To complement the archaeological survey of Northamptonshire, presented in its first five
volumes on the county, the Commission began comparable work of comprehensive
architectural investigation on the assumption that it would likewise record and publish it on a
parochial basis for the whole of Northamptonshire. This volume on the historic architecture in
the northern part of the county is the outcome. The twenty-four parishes studied were selected
as forming a unified geographical group, partly within the Forest of Rockingham, as well as
being representative of some aspects of the architecture beyond their bounds. This Inventory
illustrates the quantity, variety and often richness of the architecture surviving in the area
studied, but no single monument is so large or complicated as to cause imbalance in the
presentation of the material as a whole. Although a certain degree of selection has been
exercised it is believed that no significant building has been omitted. It is hoped too that the
historical aspects are adequately covered.
For the foreseeable future, this volume will be the only one providing for the historic
architecture of Northamptonshire what was attempted for the archaeological sites in the county.
There are many demands on the Commission as a national body and several constraints on its
relatively slender resources. The size of Northamptonshire and the quantity of material therein,
advances in the technology of communication and the ever-increasing costs of book-production
are all factors at a practical level contributing to what will appear as a change in the way in
which the Commission publishes its work. Underlying this, however, is a conceptual change in
the way the Commissioners now perceive their task. The accumulation of records is not of itself
an adequate way of executing their Warrant in the later twentieth century. Personal
investigation by the Commissioners and their staff of the historic environment of course
remains both the primary task and the principal method of study. The creation of an adequately
researched and assessed inventory of England's archaeological and architectural heritage is now
accepted, however, as a complex and infinite task. It is not necessarily best carried out by
routine, parish by parish, coverage nor are counties always the most appropriate units for
One of the purposes of this survey is, therefore, to provide material and ideas from which
broad-ranging discussion, better-informed assessments and specific studies may develop.
Accepting the need for selection and its desirability, Commissioners already have well in hand
the next two projects dealing with historic architecture in Northamptonshire. They are based on
themes and not geographical coverage by parish, emphasize analysis rather than description, and
are as much concerned with the preparation of a useable archive as with the production of a
book. The subjects are the churches of Northamptonshire and a group of the larger country
houses; the former important buildings have hitherto lacked a satisfactory analysis, and the latter
have become increasingly vulnerable to drastic alteration, or even destruction, before their
origins and growth have been adequately studied at first hand.
Meanwhile, the preparation of this Inventory has created a considerable archive which will be
deposited in that part of the Commission known as the National Monuments Record. This is a
public archive, open daily at the Commission's headquarters, but as a matter of convenience,
those wishing to consult the records relating to Northamptonshire are advised to contact the
Secretary in advance. Copies of photographs published here, and many similar ones in the
archive, can also be purchased on application to the Secretary.
I would like to add a special word of gratitude to the owners of property, and others in
different fields, for their goodwill in allowing and encouraging these historical enquiries to be
made. Such co-operation has produced this Inventory and it is greatly to be hoped that similar
invaluable help will continue to be extended to the Commissioners and their staff in the pursuit
of their future work in the county and elsewhere in England.
Fortress House, Savile Row, London W1