Oundle

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Oundle (/ˈaʊndəl/) is an ancient market town on the River Nene in Northamptonshire, England, with a population of 5,345 (2001 census) or 5,674 (2006 estimate). It lies some 68 mi (109 km) north of London and 12 mi (19 km) south-west of Peterborough. The nearest railway station is at Corby, 9.3 mi (15.0 km) west of Oundle.

Inhabited since the Iron Age, Oundle was originally a trading place and market for local farmers and craftsmen. As the area became prosperous, wealthy traders set up shops and houses, and guilds were formed. Unlike other settlements in the vicinity, Oundle was unaffected by the Black Death in the mid-14th century.

Oundle had a grammar school since at least 1465, at which Sir William Laxton (Lord Mayor of London) was educated. He founded Laxton Grammar School in 1556, administered by the Worshipful Company of Grocers, from which Oundle School evolved.

In 1743, a group of mutineers from the Black Watch were captured at Ladywood, near Oundle. They had deserted in protest at being sent abroad, instead of patrolling the Highlands (for which the regiment had been raised).

Among the oldest buildings is the Talbot Inn. This was constructed of timber; it was rebuilt with stone from the ruins of nearby Fotheringhay Castle. Other public houses include the Rose & Crown, the Ship Inn (a 14th century coaching inn), the Angel, the George and the Riverside, which is currently derelict.

There are a number of churches. By far the most prominent – with the largest steeple in the area – is St Peter’s parish church which occupies the main churchyard.

Other major buildings include the Stahl Theatre, a primary school, and Oundle School buildings which are sometimes open to the public. These include a full-length swimming pool and the Great Hall.

A farmers’ market is held in the Market Place on the second Saturday of every month.

A fair annually attracts many locals.

Oundle is home to two of the three factories producing Fairline Boats, the third being in Weldon, near Corby. The original factory is at Barnwell Road in Oundle and the newer at the Nene Valley site.

The town has a public school – Oundle School, which has over a thousand pupils.

The Oundle International Festival (OIF) is a music festival and pipe organ school. The festival was founded in 1985, with the training of young organists as its core. The summer schools are centred on an organ, built by Frobenius of Denmark and installed in Oundle School chapel. A concurrent festival programme for the public was also planned as a recurrent feature.

Close by in Ashton, the World Conker Championships take place on the second Sunday of October. The championship started in 1965.

Oundle also hosts an annual literary festival; the Oundle Festival of Literature.

Returning in 2009, Oundle holds an annual carnival.

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