Northampton, Northamptonshire – it’s got sole


On Saturday I took a trip to Northampton, mostly famous for its historic shoe making industry and inspiring the film and musical “Kinky Boots”. As a vegan I skipped the museum offering “The History of Leather” so I can’t tell you much more about it other than in 1831 a third of the male population of Northampton were employed in the footwear creation trade.

The town used to boast a castle built in 1084 but this is all that is left of it. I presume the door itself was added in recent times.


Northampton has the largest market square in the country. It dates back to 1235 and was first used by the Romans to feed, water and instruct soldiers who had arrived from central England. As I too had landed from central England I decided to follow in ancient tradition. Chilli vegetable noodles and a blackcurrant tea from a friendly stall did the trick before I marched on.


There are secret tunnels underneath the market place leading to the Guildhall building, the most impressive town hall I had ever seen. It was built in 1864 by the architect Edward Godwin who rightly won an award for his Japanese themed efforts.




The first British car chase involving a policeman occurred in Northampton in 1899. Smartly dressed conman Frederick John Phillips arrived offering free tickets for the forthcoming “Barnum & Bailey’s Circus” if the shop keepers displayed advertising posters in their windows. He requested a three shilling deposit for the tickets which he said he would return with the next day. As it turned out Fred had no involvement with “The Greatest Show on Earth” and a suspicious shop lady alerted the police. Sergeant Hector McLeod with no vehicle of his own quickly flagged down Jack the local tailor who put his 31/2 horsepower into full throttle and caught the wrong-un. The press headline referred to Fraudster Fred as an “An Undesirable Freak“.

Sadly two of the town’s fine churches had been converted into bars and restaurants but my disappointment lifted when I saw that an attempt at spiritual rectification had been made by the siting of the large Jesus Army Headquarters and the much smaller “Redeemed Christian Church of God – Holy Ghost Zone” whose business takes place behind a regular shop frontage. 

I was set to walk into the 12th century St Giles but as I approached I heard the confusing sound of the band practicing the Bee Gee track (and later covered by Steps) “Tragedy“. I left them to it, wondering if the female singer was executing the palms-to-ears chorus move with theatrical vigour and how such a song relates to living in glow of the Holy Spirit. As synchronicity would have it, an hour later I found the biography of ex Steps member Claire Richards for 50p which I purchased for my journey home. I Googled the Steps video for “Tragedy” to find it was set in a similar ancient church and involves intercepted weddings.


Another Norman 12th century church, St Peter’s, was locked up.


I was a little early for my train home and so took a short walk over the nearby bridge. My gaze was pulled to The National Lift Tower built in 1982 for engineers to test lifts up and down its 6 shafts. A photo would not have done the 418 foot (127 meters) “Northampton Lighthouse” justice and so here is some film footage to exhibit its full glory. As a Feng Shui practitioner I was concerned to note that housing closely circles and faces it. Such a tall single construction falls into the inauspicious “sha chi” category and is best to be avoided. Or at least deflected with bagua mirrors hung on every front door.

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