170-174 million years ago
Borough Hill lies to the east of Daventry town and is composed of the Northampton Sand Formation (made up of sand-, lime- and ironstone sediments). This formation was deposited in the Middle Jurassic (170-174 million years ago), when much of southern Britain was submerged in a shallow sea.
183-176 million years ago
Northampton Sand Formation is underlined by the Whitby Mudstone Formation, deposited in the Early Jurassic (183-176 million years ago). Other bedrock geologies covering the town include Dyrham Formation, Charmouth Mudstone Formation and Marlstone Rock Formation, all Early Jurassic.
2.6 million – 11,700 years ago
More recent sediments include Glaciofluvial Deposits and the Oadby Member, originating from the Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 million – 11,700 years ago).
11,650 years ago to present day
The most recent geology, Alluvium, dates within the current epoch, the Holocene (11,650 years ago to present day). This deposit stretches from the Southbrook estate, through the country park and up towards the Grand Union Canal.
2.5 million – 10, 000 BC
Evidence of fossils from Borough Hill and surrounds. Ammonite found on Vine Tree Farm, Staverton. Ammonites were shelled cephalopods that became extinct about 66 million years ago.
Mesolithic & Neolithic
10000 BC – 2500 BC
From the middle to late stone ages, Borough Hill was subject to settlement, evidenced by stone tools. The prominent hill was suitable for defence, and the presence of a spring would have been equally important. Continuous habitation likely began approximately 12,000 years ago, following the last Ice Age.
Learn more about Borough Hill through Museum of London Archaeology’s Story Map of the ancient site.
2500 BC – 800 BC
Creation of large enclosure encircling the top of Borough Hill. Evidence of bronze metalworking in the Late Bronze Age shows that occupancy of Borough Hill continued. Two burial mounds, or barrows, have been identified in the north and south sections of the hillfort; this indicates that the site gained a religious significance.
800 BC – 43 AD
Creation of a large hill fort and 400 years later a smaller, better defended hill-fort at the north end of Borough Hill. Throughout the Early Iron Age, the hillfort became more extensive in size and complexity, eventually becoming the fourth largest hillfort in Britain. By the Late Iron Age, the northern tip of the hill, located within Daventry & District Golf Club, was developed into a smaller, more intricate hillfort; the original hillfort to the south may have been an annexe. The substantial innovations in hillfort architecture throughout this period is likely a result of increased inter-tribal conflict.
Romans first conquered Britain.
Building erected on Borough Hill. There is much controversy over what type of building this was, however, it is believed to be a Roman villa or the other generally accepted building type is a Roman temple. The museum has a large mosaic fragment from this building on display. The debate on the type of building is due to the location of Borough Hill, which lies outside of Bannaventa (a fortified Roman town covering a large amount of Northamptonshire), and the decorative style of the mosaic is that of a temple. The Romans built temples on many captured hill forts and, it is less likely that a rich Roman would build a villa on a north west facing hill top.
Anglo-Saxon settlers arrive in Britain. Possible Anglo-Saxon Burials on Borough Hill.
6th – 7th Century
Possible Anglo-Saxon Burials on Borough Hill. Evidence of Anglo-Saxon settlement on hillside above St John’s Square before abandonment.
Danish Viking invasion began.
Treaty of Wedmore between King Alfred of the English and the Danish King Guthrum creating a boundary between English controlled land to the west and the Danelaw to the east. Boundary along the line of the old Watling Street so Daventry just in the English area.
Reoccupation of former Anglo-Saxon site above St John’s Square, possibly with a wooden church in an enclosure near site of present church.
Burnt Walls: possible building there in late Saxon/early Norman times but the site remains a curiosity.
Henry II became the first Plantagenet King.
Henry II endowed Priory with grants of property, others followed suite, so Priory became wealthy. Priory’s demesne to the east of the town, known as the Bekkelow, included the priory fishponds.
An estate, known as the Nether Manor, was separated from the Over Manor and situated in the Rumbellows, a close between the Ashby and Welton lanes. It was granted to the de Daventre family.
