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Earls Barton is a large village in Eastern Northamptonshiremarker - it has a population of about 5,353 people.

The village is famous for:
  • its Saxon churchmarker - which is one of the most famous remaining examples of its type in the country - another example being at nearby Brixworthmarker.
  • its shoe-making heritage.

The village was the inspiration for the film Kinky Boots and part of the film was shot here. It is based on the true story of a local boot maker who turns from traditional boots to producing fetish footwear in order to save the ailing family business and the jobs of his workers.

In The King's England: Northamptonshire, edited by Arthur Mee, we learn that:

Pevsner however, seems to disagree with this assessment and describes it as:

He goes on to argue that the castle was founded at the time of the Norman conquest and its builder ignored the then existing church, leaving it in its bailey, for a later demolition that never happened. Ironically the church outlived the castle!

In the villages small market square is a pharmacy run by a member of the Jeyes the chemists family, who invented and manufactured Jeyes Fluid and the Philadelphus Jeyes chemist chain.

Earls Barton Village centre
The Saxon Church at Earls Barton
Earls Barton Church
The Old Church Door


The first Saxon settlement at Earls Barton was one of various settlements built on a spring-line on the Northern bank of the River Nenemarker. The site is to be found on a spur above the flood plain. Originally (i.e. before 600 AD) the Saxon village was known as Bere-tun - which means "a place for growing Barley. Following the Norman invasion, the Domesday Book records the village as being called Buarton(e), with Countess Judith, the King's niece is listed as both the land and mill owner. She married Waltheof, Son of Siward, Earl of Northumbria who in 1065 AD became Earl of Northampton - it was from these links and with another Earl - the Earl of Huntingdon, that gave the village its prefix "Erles" from 1261 AD.

Later, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries a major change took place in the local economy, when sheep rearing gave prominence to the manufacture of woollen cloth, which remained a major cottage industry until the shift to the newly industrialised north several centuries later. With the wool industry, we would also have found:
  • Rush mat weaving,
  • Basket making,
  • Chair bodging and
  • plastic making.

Another change took place in the thirteenth century when shoes began to be made from leather bought in nearby Northamptonmarker. At this time the village had its own tanyard, which remained in operation until 1984. The census of 1801 shows that the population had by then grown to 729. By 1850 the population had trebled.

Between 1913 and 1921 opencast ironstone mining was undertaken locally with the ore being transferred either by locomotive or by an aerial ropeway.

The church

The famous churchmarker of All Saints has been a feature of the town for many centuries; its famous Saxon towermarker dates to 970 AD; Pevsner says that the church tower as built was not originally followed by a nave, but a chancel. He also describes the tower's bell openings as being very unusual - having five narrow arches each on turned balastrades.

The church was enlarged by the Normans in two phases - one at either end of the twelfth century.

Other notable features include:
  • A Norman or Saxon door and arcading on the western end of the building - this was the original entrance to the church,
  • Medieval rood screen,
  • Victorian font and pews,
  • A modern 20th century inner porch and windows

Apart from the Saxon tower, the church is principally built from Northamptonshiremarker ironstone and limestone, whilst the tower was constructed from Barnack stonemarker and infilled with local limestone.

Another interesting feature is that every century from the tenth century onwards is represented in either the fabric or the fittings of the church building.

There are three other churches in Earls Barton including the Methodist, Baptist and Catholic.

Local sport

The village has a cricket team. The exact date that this club was established is unknown however there has been cricket in Earls Barton since the late 1800s. The club at present has three teams that play in the Northamptonshire Cricket League on Saturdays and a friendly team that plays on Sundays. It also boasts Kwik Cricket, U11's, U13's, U15 & U17's teams.

The local football team, Earls Barton FC was formed in the late 1800s - with the exact date now lost in the mists of time. When Northampton Town FC (The Cobblers) was first formed in 1897, their first game was against Earls Barton United (EBU) on 18 September 1897. The final score Cobblers 4 - EBU 1.

A speedway training track operated at Earls Barton in the early 1950s.

Community projects & facilities etc.

  • Earls Barton Fire Station
  • Earls Barton Parish Council
  • Earls Barton Junior School
  • Earls Barton Youth Club
  • Earls Barton Library
  • Earls Barton Historical Society
  • Earls Barton Music
  • Badminton Club
  • 1st Earls Barton Boys Brigade
  • Under The Tower - Drama Group
  • Earls Barton Museum of Village Life
  • The newly refurbished Co-op
  • Earls Barton Tennis Club
  • Starfruit Youth Theatre Company
  • Earls Barton Police Station.
  • Barton Today is the free community magazine delivered every month to every single home in Earls Barton in colour. It has won a number of awards nationally and claims to be "more than just a village magazine".
This Youth Theatre Group are renowned for their outstanding acting abilities and charisma. They have performed at a number of prestigious theatres including: The Globe, Noel Coward, Sydney Opera House and at the Colosseum. Starfruit have received numerous awards the most recent being the award for the Best Youth Theatre Group in Great Britain.

Sporting link: Earls Barton was the home to one of Britain's greatest stock-car racers and builders, Aubrey Leighton, who won the World Championship in 1957. "Earls Barton Motors" still stands on the Wellingborough Road. Aubrey was a master designer and builder, and even after his retirement at the end of 1964, his car saw success in others' hands.

Aubrey's son Keith went on to international motor sport via Cosworth Racing Engines, and was mechanic for Grand Prix World Champion Ronnie Petersen, as well as in the Indy series in the USA.

A website devoted to the history of this rough-and-tumble sport is The people who built and raced stock-cars were a special breed back then: no-nonsense do-it-yourselfers, hard rivals on the track and generous comrades in between times.

Barely 8 miles from Earls Barton is the great race track of Brafield Stadium ("Northampton International Raceway"), a fast 1/4 mile oval. Speedway was staged at Brafield Stadium in the late 1950s and again in the late 1960s. The 1950s team were known as the Flying Foxes and the 1960s team were known as the Badgers

The local Brigades

Earls Barton for many years have had the Boys and Girls Brigade at Earls Barton Methodist Church. In 2005 the Girls Brigade had to close due to not many gils coming to the weekly club.The Boys Brigade has grown in size now having over 30 boys from 4 - 16 years of age. Now that the Boys Brigade has grown larger than before the Brigade has spilt into two nights. 4-13 on a Monday and 13-18 on a Tuesday. The Brigade captain is Mr John Thompson.


  • Pevsner, Nikolaus - The Buildings of England - Northamptonshire. ISBN 0-300-09632-1

  • A comprehensive history of the village can be found in Joyce Palmer's book: "Earls Barton: The history of a Northamptonshire Parish" ISBN 0-955-4401-0-6

External links

Local Businesses

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