Watford, Northamptonshire

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Gate of St Peter and St Paul, Watford.JPG
St Peter & St Paul's Church
Northamptonshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Northamptonshire
Population320 (2011)
OS grid reference SP6068
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Northampton
Postcode district NN6
Dialling code 01327
Police Northamptonshire
Fire Northamptonshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
52°18′54″N1°07′01″W / 52.315°N 1.117°W / 52.315; -1.117 Coordinates: 52°18′54″N1°07′01″W / 52.315°N 1.117°W / 52.315; -1.117

Watford is a village and civil parish in the Daventry district of the county of Northamptonshire in England. At the time of the 2001 census, the parish's population was 224 people, [1] including Murcott and increasing to 320 at the 2011 Census. [2] Watford is home to Watford Gap services Britain's oldest motorway service station opening in 1959. Located directly on the M1 motorway and alongside the West Coast Main Line.

Northamptonshire County of England

Northamptonshire, archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015 it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by Northamptonshire County Council and by seven non-metropolitan district councils. It is known as "The Rose of the Shires".

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Watford Gap services

Watford Gap services are motorway services on the M1 motorway in Northamptonshire, England. They opened on 2 November 1959, the same day as the M1, making them the oldest motorway services in Britain. The facilities were originally managed by Blue Boar, a local company that had run a nearby petrol station before the M1 opened. Roadchef bought the services from Blue Boar in 1995.


History of Watford

The Roman era to the 5th century

It is known that the important Roman roadWatling Street” was constructed on the western boundary of the village. In the Roman era the Roman settlement of Bannaventa (A Gap in the Hills), with defensive earth and timber ramparts and a ditch, was situated about 2 miles south-west of Watford. Today some remains of the settlement such as building platforms, mounds and crop marks are still visible. [3]

Watling Street ancient trackway

Watling Street is a route in England that began as an ancient trackway first used by the Britons, mainly between the areas of modern Canterbury and St Albans using a natural ford near Westminster. The Romans later paved the route, which then connected the Kentish ports of Dubris (Dover), Rutupiae (Richborough), Lemanis (Lympne), and Regulbium (Reculver) to their bridge over the Thames at Londinium (London). The route continued northwest past Verulamium (St Albans) on its way to Viroconium (Wroxeter). The Romans considered the continuation on to Blatobulgium (Birrens) beyond Hadrian's Wall to be part of the same route, leading some scholars to call this Watling Street as well, although others restrict it to the southern leg.

Anglo-Saxon period

After the departure of the Romans, the area eventually became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Watford is mentioned as one of the lands belonging to Ethelgifu and was probably inherited from her own kindred. In the 7th century the Mercians converted to Christianity with the death of pagan King Penda. About 889 the area was conquered by the Danes and became part of the Danelaw – with Watling Street serving as the boundary. This was in effect until the area was recaptured by the English about 917 under Wessex King Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great. In 940 the Vikings of York captured Northamptonshire and devastated the area, with the county retaken by the English in 942. Northamptonshire is one of the few counties to have both Saxon and Danish town-names and settlements. [3] This may be reflected in the place-name's etymology, where both Old Scandinavian vað has been coupled with its English translation, 'ford'. Alternatively, the first element may be a Scandinavianised form of original Old English gewæd, with the same meaning, or else Old English wāþ 'hunting'. [4]

Mercia One of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy

Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. The name is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or Myrce, meaning "border people". Mercia dominated what would later become England for three centuries, subsequently going into a gradual decline while Wessex eventually conquered and united all the kingdoms into the Kingdom of England.

Christianity is an Abrahamic Universal religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is the worlds largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers or 31.5% of the worlds populations.

Penda of Mercia 7th-century king of Mercia in Britain

Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633.

1066 and later

In 1066 the local Saxon lord is recorded as Thor, a common Scandinavian name that may have dated back to the Viking invasions of several centuries prior. The first known recording of the affairs of Watford village is in the Domesday Book of 1086. At that time Watford was considered a fairly large village with a population that could have been more than 100 people. By 1086 the Saxons had been ousted by the Normans and Gilbert the Cook was Lord and Tenant-in-Chief of Watford and another parish. Baldwin was the son and successor of Gilbert in the reign of King Henry I. [3] By the time Baldwin died in the first year of Henry II, Watford was held by the Barony of Brunn which was held by Baldwin. The Barony and Watford with it passed to the husband of one of Baldwin's daughters, Hugo Wac, who became the Baron of Brunn succeeding his wife's father.

Scandinavia Region in Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three, belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages. In English usage, Scandinavia also sometimes refers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or to the broader region including Finland and Iceland, which is always known locally as the Nordic countries.

