.

Over his lifetime, he was imprisoned 32 times for his non-conformist beliefs and he eventually died in jail in Northampton – after being arrested for hitting a constable.

He was buried in St Giles’s Church, where a memorial commemorates his fascinating life.

Want to learn more about The Amazing Northampton Run? Visit https://www.theamazingnorthamptonrun.co.uk/half-marathon/ to do so and to enter.