Northampton is a town in England that is central in the country and the county town of Northamptonshire. It is around seventy miles from London and as such is perfect for the use of car hire facilities to tour the Midlands and beyond. In terms of history the town has been a settlement since at least the Iron Age, many believing it to be the capital of the Mercia kingdom in the eighth century. Since that period Northampton built up in the Norman and medieval ages to be a considerable settlement. In the civil war it found itself supporting the parliamentarian cause and as such the city walls were torn down as punishment at the end of the Commonwealth. During the Napoleonic era it developed as a centre for the shoemaking and leather industries, a situation that continued throughout the Victorian period. In the twentieth century however the industries declined, limiting its size and stature. Throughout this century applications for city status were turned down, the last being at the turn of the millennium.
Today Northampton lies close to a number of major roads making is the perfect base to utilise a hire car and tour the surrounding countryside as well as other major destinations within the UK. Because of this central position the town is a major centre for corporations within the country; Panasonic, Coca Cola Schweppes and Travis Perkins all have offices and the Carlsberg brewer is also a major employer in the area. With such a focus on big business it is surprising that the town has not been given city status; that said, there is plenty more to this market town than the corporate world, with a host of attractions within the settlement and surrounding area it can be considered a tourist destination in its own right.
Northamptonshire is a fascinating and historically rich county which can be toured at leisure with the use of a hire car. With many stately homes and castles in the vicinity the history buff will clearly be entertained and most probably educated during a visit to Northampton. One site of interest is Naseby, easily reachable with a hire car it is a brilliant insight into one of the most pivotal battles in the history of Britain. The battle, fought in June 1645 saw King Charles I and his standing army defeated by parliamentarian forces under the leadership of Sir Thomas Fairfax. The location of this most tumultuous of historical events is a must see for anyone interested in British history; today a nearby museum presents artefacts related to the battle.
As well as battlefield however the nearby Althorp house should be visited. The ancestral home of the Spencer family it is a brilliant architectural example. The home of the sadly deceased Diana Spencer, the family has converted the stable block into an exhibition detailing the life and exploits of the Princess of Wales, the estate is open to during the summer months and is a short drive (around five miles) from the town, an easy enough journey with the use of car hire services.
As well as history Northampton has a strong heritage in the sporting world. Most popular in the town is the premiership rugby union team the Saints; they play at Franklin's Gardens and offer the visitor the chance to see true English girt and determination on the playing field. The town's football team, inspiringly called Northampton Town FC also play within the town. The team is currently in League One and is affectionately named the Cobblers by locals; and indication of the pride felt by residents of the town's shoemaking heritage. Finally there is Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, who regularly play limited overs and four day games at the county ground. With the three major sports of the country being played in the town, visitors are sure to have their sporting needs met.
Northampton is a fascinating town full of history, heritage ad entertainment. Any trip to the region will be enhanced with the use of a hire car as it opens up the wondrous countryside. So before dismissing Northampton as purely a town in the Midlands consider it the perfect base to explore the heart of England.
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at car hire Northampton services and how they can help tourists make the most of their trip.