Wellingborough is a market town and borough in Northamptonshire, England, situated some 11 miles (18 km) from the county town of Northampton. The town is situated on the north side of the River Nene, most of the older town is sited on the flanks of the hills above the river’s current flood plain. Due to frequent flooding by the River Nene, the town was mostly built above the current level of the flood plain. Originally named “Wendelingburgh”, the town was founded in the early 6th century Saxon period by a Saxon leader called Waendel and is mentioned in the Domesday Book under the name of “Wendelburie”. The town was granted a royal market charter in 1201, by King John of England.
As of 2001 the census states it has a population of 46,959. The town of Wellingborough is governed by The Borough Council of Wellingborough, with their office located in the town centre The town is twinned with Niort in France, and with Wittlich in Germany.
The town is predicted to grow by around 30 percent under the Milton Keynes South Midlands (MKSM) study, as the UK government has identified Wellingborough as one of several towns in Northamptonshire where growth will be directed over the next 30 years. The study allocates 12,800 additional homes mainly to the east of the town. The town has also a growing commuter population as it is located on the Midland Main Line railway, which has InterCity trains to London St Pancras International station taking under an hour, giving an interchange with Eurostar services.
The town was founded in the early 6th-century period by a Saxon leader named Waendel and was named ‘Wendelingburgh’, now known as Wellingborough. The town is surrounded by five wells: Red Well, Hemming Well, Witche’s Well, Lady’s Well and Whyte Well, which appear on its coat of arms.
The medieval town of Wellingborough housed a modest monastic grange – now the Jacobean Croyland ‘Abbey’ – which was an offshoot of the larger monastery of Croyland Abbey, near Peterborough, some 30 miles (48 km) down-river. This part of the town is now known as ‘Croyland’.
All Hallows Church is the oldest existing building in Wellingborough and dates from c. 1160. The manor of Wellingborough belonged to Crowland Abbey Lincolnshire, from Saxon times and the monks probably built the original church. The earliest part of the building is the Norman doorway opening in from the later south porch. The church was enlarged with the addition of more side chapels and by the end of the 13th century had assumed more or less its present plan. The west tower, crowned with a graceful broach spire rising to 160 feet (49 m), was completed about 1270, after which the chancel was rebuilt and given the east window twenty years later. The 20th-century Church of St Mary was built by Ninian Comper.
Wellingborough was given a Market Charter dated 3 April 1201 when King John granted it to the “Abbot of Croyland and the monks serving God there” continuing, “they shall have a market at Wendligburg (Wellingborough) for one day each week that is Wednesday”.
In the Elizabethan era the Lord of the Manor, Sir Christopher Hatton was a sponsor of Sir Francis Drake’s expeditions; Drake renamed one of his ships the Golden Hind after the heraldic symbol of the Hatton family. A hotel in a Grade II listed building built in 17th century, was known variously as the Hind Hotel and later as the Golden Hind Hotel.
During the Civil War the largest substantial conflict in the area was the Battle of Naseby in 1645, although a minor skirmish in the town resulted in the killing of a parliamentarian officer Captain John Sawyer. Severe reprisals followed which included the carrying off to Northampton of the parish priest, Thomas Jones, and 40 prisoners by a group of Roundheads. However, after the Civil War Wellingborough was home to a colony of Diggers. Little is known about this period.
Originally the town had two railway stations: the first called Wellingborough London Road, opened in 1845 and closed in 1966, linked Peterborough with Northampton. The second station, Wellingborough Midland Road, is still in operation with trains to London and the East Midlands. Since then the ‘Midland Road’ was dropped from the station name. The Midland Road station opened in 1857 with trains serving Kettering and a little later Corby, was linked in 1867 to London St Pancras. In 1898 in the Wellingborough rail accident six or seven people died and around 65 were injured. In the 1880s two businessmen held a public meeting to build three tram lines in Wellingborough, the group merged with a similar company in Newport Pagnell who started to lay tram tracks, but within two years the plans were abandoned due to lack of funds.