Coordinates: 52°14′N 1°11′W / 52.23°N 1.18°W / 52.23; -1.18

Badby is located in Northamptonshire

 Badby shown within Northamptonshire
Population 645 (2001)
OS grid reference SP559590
    - London  75 miles (121 km) via M40 motorway 
Parish Badby
District Daventry district
Shire county Northamptonshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DAVENTRY
Postcode district NN11
Dialling code 01327
Police Northamptonshire
Fire Northamptonshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Daventry
List of places: UK • England • Northamptonshire

Badby is a village and a rural parish of about 220 acres (89 ha) in the Daventry district of the county of Northamptonshire, England.



Badby is about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Daventry, on the A361 Daventry to Banbury road. It is bisected west to east, at about 395 feet (120 m) above sea level, by the upper reaches of the River Nene. The village is mainly south of the river, where the land rises to Badby Down at 610 feet (190 m).


Its population has fluctuated between 450 and 625 from 1801 to 1971, with a low point of 410 in 1901, then to a high of 720 in 1991 and back to 645 in 2001 as average occupancy fell.


Badby is spelt in various ways since Saxon times, through the Norman period, until printing stabilised it in the present form. Badby, Badbye, Baddebi, Baddeby, Badebi and Badeby are all found. Baddanbyrg or Baddan Byrig were used in the 944 AD charter, but these more likely refer specifically to Arbury Hill (see below).


There are several mediaeval charters referring to the area around Badby, but some are suspect. The land around Badby and Newnham changed hands frequently as the swirling forces of Mercia and the invading Danes ebbed and flowed across middle England.

Badby and Newnham manors were treated as one until the Knightleys sold Newnham manor to the Thorntons of Brockhall in 1634. The church benefice has always been Badby with Newnham (or Badby-cum-Newnham), Newnham being a chapel of the parent church at Badby in the initial times, but for a few years was recorded as the main church. The shared rector or vicar arrangement goes back 750 years.


Charters record that the land was given by a Saxon sheriff (or shire reeve), Norman, to the Abbey of Croyland around the year 726. To fund defence against the invading Danes around 871, Beorred seized it back and gave it to his army officers to secure their services.

In a charter dated 944, King Edmund I of England gave an estate comprising Dodford, Everdon and all of Badby with Newnham to Bishop Aelfric of Hereford. After Edmund's murder in 946, the estate was returned in 948 to Croyland by his brother, King Edred (or Aedred, Ædred, Edric) on the advice of Turketul (or Turketulus), his chancellor. Abbot Godric II of Croyland, to buy protection against the threatening Danes, leased Badby in 1006 for 100 years to Norman, son of Leofwine, Earl of Leicester (or Chester), a great military officer under King Edred.

The Danes attacked and prevailed in 1013 under their King Sweyn (or Sveyn), who died in 1014. He was eventually succeeded by his son Canute (or Cnut, Knud, Knut). In 1016 Norman was killed and in 1017 Edred was executed by King Canute. Canute thus acquired Badby and later transferred it to Norman's brother, the Earl Leofric of Mercia, who had supported Canute and was married to the famous Godiva (or Godgifu). In turn, Earl Leofric gave the lordship of the manor of Badby and Newnham to the Benedictine Abbey of Evesham, for the remainder of the 100-year lease supposedly granted by Abbot Godric II of Croyland. This was ratified by King Canute in 1018. The Anglo-Saxons and the Danes began to settle together.


Then the Normans arrived. In their Domesday Book of 1086, Badby is listed under the lands owned by Croyland Abbey, ignoring the lease to Evesham. Around 1124, as the lease had ended, elderly Abbot Joffrid of Croyland set about resolving with Evesham the ownership of Badby. The fire that burned down Croyland Abbey in 1091 destroyed any deeds, if they existed. Abbot Reginald of Evesham convinced Joffrid that Croyland had no claim. The retention by Evesham was confirmed in 1246 in a charter by King Henry III and again in 1330 by King Edward III after a court hearing.

