Site of the Battle of Northampton 1460

Conservation Management Plan

Northampton Borough Council commissioned a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for all the land within the boundary of the Registered Battlefield. The consultation, which ran from 13 February to 27 March 2014, is now closed.

The site of the Battle of Northampton was included on the English Heritage Register of Battlefields in 1995. It is one of 43 Registered Battlefields nationally, and considered to be a heritage asset of the highest significance. The Registered Battlefield covers 187 Hectares, and while approximately 70 hectares has been disturbed or destroyed, there remains a considerable level of survival of the historic landscape.

The Battle was a key engagement during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), a dynastic struggle between the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) and the House of York (White Rose), and the only Battle of the Wars where a defended position was successfully attacked and breached (due to the treachery of Lord Grey in laying down arms and allowing Yorkist soldiers into the camp). There is documentary evidence that artillery was used.

The Battle took place on 10 July 1460, after the failure of attempts at negotiation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, between troops of the Lancastrian King Henry VI and the exiled Yorkists. The Battle is thought to have been very short, but many drowned in the swollen River whilst trying to flee.

The King was captured and taken prisoner, and the subsequent Act of Settlement (1460) recognised the claim of the House of York to the throne. The Duke of York was then able to return from exile in Ireland and press this claim.

Although it is one of the better-documented battles of the Wars of the Roses, there are significant inconsistencies in the descriptions - the consensus among historians is that the fortified camp of the Lancastrians lay to the south side of the river, close to Delapre Abbey.

Three potential locations for the Battle have been identified, based on primary and secondary sources (including accounts of the battle dating from the late-medieval period):

  • the undeveloped land immediately south of Delapre
  • the land between Delapre and Rushmills
  • the now-developed land on the former meadow between Delapre Abbey and the River Nene

The site is the only Battlefield of the Wars of the Roses where earthwork ridge & furrow, (representing the open field system of agriculture) has survived over a significant area.

Delapre Abbey and the landscape is the Council’s ‘Heritage Priority’ and the project benefits from cross-party support. The CMP enables us to better understand the significance and heritage value of the assets and their setting, and which will enable NBC to consider proposals which may impact on the buildings and landscape from an informed basis.

The purpose of the CMP is to set out the significance and sensitivity of the site, identifying any areas of particular significance, and the cumulative value of the heritage assets in the wider environment. The document helps to:

  • identify a policy framework for the appropriate conservation of the Battlefield site
  • set out a programme of works
  • clearly identify priorities for action for the sympathetic management of the Battlefield site
  • establish a series of management policies and actions aimed at safeguarding the significance of the assets whilst recognising that the parkland setting is a valued and much used recreational asset
  • support the Joint Core Strategy policy BN5, Historic Environment

Its scope provides a clear understanding of:

  • the historic development of the Battlefield site, (including reconstruction/mapping of the landscape in 1460 and an understanding of the evolution of the landscape since then)
  • the site's significance and sensitivity
  • its environmental qualities
  • what has been lost, and what has survived
  • threats to, issues surrounding, and constraints of the area
  • an appropriate policy framework for the conservation and management of the site
  • an appropriate framework to inform sympathetic future land management of the site

The CMP can be downloaded through the link below.

Battlefield Conservation Management Plan 2014