Higham Ferrers

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Higham Ferrers is a market town in the Nene Valley in East Northamptonshire, England, close to the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire borders. It forms a single urban area with Rushden to the south and has an estimated population of 6,086[1]. The town centre contains many historic buildings around the Market Square and College Street.

The first Charter of 1251 was the result of a deliberate act of a far sighted Lord of the Manor, William de Ferrers, who created the Borough in order to promote prosperous community at the gates of his castle, where people had begun to settle in numbers and to trade in the ancient market.

Henry Chichele (c. 1364 – 12 April 1443) was born in Higham Ferrers and is noted for becoming Archbishop of Canterbury and founding of All Souls College, Oxford.

The second Charter was granted in 1556 following the accession of Mary Tudor. For many years the Town provided a safe seat for a supporter of the Crown nominated by the Duchy of Lancaster, the biggest land owner. When James 1st came to the throne the opportunity was taken to obtain a confirmation and further extension of civic powers and liberties by the Charter of 1604. Again after the Restoration of Charles 2nd to the throne and the passing of the Corporations Act of 1662 the liberties were confirmed and extended.

The town was one of the rotten boroughs and sent one MP to the unreformed House of Commons until it was stripped of its representation by the Reform Act 1832.

After the Municipal Corporations act of 1882 the modern Charter of Queen Victoria re-organised the composition of the Corporation on modern lines to conform to the pattern of local government laid down in that act. This Charter is the only one written in English, with all other versions being in Latin.

The castle is thought to have been built not long after the Norman Conquest in 1066. However towards the end of the 15th century the castle suffered years of neglect. It was finally demolished in 1523 and the stone removed to build Kimbolton Castle. A grass bank and a pond are all that remain of the defensive earthworks and moat. In the garden of the Green Dragon Inn, formerly within the area of the outer ward of the castle, are the remains of a rectangular dove-house.

Historically, the town was at the crossroads of the A45 east-west route from Northampton to Cambridge, and the A6 north-south road from London to Leicester. It was a busy junction as both were long-distance transport corridors. The A45 bypassed the town in the early 1990s with a dual-carriageway, the former route (through the narrow, but beautiful streets of Kimbolton) becoming the B645. As the A6 carried less traffic, a bypass around Higham Ferrers and Rushden came later, opening on 14 August 2003, with the old road through both towns becoming the A5028.

Higham Ferrers was the terminus of a short (5.25 mile) railway branch line on the Midland Railway from Wellingborough. There was an intermediate station at Rushden. The station closed to passenger services in 1959 and closed completely in 1969 with the end of goods services. Nowadays, the nearest operational railway station is at Wellingborough about four miles away but there is no bus route connecting Higham Ferrers to Wellingborough Station.

The town is unusual in the UK if not Europe in having been a centre of short-run footwear production along with its neighbours of Rushden and Northampton. This trade was much reduced in the 1980s-2000s by a high exchange rate, but specialised firms and individual trades people remain in the area.

Higham Ferrers Farmer’s Market is held on the last Saturday of each month, except in December when it is moved to the last available day before Christmas. Higham Ferrers Farmer’s Market is a Certified Farmer’s Market, and is part of the FARMA organisation.

 

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