Northamptonshire is a centrally located county of England, bounded by the counties of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire (to the North and North East, respectively), Warwickshire (to the West), Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire (to the East and South East, respectively), Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (to the South West and South, respectively). Famous for its large black Shire horses, shoe manufacturing, beer, many ancient churches and numerous stately homes of the landed gentry, the county's nickname is "Rose of the Shires". It is also known as the "County of Spires and Squires", due to the numerous parish churches that have spires in the county due to the high level of landed gentry living in the county. Its traditional symbol is a red rose with a white rose at its center - a symbol of the Lancastrian/Tudor wars ("The War of the Roses").
The county town is Northampton, located in the centre of the county with excellent access to London and Birmingham by both road and railways. The town formerly boasted a huge Norman castle (on the site of the current railway station) and an impressive Norman cathedral (burnt down in the The Great Fire of Northampton, 1675). Northampton has the largest mediaeval open air market place in Europe. Oliver Cromwell stayed overnight at a large, sand coloured building in the centre of the town on his way to his victory over Charles I at the Battle of Naseby. The River Nene runs through the town, which is navigable all the way to The Wash in Lincolnshire.
Links with the United States
Lawrence Washington, an ancestor of the first US president (George Washington), was mayor of the town several times in the late 1500s. The Washington family home was at Sulgrave Manor, in the south of the county. Sulgrave Manor is now jointly owned by the UK and US governments and is preserved as a monument to the Washington family.
The town of Northampton, MA is named after the town of Northampton, Northamptonshire, England.
- Northampton Town Football Club - "The Cobblers" (after Northampton's traditional manufacturing trade of shoemaking).
- Northamptonshire County Cricket Club - "The Steelbacks" (after the nickname for the Northamptonshire Regiment)
- Northampton Rugby Union Football Club - "The Saints" (after the location of the club's ground in St James' End, *Northampton, built upon the grounds of the medieval St James' Priory).
- St Sepulchres - one of three remaining "round" churches in England, and the best example. Built approx. 1100.
- St Peters - a fine example of an Anglo-Saxon church, once situated outside the castle walls (now near the railway station).
- St Giles - another fine Anglo-Saxon church in the center of the town.
- All Hallows/All Saints - built upon the remains of the Norman cathedral, this is a fine neo-classical market town church, built about 1677.