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TOWCESTER FAMILIES

 

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Towcester is the oldest town in Northamptonshire and has a long and varied history.  Once an important Roman town, it lies about 60 miles north of London, on Watling Street, the main London to Chester route.

 

The Roman town of Lactodorum was a garrison town. Walled and gated, as all substantial Roman settlements, there is now very little left above ground. Traces of the banks surrounding the walls can be found around the edge of the old town.

 

The site continued to be occupied after the Romans left, becoming a thriving town on the crossroads of Watling Street with the Northampton to Oxford road. This led to many inns being set up.  It also brought the armies here during the Civil War, with the Royalist forces mounting ordnance on top of Bury Mount, the remains of the old medieval motte and bailey castle.

 

Today Towcester is a town of about 10,000 people. With the coming of the railways, and later the car, the inn-keeping tradition of the town has declined. Later cottage industries of shoe and lace making have also vanished, a prey to the mechanisation of the Victorian age (see Employment article). The High Street, however, has been largely preserved, with many 17th and 18th century buildings, and some older still.

 

Investigation of the Parish Registers has revealed a close-knit community. While some families came, and went, many more lived here for generations. The increased opportunities for travel which the Victorian age provided are revealed in the steady outflow of people to all parts of the globe. Even in England, the 1851 Census reveals far fewer Towcestrians in other parts of England than subsequent Censuses.