In the reign of King John, the first evidence of a market in Daventry (but no evidence of a charter).
King John forced to agree to Magna Carta.
Expansion of the town in an area known as Newlands along the west side of the London-Chester Road (now Sheaf Street).
Fawsley Hundred Court confirmed the right of the Lord of the Manor of Daventry to hold a weekly market.
Northampton challenged Daventry’s right to hold a market but the claim was thrown out by a court.
Reordering of the Church into 2 more distinct areas for monks and parishioners. Monastic part remained dedicated to St Augustine, parish part to the Holy Cross.
In a case of Quo Warranto it was accepted that Daventry had been granted a charter by King John to hold a weekly market and a fair on St Augustine’s Day (May 26th).
Start of the Hundred Years War between England and France.
Black Death spread across Europe. Daventry’s growth stopped as the population declined by 30%-40%.
First evidence of a Moot Hall on the Market Square.
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, acquired the Nether Manor.
Poll Tax saw 422 taxpayers in Daventry.
John of Gaunt acquired a portion of the Over Manor. (Building known as John of Gaunt’s Castle, once stood in wooded area by the Northampton Road near Burnt Walls but known to predate him (ref. 1284). Perhaps a hunting lodge.
The religious Guild of the Trinity and Holy Cross founded in Daventry (continued until the 1570s).
Henry, Earl of Derby, son of John of Gaunt, acquired the rest of the Over Manor, not acquired earlier by his father.
Death of John of Gaunt. Title and land inherited by his son Henry so the latter became Lord of the Manor of Daventry which was included in the Duchy of Lancaster. Later in 1399 Henry became King Henry IV.
Battle of Agincourt: Henry V’s victory against France in the Hundred Years War.
End of Hundred Years War with defeat for England.
Start of the intermittent war known as ‘The War of the Roses’ between the Houses of Lancaster and York.
Battle of Bosworth ended ‘The War of the Roses’, resulting in the death of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King. Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, became King as Henry VII and took possession of the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster of which the Manor of Daventry was a part.
Possible site of a Guildhall near market square, now First Light Photographic shop.
Changes made to medieval Parish Church (now Holy Cross).
Priory dissolved by papal authority to form part of Cardinal Wolsey (Wolsey’s) college at Oxford.
Henry VIII gave all the possessions of the former priory to the collage now known as Christ Church College, Oxford University.
Dissolution of the monasteries.
Death of Henry VIII.
Lady Jane Grey became Queen.
Elizabeth becomes Queen.
Birth of Shakespeare.
Dragge Book produced, showing who held lands in the fields of Daventry; the Wheat Sheaf first mentioned (see A.E. Brown book).
Daventry granted Borough Charter by Elizabeth I.
Execution of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringhay.
New Borough seal produced.
Schoolhouse erected on what is now New Street, for the Grammar School founded by William Parker’s will of 1576.
James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England.
The gunpowder plot – Young men from the leading recusant families in the local area (Catesbys, Throckmortons, and Treshams) plotted to blow up the King and Parliament. The landlord of The Bell Inn reported their secret meetings. They were hunted down and paid the price for treason.
Borough Charter re-granted by James I.
The 51 Constitutions for the government of the Borough of Daventry issued by the Corporation, laying down strict rules for the trade companies, religious observance, elections, a dress code for the dignitaries, fire fighting and poor relief.
Two acting companies – the King’s Players and the Prince’s Players came to Daventry. It is possible that Shakespeare’s players (The King’s Men) performed here when London theatres were shut due to plague. In Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare refers to the “red-nosed innkeeper of Daintree”.
Charles I came to the throne.
Daventry’s Bailiff was prosecuted for non-payment of £50 Ship Money to Charles I to maintain the Navy.
English Civil War began.
The Battle of Cropredy Bridge.
Charles I lodged at the Wheat Sheaf prior to the Battle of Naseby; his troops camped near Borough Hill. During King Charles I’s stay at the Wheatsheaf, legend has it, he was visited by the ghost of his friend Strafford, executed under the King’s orders, who begged him not to engage with the Parliamentarian army, but Charles went ahead and lost this decisive battle. The war had a serious effect on the town’s economy, due to generalised disruption and the seizing of livestock, as the countryside was over-run by troops. There were also periods of plague and smallpox.
