County Town: Northampton
Population: 625,900
Area: 914 Sq miles 2367 Sq km
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Did you know that in medieval times residents of the village of Aynho on the Northamptonshire-Oxfordshire border paid part of their rent to the Lord of the Manor in apricots? The limestone soil and the warmth provided by the stone cottages helped the sometimes delicate trees thrive there. The village still has many apricot trees climbing sunnier cottage walls.
Did you know that the world’s first RADAR demonstration took place in Daventry on February 26 1935? The technology’s pioneer, Robert Watson-Watt, was able to detect the passage of an RAF Handley Page bomber using equipment mounted in a Flatnose Morris van parked in a field near Weedon a little outside the town.
Did you know that Northampton has the biggest market square in England? The original market, chartered in 1189, was held around All Saints’ Church there; then in 1235 Henry III took umbrage at sacred ground being used for commerce and ordered it moved to its present site. Northampton is also home of the British Shoe making industry; hence its football team is nicknamed The Cobblers.
Did you know that the first car chase in Britain involving the police occurred in Northampton in 1899? Sergeant Hector Macleod got his man with screaming tyres – well, maybe tyres that were grumbling a bit.
Did you know that according to legend the Scots thistles that grow on the scant remains of Fotheringhay Castle near Oundle are descended from those planted by Mary Queen of Scots days before her execution? Her son James I and VI ordered the 14th century castle to be razed to the ground when he came to the English throne, but thistles thrive on the ground where the building stood. Mary loved the thistle as a national symbol, and worked it into many tapestries during her imprisonment.
Did you know that the Little Owl was only introduced into Britain as a resident in the last decade of the 19th century after some escaped from the Thrapston home of Lord Lilford? A noted ornithologist, he had a large collection of birds at Lilford Park, from which some Little Owl specimens got out and began to breed. They are now found all over Southern Britain. One of their alternative names here accordingly is Lilford’s Owl.

Famous Northamptonshire people

Charles Montagu | Ebenezer Prout | Edmund Rubbra | Graeme Swann | Henry Kingsley | Herbert E Bates | James Rice | Jim Dale | Jo Whiley | John Dryden | John Wilkins | Malcolm Arnold | Matt Smith | Nanette Newman | Richard III | Roy Wilson | Thom Yorke | Thomas Fuller | Thomas Randolph | Toby Anstis | William Law |

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Looking back at all the people I have insulted, I am mildly surprised that I am still allowed to exist. - Auberon Waugh
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On this day:
Battle of Naseby - 1645, Babbage Proposes Proto-Computer - 1822, End of Falklands War - 1982
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