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Wellingborough in 1839

Wellingborough is in the hundred of Hamfordshoe, 67 miles from London. The area of the parish is 4,490 acres ; the population, in 1831, was 4,688, about one-eighth agricultural. The town is on an eminence just above a little brook which flows into the Nene ; and from half a mile to a mile from the left bank of the Nene itself. The town was rebuilt in 1738, after a dreadful fire. It now consists of a number of streets, irregularly laid out, the principal of which meet in the market-place : they are lighted, and, from the situation of the place on a slope, are generally clean. The houses are for the most part built of a red sandstone, on which rock the town stands. The church is large and handsome, and of various styles of architecture. A south door is Norman ; the tower and spire at the west end are of early English, a fine specimen of the later period of that style, approaching in some parts to the decorated English. Some of the piers and arches of the nave, and the east window, a remarkably fine composition of five lights, with admirable tracery and mouldings, are of decorated English character ; the rest of the church is perpendicular, of fine composition and execution. There are some ancient screen-work and wood stall-work, and a modern font, a good imitation of ancient work. There are several dissenting meeting-houses in the town. The principal manufacture of the place is that of boots and shoes. Many of the females are employed in making lace, though that branch of industry has much declined. A silk-mill has been established within a few years. The market is on Wednesday, and is very considerable market for corn : there are two yearly fairs for live-stock, and a third for live-stock and cheese. Petty-sessions for the division are held every week in the town-hall. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £400.

There were, in 1833, sixteen infant or dame-schools, with 187 children ; an endowed grammar-school, with 44 boys ; a ‘lower school,’ supported from the same endowment, with 100 boys ; another free-school, with 60 children ; two Lancasterian schools, taught by the same mistress, each held three times a week, for two hours and a half, and each attended by 32 girls ; two other day-schools, with 48 children; and five Sunday-schools, with 797 children.

Wellingborough got its name from the wells or springs about the town. One of these, ‘the red well,’ a chalybeate, was formerly in high repute. Charles I and his queen resided here, in 1626, under tents, in order to have the benefit of it.