Raunds is close to Stanwick Lakes, a country park developed from gravel pits and managed by the Rockingham Forest Trust. This park is internationally recognised for its birdlife and can be reached on foot from Raunds along Meadow Lane bridleway.
In the mid-1980s, during sand excavations in the Nene Valley, the remains of a Roman villa were discovered. Excavation of the area, near Stanwick, was delayed by several years while archaeologists studied the remains. In 2002 Channel 4's Time Team excavated a garden and found remains of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
The place-name 'Raunds' is first attested in an Anglo-Saxon charter of circa 972-992, where it appears as Randan. It appears as Rande in the Domesday Book of 1086, and in a later survey of Northamptonshire as Raundes. The name is the plural of the Old English rand, meaning 'border'.
Raunds played a role in the boot and shoe industry until its decline in the 1950s and '60s. In 1905 a dispute arose about wages to be paid to army bootmakers, which culminated in a march to London in May that year. Several factories remained into the early 1990s but all are now closed, with many being demolished and housing estates built. The Coggins boot factory was the last to go, and the site of it is now Coggins Close. The land on which the shoe factory and the original Coggins houses stood (not Coggins Close), was purchased by Robert Coggins on 25 February 1899 from the Duchy of Lancaster, for the sum of £14.10s.0d (£14.50). The houses are still there, but were sold to Charles Robinson of Wellingborough in 1934. Robert Coggins lived in the hall where his picture hangs in the meeting room, and he is buried in St Peter's Churchyard. There is no industry in the town now, although there are some industrial sites on the outskirts.
Raunds once held the record for the highest temperature in Britain at 36.7 °C (98.1 °F), set on 10 August 1911, which stood until 1990.
Raunds was the home of broadcaster, writer and television personality Sir David Frost in his youth, when his father, Paradine Frost, was a minister at the Methodist church, before moving to Beccles in Suffolk.
The Historic England website contains details of a total of 19 listed buildings and six scheduled monuments at or in the vicinity of Raunds. Amongst them are:
Raunds is adjacent to the A45 and close to the A14 jct 13. Access to the M1 and A1 is close and the A14 runs from Britain's largest container port at Felixstowe in Suffolk to join the M6. Consequently, the area attracts distribution companies warehouses.
Bus services are limited, the X46 links the town with Wellingborough, Rushden and Northampton, running half-hourly. There are intermittent routes to Huntingdon and a local service termed the 'Raunds Rover'.
There was once a Raunds railway station, on the Midland Railway's cross-country line from Kettering to Huntingdon, closed in September 1959, and which gave access to St Ives and Cambridge, though Raunds station was sited 1½ miles from the town. It was also planned that the Midland's Wellingborough to Higham Ferrers branch, also closed in 1959, would continue to Raunds, but landowners prevented it.
The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (the forerunner of the Great Central), proposed a line from Doncaster to Raunds in an early version of its bid to build a trunk line to the capital. This line never came to fruition, and the company eventually built its London Extension via Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby and Brackley.
Stanwick Lakes are within walking or cycling distance of Raunds, and river ways connect to the Nene Valley river section. By boat, Oundle can be reached in a day. The Nene Valley river section connects to the Middle Level Navigation System, making it possible to reach Cambridge and Peterborough. The nearest marina is Willy Watt's in Ringstead, Northamptonshire.
There are many small businesses and many people commute to larger centres for work. Raunds is home to a Hotpoint distribution centre, and depots for Robert Wiseman Dairies, Avery Dennison and DPD. Raunds Co-operative Society ran a supermarket and department store and had 4,000 members until 2007 when it merged with the larger Midlands Co-operative Society. The shops still operate.
A market is held on Fridays in the square. Regular stalls include butchers, plant stockists, home-made jewellery and confectioners. Local organisations and clubs can also set up a stall.
Raunds holds an annual music festival over a weekend in early May. Events include: rock, jazz and folk concerts starring nationally and internationally known artists, performances by Raunds Community Choir and Raunds Temperance Band, song and tune sessions, dancing displays, a ceilidh and an annual youth dance competition.
Raunds Music and Drama Society (MADS) holds several stage performances throughout the year.
The town holds a Christmas festival in the square. Continental markets are held annually to celebrate neighbouring countries.
Woodbine Working Men's Club (1901-2005) and the Conservative Club (1920 to date) have offered community and recreational facilities.
For the past few years, an annual beer festival has been held at the cricket club. This features a range of local beers and ciders, as well as traditional world beverages, accompanied by local music artists.
Raunds Town F.C. are at Kiln Park and play in the United Counties League. As well as the first team, they also have reserve, women's and youth teams.
Raunds Tigers F.C. focus on junior football and have several youth teams.
Raunds Town Cricket Club have a ground in Marshalls Road. The team plays in the Northamptonshire Cricket League.
Archers of Raunds meet at Manor School and Sports College.
In 2005, Raunds Town Council decided to elect a Mayor rather than having a chairman of the council.
Holders of the post have been: