in the east Midlands
Population: approx. 600,000
Area: 2370 sq. km.
Administrative centre: Northampton, population 180,000
Northamptonshire is a quiet, largely rural country somewhat caught between the South and the Midlands. Northampton itself was an important town during the Middle Ages, but is now essentially a pleasant backwater; the rest of the county consists largely of woodland, small-scale industrial towns and attractive but not exactly diverting villages. Perhaps one problem is that the county does not have a fixed identity of where it belongs; it is generally regarded as a part of the Midlands, but the news coverage comes from East Anglia TV and much of it borders such quintessentially southern counties as Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
Places of interest, such as they are, include:
- Northampton itself, a pleasant town with a reasonable offering of architecture, museums, and pubs.
- Althorp village, home of the Spencer family and burial place of Princess Diana.
- Some attractive country villages such as Oundle and Fotheringhay.
- "Churches with broached spires", as the Hutchinson Softback Encyclopedia helpfully notes.
Northamptonshire's biggest sporting attraction is the very successful rugby union
club in Northampton. There are also two lower division professional football
clubs, Northampton Town
and Rushden & Diamonds, and a country cricket
side, the Northamptonshire Steelbacks.