(OS 1:10000 aSP 75 NW, SP 76 SW)
The parish is roughly triangular in shape and covers 31 hectares. It
is bounded to the S. by the R. Nene and to the N. partly by Berrywood
Road which follows the line of the Roman road between Duston and
Whilton Lodge (Bannaventa). The ground slopes from 119 m. above OD in
the N. to 61 m. above OD. in the S. Boulder Clay covers the N. part of
the parish, with alluvium and river gravel in the valley bottom. In
between there are strata of the Estuarine Series, the Lias and the
Prehistoric and Roman
Worked flints have been found at eight locations in the parish,
although no marked concentrations are apparent (SP 71826064; NM; NDC
P169. SP 71826040; NM; NDC P171. SP 71456071; NM; NDC P172.
SP 72016019; NM; NDC P174. SP 70596109; NM; NDC P175.
SP 70596173; NM; NDC P176. SP 71486059; NM; NDC P177. Located to
parish only; George 1904, 20; NDC P26). Of particular interest is a
neolithic ground flint axe found at Upton in 1968 (SP 720605; NM; NDC
P28). A looped middle Bronze Age spearhead was ploughed up in 1970–1
at SP 70726088 (BNFAS 7 (1972), 6–7; NDC P144) and five worked flints
were found in the same field (NM; NDC P144). Part of a Belgic vessel
was discovered in 1954 at SP 710610 (NM; NDC P152).
Roman finds have been made at various locations throughout the
parish. In 1969 Romano-British sherds including colour-coated wares were
found at SP 71076088 (BNFAS 4 (1970), 13; NDC R49). A complete
colour-coated beaker and grey-ware sherds were found at SP 718605 (OS;
NDC R52). Roman coins, including a sestertius of Nero, were discovered
in 1947 at SP 71956024 (OS; NDC R53). Survey work in 1974 produced
much Roman pottery, mainly grey-ware at SP 72126000 (Northamptonshire
Archaeol 11 (1976), 194; NM; NDC R115) and more Roman pottery at
SP 72306030 (Northamptonshire Archaeol 11 (1976), 194; NM; NDC R116).
A silver coin of Severus Alexander is recorded from Upton parish (VCH
Northamptonshire I, 221; George 1904, 20; OS; NDC R48).
a(1) Enclosures (?),Ring Ditches (?) (SP 71105990 and
SP 71255975), W. of Upton Hall Farm, on gravel at 65 m. above OD. Two
possible rectilinear enclosures and ring ditches (?), but very indistinct on
air photographs (BNFAS 6 (1971), 18; NM; NDC A24 and AP41–2).
a(2) Mounds, E. of Upton Mill on alluvium at 61 m. above OD.
SP 72355910, a round mound about 1 m. high and approximately 25 m. in
diameter with a central depression, possibly the result of early excavation,
may be a round barrow, although no ditch is visible (Northamptonshire
Archaeol 13 (1978), 180; NDC P80). Alternatively, the mound could be the
remains of a post-mill or be natural. At SP 72305921 is a long mound,
about 30 m.–40) m. by about 15 m. and approximately 0.5 m. high (NDC
(3) Iron Age Settlement, Neolithic and Roman Finds
(SP 71586023) on Northampton Sands at 83 m. above OD. Excavations in
1965 revealed several phases of ditch possibly demarcating an enclosure
outside which 42 pits were found. The pottery was of late Iron Age date,
assigned in the report to a range of 3rd-2nd century BC. Finds included a
neolithic type discoid flint scraper from one of the pits and a fragment of
late Roman bottle (perhaps Castor Ware) from a context of Anglo-Saxon
date, possibly re-used as a weight or whorl. See also Upton (5) (Jackson
et al 1969; NDC P55, R50; finds in Ashmolean Museum).
Medieval and Later
Anglo-Saxon finds have been made at SP 708611. A bronze
undecorated swastika brooch of 6th to 7th-century AD date was found in
1970 together with a fragment of Saxon pottery and a piece of bronze
strip with punched dot decoration, possibly from a buckle plate and
probably of similar date (BNFAS 5 (1971), 45; NM; NDC AS7). Medieval
pottery has been found at two locations (SP 720600, SP 708600; NM; NDC
(4) Church of St. Michael (SP 717602 fiche Fig. 34; Plate 32)
The walls of the nave and chancel appear to survive intact from the
12th century except for an extension at the W. end. Their thickness is
uniform throughout the building. The nave and chancel are of the same
width and appear never to have been structurally divided. The N. and S.
doorways, of c. 1150 are in situ. and it is alleged that the other openings
of Romanesque character are also in situ. In the 13th century there
appears to have been an extension to the W., of half a bay, perhaps to
support a bell-cage. In the early 14th century parapets were added to the
N. and S. walls of the nave and a clearstorey formed on the S. side. A
century later the tower and the W. wall of the nave were inserted. The
use of the floored compartments created to the N. and S. of the tower is
obscure. There appears to have been no easy access to the upper
compartments. The stair turret may be a later addition since the masonry
is not bonded with the tower and the recess in the S. compartment which
formerly gave access to the stair had to be built out from the original W.
wall. In the post-medieval period, perhaps in the 18th century, a small
projection was added at the E. end of the S. wall, to house a squire's pew.
