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The History of Kettering

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Kettering is thought to derive from 'the place of Ketter's people'. The first historical reference to Kettering comes in a charter of 956 AD. The charter, granted by King Edwy, awarded ten ‘cassati’ of land to Aelfsige the Goldsmith. It is thought possible that Aelfsige the Goldsmith donated Kettering to the monastery of Peterborough . King Edgar, in a charter dated 972, later confirmed it as belonging to that monastery. It appeared in written records in the 10th century mentioned as Cateringe by the Domesday Book . The Domesday Book, basically a tax survey carried out for the Norman King William The Conquerer in 1086, Kettering manor is listed as held by the Abbey of Peterborough. The manor was valued at £11, with 107 acres of meadow, 3 of woodland, 2 mills, 31 villans with 10 ploughs, and 1 female slave.

Place-names ending with 'ing' derive from the Anglo-Saxon inga or ingas meaning 'the people of the'. The town’s origins can be traced back to an early, unwalled Romano British settlement, the remnants of which are now under the northern part of the present town. The Romans stayed there until the 4th century AD leaving evidence of a substantial amount of iron-smelting behind, this area of Northamptonshire was one of the three great centres of iron-working in Roman Britain. Excavations in the early 20th century either side of Stamford road (A43) revealed an extensive early Saxon burial site with evidence of at least a hundred cremation urns that have been dated to the 5th century AD. This indicates Kettering may have been among the earliest Anglo-Saxon incursions deep into the interior of the English countryside.

By the 7th century the lands that are now Northamptonshire formed part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. From around the year 889 on the Kettering area was conquered by the Danes and became part of the Danelaw. The ancient road of Watling Street marked the border. The land taken by the Danes was recaptured by the Wessex king Edward the Elder , son of Alfred the Great , in 917. At this time the settlement at Kettering was likely little more than a thin scattering of family farmsteads. The charter for Kettering's market was granted to the Bishop of Peterborough by Henry III in 1227 but the market has since been abandoned.

Later in it’s history, the manor was jointly held by the Dukes of Buccleuch, major landowners in Kettering and most of the surrounding villages; along with the Watsons of Rockingham Castle . Modern Kettering is still dominated by the 180 feet tall spire of the Parish church of Saints Peter and Paul . The origins of the church are unclear, but considered to be 13th century. The chancel is in the Early Decorated style of about 1300. The main fabric of the building is mostly Perpendicular having been rebuilt in the mid 15th century. Two medieval wall paintings, one of two angels with feathered wings, and one of a now faded saint, are still visible inside the church.

By the 17th century the town was a centre for the production and trade of woollen cloth in Northamptonshire. During the 18th and 19th century the boot and shoe industry grew rapidly in Northamptonshire. The days of the industry were numbered after the 1970s when cheaply made imports flooded the country and destroyed local shoemaking almost entirely. The railway came to Kettering in 1857 and helped revive the declining local economy by giving the town a direct link to London ten years later in 1867. Kettering grew fast in the 20th century, mainly replacing the old industries with a mix of light industry and commerce.

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