Domesday Book 11th-century survey of landholding in England as well as the surviving manuscripts of the survey

Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states:

Then, at the midwinter [1085], was the king in Gloucester with his council .... After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire."

Normans European ethnic group emerging in the 10th and 11th century in France

The Normans were an ethnic group that arose in Normandy, a northern region of France, from contact between indigenous Franks, Gallo-Romans, and Norse Viking settlers. The settlements followed a series of raids on the French coast from Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, and they gained political legitimacy when the Viking leader Rollo agreed to swear fealty to King Charles III of West Francia. The distinct cultural and ethnic identity of the Normans emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century, and it continued to evolve over the succeeding centuries.

Medieval era

Watford has extensive settlement remains for an earlier form of the village in the medieval era. There is a stone building, and remains of gardens, traces of medieval dwellings, house-sites, paddocks, etc. Additionally, there are reconstructed cottages from this era. The significance of the medieval village remains at Watford is underscored by the adjoining ridge and furrow, evidence of an extensive medieval cultivation system which provided rich, well-drained land for crop planting. [3]

Ridge and furrow Archaeological pattern of ridges and troughs created by a system of ploughing used in Europe during the Middle Ages, typical of the open field system

Ridge and furrow is an archaeological pattern of ridges and troughs created by a system of ploughing used in Europe during the Middle Ages, typical of the open field system. It is also known as rigand furrow, mostly in the North East of England and in Scotland.

Present day

It is known nationally for its proximity to the Watford Gap motorway service station. The phrase "North of the Watford Gap" is used light-heartedly (and generally in the confused sense mentioned above, with respect to Watford, Hertfordshire) to describe areas of Great Britain that are north of London. It is also used in a generic/pseudo-sociological sense to distinguish 'the South' from 'Northern' England (including the English Midlands), or at least where Southern England is thought to 'end'. The phrase may refer to the village being traditionally an important waypoint on the old east-west and north-south coaching routes. This was the point where the main north-south road, rail and canal routes came together at a gap in the hills known as Watford Gap. Watford gives its name to the Watford Locks on the Grand Union Canal. [3] Christadelphians have been using the village hall for meetings since the 2000s.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Watford Locks

Watford Locks is a group of seven locks on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal, in Northamptonshire, England, famous for the Watford Gap service area.

Notable buildings

The Historic England website contains details of 21 listed buildings and one scheduled monument in the parish of Watford. All of the listed buildings are Grade II except for St Peter & St Paul's Church which is Grade I. [5] The properties concerned include:

Notable residents

Pilgrim Father Thomas Rogers was born in Watford about 1572. He was the son of William Rogers and his wife Eleanor. He married Alice Cosford at Watford in 1597 and had six children baptised there between 1599 and 1613. The family joined the Separatist Church in Leiden, the Netherlands sometime after 1613. Thomas Rogers became a citizen of Leiden on 25 June 1618 and records state he was a merchant of camlet cloth (a combination of silk and camel’s hair). It is possible Alice Rogers died sometime before 1620 since, per 1622 records, a woman named Elizabeth (Elsgen), possibly his second wife, cared for the Rogers children left behind when Thomas and his son Joseph sailed for the New World. [8] [9] [10]

Thomas Rogers and his son Joseph, about age 18, went to North America on the Pilgrim ship Mayflower in 1620, while his other children remained in the Netherlands. Some of those children are known to have later gone to New England. Thomas died, as did many others on the ship, that first winter in Plymouth Colony, 1620-21. His son Joseph survived to live a long life as a person of note in the colony. [8] [9] [10]

Related Research Articles

Pilgrims (Plymouth Colony) early settlers of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts

The Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers were the first English settlers of the Plymouth Colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Their leadership came from the religious congregations of Brownist Puritans who had fled the volatile political environment in England for the relative calm and tolerance of 17th-century Holland in the Netherlands. They held Puritan Calvinist religious beliefs but, unlike other Puritans, they maintained that their congregations needed to be separated from the English state church. They were also concerned that they might lose their cultural identity if they remained in the Netherlands, so they arranged with investors to establish a new colony in America. The colony was established in 1620 and became the second successful English settlement in America, following the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The Pilgrims' story became a central theme in the history and culture of the United States.