In 1892–3 the church was extensively restored by M.H. Holding. The pew
was removed as were all the furnishings. Three Romanesque windows and
the clearstorey windows were uncovered and a recess in the N. wall for
the former rood stair was excavated. The roofs were totally replaced
(Faculty NRO 332P/19; Northampton Mercury, 17 March 1893)
Since the manor of Upton was royal demesne in 1086 with soke over
Harlestone (DB f. 219d) and was also the Hundredal Manor of
Nobottlegrove Hundred (Liber Feodorum I, 604, 1177 (1237); Cal Inq I,
no. 168 (1249/50)) it is likely that the manor was once part of the original
parochia of St. Peter's, Northampton. Upton church was a dependent
chapelry of St. Peter's throughout the medieval period (e.g. Lincoln LAO
Register VII f. 82r).
Fig. 34 Church of St. Michael.
A church is likely to have existed long before the first explicit
reference to it in the arrangements for the appropriation of St. Peter's by
St. Andrew's Priory. These refer to a previous incumbent holding the
church in the reign of Henry II (BL Harl Chart 44.H.34; Franklin 1982,
103). Upton Church was clearly in existence by 1189. It is just possible
that, because it was only over Kingsthorpe that St. Peter's control was
disputed in 1155–8 (Franklin 1982, 83–4), Upton church did not then exist.
The alienation of the royal demesne to Robert Fitz Sawin by Henry II
(Rot Hund II, 9) is perhaps more significant. Robert first appears as
holding Upton in 1158–9 (Pipe R 5 Henry II, 16) and it may be that this
change in tenure led to the rebuilding of the church in its present form at
some time between 1158 and 1189.
The church consists of a Chancel, Nave, South Porch and Tower with
compartments adjoining the Tower to the north and south.
There is no structural division between nave and chancel, except for
internally a step in the floor and a change in the roof and, externally, a
change in the height of the parapet. At the W. end of the N. wall is a
straight-headed window with two trefoil-headed lights and a crude external
hood mould, and at the E. end a round-headed single-light window. The
rear-arch of the N.W. window seems to be 19th-century; that of the N.E.
window is depressed rather than semi-circular, although the masonry
between the head of the window and the rear-arch might be Romanesque.
Externally the N. wall has been severely re-pointed and possibly to some
degree refaced. In the lower courses are random blocks of dark brown
stone. The jambs and arch to the E. window are medieval although its
mullions and geometric tracery are 19th century (Clarke). At the S. end
of the E. wall is a small straight-headed recess, perhaps an aumbry.
Adjacent to it at the E. end of the S. wall is another recess, smaller but
deeper. Next to the latter recess is a trefoil-headed piscina. Above it is
a window of two narrow trefoil-headed lights. The rear-arch of its
opening appears to be earlier than the window and might be 12th-century;
the W. splay appears to have been shifted to the E. to avoid the adjacent
Romanesque doorway. The doorway is round-headed, with two unchamfered
orders and chamfered jambs (Plate 35). The impost moulding appears only
in the soffit (cf. Weston Favell). The rear-arch of the doorway is
segmental. To the W. of the doorway is a window similar to the S.E.
window. The rear-arch again appears to be Romanesque. The W. jamb of
the doorway intrudes into the E. splay of the rear-arch. The tie-beam
roof of the chancel is late medieval in form, but dates from 1893.
At the W. end of the N. wall is a round-headed doorway of three
unchamfered orders with a label and double-chamfered jambs. The rear-arch is depressed. To the E. of the doorway is a large three-light window,
the head and jambs of which are medieval but the tracery late 19th-century. Next to the window is a wide, arched recess containing steps.
The arch is depressed and hollow-chamfered. There are four steps which
begin 1 m. above floor level. Within the recess is a Romanesque round-headed window. There is no chancel arch. The large two-light window at
the E. end of the S. wall is 19th-century, replacing a small projecting
squire's pew which contained a window of two round-headed lights (Clarke).
The Romanesque round-headed window to the W., uncovered in 1893, has a
depressed rear-arch. The window to the E. of the S. doorway has two
straight-headed lights with trefoil heads; the rear-arch is depressed. Above
this window is a quatrefoil clearstorey window. The S. doorway is similar
to the N., with three unchamfered orders and a simple impost moulding.
The rear-arch is depressed. Immediately to the W. of the doorway is a
straight-headed window of two cusped lights with cusped sub-lights above.
