Higham Ferrers



Higham Ferrers is a market town and civil parish in the Nene Valley in
North Northamptonshire North Northamptonshire is one of two local authority areas in Northamptonshire, England. It is a Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority area forming about one half of the Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of Northampto ...
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...

, close to the
Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs.) is a Counties of England, county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and North ...

Bedfordshire Bedfordshire (; abbreviated Beds) is a ceremonial county in the East of England. The county has been administered by three Unitary authorities of England, unitary authorities, Borough of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Borough of Luton, since B ...

borders. It forms a single built-up area with
Rushden Rushden is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in North Northamptonshire, England, around east of Northampton. The parish is on the border with Bedfordshire, north of Bedford. The parish of Rushden covers an area of some ...

to the south and has an estimated population of 8,083. The town centre contains many historic buildings around the Market Square and College Street.


The town's name means 'High homestead/village'. The Ferrers family are mentioned in connection with the town in 1166. The
hundred 100 or one hundred (Roman numerals, Roman numeral: C) is the natural number following 99 (number), 99 and preceding 101 (number), 101. In medieval contexts, it may be described as the short hundred or five 20 (number), score in order to different ...
is named after Higham Ferrers, but the site of the meeting-place is unknown. The first Charter of 1251 was due to the Lord of the Manor, William de Ferrers, who created the Borough in order to promote a prosperous community at the gates of his castle, where people had begun to settle in numbers and to trade in the ancient market. (c. 1364 – 12 April 1443) was born in Higham Ferrers. He was
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
and founded
All Souls College, Oxford All Souls College (official name: College of the Souls of All the Faithful Departed) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Unique to All Souls, all of its members automatically b ...

All Souls College, Oxford
. In 1422 Higham Ferrers School was founded. The second Charter was granted in 1556 in the reign of . For many years the town provided a safe seat in Parliament for a supporter of the Crown nominated by the
Duchy of Lancaster The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the sovereign. The estate consists of a portfolio of lands, propert ...
, the biggest landowner. When
James I James I may refer to: People *James I of Aragon (1208–1276) *James I of Sicily or James II of Aragon (1267–1327) *James I, Count of La Marche (1319–1362), Count of Ponthieu *James I, Count of Urgell (1321–1347) *James I of Cyprus (1334–13 ...
came to the throne the town obtained a confirmation and further extension of civic powers and liberties by the Charter of 1604. Again after the
Restoration of Charles II The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in the kingdoms of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland and Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland took place in 1660 when Charles II of England, King Charles II returned from exile in contine ...
to the throne and the passing of the Corporations Act of 1661 the liberties were confirmed and extended. The town was a
rotten borough A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough or Electoral district, constituency in Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain, or the United King ...
and sent one MP to the
unreformed House of Commons "Unreformed House of Commons" is a name given to the House of Commons of Great Britain and (after 1800 the House of Commons of the United Kingdom) before it was reformed by the Reform Act 1832, the Irish Reform Act 1832, and the Scottish Reform ...
until it was stripped of its representation by the
Reform Act 1832 The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament, Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom (indexed as 2 & 3 Will. IV c. 45) that introduced major chan ...
. After the Municipal Corporations Act 1882, the modern Charter of
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
reorganised the composition of the Corporation on modern lines to conform to the pattern of local government laid down in that Act. This Charter is the only one of the town's charters written in English: the earlier charters were in Latin. The castle is thought to have been built not long after the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west a ...
in 1066. However towards the end of the 15th century the castle suffered years of neglect. It was finally demolished in 1523 and the stone removed to build
Kimbolton Castle Kimbolton Castle is a country house in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, England. It was the final home of King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best k ...
. A grass bank and a pond are all that remain of the defensive earthworks and moat. In the garden of the Green Dragon Inn, formerly within the area of the outer ward of the castle, are the remains of a rectangular dove-house. Higham Ferrers is twinned with
Hachenburg Hachenburg is a town in the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Geography The town lies in the Westerwald between Koblenz and Siegen, roughly 10 km west of Bad Marienberg on the river Nister. Hachenburg is the administrative se ...
in Germany.

