(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 SW, b SP 64 NW)
The modern parish covers about 1050 hectares and
contains the land of the medieval settlement of Blakesley itself and of the now deserted settlements of
Seawell (2) and Foxley (3) (Fig. 28). The medieval
parish included what is now the parish of Woodend.
Blakesley parish lies on land sloping generally S.,
drained by several streams which join, on the S.
boundary, an E.-flowing tributary of the R. Tove.
Upper Lias Clay, Northampton Sand and small out-crops of limestones are exposed on the valley sides.
On the higher ridges, above 120 m. above OD, there
are patches of Boulder Clay.
A late Neolithic flint chisel was found in 1978 (SP
64685113; NM; Northants. Archaeol., 14 (1979), 102).
Medieval and Later
There are references to a medieval deer park at Blakesley
(Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 220) but this has not been
Fig. 29 Blakesley (1)
Settlement remains and hollow-ways
a(1) Settlement Remains and Hollow-ways (centred
625502; Fig. 29), formerly part of Blakesley, lie in and
around the existing village, on Jurassic Clay and Boulder
Clay between 122 m. and 130 m. above OD.
The village of Blakesley has a plan which is unique in
the county. Before modern development it consisted of
two almost completely separate units joined by a central
green. In the N. was a straight street extending N.E., with
the church on its E. side and a minor lane running N.
from the centre of its W. side. In the S. was a neat L-shaped arrangement of streets. The origins of this plan are
obscure and it is possible to interpret it in a number of
ways. The streets in the N. around the church may be the
oldest part, and the S. part a planned extension, with the
green being created even later. On the other hand it may
have been a polyfocal village with two original centres,
later joined by the green. A further possibility is that the
green may be the old centre and that there was later expansion to the N. and S. A further complication is the
small group of houses known as Quinbury End which lies
immediately N.W. of the green and until recently was
quite separate from the rest of the village.
The surviving earthworks and other material noted here
do not help to elucidate the problem to any great extent.
Only three features are of note. At the N. end of the village
('a' on plan) a hollow-way continues the line of the minor
lane and runs N.E. to meet the existing lane N. of the
village. In the triangular area left between the hollow-way
and the modern road there are no indications of former
buildings, though later quarrying may have obscured any.
In the S.E. corner are two small embanked ponds. To the
W. of the hollow-way ridge-and-furrow survives undamaged. The existence of the hollow-way means that there
was once a diamond-shaped area edged by roads in this
part of the village, which might be interpreted as a former
green, now partly abandoned and partly built over. If so
this part of the village might be the older centre. Further
support for this is the existence of a second hollow-way
('b' on plan) which continues the line of the Maidford
Road E. towards the assumed green, from the point where
the road turns S. at Quinbury End on its way to the present
green. This may indicate that the road from Maidford once
entered the N. part of the village and was later diverted.
Fig. 30 Blakesley (2) Deserted village of Seawell
In the S. part of the village, construction work at the
time when the Commission was carrying out its survey
led to the discovery of considerable quantities of medieval
pottery, all apparently of 12th to 14th-century date including some Potterspury wares. These finds were made on
the previously empty plot at the S.E. end of the main
street ('c' on plan). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1047–9; air
photographs in NMR).
a(2) Deserted Village of Seawell (SP 630525; Figs. 28
and 30), lay in the N. of the parish, N.E. of the present
Seawell Farm, in the bottom of a small E.-draining valley,
on Northampton Sand and Upper Lias Clay at 137 m.
above OD. The village had its own land unit occupying
the N. part of Blakesley parish (Fig. 28). It is first mentioned in 1086 when Domesday Book lists it as a single
manor with a recorded population of 13 (VCH Northants.,
I (1902), 333), but thereafter nothing is known of its size
until the early 18th century. It is mentioned by name in
the Nomina Villarum of 1316 and in late medieval times
Seawell was divided into two manors, both held by non-resident families. By 1547 400 sheep were grazed on its
land (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants.
(1966), 45). Bridges, writing about 1720 (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 235), said that it was 'an hamlet only of
two houses, but was formerly a more considerable place'.
These two houses are marked on a map of Seawell of 1726
(NRO), one lying on the edge of the village but the other,
a large farm, well to the S. and apparently on top of earlier
ridge-and-furrow (SP 63105228). On a plan of 1837 (NRO)
these two buildings are shown, with a third, perhaps only
a barn, to the N.E. The farm was demolished in the mid
19th century and replaced by the present Seawell Farm to
the W. By 1883 (1st ed. OS 25 in. plan, Northants. L16)
another cottage, the present Seawell Cottage, had been
erected on the site of the village, but the building to the
N.E. had gone. The other house shown on the 1726 map
was demolished early in this century.
Apart from Seawell Cottage and the stone foundations
of the house to the W. nothing remains on the site of the
village. No earthworks are visible on air photographs taken
in 1947 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3046–7) and in 1970 only
a mutilated dam of a former pond was noted (OS Record
Cards). Since then the area has been landscaped and a series
of small ponds have been constructed in the valley bottom.
