(OS 1: 10000 a SP 77 NW, b SP 67 NE)
The small, roughly rectangular parish, covering only about
690 hectares, lies on a watershed between streams flowing
S., ultimately into the Nene valley, and N. to the R. Ise on
the N. boundary. The landscape is rolling, with steep-sided
valleys. The high ground, rising to 185 m. above OD
along the central E.–W. ridge, is covered by Boulder Clay,
but elsewhere narrow bands of Oolite Limestone,
Northampton Sand, and Upper Lias Clay outcrop on the
No prehistoric sites are known and only two possible
Roman settlements (1, 2) have been discovered. The main
monument in the parish is the extensive earthwork remains
of Haselbech village (3). These earthworks result partly
from late 16th-century enclosure and partly from
landscaping in the 18th century.
a(1) Roman settlement (?) (sp 723772), in the E. of the
parish, on a spur between two S.-flowing streams, on
Upper Lias Clay at 130 m. above OD. A small amount of
Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 11
(1976), 192; 12 (1977), 212).
a(2) Roman settlement (?) (SP 722765), in the S.E. of
the parish, on Boulder Clay, at 165 m. above OD. A small
quantity of Roman sherds has been discovered (Northants.
Archaeol., 12 (1977), 212).
Medieval and Later
a(3) Settlement remains (centred SP 711774; Figs. 79
and 80), formerly part of Haselbech village, lie to the S.W.,
W. and N.W. of the now isolated church of St. Michael,
on the summit and slopes of a rounded hill, on Boulder
Clay and glacial sands and gravels between 172 m. and
184 m. above OD.
The village of Haselbech was probably always small. No
national taxation figures survive to give an accurate
estimate of its population in the medieval period after 1086
when, in Domesday Book, it is listed as a single manor
with a recorded population of 19 (VCH Northants., II
(1906), 323). By the late 16th century much of the parish
had come into the hands of the Tresham family and around
1598 the common fields were enclosed and converted to
pasture, largely at the behest of Sir Thomas Tresham. A
map of that date (NRO; Fig. 80) shows the village with a
layout completely different from the present one; in
addition to the existing roads there was at that time another
street to the E. of the church. A lane also ran W. from the
sharp bend S.W. of the church, giving access to the
adjacent fields and an isolated farmstead. With the
exception of the latter lane, houses lay along all the streets
and about 25 separate farmsteads, houses or cottages are
depicted. Five empty crofts lay on the E. side of the street,
E. of the church, and another two at the N.E. end of the
village, on the N. side of the Kelmarsh road. Tresham's
enclosure involved the removal of some 700 acres of land
which had previously belonged to seven houses in the
village. This, and his consequent policy of raising rents, led
effectively to the eviction of some 60 people who could not
or would not pay. The other landowners in the parish may
also have evicted tenants. It is not clear whether the 1598
map depicts the situation before or after this eviction.
Little is known of changes in the village during the 17th
century except that Haselbech Hall was built just before
1678 for the Wyke family. This was followed by further
alterations in the next century. In 1673 31 householders
paid the Hearth Tax (PRO, E179/254/24) and in about
1720 Bridges (Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 35) reported that
there were 24 houses in the parish. Sometime before 1773
(Map in NRO) the present park around the hall was laid
out. This involved the stopping up of the road E. of the
church and the removal of all remaining houses and empty
crofts along it. In addition all the houses along the road W.
of the church, as well as some along the S. side of the
Naseby road, were demolished to provide a clear vista from
the hall in an S.W. direction. By 1773 only four buildings
stood S. of the church, two to the N. and three along the
N. side of the Naseby road. In the 19th century those N. of
the church and two to the S. were removed.
On the ground nothing remains of the former street and
house-sites E. of the church, as the whole area has been
landscaped into shrubberies in the late 19th century. A
large area of earthworks to the W. and S.W. of the church
mainly relates to the 18th-century landscaping and later
changes. However certain features can be explained and
identified in relation to the map evidence. For example two
of the raised platforms on the S. side of the Naseby road ('a'
and 'b' on plan) can be identified as sites of houses on the
1598 map while another ('c' on plan) is the site of a further
building also shown on that map. The rather broken scarps
running S.S.W. from 'a' and 'b' and the mutilated ditch to
the W. of 'c' are thus the close boundaries of these 16th-century houses. The sites of the houses on the W. side of
the road, W. of the church, remain only as mutilated
scarps and banks ('d' on plan) but the old lane to the S.
survives in part as a shallow hollow-way ('e' on plan).
Other earthworks to the S. ('f' on plan), which include
fragmentary closes, raised platforms and some slight ridge-and-furrow, lie in an area devoid of features on the 1598
map and may indicate an earlier phase of abandonment
(RAF VAP 106G/UK/636, 3184–5; CPE/UK/1994, 2457–6;
CUAP, BLD 34–7).
(4) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the
parish were enclosed by agreement in 1599 (NRO, NRS
Transcripts) although the earliest map of the parish (NRO,
1598; Fig. 80) shows it apparently enclosed. This process
was carried out at least in part by Sir Thomas Tresham
who converted most of the parish to sheep-pasture and it
led to riots in the parish in 1607 as part of a general revolt
against enclosure in the East Midlands in that year. At that
time it was said that only two yardlands out of forty were
in tillage (Northants. P. and P., 1 (1949), 29; Trans. Royal
Hist. Soc., 18 (1904), 215).
Fig. 79 Haselbech (3) Settlement remains
Fig. 80 Haselbech (3) Plan of village in 1598 (from a map in NRO)
Ridge-and-furrow of the common fields is still
preserved on the ground or can be traced on air
photographs over almost all of the parish, much of it
arranged in rather short interlocked rectangular furlongs
which are especially well marked in the N.E. of the parish.
In other places, notably on the broken ground to the W.
and N.W., the furlongs radiate outwards from the spurs.
Ridge-and-furrow is still well preserved in some fields
around the village and in the park of Haselbech Hall (RAF
VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2454–9, 4459–62; 541/15, 4395–9;
106G/UK/636, 4182–9, 3184–6).