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Desborough is a town in Northamptonshire, England, located in the Ise Valley between Market Harborough and Kettering. The town was an industrial centre for weaving and shoe-making in the 19th century, and has a long association with the Co-operative movement. Modern Desborough is a residential centre, with new homes and industry being developed to the north of the old town.
Desborough's origins lie in the Bronze Age around 2000 BC. Urns from that period have been found in and around the town.
Many archaeological finds from the Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon periods have been made in the town some of which, such as the 1st-century Desborough Mirror, and the Anglo-Saxon Desborough Necklace, are in the collections of the British Museum.
Domesday Book (1086) refers to Desborough as a "place of judgement". The name itself is thought to have derived from 'Disburg', which meant a sacred and fortified place. In the High Street, as a centrepiece of what is now the Market Square, stands a pillar that is called locally the Town Cross despite being a square column with a stone ball on top. It is thought to have been a gateway pillar from Harrington Hall.
From the 17th century, Desborough developed around the spinning and weaving industries. Using local wool and flax, the town's factories produced fine cloth and linen until the mid 19th century. Silk weaving then developed in a Paddock Lane factory, and shoe making also became important.
Between 1857 and 1968, Desborough had a railway station, opened and operated by the Midland Railway, (later the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and, after nationalisation, British Rail), as part of an extension of its network from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin. It was closed as part of the Beeching cuts.
St Giles' Church is the oldest surviving building in the town, having been built in about 1225. It is believed to stand on the site of an earlier Saxon church. Relics of the town's history include part of an Anglo-Saxon cross carved from stone, a Tudor rood screen, and reminders of the English Civil War. Close by the church is the 18th-century Church House with its stucco and Doric pillars, which became Desborough House in the 19th century and is now the Services Club.
On 7 September 1969 the Anglican (Church of England) and Methodist partnership was inaugurated in the presence of the Bishop of Peterborough and the Chairman of the Oxford District. Since that time a Methodist minister has been working in equal partnership with the Anglican vicar. St Giles is part of the United Benefice of Desborough and Brampton Ash with Braybrooke and Dingley.
St Giles has regular church festivals including one of the United Kingdom's longest running (since 1998) and largest (over 100 trees) Christmas Tree Festival. The trees are contributed by local organisations, companies, individuals and families.
The Old Manor House
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The Old Manor House in Gold Street retains many features of its late 17th-century origins. Ferdinand Poulton, a Roman Catholic lawyer, was Lord of the Manor and reputedly one of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot conspirators.
Government and community
Desborough is a member of the Charter of European Rural Communities and through this has links with 27 other EU member towns and villages. The town is twinned with Neuville de Poitou in the Vienne departement of France and with Bievre in Belgium.
The Desborough Community Development Trust campaigns for improvements to the town.
The co-operative movement
To counter exploitation of workers by agents and employers, local men founded the Desborough Co-operative Society in 1863. Starting with local shops and then a corset and lingerie factory, the Desborough Co-op once had a department store, a bank, a supermarket, a travel agents, a ladies' shoe and clothing shop and a number of corner stores.
Following a number of mergers, the town is now served by the Central England Co-op and over the years a number of the outlets have closed including the bank branch and the ladies' shoe and clothing shop, while a co-operative undertakers has opened in one of the former corner shops.
The former Co-op Corset Factory is now owned by Wacoal Eveden Ltd making lingerie and swimwear. The site includes the original Victorian factory and, immediately opposite, Eveden's warehousing and UK factory shop. The former Co-operative Society Sports Ground with its football field and tennis courts is now the site of a housing development called Desbeau Park. Desbeau was the name of one of the range of lingerie made at the Corset Factory.
Sport and leisure
Desborough has an up-to-date leisure complex, built in the later months of 2012, which includes a gym, a café, a football court, a basketball court, and an outside skate park.
Targetcraft Archers club meets at nearby West Lodge Rural Centre.
There is one primary school and one infant/junior school in Desborough, Loatlands Primary and the combined Havelock Infant and Junior schools. There is no secondary school, and so pupils aged 11 and over are educated outside the town.
- Lewis Cave (1832–1897), a Queen's Bench judge, was born in Desborough.
- F. R. G. Heaf (1894–1973), the professor of medicine and tuberculosis researcher, was born in the town.
- Lawrence Holland (1887–1956), played for Northamptonshire and died in Desborough.
- Cecil Kilborn, the longstanding Bradford City footballer, was born in Desborough in 1902.
- Reggie Meen (1907–1984), British heavyweight boxer who won the British title in 1931.
- John Reynolds, a tinker also known as "Captain Pouch" and a leader of the 1607 anti-enclosure Midland Revolt, was said to be from Desborough.
- Andy Sawford, Labour Party politician and Corby MP, was born in Desborough in 1976.
- Jane West (1758–1852), novelist, poet and writer of conduct literature, was brought up in Desborough.
- Tony Wright (born 1948), political scientist, Labour Party politician and Cannock Chase MP (1997–2010), attended Desborough County Primary School.
- "Desborough Co-operative Society Jubilee Souvenir". A Family Story. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- "British History Online - Desborough". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "British Museum - The Desborough Mirror". Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "About Desborough Heritage Centre - The Official Website for the Town of Desborough in Northants". Desboroughheritagecentre.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- "British Museum - The Desborough Necklace". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Desborough Heritage Centre Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- "Desborough Baptist Church". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- "Desborough United Reformed Church". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Welcome to Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Desborough". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Church partnership marks 40 years". BBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Four Northamptonshire Churches". Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Town Council". Desborough Town Council. 31 March 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- "Charter Members". Charter of European Rural Communities. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Our twin towns and cities". Kettering Borough Council. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Loatlands Primary School". Loatlands Primary School. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Havelock Schools Website". Havelock Schools. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Secondary schools near Desborough Retrieved 30 October 2017.