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St. Mary's Church - Wollaston

Wollaston is a village in Eastern Northamptonshiremarker, Englandmarker. The name is derived from the Saxon "Wulfaf's Town" - named after a Saxon chief of that name.

In common with the rest of Northamptonshire, Wollaston is noted for its shoe industry. Until 2001, the famous Dr Martens boots were made in Wollaston.

Wollaston also has the head office of an international chemical company, founded by the Quaker Ernest Bader (1890 - 1982), which is now a common ownership factory, the Scott Bader Commonwealth, making advanced resins and composite materials.

The legendary BBC Radio 1 Disc jockey, John Peel, DJed at the Nag's Head pub (now the Wollaston Inn) in the late 60s and early 70s. He was booked by the then landlord 'Big' Bob Knight. Peel, renowned for his love of live music, attracted many artists, such as Rod Stewart and Led Zeppelin, to this village pub. Peel also wore Wollaston's Dr Martens, as did many of the artists he popularised.

The Village Today

Wollaston Methodist Chapel in December 2005
Scott Bader chemical works in December 2005
Griggs and Co.
Offices in December 2005
Wollaston is a rural village (population around 3600 ) located near the market town of Wellingboroughmarker in Northamptonshiremarker. The village has a primary and a secondary school (Wollaston Secondary School), local shops, post office, library and public houses. The village supports four churches, these being Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and a Salvation Army Citadel. The Anglican church was at one time held by the Abbey of Delaprémarker in Northampton.

The village has significant industry for its size, the main employer being the Scott Bader chemical works. Until recent time (2001) the village was also a major centre for shoe and boot manufacture with R. Griggs and Co. production of Dr Martens boots in the village. Although Griggs is still administered from offices in the village manufacture has been outsourced to Chinamarker. In 2007, after a public outcry about a decrease in quality and consistency in the Chinese and Thaimarker made boots, Griggs resumed production of a limited line of Dr. Martens boots at the Cobbs Lane factory.

The village has a museum located off the north end of the High Street. It displays and curates a record of Wollaston village life.


The village first developed as a linear settlement starting at what is now Cobbs Lane moving past Bell End, Rotten Row, St Michaels' Lane and down towards Strixtonmarker.

Romano British

Settlement and activity in the area are known to date from at least Roman times. Remains of a large (35 hectare) Romano British vineyard are known in the village, these being some of the very first such sites confirmed in the United Kingdom. A Roman road passes roughly east-west just south of the modern village, with another Roman road passing north-south to the east of the modern village.


The village also has strong evidence for Saxon settlement and activity from the discovery of one of the finest Saxon-style iron helmets in a warrior's grave dating from around 700 AD. It is thought that the name Wollaston comes from Wulflaf’s Town, Wulflaf being an early Saxon.


The oldest visible part of the village is known as Beacon Hill, an ancient castle earthwork or burial mound which once belonged to Bury Manor. The mound was once surrounded by a great ditch which dates back to the 12th century.

In 1260 William de Bray secured a charter from Henry III to hold an annual Michaelmas fair and a weekly market to be held on a Tuesday.

Margery de Wolaston - was elected in 1282 as the Abbess of Delapré Abbeymarker in Northampton; she died circa 1296.

Tudor (1485-1603)

Stuart (1603-1714)

18th Century

In 1788 Wollaston land was enclosed under an act of parliament, at the time David Hennell, a lace dealer from the village wrote "I lament that this field is now agoing to be enclosed. Some that have large quantities of land are set upon it, and pay no regard to the many little ones that may be injured, and I fear many ruined." The enclosure reduced the number of landowners in the village from 108 to just 18.

19th Century

Wollaston's first school opened in 1842 and was located in a building adjacent to the Cuckoo pub, opposite Bell End. The school was private and was run by a village curate, the Reverend J.J. Scott, from his own funds. The school did not come under government control until 1873. The school has moved several times, finally being established on College Street in a building dating from May 1894.

During this period significant industry came to the village in the form of shoe- making and farming.

Signpost in Wollaston

20th century

Shoe-making, and the mechanisation of this work, continued in the early 20th century with a number of nationally-known shoe-making companies establishing themselves in the village and surrounding area.

In 1940 Scott Bader moved manufacturing to the village from London; the move became permanent and the company is now an integral part of the local community. The company founders, Ernst Bader and Dora Scott, established the Scott Bader Commonwealth in the 1950s, gifting the whole company to its employees for all time. The company now functions as a co-operative with profits divided between investment in the company, bonus for employees and charitable donations.

In 1992 Lisa Burke started an Aromatherapy Party Plan Company from her home in Priory Road. The company is now a £multi-million international operation. Lisa and the company have been awarded many accolades in recognition of their successes. The company moved its operation to Wellingborough in 1997.


The village of Wollaston is located between 50 and 80 metres above sea level on hills to the east of the Nene valley. The soil is clay over subsoil. The village is about 5 kilometres south south east of Wellingborough and is on the old Wellingborough to London road.

Notable people

  • Lisa Burke founded Likisma, a now £multi-million international Party Plan Company, retailing Aromatherapy and related products, from the garage of her home in Priory Road, Wollaston in 1992, herself presenting many parties in the village.
  • Ernst Bader and Dora Scott founded Scott Bader and gifted the company to its employees.
  • Henry Keep was born in Wollaston and emigrated to Australia in the 1890s, later becoming a member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly


  1. Scott Bader Company website (accessed 24 February 2008).
  2. A history of the company is available online (.pdf format) (accessed 24 February 2008).
  3. For a full history seeThe Man Who Gave His Company Away: A Biography of Ernest Bader, Founder of the Scott Bader Commonwealth by Susanna Hoe; London, William Heinemann (1978) ISBN 0434340235.
  4. From
  5. From The Wines of Britain and Ireland: A Guide to the Vineyards by Stephen (Secretary, Circle of Wine Writers and Chairman, United Kingdom Vineyards Association) Skelton. ISBN 0-571-20045-1
  6. From Beowulf: An Edition, edited by Bruce Mitchell, Fred C Robinson. ISBN 0-631-17226-2
  7. From
  8. From
  9. From The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons, from the Time of King Edward III to Queen Victoria by James Alexander Manning. Published in London 1851
  10. From From The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons, from the Time of King Edward III to Queen Victoria by James Alexander Manning. Published in London 1851 and
  11. From Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change in England, 1700-1820 by J M Neeson. ISBN 0-521-56774-2
  12. From Henry Keep
  13. From Wollaston Blog for information about the latest events in Wollaston

External links

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