Every town has voices and a character. Voices you can hear on the streets from busy market traders and bustling shoppers, to families and people enjoying the open spaces. It’s character might be the voices of those who can no longer be heard, but they are voices that shaped the town, whose stories Daventry Museum shares through objects and displays and to which we add contemporary histories as the town develops grows and changes, as all towns naturally do.
In the late 16th Century and early 17th Century, the gunpowder plot was concocted just outside Daventry, in the picturesque village of Ashby St Ledgers. In a room above the still surviving timbered gatehouse of a beautiful Tudor manor, the conspirators gathered together to plan the demise of King James I and the blowing up of the House of Lords. After the plot was discovered, Robert Catesby and his fellow plotters took brief refuge at Ashby St Ledgers, before riding on to Holbeach where Catesby was shot and killed on 8 November 1605. The collection holds a brooch from this time, belonging almost certainly the Catesby family.
Years later in 1645, King Charles I stayed at Daventry’s Wheatsheaf Inn whilst his troops were camped somewhere on Borough Hill, prior to the famous battle of Naseby, which very much decided the fate of the Civil War and the way that our country was later governed. A cannon ball found on the Southbrook Estate may well date to the time of the Royalist encampment.
Four of the most historic voices we have evidence of at the museum are those of the Kings and Queens who granted Daventry town’s charters. These royal charters give us fantastic insight into how Daventry’s town laws were passed centuries ago. The museum holds four charters, two under the name of Queen Elizabeth I, one under James I and the other under Charles I. The charters gave Daventry the right to such actions as trading, holding town fairs, collecting taxes and electing officials. They were all handwritten on a parchment called vellum made from the skin of a calf, goat or sheep. The skin would have been treated especially for the purpose by wetting, stretching and scraping. All legal documents right up until the 19th century were written on parchment and even today the parliamentary records of public Acts have a front and back cover made of vellum. You can discover the Town Charters a little more here.
What defines us and where we see our future, the museum aims to share the stories of the people of Daventry and we welcome anyone who has a story or an object to share it, do contact us.
More collection related items can be discovered at the museum and here using our interactive collection.