Northampton’s medieval castle remains to be brought to the surface

A general view of the Northampton Castle site, there is a proposal to bring some of the remains to the surface.
A general view of the Northampton Castle site, there is a proposal to bring some of the remains to the surface.

THE underground remains of Northampton Castle could be brought to the surface under new proposals to regenerate a historic area of the town.

Dr Marie Dickie, a member of the Friends of Northampton Castle (FONC), believes exposing some of the remains of the medieval site would bring both social and economic benefits to the town.

The castle, on Black Lion Hill, was demolished during the Victorian age, when Northampton train station was built, but excavations carried out in the 1960s uncovered intact remains underground.

Dr Dickie believes the castle was once as large as popular tourist attraction Warwick Castle, and parts of it should be available for the public to view.

She said: “There’s a great deal of castle still left underground and we want that to be brought to the surface.

“This part of Northampton’s heritage could become a really helpful part of Northampton’s future.”

The Friends are to discuss its Marefair Heritage-Led Regeneration Project with potential partners, including the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), who last year unveiled plans to redevelop the train station.

The aim of the Marefair project is to revive the area into a thriving historic gateway leading from the train station towards the town centre.

Dr Dickie said: “We’re very conscious there are plans afoot from a variety of public bodies and we don’t want to interfere with those. We want to go with the grain of those. There’s a real opportunity here to expose some of the archaeological evidence of the castle.”

If the plans came to fruition the group would also be looking at finding a space on the site to show some of the collection of stonework currently housed out of public view at the Central Museum in Guildhall Road, Northampton.

Northamptonshire County Councillor Tony Clarke (Ind, Castle), who campaigned to return some of those stones to the castle site, believes the site also needs an iconic structure to make visitors aware of its importance.

He said: “I’m fully supportive of FONC’s ambition. I really want to see not just some of the old stones put back in situ but something present day which makes people look up and realise a castle was here.”

Northampton Castle dated back to the 12th century and was once used as a seat of parliament.

It was partially demolished in 1662 under the orders of King Charles II because of Northampton’s support for the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

The site was fully cleared in 1859 when the Victorians chose it as home to the railway station.

Currently only a few pieces of castle wall are on display at the town’s museum, but several hundred sections are stored there on reinforced shelves.

To find out more about the Friends of the Northampton Castle and its history, visit The Friends of Northampton Castle website