Borough Charter granted by Charles II – The craft companies were abolished. Freedoms and apprenticeships were now granted by the Bailiff, burgesses, chamberlain & wardens. Drayton was taken into the Borough and a house of correction set up.
The town’s population rose to 1,450, its wealth based on the markets, wayfaring, shoemaking and leather work. The trade guilds were dominated by the wealth of the mercers and the numbers of shoemakers. Religious ceremonies and customs became increasingly secular. Non-Conformity strengthened.
The Great Mayoral Mace exchanged for a new one which is still in use.
In the reign of Queen Anne, the town suffered several waves of smallpox.
Meeting House for Dissenters (non Anglican & Non-Cathlolic conformists) built in Sheaf Street.
Decision to rebuild the Parish Church of Holy Cross in 1752.
Dissenting Academy established in Sheaf Street where Joseph Priestley was a student.
The fields of Drayton were enclosed.
New Parish Church of Holy Cross consecrated.
Stage and Mail coaches at a peak through Daventry.
Fields of Daventry enclosed.
Old Moot Hall demolished – New Moot Hall purchased for Corporation meetings.
New Methodist Church in New Street.
George Baker discovers Roman Building on Borough Hill, Daventry.
Abbey building restored (now Casey’s Club).
New type of Borough Council elected by ratepayers.
Building of Union Workhouse along London Road (bow part of Danetre Hospital).
Rodhouse shoe firm started.
Victoria ascends to the throne after the death of William IV.
Slavery is abolished in the British empire.
First main line linking London (Euston) and Birmingham (Curzon Street) passing through Weedon and the Kilsby Tunnel.
The Rural Police Act adopted by Northamptonshire, but Daventry ratepayers were opposed to meeting the cost of full-time officers in the borough.
Decline of long-distance coaching routes through Daventry with competition from railways.
A uniform postage rate of one penny is introduced in 1840.
The first modern census records details of every member of a household in 1841.
Income tax is introduced for the first-time during peacetime.
Birth of the Cooperative Movement (the Rochdale Pioneers).
‘Stead & Simpsons’ moved into Daventry to manufacture footwear.
Public Health Act aims to reduce death rates through improved sewerage and food standards.
The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park.
Beriah Botfield and his team fully excavated the site of the Roman building on Borough Hill, and recorded the site.
The first two police officers appointed in Daventry and a police station erected in New Street.
Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ is published.
Co-operative Society set up in Daventry.
The Royal Albert Hall opens.
Assembly Hall built in Daventry for meetings and entertainment including spelling bees, concerts and in the late 1880s becoming the regular venue for the Pytchley Hunt Ball.
Daventry Working Men’s Club started.
Daventry-Weedon Railway opened.
Railway extended from Daventry to Leamington.
Death of Queen Victoria.
Windsor/20th Century/Modern History
Miss Olive Hammond had a dancing school in the High Street.
British Army Exercises – The south-west area of Northamptonshire was chosen for the manoeuvres. Camps were in numerous locations including Daventry, Towcester, Boughton Park and Spratton. The King and Queen Mary, having accepted the invitation of Earl Spencer of Althorp House, visited and inspected the troops.
Stead and Simpson Shoe Factory – Several shoe factories came and went from the 1880s in the town, Stead and Simpson predominated until they were taken over by Whites in the 1970s the factory was demolished in 1999 and the site redeveloped by Tesco supermarket.
Regal Cinema in Daventry opened, which was demolished in 1986.
Reginald Foort born in Daventry at the Tower, part of Bishop Crewe House, in 1893 his parents owned music shops at 35 Sheaf Street and 72 High Street. On the 15th of January 1923 Reginald made his radio debut on the piano (we have one of his pianos in the museum). He moved on to playing the organ and to becoming the most famous Theatre Organist of all time.
BBC started its 5XX service from Daventry on Borough Hill. Given the call sign 5XX, it was the most powerful Long Wave station in the world at the time and provided a “national” service to most of the country.
