(OS 1:10000 a SP 75 NE, b SP 75 SE, c SP 75 SW)
The roughly triangular parish of 550 hectares lies on
land sloping gently N., from a ridge on the S.
boundary at about 220 m. above OD to a W.-flowing tributary of the R. Nene on the short N. boundary. Much of the N. and the S. of the area is covered
by Boulder Clay and glacial sands and gravels; to the
N.W. of the village bands of limestone and Upper
Lias Clay are exposed.
Prehistoric and Roman
A Neolithic axe was found in the parish before 1902 (T.
J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants. (1904), 13; VCH
Northants., I (1902), 139).
b(1) Roman Settlement (?) (unlocated). A coin of Antoninus Pius was found somewhere in the parish before
1860 and pottery is recorded from the same location but
no details are known (NM Records).
Medieval and Later
c(2) Deserted Village of Courteenhall (SP 762530;
Figs. 42 and 43), lies within and to the E. of Courteenhall
Park, on the sides of a shallow N.-draining valley, on
Great Oolite Limestone between 107 m. and 114 m. above
OD. Though it is clear that the village was deliberately
removed for emparking in the late 18th century, the actual
process is not understood.
The village of Courteenhall is first documented in 1086
when Domesday Book describes it as being divided into
two manors. One was of 3½ hides with a recorded population of 15, including a priest; the other was only of half
a hide and half a virgate and no population is given (VCH
Northants., I (1902), 337, 339). In 1334 the vill paid 44s. 2d.
for the Lay Subsidy (PRO, E179/155/3), a sum which is
about average for the area. Nothing is known of the size
of the village in later medieval times until 1524 when 17
people paid tax (PRO, E179/155/142). Some desertion
seems to have taken place after the enclosure of the common fields (5) in the mid 17th century for Bridges (Hist.
of Northants., I (1791), 353), writing in about 1720, said
that the parish church then stood 'at the upper end of the
town, but within the memory of man had houses standing
beyond and about it, which since the enclosure of the
parish had been destroyed'. Forty-three householders paid
the Hearth Tax in 1673 (PRO, E179/254/14).
A plan made in 1766 (Fig. 43; original at Courteenhall,
copy in NRO) showed the village to be made up of three
distinct parts. To the E. of the church was a single row of
buildings on the N. side of the street, as there is today. To
the W. of the church, in the area of the present park, lay
the main part of the village, arranged along a N.-S. street
with a triangular green at the S. end and the manor house
and its garden S. and S.E. again. The manor house is
depicted as a long straight range with multiple chimneys
and was certainly that described by Bridges (op. cit.) as an
Elizabethan building with the date 1580 on it. Further W.,
to the W. of the present House was another group of
buildings on the S. side of the road, including the late
17th-century school which still stands.
It is possible that at this time plans were already being
prepared to empark the area, for a note on the 1766 map
included the details of a 'New Intended Road' which seems
to have been designed to replace the S. end of the main
village and its continuation S.W. as far as the church. Sir
William Wake, 7th baronet, owned Courteenhall at that
time. This plan or a modification of it was presumably
carried out soon afterwards and the whole village, except
for the manor house, the church and the houses E. of the
church, was removed and the area emparked. The magnificent stable block which now lies to the S.W. of the
present House was probably erected at the same time. This
is usually said to be of around 1750 and to have been built
by Sir Charles Wake-Jones, 6th baronet, who died in 1755.
However, the stables did not exist in 1766 and must have
been built by his successor.
By 1791 Repton's 'Red Book' of the estate (at Courteenhall) shows the manor house standing alone in the park
with the stables away on the hill to the W. The manor
house, however, seems very different from that shown on
the 1766 plan for the old 16th-century range has an L-shaped structure attached to its E. end, apparently with
symmetrical 18th-century elevations. It is likely that the
7th baronet carried out the removal of the village, the
erection of the stables and the enlargement of the old
manor house, all of which were completed well before
1790 and perhaps as early as 1770.
Fig. 42 Courteenhall (2) Deserted village
In 1791 Sir William Wake, 9th baronet, who had succeeded in 1785, removed the old manor house completely,
and employed Samuel Saxon to design and build the present house on the hilltop to the W. and Humphrey Repton
to alter the park. Thus by 1793 the park, house and stables
existed in their present form, and the village of Courteenhall was only a few houses to the E. of the church. A map
of 1792 (NRO) which only covers the area to the S. and
E. of the church shows that the present rectory had been
built, but probably very recently (Whellan, Dir., 258). A
map of the parish of 1794 (NRO) shows the village consisting of no more than six houses or farmsteads N.E. of
the church. By 1839 (NRO, Tithe Map) at least one of
these houses, immediately N.E. of the church, had been
demolished and the rest had been at least partly rebuilt. In
recent years the village has expanded again, with new
houses along the road to Quinton.