Evesham Abbey built a moated grange or farm headquarters 500 yards north-east of the church.[1] The house was built by the notorious Abbot Roger Norreys in 1189. He was a well known womaniser who was exiled to the small and distant priory of Penwortham in 1213.[2] In 1246 King Henry III granted free warren within Badby Wood and authorised the formation of a deer park for hunting and food. The enclosing embankments and ditches of the deer park still exist to the east of the village. Three bakehouses were added to the grange in the 1350s; its hall and chapel were renovated in the 1380s. It continued in a variety of uses after the dissolution of the Abbey during the Protestant Reformation. The abbey's ruins finally tumbled down in 1722. Its remains lie hidden in a thicket at grid reference SP562592. Archeological excavations in the mid-1960s showed work from the 13th to 16th centuries.

In 1316, King Edward II appointed Thomas de Evesham, one of his Chancery clerks, as rector of the benefice. The licence, which moved more control of, and finance from, Badby and Newnham to the Abbot of Evesham, was effected through Pope John XXII with Henry Berghersh, Bishop of Lincoln. It was in 1343 that the endowment for a vicar was laid down in a Lincoln diocesan document Ordinacio Vicarie in Ecclesia de Baddeby; 1343, and Reginald Musard became the first vicar.


Initials of Thomas Newbold Abbot of Evesham (1491-1514) Stained glass c1500 St Mary Badby

Since its foundation in 709, Evesham Abbey had successfully developed an independent existence. It could not avoid being dissolved in November 1539, during the Protestant Reformation and founding of the Church of England.

In the ninth century, the parish was in the Diocese of Dorchester (Oxon), a safer location adopted by an earlier Bishop of Leicester to avoid the invading Danes. The seat was moved to Lincoln in 1073 by Bishop Remigius. Lincoln Diocese was itself split on 4 September 1541 and Badby church, in Daventry deanery, came within the new but poorly-endowed Diocese of Peterborough, in which it remains. It is now closer to six other cathedrals of the Church of England, which are, in order of distance: Coventry, Leicester, Oxford, Birmingham, Lichfield and Worcester.

Later times

King Henry VIII granted the manors of Badby and Newnham in 1542 to Sir Edmund Knightley and his wife Ursula and their heirs. The dower house in Fawsley Park, last inhabited in 1704 is now in ruins. It was built for Lady Ursula after Sir Edmund died. There was considerable unrest in the parish in the last 20 years of the 16th century, when Valentine Knightley attempted to transfer much area of arable to pasture and to restrict tenants’ rights to woodland. Several tenant families, despite being Puritans like Knightley, used aggressive action as well as national legal arbitration to protect their rights. The manor lands and courts were dissolved in the early 20th century.

In 1546 the rectorship and patronage of Badby and Newnham were passed to Christ Church, Oxford. It remained with Christ Church, Oxford, except for disruption by the Commonwealth, until 1919, when the Bishop of Peterborough became the patron.

Notable buildings

The church dedicated to St Mary has a tower rebuilt in 1707-9 and some windows of about 1300.[1] The building was restored in 1880-1. A fuller description of this grade 2 star, listed building is available in A History of Badby Church, by Geoff Pullin and published 2006. Copies are available from Chris Nelson at The Cottage, Vicarage Hill, Badby, Daventry NN11 3AR. The revised Pevsner will include appropriate up-dates. The parish is part of the united benefice of The Knightley Parishes Church of England.

There were 29 houses listed[3] in 1988 under the Town and Country Planning Acts as having special architectural or historic importance. Many very valuable features in other buildings went unrecorded. The core of the village was designated a Conservation Area in 1993 by Daventry District Council.

One of the 17th-century cottages in the village was the only thatched Youth Hostel in England and Wales.[4] After being closed in 2005, it was modernised. It is now a single-family residence. The adjacent former warden's cottage was sold separately. Its old corrugated iron roof was replaced by thatch in 2009.

Badby House and the Lantern House are early 19th century.[1] The Lantern House was completely restored and extended to provide modern living accommodation in 1981-2. Badby House had extensions carried out for use by nuns. These extensions have now been removed. In 2009 they were replaced with extensions suitable for its use as a care home, with comprehensive facilities dedicated to neurological illnesses and disorders. It is listed as Badby Park.

