History of Desborough

History of Desborough

Is there any history?

An historical guide to Desborough produced by the then Kettering Borough Council describes more of our history.  The guide refers to two treasured historical items found in Desborough from much earlier times.  Both are housed in the British Museum and photographs are displayed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license and are ©Trustees of the British Museum.  Photographs of these artefacts are in our gallery here.

  • The Desborough Mirror is estimated to be from about 50 BCE.  It has one polished bronze polished side with the other being artfully engraved. It was found again in 1908 and has been with the British Museum  since 1924.
  • The Desborough Necklace is from about the seventh century and was found again in 1876 with other items in the grave of an early Christian Saxon lady.

For centuries farming was the mainstay of the then village of Desborough.  The Doomsday Book records Desborough as having 30 households. In the 17th century the town became a centre for spinning and weaving woollen and linen fabrics. By the mid-19th century silk weaving and lace making were introduced. In 1832 the first factory was opened, three cottages knocked into one, on Paddock Lane. Silk weaving died out completely in Desborough during the 1860’s when it was replaced by boot and shoe manufacturing.  Sometime before 1883 (possibly between 1857 and 1883), Benjamin Riley built a factory (now part of the Lawrence’s factory site).  This was earlier than the significant concentration of footwear manufacture in powered factories 1895.

In 1859, two years after the arrival of the railway, ironstone quarrying began, continuing until 1966. Desborough still manufactures products although it is more diverse including shoes, lingerie, corrugated cardboard boxes, and garden sheds.

To find out more about Desborough’s history and heritage you can look the town’s award winning Desborough Heritage Centre.