Watford, Northamptonshire

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Watford is located in Northamptonshire
 Watford shown within Northamptonshire
Population 224 
OS grid reference SP6068
District Daventry
Shire county Northamptonshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Northampton
Postcode district NN6
Dialling code 01327
Police Northamptonshire
Fire Northamptonshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Daventry
List of places

Coordinates: 52°18′46″N 1°06′57″W / 52.3127°N 1.1159°W / 52.3127; -1.1159

Watford is a village and civil parish in the Daventry district of the county of Northamptonshire in England. It should not be confused with the more significant town of Watford in Hertfordshire which is 50 miles to the south. At the time of the 2001 census, the parish's population was 224 people.[1]

History of Watford[edit]

The Roman era to the fifth century[edit]

It is known that the important Roman road “Watling Street” was constructed on the western boundary of the village. In the Roman era the Roman settlement of Bannaventa (A Gap in the Hills), with defensive earth and timber ramparts and a ditch, was situated about 2 miles south-west of Watford. Today some remains of the settlement such as building platforms, mounds and crop marks are still visible.[2]

The Anglo-Saxon period[edit]

After the departure of the Romans, the area eventually became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Watford is mentioned as one of the lands belonging to Ethelgifu and was probably inherited from her own kindred. In the Seventh century the Mercians converted to Christianity with the death of pagan King Penda. About 889 the area was conquered by the Danes and became part of the Danelaw – with Watling Street serving as the boundary. This was in effect until the area was recaptured by the English about 917 under Wessex King Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great. In 940 the Vikings of York captured Northamptonshire and devastated the area, with the county retaken by the English in 942. Norhamptonshire is one of the few counties to have both Saxon and Danish town-names and settlements.[3]

1066 and later[edit]

In 1066 the local Saxon lord is recorded as Thor, a common Scandinavian name that may have dated back to the Viking invasions of several centuries prior. The first known recording of the affairs of Watford village is in the Domesday Book of 1086. At that time Watford was considered a fairly large village with a population that could have been more than 100 people. By 1086 the Saxons had been ousted by the Normans and Gilbert the Cook was their Lord and Tenant-in-Chief of Watford and the surrounding areas. Baldwin was the son and successor of Gilbert in the reign of Henry II. As Baldwin died without any descendants, his lands on his death became the property of the Crown.[4]

Medieval era[edit]

Watford has extensive settlement remains for an earlier form of the village in the medieval era. There is a stone building, and remains of gardens, traces of medieval dwellings, house-sites, paddocks, etc. Additionally, there are reconstructed cottages from this era. The significance of the medieval village remains at Watford is underscored by the adjoining ridge and furrow, evidence of an extensive medieval cultivation system which provided rich, well-drained land for crop planting.[5]

Thomas Rogers and his son Joseph, about age 18, came to North America on the Pilgrim ship Mayflower in 1620, while his other children remained in Holland. Some of those children are known to have later come to New England. Thomas died, as did many others on the ship, that first winter in Plymouth Colony, 1620/1621. His son Joseph survived to live a long life as a person of note in the colony.[6][7][8]

Present day[edit]

It is known nationally for its proximity to the Watford Gap motorway service station. The phrase "North of Watford Gap" is used light-heartedly (and generally in the confused sense mentioned above) to describe areas of Great Britain that are north of London. It is also used in a generic sense to distinguish the South from the North of England. The phrase may refer to the village being traditionally an important waypoint on the old east-west and north-south coaching routes. This was the point where the main north-south road, rail and canal routes came together at a gap in the hills known as Watford Gap. Watford gives its name to the Watford Locks on the Grand Union Canal.[9]

Notable Descendant[edit]

Pilgrim Father Thomas Rogers was born in Watford parish, Northamptonshire about 1572. He was the son of William Rogers and his wife Eleanor. He married Alice Cosford in Watford parish in 1597 and had six children baptized there between 1599 and 1613. The family joined the Separatist Church in Leiden, Holland sometime after 1613. Thomas Rogers became a citizen of Leiden on June 25, 1618 and records state he was a merchant of camlet cloth, a combination of silk and camel’s hair. It is possible Alice Rogers died sometime before 1620 since, per 1622 records, a woman named Elizabeth (Elsgen), possibly his second wife, cared for the Rogers children left behind when Thomas and his son Joseph sailed for the New World.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics: Watford CP: Parish headcounts. Retrieved 28 November 2009
  2. ^ Watford History [1]
  3. ^ Watford History [2]
  4. ^ Watford History [3]
  5. ^ Watford History [4]
  6. ^ a b Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), pp. 201-202
  7. ^ a b Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 345-345
  8. ^ a b Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (New York: Grafton Press, 1929), p. 78
  9. ^ Watford History [5]

External links[edit]

Media related to Watford, Northamptonshire at Wikimedia Commons