Morris dancing

Up to about the mid-19th century, a number of villages in south Northamptonshire had Morris dance teams who performed each spring and early summer as part of their local customs. This ancient English tradition, considered to be very old even at the time of Elizabeth I, was common throughout the area of the Cotswolds and into Northamptonshire. The changes brought about by the enclosures, industrialisation and the railways all changed rural life dramatically. Many of the traditional Morris dance teams just stopped dancing, and their dances were forgotten and lost for ever.

Badby had a tradition of Morris dancing, and village men still danced till about the 1870s. They too broke up about then, some moving off to find work. Without new recruits, the dancing stopped. The dances of Badby might have been lost too, but about 1911 a folk song and dance collector called Cecil Sharp visited the Daventry area with George Butterworth, a fellow collector. They sought older villagers who could remember the Morris and the names of those men involved in it. The team costume was described as all white with pleated shirts with epaulettes and decorated with red, white and blue rosettes, two white silk scarves were worn crossed over shoulders to opposite waist side over the shirts. They wore bells on their legs and a "scotch" glengarry type of hat with ribbons at the back. The dances they did were named: First Morris; Second Morris; Balance the Straw; Beauxs of London City (stick dance); Broad Cupid; Shepherds Hey (stick dance); Cuckoo's Nest; Shepherds Hey (hand clapping dance); Flowers of Edinburgh; Bobbing Joe; Old Black Joe; Trunkles; and Saturday Night.

The dances are particularly energetic and flowing in style, with beautiful tunes. Most current Morris teams dance at least one Badby dance, usually "Beauxs of London City". The local team Moulton Morris Men have revived the whole Badby dance tradition, as they specialise in Northamptonshire Morris dances. Badby is fortunate to have such a valuable history of local folklore and its own village folk music tunes.[5]

Badby Woods

The nearby Badby Woods are famous for their bluebells in spring. The woods are owned by the Fawsley Estate. This estate belonged to the Knightley family from 1416 and passed through the female line to the Gage family of Firle, Sussex in 1938 when the male line died out. There is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) within the woods, originally designated in 1955 and repeated under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The citation states:

Badby Wood is the largest of a localised group of ancient semi-natural woodlands lying mainly on acidic soils derived from Jurassic Upper Lias Clays and Northampton Sands. It has a history of continuous woodland cover for over seven hundred years. Lowland hazel-pedunculate woodland is the most common vegetation type present, with pedunculate oak-ash-hazel occurring locally in the wetter areas. Woodland habitat of this kind has declined significantly throughout Northamptonshire and is now unusual in the county.[6]

Early 2007 saw the start of work undertaken by Fawsley Estate under a Forestry Commission Woodland Grant Scheme Agreement, running from 2006-2011. Natural England was involved and supports the works undertaken. A large number of sycamore and some larch were felled and removed to allow for native species, and the edges of the rides cleared in the first stage. In the second stage, more and larger larch were removed. A ring of horse chestnut trees, marking the start of the path to the stone arch into the cherry tree avenue, declined over ten years. The last ones fell over or were felled by the end of 2008. Fawsley Estate erected new gates and fencing here in 2009.

Arbury Hill and earthworks

Arbury Hill at 738 ft (225 m) is the highest point in Northamptonshire and a mile west. There is a single-rampart Iron Age square-shaped Hill Fort with sides about 600 ft (180 m) long.[1]

A Barrow is about 1 mile (1.61 km) north along the Daventry road and damaged by ploughing.[1]

See also

Thomas Randolph, poet and dramatist.


  1. ^ a b c d e Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (revision) (1961). The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-300-09632-3. 
  2. ^ Knowles, Dom David (2004). The Monastic Order in England: A History of Its Development from the Times of St Dunstan to the Fourth Lateran Council 940-1216. Cambridge University Press. 
  3. ^ Parish 2000 Badby Appraisal
  4. ^ Youth Hostel Association
  5. ^ Badby Fayre 2004 Programme and Guide
  6. ^ Natural England SSSI Citation for Badby Wood

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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