Construction started in 1924, the building to house the transmitter equipment (still standing today), and two 500ft masts that dominated the hill. The station opened on the 25th of July 1925 with a ceremony attended by many distinguished guests including the BBC’s director general, Sir John Reith, who used the now universal phrase of “Daventry calling”.
BBC Shortwave Empire Service began. Transmissions to the British Empire on Short Wave started from Borough Hill on the 19th of December 1932 just in time for King George V Christmas broadcast to the Empire. The station grew and more masts were erected on the hill, becoming a predominant landmark for miles around. Early Radar Tests took place in a field near Weedon using a BBC transmitter on Borough Hill, and a Heyford Bomber aircraft. This became known as the Daventry Experiment.
Construction of Daventry’s first By-pass. The increase in motor traffic and the narrowness of Sheaf Street led to the construction of Western Avenue to divert through traffic around the western side of the town.
Daventry Royal Observer Corps (ROC) Post Opened. Established to observe, plot and report aircraft movements from the ground. Daventry’s first post, erected on Newnham Hill, was stood-down in 1945 having been operational for the duration of World War Two. In 1941 King George VI had conferred on it the title of ‘Royal’ following its part in the Battle of Britain.
Newnham Hill, was stood-down in 1945 having been operational for the duration of World War Two. In 1941 King George VI had conferred on it the title of ‘Royal’ following its part in the Battle of Britain.
The ROC was revived due to the escalating Cold War, the antagonism of the Soviet Union and its post war advanced military aircraft.
A ROC post was constructed within the BBC site on Borough Hill to report on nuclear bombs and fall out, this was closed in 1991.
British Timken started to develop its Daventry site, becoming a major employer in the town. The Headlands housing estate was subsequently built in the 1950s, housing many of the staff. Timken closed the site in the 1990s.
Daventry Town Redevelopment – A triangular partnership between Daventry Borough Council, Birmingham City Council and Northamptonshire County Council resulted in the complete redevelopment of the town, new housing estates were built mainly for the Birmingham overspill population and new roads constructed. Over the following years the Royal Oak and Long Marsh industrial estates were developed. In the mid-1980s Drayton Fields industrial estate was built and the first houses of the northern development, Ashby Fields and Lang Farm.
Daventry Outdoor Swimming Pool opened following several tragic drownings of children in the reservoir. It became a safe, popular summer attraction for the expanding town, it closed in 2006 with the coming of the indoor Leisure Centre pool.
Daventry Railway Station closes due to the lack of public use and cheaper bus service.
Development of the Royal Oak and Long March Industrial Estates.
Housing development in the Southbrook, Grange and Stefan Hill areas of the town.
Bowen Square shopping precinct opened.
Daventry Borough Council ended with the formation of Daventry District Council.
Birmingham City Council withdrew from its Daventry partnership.
Start of the Drayton Fields Industrial Estate and the first houses of the Northern.
Pedestrianisation of Sheaf Street opened by Countess Spencer.
Development (Ashby Fields, Lang Farm).
Daventry District Museum opened to the public in the Moot Hall.
British Timken ended its association with the town.
End of BBC transmissions from Daventry. On 29th of March the last transmitter on Borough Hill stopped broadcasting. All but one of the aerial masts that had been a landmark for people returning to the town for so many years were demolished. The remaining mast still stands and is used for the emergency services and Digital FM broadcasts.
Daventry Town Council formed, located at Bishops Crewe House.
Town’s Outdoor Pool closed.
Daventry District Museum closes.
In February 2006 the Archival Room at Daventry Town Council was renamed the ‘Daventry Town Council Museum’, opening at Bishop Crewe House.
In April 2010 the museum and Town Council moved into 3 New Street.
iCon Centre opens and is run by University of Northampton with offices and conference/theatre room, and proclaimed a national centre of excellence in sustainable construction.
Daventry Town Council Museum underwent a major refurbishment and reopened as ‘Daventry Museum’.
Daventry Museum awarded Heritage Site of the Year by Northamptonshire Heritage Forum.