Fig. 43 Courteenhall (2) Deserted village, (3) Windmill mound (based on a plan of 1766, in
The remains of the village fall into three parts. Of that
section which was between the house and the church,
almost nothing survives. Its area can be established accurately by the limits of the ridge-and-furrow, but not earthworks of the village itself remain. The whole area appears
to have been flattened, probably by ploughing, after the
destruction of the village and before being grassed over.
The occupation-areas are marked by dark soil in the molehills but only three features are identifiable. Part of the site
of the manor house (SP 76325300) is marked by a large
N.-facing scarp about 1.5 m. high. To the S.E. (at SP
76355296) is an L-shaped scarp only 0.25 m. high which
appears to have lain inside the area of an orchard in 1766.
Further S.S.W. and S. of the manor house site, is a massive
bank running almost N.-S., 8 m. wide and 1 m. high,
lying on top of ridge-and-furrow ('a' on plan). In part it
coincides with an avenue of trees on the 1766 map which
was part of a view from the manor house. The bank has
large depressions in its sides, presumably the holes where
the trees stood. It is not a drive to the manor house, but
a raised ridge in which trees were planted. The second area
of remains lies N.E. of the Old School ('b' on plan) where
a short section of a shallow hollow-way running N.-S.
appears to be the road marked 'to Northampton' on the
1766 map. Another low scarp to the S., though approximately on the line of the E. edge of this road, may be the
result of later landscaping. The only other earthworks of
the village are those immediately N.E. of the church ('c'
on plan) where indeterminate remains represent the site of
a farm and outbuildings which stood there in 1766. (RAF
VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3024–6; FSL6565, 2011–5; air photographs
b(3) Windmill Mound (SP 75635325), lies in the N.
corner of a triangular spinney, N. of the main drive to
Courteenhall House, on the summit of a hill, on Boulder
Clay at 115 m. above OD. The 1766 map of the village
(Fig. 43; original at Courteenhall, copy in NRO) depicts
a post mill here, standing on a low mound; on the Tithe
Map of 1839 (NRO), the mill is no longer shown but the
area is called Windmill Hill. An oval mound survives,
20 m. by 16 m. and 0.25 m. high, with a ditch 5 m. across
and 0.25 m. deep on the N. and S. sides. It has been much
damaged by the removal of trees in recent years.
b(4) Site of Watermill (?) (SP 753534), in the N.W.
corner of Courteenhall Park, in the bottom of a N.-draining valley at 90 m. above OD. The area is occupied by a
small wood now called Windmill Spinney but on earlier
maps called Old Mill Spinney (NRO, maps of Courteenhall, 1794 and 1839). Within the spinney are three small
rectangular ponds with a larger roughly E.-shaped one
further upstream. To the S.W., in a side valley, is another
sub-rectangular pond bounded on the W. by a low
stone-rubble dam. They are shown exactly as now on the
1839 map. None of the surviving ponds appears to be the
site of a watermill, but they may have been altered as part
of the landscaping of the park in the 18th century.
(5) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the
parish were probably enclosed in 1631 (Northants. P. and
P., 1 (1949), 271). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists
on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over
much of the parish, arranged in end-on and interlocked
furlongs, many of reversed-S form. Some pre-enclosure
features are still visible, including part of the original road
from Quinton to Courteenhall, N.E. of the park (SP
763534), which remained in use until the late 18th century
(map of 1776, copy in NRO). It is now a broad depression
30 m. wide and almost ploughed out passing between
end-on furlongs. Ridge-and-furrow survives in fine condition in the park around the site of the original village of
Courteenhall (2). Of particular interest are two former
end-on furlongs on the S. side of the park (SP 762526)
which appear to have been later ploughed as one. The
earlier headland between the two original furlongs is a
massive scarp at least 200 m. long and 1.5 m. high, now
cut into by the later ridges. This scarp is of a nature to
suggest that it may pre-date the medieval field system and
represent an earlier land boundary. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926,
3020–3, 5021–5; FSL6565, 1001–3, 2011–5, 1800–4)