Transport and communication

Historically, the town was at the crossroads of the A45 east–west route from
Northampton Northampton () is a market town and civil parish in the East Midlands of England, on the River Nene, north-west of London and south-east of Birmingham. The county town of Northamptonshire, Northampton is one of the largest towns in England; ...
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cam ...
, and the A6 north–south road from London to
Leicester Leicester ( ) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. Lo ...
. It was a busy junction as both were long-distance transport corridors. The A45 bypassed the town in the early 1990s with a dual-carriageway, the former route (through the narrow, but beautiful streets of Kimbolton) becoming the B645. As the A6 carried less traffic, a bypass around Higham Ferrers and Rushden came later, opening on 14 August 2003, with the old road through both towns becoming the A5028. Higham Ferrers railway station was the terminus of a short (5.25 mile) railway branch line on the
Midland Railway The Midland Railway (MR) was a railway company in the United Kingdom from 1844 in rail transport, 1844. The Midland was one of the largest railway companies in Britain in the early 20th century, and the largest employer in Derby, where it had ...
Wellingborough Wellingborough ( ) is a large market and commuter town in the unitary authority area of North Northamptonshire in the ceremonial county of Northamptonshire, England, 65 miles from London and from Northampton on the north side of the River Nen ...
. There was an intermediate station at
Rushden Rushden is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in North Northamptonshire, England, around east of Northampton. The parish is on the border with Bedfordshire, north of Bedford. The parish of Rushden covers an area of some ...
. The station closed to passenger services in 1959 and closed completely in 1969 with the end of goods services. Today, the nearest operational railway station is at Wellingborough about four miles away, but there is no bus route connecting Higham Ferrers to Wellingborough station. Higham Ferrers is served by the BT Rushden telephone exchange which has been enabled for
local-loop unbundling Local loop unbundling (LLU or LLUB) is the regulatory process of allowing multiple telecommunications operators to use connections from the telephone exchange to the customer's premises. The physical wire connection between the local exchange and ...
. However, due to the length of telephone lines, the north of the town furthest from the exchange can only achieve around 3Mbit/s as it suffers from high attenuation. BT have assigned the Rushden exchange to the FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) upgrade programme (Phase 4b) due to commence in December 2010.

Commerce and civic buildings

The town is unusual in the UK if not Europe in having been a centre of short-run footwear production along with its neighbours of Rushden and Northampton. This trade was much reduced in the 1980s-2000s by a high exchange rate, but specialised firms and individual trades people remain in the area. Higham Ferrers Farmer's Market is held on the last Saturday of each month, except in December when it is moved to the last available day before Christmas
Higham Ferrers Farmer's Market
is a Certified Farmer's Market, and is part of the FARMA organisation. Higham Ferrers Public Library is on ''Midland Road''. The Town Hall is on The Market Square and was built in 1808 to replace an earlier building. Higham Ferrers Church is located on wood street.


* Rushden & Higham RUFC was founded in 1951 and is currently based on the Bedford Road in Rushden with a 1st XV, 2nd XV, 3rd XV and Colts XV. * Rushden and Higham United Football Club, the successor to both Higham Town and Rushden Rangers clubs, are members of the Hereward Teamwear United Counties League and have their ground at Hayden Road. * Higham Ferrers Town Cricket Club, based at the recreation ground on Vinehill Drive, was established in 1881 and has a 1st XI and 2nd XI as well as an under 17s XI and under 15s XI. * Higham Ferrers Town Bowls Club was founded in 1946 and is also at the recreation ground on Vinehill Drive.


* Alpha Pre-School on Westfield Terrace is a committee-run community school and has been running for over 40 years, providing part-time nursery places. * Higham Ferrers Nursery and Infant School on Wharf Road has a Nursery unit with 52 part-time places for pre-school children and 3 classes of about 25 pupils per year group: Reception and Years 1 and 2 (roughly ages 3 to 7). This is a feeder infant school for Higham Ferrers Junior School. * Higham Ferrers Junior School on the corner of Wharf Road and Saffron Road has classes for Years 3 to 6 but 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 share classes (roughly ages 7 to 11). * Henry Chichele Primary School is on the new estate to the north of the town on School Lane and has a single class per year for Reception, and Years 1 to 6 (roughly ages 4 to 11). * The Ferrers School is on Queensway and caters for Years 7 to 13 (ages 11 to 18). *
Moulton college Moulton College is a further education college based in Moulton, Northamptonshire, England. Although initially established as the Northamptonshire Institute of Agriculture in 1921, it now has expanded its teaching curriculum to cover a wide ...
can be found on the outskirts of Higham Ferrers


The Council consists of 16 elected Councillors and elects a Mayor and Deputy Mayor at the Annual Meeting of the Council in May of each year.

Notable buildings

St. Mary the Virgin

Chichele College

Chichele College was founded by , an
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally resp ...
, in 1422 as a college for secular canons. The College had provision for 8 priests, 4 clerks, 6 choristers and a song and grammar master. In later times the college became an inn, and then later a farm. The gatehouse, chapel and other remains of the college buildings survive, save for one hall now used for artistic exhibitions.

The Bede House

About the year 1422, when planning his college at Higham Ferrers, Archbishop Henry Chichele founded "In a place adjoining the Vicarage and the Churchyard", his Bede House or Hospital to be a dwelling place for 12 men over 50 years old to live "in close company", with one woman to look after them. It consisted of a common open Hall. Each man had his little cubicle with its locker, divided off by a screen from his fellows, and the rest of the Hall formed a common room with a fine open fireplace, itself a relic of even older times. On the South, a sheltered garden was added by taking part of the land of the Vicarage.

Notable residents

* (c. 1362–1443), Archbishop of Canterbury (1414–1443) and diplomat * Donald Pack FRSE (1920–2016), professor, mathematician and expert on supersonic air waves, was born and raised here. * Alice Maud Shipley (1869-1951), militant suffragette was born here.

Freedom of the Town

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Town of Higham Ferrers.


* Derek Lawson : 18 February 2022. * Richard Gell: 18 February 2022.


External links

Higham Ferrers Town Council
{{authority control Market towns in Northamptonshire Rushden Towns in Northamptonshire North Northamptonshire Civil parishes in Northamptonshire