A History of Paulerspury

The History of Paulerspury 

Like the village itself this history is a living document. If you have anything you would like to add please let us know via the contact form. For instance, if you have any history about your house or family in the village please write a suitable section and send it to us at webmaster@paulerspuryparish.org.uk

The Manor of Paulerspury

Archaeologists have identified the Cuttle Mill area of the A5 as the most likely location for the last stand ouf Queen Boudicca against the Romans.

In the Middle Ages, the Parish of Paulerspury contained 3 principal manors, those of Paulerspury, Heathencote and Plumpton Pury.

Paulerspury manor house stood to the west of the church.

1066 – The Manor of Paulerspury was ‘freely held’ by a woman named Gitda.

1086 – The manor was transferred to William Peverel and became part of the Honour of Peverel (an ‘honour’ was a group of manors held by one lord) but was rented by Robert de Paveley after whose family the village was named. ‘Paveley’ was corrupted to ‘Pauler’, and ‘pury’ or ‘pery’ refers to a pear orchard (from the Latin ‘pera’ meaning pear [as in ‘perry’]) -so the name literally means ‘Paveley’s Pear Orchard’.

At that time the manor consisted of the manor house, farmland, woodland and a mill; the whole estate was valued at £4.

1199 – The Honour of Peverel merged with the Crown.

13th Century –  The manor came into the ownership of the de Century Paveley family.

1363 – A park was created within the manor.

1395 – Ownership passed via John de Paveley to his daughter Isabel and her husband, Sir John StJohn.

1541 – A descendant of Sir John and Lady Isabel (another Sir John St John) sold the manor to Henry VIII in exchange for estates in London, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Glamorgan. At this time the manor was valued at £68 2s Od and Its resources included free fishery (created by damming the brook) and free warren. (‘Warren’ was a piece of land for breeding, and the right to hunt, game. The area is still known as The Warren’.) The ancient fish ponds can still be viewed.

1542 – The manor was annexed to the Honour of Grafton on its creation.

1551 – Sir Nicholas Throckmorton acquired the manors of Paulerspury, Cosgrove, Silverstone and Tiffield. (Sir Nicholas’ daughter Bess married Sir Walter Raleigh.) The episode with Bess (Elizabeth) Throckmorton caused a scandal at court as Raleigh was Queen Elizabeth’s favourite whilst Bess was her lady-in-waiting. Local legend maintains that Queen Elizabeth spent some time in Paulerspury with the Throckmortons.

1571 – Sir Nicholas was succeeded by his son Arthur who, in 1593, began building a new mansion on the site of the old house which had fallen to ruin and, in 1610, laid out elaborate gardens.

1608 – Sir Arthur settled the Manor of Paulerspury on his daughter Mary on her marriage to Thomas Lord Wootton.

1644 – Lord and Lady Wootton’s daughter Anne married Edward Hales.

1668 – The manor passed to Edward and Anne’s son Edward.

1670-71 – Much of the manor was sold off in parcels of land, leaving only the manor house and former park.

1673 – Edward sold the estate to Sir Benjamin Bathurst, a London merchant, whose son Alien was subsequently ennobled.

1732 – Lord Bathurst and his son recovered much of the manor which had been sold 60 years previously.

1740 – Lord Bathurst mortgaged the manor for the sum of £6000 and re-mortgaged it 4 years later for a total of £12,000.

1805 – Henry, the third Earl, sold the manor to Robert Shedden, a London merchant.

1820’s – The manor house was probably demolished about this time.

1877 – By this time the estate consisted only of Paulerspury Park Farm, comprising 386 acres in Paulerspury and 200 acres in Whittlebury.

1920 – George Shedden, a descendant of Robert, sold the farm to the sitting tenant, Thomas Roddis, who a few years later sold it to Edgar Eales; he was described as ‘Lord of the Manor’ up to the Second World War.


FARMING, both tenant and freehold, was probably the main occu¬pation in Paulerspury from the Middle Ages up to the 1950s, when it started to decline.
POTASH (a strong alkali used as a fertilizer) was being made in the village in 1673.
BRICKMAKING was taking place for at least 2 centuries from 1689.
STONE QUARRYING was dominated by the Lepper family from 1741 to 1855; they were also MASONS. Stone quarrying is still carried out at Pury End.