Edward Winslow Mayflower passenger

Edward Winslow was a Separatist who traveled on the Mayflower in 1620. He was one of several senior leaders on the ship and also later at Plymouth Colony. Both Edward Winslow and his brother, Gilbert Winslow signed the Mayflower Compact. In Plymouth he served in a number of governmental positions such as assistant governor, three times was governor and also was the colony's agent in London. In early 1621 he had been one of several key leaders on whom Governor Bradford depended after the death of John Carver. He was the author of several important pamphlets, including Good Newes from New England and co-wrote with William Bradford the historic Mourt's Relation, which ends with an account of the First Thanksgiving and the abundance of the New World. In 1655 he died of fever while on an English naval expedition in the Caribbean against the Spanish.

William Brewster (<i>Mayflower</i> passenger) Religious emigrant to North America and leader there

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Degory Priest Signatory of Mayflower Compact; passenger on the Mayflower

Degory Priest was a member of the Leiden contingent on the historic 1620 voyage of the ship Mayflower. He was a hat maker from London who married Sarah, sister of Pilgrim Isaac Allerton in Leiden. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact in November 1620 and died less than two months later.

Thomas Rogers (<i>Mayflower</i> passenger) Mayflower passenger

Thomas Rogers was a Leiden Separatist who traveled in 1620 with his eldest son Joseph as passengers on the historic voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower.

Christopher Martin (<i>Mayflower</i> passenger) Mayflower passenger

Christopher Martin. He and his family embarked on the historic 1620 voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower on its journey to the New World. He was initially the governor of passengers on the ship Speedwell until that ship was found to be unseaworthy, and later on the Mayflower, until replaced by John Carver. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact. He and his family all perished in the first winter at Plymouth Colony.

Robert Cushman (1577–1625) was an important leader and organiser of the Mayflower voyage in 1620, serving as Chief Agent in London for the Leiden Separatist contingent from 1617 to 1620 and later for Plymouth Colony until his death in 1625 in England. His historically famous booklet titled 'Cry of a Stone' was written about 1619 and finally published in 1642, many years after his death in 1625. The work is an important pre-sailing Pilgrim account of the Leiden group's religious lives.

Thomas Tinker Mayflower passenger

Thomas Tinker (c.1581–1620/21) and his family, comprising his wife and son, came in 1620 as English Separatists from Holland on the historic voyage of the Pilgrim Ship Mayflower. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact but he and his family all perished in the winter of 1620/1621, described by Bradford as having died in "the first sickness."

Isaac Allerton Mayflower passenger

Isaac Allerton Sr., and his family, were passengers in 1620 on the historic voyage of the ship Mayflower. Allerton was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact. In Plymouth Colony he was active in colony governmental affairs and business and later in trans-Atlantic trading. Problems with the latter regarding colony expenditures caused him to be censured by the colony government and ousted from the colony. He later became a well-to-do businessman elsewhere and in his later years resided in Connecticut.

Park Street, Hertfordshire village in United Kingdom

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John Tilley (<i>Mayflower</i> passenger) Mayflower passenger

John Tilley and his family were passengers on the historic 1620 voyage of the Mayflower. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact, and died with his wife in the first Pilgrim winter in the New World.

<i>Mayflower</i> Famous ship of the 17th century

The Mayflower was an English ship that transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England, to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. The ship has become a cultural icon in the history of the United States. The Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact prior to leaving the ship and establishing Plymouth Colony, a document which established a rudimentary form of democracy with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. There was a second ship named Mayflower, which made the London to Plymouth, Massachusetts, voyage several times.

John Turner (<i>Mayflower</i> passenger) passenger on the 1620 voyage of the historic Pilgrim ship Mayflower

John Turner was a passenger, along with his two sons, on the 1620 voyage of the historic Pilgrim ship the Mayflower. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact and perished with his sons that first winter.

John Crackston Mayflower passenger and New World colonist

Surname also spelled as Craxston or Crakstone

Also see: The ships Anne and Little James

Mayflower Compact signatories

The Mayflower Compact was the iconic document in the earliest history of America. It was ratified by forty-one men on board the Pilgrim ship Mayflower on November 11, 1620 while anchored at Cape Cod, now Provincetown Harbor in Massachusetts. The Compact was originally drafted as an instrument to maintain unity and discipline in this new land called Plymouth Colony but, over time, it has become one of the most historic documents in American History.


  1. Office for National Statistics: Watford CP: Parish headcounts. Retrieved 28 November 2009
  2. "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Watford History
  4. Ekwall, Eilert (1947). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 477.
  5. "Historic England – The List" . Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  6. Historic England. "Tile House, Watford (1203824)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  7. Historic England. "Watford Park (1021465)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  8. 1 2 Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), pp. 201-202[ self-published source ]
  9. 1 2 Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 345-345
  10. 1 2 Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (New York: Grafton Press, 1929), p. 78

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