Towcester in 1839
Towcester, in the hundred of Towcester, is 60 miles from London. The area of the parish (which comprehends the hamlets of Caldicott, Handley, and Wood-Burcot) is 2,790 acres : the population, in 1831, was 2,671, one-third agricultural. Some antiquaries place here the station Lactodorum of the Antonine Itinerary ; at any rate the termination ‘cester’ indicates that it was a Roman town. Numerous coins found here, especially on an artificial mound called Berrymont Hill, north-east of the town, confirm this conclusion. Traces of the Saxon works erected by Edward the Elder (A.D. 921) to defend the town from the Danes are yet discernible. Towcester is situated on the right bank of the Tow, and consists principally of one long street on the road from London to Coventry and Birmingham : this street is paved, and is lined with well built houses.
The church is a neat building in the early English style ; there are three dissenting places of worship, and three almshouses. The chief trade of the place is in boots and shoes, and in lace, all of which are made here : the town also derived considerable advantage from its situation on a great public thoroughfare, but it has probably suffered by the diversion of traffic consequent on the opening of the Birmingham railway. The market is on Tuesday, and there are two yearly fairs for live-stock and general merchandise. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £217, with a glebe-house. There were, in 1833, four dame-schools, with 30 children ; a day-school, with 50 boys, partly or wholly supported by an endowment ; four other day-schools, with 137 children ; and four Sunday-schools, with 490 children.