The W. part of the nave has been sealed off by a wall and is divided
internally between the tower and two compartments N. and S.; they will
be described in the 'Tower' section. The inserted W. wall is not bonded
with either N. or S. nave wall. Set low in the S. end of the wall is a
straight-headed three-light window, similar to the westernmost window in
the S. wall but of timber. (October 1983 the window has since been
removed from the wall and is loose in the church). Above the window is
a pierced quatrefoil opening. The archway into the tower has a two-centred head and is single-chamfered. To the N. of the arch is a pierced
cruciform opening, similar to the quatrefoil on the S. There is a low
clearstorey on the S. side of the nave only but parapets to both N. and S.
walls. The nave roof is similar to that of the chancel.
The porch has a tall, steep gable with a date stone, inscribed '1594
BK, HC'. In the E. wall is an oculus, in the W. a straight-headed square
opening. The outer S. doorway has a four-centred head and is broadly
Tower and Compartments
It is possible that the area of the tower and compartments
constitutes a W. extension to the original nave. There is a break in the
masonry half way along the S. wall of the S. compartment. (A second
quatrefoil clearstorey window is just to the E. of the break.) The
insertion of the tower, however, post-dates the W. wall since its N. and S.
walls are not bonded with the W. wall and run into the rear-arches of the
two lancet windows in the W. wall. The tower is square and battlemented.
The two-light belfry openings have quatrefoil tracery in their heads.
Attached to the W. wall between the lancets is a polygonal stair turret.
It has a large buttress on the W. side and is pierced by slit windows. The
compartment to the N. of the tower is now featureless. It was formerly
floored over at a height of about 2 m. above floor level but the joists
have been sawn through. The S. compartment was also floored. In its W.
wall is a recess to give access to the stair turret, which is now entered
by a doorway over 1 m. above floor level. The doorway to the recess has
a shouldered arch.
(5) Anglo-Saxon Settlement (SP 71486023), on Northampton
Sands at 83 m. above OD. Immediately to the E. of the Iron Age features
discussed above (Upton (3)) an Anglo-Saxon sunken-featured building of
unusually large proportions (approximately 7.5 m. by 4.5 m.) was identified.
The large number of loom weights (over 60) found, together with the
absence of a hearth and domestic debris in any quantity, suggested that it
may have been a 'weaving-shed' (Jackson et al 1969; finds in Ashmolean
Museum NDC AS13).
a(6) Deserted Village of Upton (SP 719599; Fig. 17), lies
350 m. S.E. of Upton Hall and church and immediately S. of Park House,
on land sloping gently S. between 78 m. and 70 m. above OD. The main
part of the site is on Upper Lias Clay, overlain by glacial sands and
gravels at its S. end.
The well-preserved earthworks are cut through at their N. end by the
Garden Remains (7). Both the form of the earthworks and their distant
relationship with the parish church pose problems in the interpretation of
Upton is first mentioned in Domesday Book when it was held by the
Crown with a recorded population of 20 (VCH Northamptonshire I, 306).
The manor passed from the Crown to the Chaunceux family of
Northampton in the late 12th century and remained in their hands until
1348. In 1301 49 taxpayers are listed in the Lay Subsidy (PRO
E179/155/31) and in 1308–9 there were six free tenants and 31 sokemen on
the manor (PRO C134/9/1). The place is mentioned by name in the
Nomina Villarum of 1316. The vill paid 72s. 6d. in the 1334 Lay Subsidy
(PRO E179/155/3), a figure similar to its surviving neighbours.
In 1420 Upton was bought by Richard Knightley and it became part
of the extensive Northamptonshire estates of that family. In view of the
family's activities in sheep farming and depopulation (see RCHM
Northamptonshire III, Fawsley (1) it is likely that the village was largely
cleared in the latter part of the 15th century. The oldest remaining part
of Upton Hall is probably of late 15th-century date and perhaps represents
part of the improvements carried out at Upton at that time. Certainly
only nine taxpayers are listed in 1523–4 (PRO E179/155/122). In 1600 the
Knightleys sold Upton to Sir William Samwell (NRO, 566), who probably
re-modelled the existing house and perhaps created the gardens (7). His
descendants were responsible for alterations and improvements to Upton
Hall during the late 17th century and the first half of the 18th century.
The establishment of the surrounding parkland probably dates from this
latter period and may have involved yet further depopulation. In 1674 13
households paid the Hearth Tax (PRO E179/254/14) and about 1720 Bridges
(Bridges 1791 1, 538) noted that there were 11 houses in the parish. By
1800 this had been reduced to four.
The remains of the village have a remarkably regular overall form.
They consist of a central N.-S. well-marked hollow-way up to 1.5 m. deep,
formerly the main street, edged on both sides by short closes bounded by
low scarps, most of which have traces of former buildings within them.
