The Town of TowcesterIs situated as has been stated on the Watling street on the banks of the river Tove or Tow, over which it has three bridges. It is about 8 miles S.W. By S. of Northampton; 4 from the Blisworth station of the London and North-western railway; and 60 miles N.W. from London. It consists chiefly of one long street, formed by the Chester road, of well-built houses, several good shops and excellent inns; and two smaller streets formed by the roads to Stony Stratford and Brackley. The town is well lighted with gas since 1838. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacture of boots and shoes, silks and bobbin lace.
The market on Tuesday is well supplied and attended, and fairs for all sorts of cattle and merchandise are held on Shrove Tuesday, May 12th, the Tuesday before the 10th of October, and the 29th of October.
The Church dedicated to St. Lawrence, stands in a spacious church-yard, and is supposed to occupy the site of the Roman basilica. It is a handsome structure, and consists of a nave, north and south aisles, south porch and chancel, and a tower 90 feet in height, which contains a peal of six bells. The interior is very beautifully fitted up; at the west end of the nave is a handsome gallery of oak in panels, erected in 1627, by Henry Newby, a citizen of London, but a native of this town. Two side galleries were added in 1795, and extended in 1836, when the church was repaired. The Right Hon. George Earl of Pomfret, presented a beautiful organ in 1817. There are 1,176 sittings in the church, 678 of which are free. Five pews are awarded to Hanley, two to Wood Burcote, and three to Caldecote. Nearly £2000 have been expended in the recent internal arrangement and improvements, inclusive of the liberal donation of velvet cushions for the pulpit, reading desk, and communion table, by William Deacon, Esq., and the richly painted east window of the chancel, exhibiting in the centre full sized figures of Our Saviour, between Moses and St. John the baptist on the right, and St. John the evangelist and St. Paul on the left, the joint contribution of Mrs. Sabin and John Lovell, Esq. The roof by Bernasconi, in square compartments diagonally divided, with angels holding blank shields for the springers, cost £500. The old open timber roof of the chancel, put up by Sir Robert Banastre, in 1640, is still retained. [Baker]. In the north wall of the north aisle is a small door and staircase which led to the rood loft; and at the upper end of the south aisle was formerly a chapel belonging to the chantry, which was founded by the Rev. William Sponne, in the reign of Henry VI., called the chapel of St. Mary. There was also a chapel at the same end of the north aisle. The tower and aisles were commenced in the reign of Edward IV., and finished in that of Richard III., and are in the early style of English architecture. The chancel is in the decorated style of the 3rd Edward. Amongst the monuments is an ancient altar tomb to the memory of Archdeacon Sponne, who was rector of this parish in the reign of Henry VI., and died in 1448. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the deanery of Brackley, endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry. Its present value is about £250 per annum, and the Rev. Joseph Garton, M.A., honorary canon of Peterborough cathedral, is the present vicar. The rectorial tithes have been commuted for £415 per annum, viz. £75 for the tithes of Towcester, and its hamlets of Wood Burcote and Caldicote; £120 for Handley, and £220 for the parish of Abcote, with the hamlet of Foscote. Among the various incumbents of this parish was Benedict Cajetan, a native of Aregni, in Campagna di Roma, afterwards Pope Boniface VIII. On his elevation to the papal throne in 1294, he resigned this rectory; and he died in Rome, on the 12th of October 1303. He added the Sextus Decretalium as a supplement to the five books of the canon law which were extant before. The Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry is the owner of the impropriate rectorial tithes of the parish. The Vicarage House stands south-west of the church yard.
The Baptist Chapel erected in 1788, is a plain building which will seat about 600 persons; the Independent Chapel will accommodate 400, and was built in 1845; and the Wesleyan Chapel, erected in 1809, will afford accommodation to about 350 persons. The Sunday schools in connexion with these chapels, are well attended, as is also the National School.
Towcester Poor Law Union, comprises 23 parishes and townships, viz:- Abthorpe, Adstone, Blakesley, Blisworth, Bradden, Cold Higham, Easton Neston, Gayton, Greens Norton, Litchborough, Maidford, Pattishall, Plumpton, Shutlanger, Silverstone, Slapton, Stoke Bruern, Tiffield, Towcester, Wappenham, Weedon Loys, Whittlebury and Woodend, and embraces an area of 62 square miles.
The Workhouse, which is a neat substantial, and well constructed building was erected in 1836, at the north east end of the town, at a cost of £3000, and is capable of accommodating 208 persons. The building is of oolite stone, from the hamlet of Foscote, and the design is by Mr. G. G. Scott, of London. The average number of paupers for the past year was about 80, and the average weekly cots of each was 2s 9d. The affairs of the union are conducted by a board of 30 guardians, of whom Lord Southampton is chairman; the Rev. W. H. Clarke, and Mr. Wm. Edwards vice-chairmen, and Mr. J.H. Sheppard, clerk. The Rev. J.T. Flesher, is chaplain, Mr. and Mrs. Pinnock, master and matron, and the medical officers are Mr. Thomas Collier, Mr. John Duke, Mr. Richard W. Watkins, and Mr. Benjamin Lever. Prayers are read by the chaplain twice each day, and full church services are performed on Sundays.