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The market town of Daventry blossomed in the 18th century, it’s economy benefitting from the increase in coaching traffic which was diverted here off the London to Dublin road (Watling Street: A5). It was the stop off north of Towcester. One of the beneficiaries was the church, rather the new church which was erected here in 1750’s to the design of Charles Hiorne of Warwick. It is in the Metropolitan style derived in part from James Gibb’s St Martins in the fields, London but here transformed by the architect and his splendid use of local ironstone. It is a powerful design: it’s balanced classical façade topped by a massive tower, an octagon clock storey, and finished with an obelisk as a spire. Internally it’s Georgian quality remains as strong with the survival of it’s three galleries and fitments (the Victorians certainly had a go but their particular legacy was sensitively removed by the architect Stephen Dykes Bower in 1963. Note the marquetry pulpit, the readers desks and reredos all from the mid 18th century. This is a church that Hogarth, Handel, or Lawrence Stern would have felt comfortable in and so will you. The town itself is situated on the high ground with the watershed of the river Nene to the east and the river Leam to the west. Adjacent to the town is Borough Hill which was where Charles l encamped his army prior to marching to Naseby. In the mid 29th century the BBC Empire Service (now The World Service) broadcasted from here. Many people will have first encountered this town as the radio announcer said “Daventry calling, Daventry calling”. It was also from here that radar was first tested in 1938 by it’s inventors Robert Watson – Watt and A. F. Wilkins. The town itself centres on the Market Square, now largely pedestrianised, surrounded by a medley of building dating back to the 16th century which continue down to High Street and Sheaf Street. In the latter you will encounter the United Reform Church which was formerly Doodridge’s Academy where Joseph Priestley, dissenter and scientist, studied in the early 1750s. The Wheatsheaf Hotel just a little further on is where Charles l slept prior to Naseby. Daventry also has good sporting facilities and beyond the town is the county park.

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