The W. side of the site is bounded by a continuous scarp only 0.25 m. high
while the E. side has a shallow ditch or hollow-way, perhaps once a back
lane, only 0.5 m. deep. At the N. end the remains are cut across and
overlain by the terraces of a former garden (7).
The regularity of the site is reminiscent of similar sites in northern
and eastern England for which a planned 12th-century origin has been
suggested (RCHM Lincolnshire I forthcoming). If this site is comparable
then it is possible that the village acquired its form as a result of the
transfer of the manor from Royal to lay hands in the late 12th century.
The most curious aspect of the surviving earthworks is their distance from
the parish church. It is possible, but unlikely, that the village could once
have extended as far as the church, the intervening remains having been
destroyed by later emparking. It is much more likely that the surviving
earthworks are either one part of a polyfocal village, the other part being
once near the church, or that they represent the result of a re-location of
the village from an earlier position around the church. The location of
the Saxon Settlement (5) 300 m. W. of the church may also be part of a
complex sequence of development. (Allison et al (1966), 47;
Northamptonshire Archaeol 9 (1974), 110–11; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926,
4029–30; 35 TUD UK 118 pt. 11 0137–8; NDC M12)
(7) Garden Remains (SP 719600; Fig. 17), lie 300 m. S.E. of the
church and S.E. of Park House on Upper Lias Clay at 78 m. above OD.
The site consists of a series of low terraces, less than 0.5 m. high, which
lie across the closes at the N. end of the deserted village of Upton (6)
and block its central hollow-way or former main street. In the N.E.
corner is a large rectangular area cut back into the rising ground and
bounded on the S. by low banks. The bank at the W. end turns S. to form
a broad terrace or raised path. At the extreme N. of the site, W. of the
modern farm buildings, are more amorphous earthworks which may be the
site of a former building.
The remains are of a formal terraced garden dating from the late
16th or early 17th century. They must therefore have been laid out by
the Knightley family shortly before they sold Upton or, more likely, by the
Samwell family who bought the estate in 1600 and who were certainly
responsible for alterations to Upton Hall.
The remains are, however, some distance from the hall itself and can
hardly have formed part of a garden arrangement associated with it. Nor
is there a record of any other house at Upton whose status would have
necessitated such a garden. The most likely explanation for a garden in
such a position is that it was perhaps associated with a detached garden
house or banqueting hall similar to that at Lyveden New Bield (RCHM
NorthamptonshireI, Aldwincle (22)).
a(8) Fishponds (SP 715599; fiche Fig. 35), lie in Upton Park, 300 m.
S.S.W. of Upton Hall and 300 m. W. of (6), on Upper Lias Clay, between
68 m. and 80 m. above OD.
They consist of three linked ponds extending in a line down the
hillside and terminated by a larger more regular pond lying across the
slope. They are all probably of medieval date. The ponds were supplied
by a spring which emerges to the N. of the site, at the junction of the
Northampton Sands and the Upper Lias Clay. The water now feeds a
circular pond of 19th-century date, but a broad ditch emerges from
beneath the latter and once carried water into the uppermost of the
fishponds. This is rectangular, and up to 1.5 m. deep. At its S. end are
the remains of its earthen dam which divided it from the next pond; this
is also roughly rectangular and 1.5 m. deep and has the stub-ends of a
broken dam at its S. end. Below it is the third, larger, rectangular pond,
of similar depth, which has a broad ditch entering it in its N.E. corner.
This again has the remains of a dam on the S., beyond which is a larger
irregular pond, much damaged by later alterations and modern dumping,
and cut across at its W. end by the 18th or 19th-century park wall. A
shallow rectangular basin in its N.E. corner may have been a breeding-tank. Slight earthworks to the E. and N.E. of this pond, including mounds
and scarps, are enclosed by a low bank which cuts across earlier ridge-and-furrow.
(9) Cultivation Remains. The date of the enclosure of the
common fields of Upton is unknown. Bridges (Bridges 1791 1, 538), writing
about 1720, reported that part of the lordship 'hath been enclosed within
these few years' but that the rest was old enclosures. It is possible that
the earlier enclosure dates from the years following the acquisition of
Upton by the Knightley family in 1420.
Fig. 35 Fishponds.
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be
traced on air photographs in a number of places in the parish, notably on
the side of the valley of the R. Nene where rectangular end-on furlongs
run down the slope (SP 722600). The major area of surviving ridge-and-furrow is in Upton Park where well-preserved end-on furlongs exist in
pasture. In this area are a number of minor features which show
alterations to the field system. In the area immediately W. and N.W. of
the deserted village of Upton (7) for example, there is evidence of the
over-ploughing of a former headland and the creation of the new one as
well as the over-ploughing of the earlier features, now only represented by
a low scarp (Fig. 17). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1254–7; V58–RAF-1122,