Paulerspury was an important centre for LACE-MAKING. In the 19th century the trade was dominated by a lace-dealer named Elizabeth Rose and her son Edward, and there were at least 2 other lace-dealers in the village, Mary Smith and William Cross. After Edward Rose’s death in the 1870s lace-making declined, but Mrs Harrison, the wife of the new Rector, noted the poverty in Paulerspury and re-started the industry using Edward Rose’s patterns. Eventually there were 130-180 lace-makers in the village with all the profit of£600-£800 a year being passed on to the lace-makers by Mrs Harrison. She organised an exhibition in Northampton in 1891 (visited by the future Queen Mary) and another at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Lace-making gradually declined due to machine production and by 1931 had almost ceased.

In the 19th century there was a wide range of trades in the village, including two PUBLIC HOUSES, and by the 1840s there was a POST OFFICE. A CARRIER went to Northampton and Buckingham each week, and by the 1920s there was a daily run to Towcester. By 1931 the Northampton journey was being carried out by a motor omnibus converted from a lorry by the Lepper family and operated by George Edwards, who also made BICYCLES. Post Offices survived in Paulerspury and Pury End until the late 1990’s.

In 1892 the GRAFTON HUNT moved from Wakefield Lodge into the Hunt House, providing a number of jobs. By 1977 the stables had been given up and the buildings were taken over by the ROLLS-ROYCE ENTHUSIASTS’ CLUB as their headquarters.

CAFES and a FILLING STATION were opened in the 1920s and 30s to serve the increased traffic on Watling Street.

In 1932 a company was formed to exploit the discovery of a well with water with a high mineral content which was claimed to relieve rheumatism; it was even planned to build a hotel, but the whole venture collapsed.

Although now mainly a residential community whose inhabitants travel to work elsewhere, there are many home run businesses within the Parish.

Development of Housing 

There is evidence of Iron Age settlements in the extreme south and north-west of the Parish of Paulerspury, and two separate areas of Roman occupation in the village and others near Park Farm. A Saxon cemetery has been identified to the north of Pury End.

Middle Ages – The village of Paulerspury grew to the west of Watling Street, extending for over a mile. Building, mainly of tenanted labourers’ cottages, continued during the16th and 17th centuries.

18th Century – The village was first mapped in the early 1700’s and five distinct clusters of buildings are obvious. Two groups, known as Church End, formed the core of the village on either side of the main road and the other two groups lay north (Tews End) and south (Plumpton End) of the axis. The fifth group formed Pury End. About 50 of the 150 families in the village were freeholders (a large percentage for the time), and the figure remained almost the same a century later. The remainder of the dwellings were tenanted, as had been the case since the Middle Ages.

19th Century – A number of new farms were established, including Pury Hill Farm; in the village the Rector built a new parsonage and Isaac Lovell the Hunt House. Other large houses were built, possibly because of the attraction of the Grafton Hunt.

1919 – Paulerspury, with 4 other parishes, was designated by the then Rural District Council (RDC) as being most in need of publicly-provided housing in the District.

1929 – The Parish Council pressed the RDC to build 4 houses because of the poor conditions in the parish; these were erected the following year.

1933 – Eight Council houses were built at the eastern end of the village near the junction with Watling Street and 8 at Pury End, for all of which the Ministry of Health exceptionally allowed a rainwater-fed supply because of problems with mains water.

1943 – Two houses were built at minimum cost with tenants nominated by the War Agricultural Executive.

1946-7 – The RDC compulsorily purchased sites opposite the school and in Bignell’s Lane for new housing.

1951 – At the Parish Meeting there were complaints that houses were being rented to people from outside the parish, and that bungalows were being let to young couples instead of to the elderly.

1960’s  – This decade saw private housing get underway, but development was curtailed by the designation of a ‘planning envelope’ round the village, outside which new building would not normally be permitted. This resulted in the refurbishment of many older properties.

1971 – The Parish Council rejected an application from a local builder to erect houses on Spinnals Playing Field.

1976 – The Parish Council felt that the village should not be allowed to grow much further: the school could not accommodate any more pupils, the village hall was the correct size for the population, and the sewerage system could not support any large-scale building.

1981 –  The RDC confirmed that only infill development would be permitted in the village.