A few sherds of late medieval pottery have been found in
a(3) Deserted Village of Foxley (SP 640518; Figs. 28
and 31), lies in the N.E. corner of the parish, on the N.E.
side of a small S.E.-flowing stream, on Northampton Sand
and Upper Lias Clay between 120 m. and 137 m. above
OD. Foxley was once a settlement with its own land unit
and fields (Fig. 28) but its history is largely unknown. It
is not mentioned as a holding by name in Domesday Book
although it certainly existed at that time for its name was
then given to the hundred which was later known as
Greens Norton Hundred. The earliest reference to Foxley
as a settlement is in 1190 (PN Northants., 40). Although it
is named in some national taxation records, it is always
included in Cold Higham and no indication of its size can
be ascertained until the early 18th century when Bridges
(Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 234) stated that there were
only three houses there. (K. J. Allison et al., Deserted Villages of Northants. (1966), 40).
The earliest map of the village, dated 1819 (NRO),
shows the two groups of farm buildings and the cottage
on the S.W. which remains today, but it also shows two
buildings within a small paddock to the S.W. of the cottage. By the late 19th century these had gone but a new
farm had been erected to the N. (OS 1st ed. 25 in. plan,
Northants. L16) apparently on the site of older houses (see
below). The farm has since been demolished.
The remains of the village are very slight and fragmentary. From the small green on the N. side of the remaining
farm traces of a hollow-way extend down the hillside,
following the bed of a small stream ('a'-'b' on plan). On
the N. side of the hollow-way, but set curiously askew to
it, are the remains of seven small closes, separated by low
scarps and with a well-marked boundary ditch on the
N.W. Two of these closes contain irregular depressions
which may be the sites of former houses, but the later
farm, now demolished, has destroyed any trace of earlier
buildings in the N.E. closes. These earthworks are probably the remains of a row of houses and paddocks which
once lay along the hollow-way, but their unusual arrangement and the fact that the close boundaries continued the
line of the unusually short ridge-and-furrow to the N.W.
suggest that the ridge-and-furrow once extended as far as
the hollow-way and that the houses were erected on former
Some disturbed ground immediately S.E. of the existing
cottage ('c' on plan) is the only other indication of houses
on the site. Other earthworks lie in a large pasture field to
the S. and S.W. but none of them appear to be part of the
village and they may be associated with a manor house
site. The main feature is a roughly triangular embanked
pond with a small low island in it ('d' on plan). The island
is depicted on the 1819 map. The pond is approached from
the N.E. by a narrow channel, leading from another pond
now mainly filled in, higher up a small valley. A second
channel leaves the main pond at its W. corner, runs down
the hillside and enters a long narrow depression embanked
on its W. side. This feature ('e' on plan) may also once
have been a pond. On the S.E. edge of the site, a ditch
with a large bank on its N.W. side runs down the hillside,
along the present hedge-line, from the former pond to the
N.E. as far as the stream in the valley bottom. This appears
to be a water channel but its function is obscure.
On the N.W. part of the site are the fragmentary remains
of ditched closes, the largest of which has traces of ridge-and-furrow within it. At their S. ends, near the present
road, is a disturbed area much of which appears to be later
quarrying. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1044–5, 3045–7; CUAP,
XT43–6, AKS3; air photographs in NMR)
(4) Cultivation Remains (Fig. 31). The common fields
of Blakesley were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of
1760 but nothing is known of their layout. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced
on air photographs over much of the part of the parish
attributable to the village of Blakesley. It is arranged
mainly in interlocked furlongs, often showing careful adaptation to the broken ground and thus ensuring that,
where possible, the ridges run across the contours.
Fig. 31 Blakesley (3) Deserted village of Foxley
The common fields of the deserted village of Scawell
(2) had been enclosed by the 16th century, but the exact
date is not known. Very little ridge-and-furrow remains
in the land of Seawell because of destruction by modern
agriculture. Some survives E. of Seawell Farm (SP 627521)
and air photographs show a more extensive area of interlocked furlongs. The names Banky Meadow on a map of
1837 (NRO) and Banky Close on a map of 1726 (NRO),
refer to a low-lying field in the N. of the parish where
ridge-and-furrow was presumably once well marked (SP
The date of enclosure of the common fields of the deserted village of Foxley (3) is also unknown but enclosure
had certainly taken place by 1819 (NRO, map) and probably by the 16th century. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields
exists on the ground, especially around the site of the
village, and can be traced elsewhere on air photographs.
It is arranged in interlocked furlongs, except along the
valley sides of a stream to the S.W. of Foxley where the
ridges run across the contours to the valley bottom. Even
where the ridge-and-furrow has been destroyed, well-marked headlands survive as low ridges (e.g. SP 646511
and 646513). As at Seawell, the map of 1837 (NRO)
records three fields as Banky Ground or Banky Close. All
still have well-marked ridge-and-furrow within them (SP
635515 and 647512). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1043–51, 3044–
7; CPE/UK/1944, 2083–7, 4167–70)