1989-90 – The Parish Council opposed the building of 20 low-cost houses at Grays Close.


1853 – The provision of a well near the church was funded by voluntary subscriptions collected by the Rector.

1869 – The Vestry (forerunner of the Parish Council) refused to contribute to establishing a sewerage scheme in Watling Street.

1888-9 – Cases of typhoid occurred in the village and the Rural Sanitary Authority’s Medical Officer tried to get a well closed and a better water supply installed. The Vestry refused to support this and merely issued warning notices to the relevant property owners.

1897-8 – The County Council investigated the sanitary condition of the Parish. Pury End was in the worst situation with 22 wells supplying 70 houses.

1901-8 – Street lighting was discussed by the Parish Council but not proceeded with.

1906 – Dr Linnell, the local GP, endeavoured to get something done about the water supply but was defeated at a Parish Meeting where it was reported that installing a piped water supply for Pury End would cost £800.

1909 – A sewerage scheme was installed at Plumpton End.

1927 – The Parish Council joined the County Council’s voluntary library scheme.

1928  – The Northampton Electric Light & Power Company canvassed to gauge support for installing power in the parish, but there was insufficient commitment for it to be economic for the scheme to go ahead. The Parish Council complained, without effect, to the Electricity Commission.

1931 – Overhead cables were installed.

1933 – The County Medical Officer of Health issued a scathing report on the water supply and drainage at Paulerspury and the RDC prepared a water supply scheme.

1934. The scheme was rejected by a Parish Meeting because of the cost (£3500) – those present claimed that the village was one of the healthiest on the county. Notwithstanding the opposition, the RDC prepared another scheme – this time costing £4000!

1938 – Despite strong resistance from the Parish Council, the water supply scheme was completed. A storage tower was built near a well on the western side of the parish with pipes to Pury End, Church End, Tews End and Plumpton End (but not to outlying farms and cottages), with standpipes serving each group of houses in the village.

1949 – Street lighting had been considered many times over the years but rejected because of cost. Finally 24 lights were installed.

The Vestry

Up to 1894 when parish councils were established, the vestry was a parish’s governing body in all matters civil and ecclesiastical. The ‘Common Vestry’ consisted of all the ratepayers in the parish; the ‘Select Vestry’ comprised those elected to administer the parish.

1832 – The Vestry bought 2 cottages to serve as a workhouse. A rate of 2 shillings in the pound was levied to raise money to pay paupers allotted to work for local farmers. A surgeon was engaged to treat and vaccinate the poor.

1834 – A Select Vestry was appointed consisting of 13 rate payers, two overseers and two churchwardens. They abolished the system of allotting men to farmers and instead instructed every employer to take on labourers on a pro-rata basis; surplus labourers were to be ‘disposed of to the highest bidder at the monthly Vestry meeting.

1835 – The Vestry established an emigration scheme, borrowing £100 from the Poor Law Commission to send a dozen poor adults and children to North America.

1843-44 – Two families were despatched to Australia at a cost of £6 12s 8d and two to America for £50.

The Parish Council

1894 – Under the Local Government Act, Paulerspury was entitled to a Parish Council of 11 members; these were duly elected with the local doctor being chosen as Chairman. The first year’s meetings were dominated by an investigation of the Parish’s charities, and for the next 70 years the presentation of charity accounts was the main (and sometimes only) item at annual Parish Meetings. The work of the Council was very limited – in 1904 the Clerk of the Peace was asked if the Council could purchase a new pair of handcuffs for the Parish Constable (an office retained until 1942).

1919 –  At the first Parish Meeting after the Great War the Parish Council took over maintenance of the war memorial which had been presented to the parish by Mrs Harrison, widow of the late Rector. The Council were urged to establish a recreation room for the village, and the former Congregational schoolroom on the green was hired by a voluntary committee and opened as a Parish Institute.

1920  – The Grafton estate in Paulerspury was sold and the County Council purchased allotment fields for £50 an acre and leased them to the Parish Council.

1946 – The building of a village hall was considered; after several years searching for a suitable site the proposal was remitted to a voluntary committee in 1953.

1962 – A recreation ground was established at SpinnaFs Field on land bequeathed in her will of 1728 by Elizabeth Spinnal, widow of the Reverend John Spinnal, sometime Rector.

1970 – The village hall was finally opened, supported by annual grants from the Parish Council.

1991 – The village hall was replaced by a new building, towards which the Parish Council contributed £7000.


There is mention in the Domesday Book (late 11th century) of a priest in Paulerspury, and ‘Walter, Parson of Pery’ was recorded in the late 12th century. The advowson (the right to appoint a priest to a church benefice) of Paulerspury was held by the Lord of Paulerspury Manor, the earliest recorded appointment being in 1229; some members of the de Paveley family were appointed to the living. In 1738 it was sold by Earl Bathurst to the then Rector, Henry Layng. Layng had borrowed extensively and could not repay his debts (he even had a brief spell in Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison) and in 1745 he mortgaged the advowson to Dr William Bedford for £600 for a term of 500 years. He then sold it again in 1749 to John Pierce for £700, shortly after which Layng died.

Since the middle of the 18th century the patronage has been held by New College Oxford, and the right of appointment alternates between the College and the Crown. Several incumbents have been fellows or graduates of New College, for example John Harrison, William Cam and Elliott Kenworthy Browne.

In 1291 the living was valued at £16 and in 1854 at £792 1s 3d, falling to £500 in 1898. By 1924 the value had risen to £866 but dropped again to £500 in 1940.

The Church of St James The Great

Parts of the church date back to the late 12th century (including a pair of extremely rare wooden effigies dating from the 12th Century); it has been much added to over the years and major rebuilding was carried out during the 19th century. The tower and roof of the nave were renewed 1839-43 and in 1854 the chancel was rebuilt and the vestry added. This work was financed by the Duke of Grafton, the Earl of Pomfret and Robert Shedden (then Lord of the Manor), plus the levy of a church rate of 6d. In the 18th and 19th centuries many of the rectors were independently wealthy and contributed extensively to the cost of repairs and rebuilding. The organ (a gift of Isaac Lovell) was installed in the 1870s, and the Chapel of All Saints created in 1936.

In 1727 the first family pew was appropriated by John Williams, followed in 1742 by Joseph Lem, John Browne in 1745 and Thomas Tarry in 1770.


From 1748 various inhabitants of Paulerspury certified their houses as ‘dissenting meeting houses’.

In 1811 a Wesleyan Chapel was built at Pury End; this was still in use in 1960 but has since closed. In 1862 the Primitive Methodists erected a chapel at Pury End which was still being used in 1940 but has since been converted into a private house.

An Independent chapel was built at Church End in 1826 and formed into a church in 1844. Because of the size of the congregation (total attendance rose to about 500 per Sunday), side galleries had to be added. A Sunday School was started in 1842, attendance at which soon achieved 200 children. Much of the church’s popula¬rity was due to Joseph Buckingham who was appointed Pastor in 1847, having been preaching since 1841. The burial ground was opened in 1843. In 1872 the church was restored, and the burial ground extended in 1874, but the church was poor and struggled to pay its pastor. Humphrey Williams arrived as minister in 1923 and there was an upturn in the church’s fortunes – new members joined, bequests were made and fund-raising was introduced. The church is still in use as the United Reformed Church.


1720 – William Marriott left lands in his will from the rents of which was to be paid annually £6 to the master of a school in Paulerspury for the purpose of instructing 6 boys in the catechism, writing and arithmetic and bringing the boys to church (the residue to be distribu¬ted in bread to the poor). Similar bequests were made in other wills.

1767-1816 – Edmund Carey (father of the missionary William Carey) served as schoolmaster and Parish Clerk. In 1790 there were 50 boys in attendance at the school.

1817  – The school was rebuilt with donations from the National Society, the Duke ofGrafton, the Earl of Pomfretand others. A ‘highly respectable young man’ named Edward Billing was appointed master at a salary of £45 per year. The school was known as the ‘National School’.

1819 – Further rebuilding took place.

1821 – There were 68 boys in the day school and 90 in the Sunday School; 94 girls attended a separate Sunday School run by Mrs Billings.

1824 – Mr and Mrs Billings were ‘promoted* to run the Central School in Northampton.

1854 – Thomas Watts was running a private day school in the village.

1860-61 – At the sole expense (of over £1000) of the Rector, W H Newbolt, the National School was rebuilt and reorganised and was then run as a private Anglican establishment open only to churchgoers’ children who attended Sunday School. Fees were introduced:

Children of labourers                                   1 ½d a week
Children of shopkeepers and tradesmen         2 ½d a week
Children of those ‘holding a higher position’     4d a week

If 2 boys from a labourer’s family attended, girls of the family could attend free (perhaps the first example of ‘buy two, get one free’!). At the end of the year, 12 boys from labourers’ families would have their fees refunded from charitable bequests based on the boys’ conduct, proficiency and attendance.

1861 – Isaac Lovell left a number of charitable bequests to the school.

1862 – Because the Rector would permit only the children of churchgoers to attend the school, the Independents built their own school which was open to all. This was on land donated by Elizabeth Newman who also paid for the building with another benefactor; it operated from 1863 to 1877.

1870 – Although there were 176 children in the parish between the ages of 5 and 12, the average attendance at school was only 26. The staff consisted of a master and mistress plus an infants’ mistress. A night school in the winter months was started for boys aged 12 to 21.

1876 – Compulsory elementary education was introduced.

1877 – The Education Department requested that extensions be made to the Church School, but the Reverend Newbolt regarded it as his private property.

1878  – Newbolt died and the new Rector, J B Harrison, imme¬diately set about extending the school and placing it under Government inspection. The school had almost doubled in size when it re-opened in September with Richard Butterworth as headmaster.

1879 – A private school opened in Pury End taught by Fanny Scrivener.

1880s  – The average attendance at the National School was about 130. Children stayed away for a variety of reasons but parents were never prosecuted. Some children attended school part-time and also had Jobs. Several attended the Wesleyan School in Silverstone because, it was said, the master would let them leave earlier for work.

1888 – Miss Scott opened a private school in Pury End.

1891 – James Pilkington was appointed headmaster of the National School. He abolished fees and attendance improved to 92% of those eligible. A half-holiday was granted to enable children to help with potato-picking. Reports by Government Inspectors noted vast improvements during Pilkington’s tenure.

1902 – The school took 12 Dr Barnardo’s children who were boarded out in the village.

1903 – The average attendance was 173. The staff consisted of a master and his wife, 2 other assistants, a pupil-teacher and a monitor.

1906 – James Pilkington died aged 43 (regarded as a great loss) and was succeeded by W E Norton until 1917. During this period attendance fell but the school continued to receive good reports.

1908  – A library was opened in the school and evening classes revived. Some pupils were entered for public examinations.

1918 – H G Wills took over the headship; disruptions were caused by his call-up just before the Armistice, the postwar flu epidemic and a coal shortage, but good reports continued. Wills introduced rural science studies, staff meetings and an open day for parents. In 1920 there were 141 children in school.

1925 – The school’s accommodation was severely criticised by the Board of Education and the school was suggested as a candidate for closure. After a major reorganisation and some building work, however, the Board withdrew this threat.

1930s – Electric light was installed. The school regularly challenged Roade school in the contest for the best school garden in the county.

1931 – Pupils began to win free places at Towcester Grammar School.

1940 – During the war the older children worked in 3 allotment plots every fine afternoon. Six evacuee children attended the school.

1947 Following a reorganisation by the Local Education Authority, 14 older children were transferred to Towcester Secondary Modern School.

1949 – Attendance was 105. Various criticisms were voiced by Government inspectors, possibly because Mr Wills had by then been in post for 32 years.

1952  – Mr Wills retired. His successor Clifford Pugh established a PTA.

1954  – The school became a voluntary controlled infant and junior school, the remaining 24 senior pupils being transferred to Towcester.

In the mid 50’s Toilets were installed, but the feed tank for the hot-water system had to be filled by hand as the school was not on mains water.

1955 – Alwyn Thompson took over as headmaster. Reports on the school were outstanding, although relations between the headmaster and the Rector were at times strained by disagreements over religious observance.

1968 – A large extension costing over £25,000 was opened.

1970 – A learners’ swimming pool was installed, paid for by funds raised by the PTA. Attendance increased due to the arrival of young families in the village.

1978 – Janet Allen became the first woman head

1980 – School uniform was introduced.

1999 – Attendance totalled 131 children.