Explore history of town centre’s oldest house 

Published: Friday, 12 June 2020

A virtual tour through the history of what is thought to be Northampton’s oldest house, will be screened on YouTube this Sunday, 14 June, at 5pm. 

Viewers will see the various rooms within Hazelrigg House brought to life by actors from the town’s Looking Glass Theatre Company, alongside photographs and documents charting the building’s fascinating and lengthy past. 

The grade II listed Tudor house on Mare Fair is one of the few buildings to survive the 1675 Great Fire of Northampton, and is thought to date back to the late 16th century, when it was more than twice its current size. 

Its name derives from the Hesilrige family of Noseley Hall in Leicestershire, who purchased the house in 1680, having already purchased the nearby Northampton Castle site some years before. The family had sold the property by 1831, but the name remained, and the current Lord Hazelrigg has shared photos of his ancestors exclusively for the tour. 

In the early 1800’s, the building took on a new lease of life as a school, and it was later purchased by a local historian, who auctioned it to a ladies club many years later in 1913. Architects have remodelled both the interior and exterior to give its present appearance, then to be occupied by English Heritage, a nursery school and finally, the Looking Glass Theatre Company. 

James Smith, Director of the theatre, said: “Hazelrigg House has a long and rich history, so we’re really excited that talented, local actors are bringing it to life through this virtual tour. 

“Many interesting inhabitants and visitors have passed through the house, and research has revealed its connections to Northampton Castle and the Hazelrigg family themselves, not to mention a ghostly presence that many people have felt.”

Councillor Anna King, Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet member for community engagement, said: “This tour gives a potted history of one of the town’s oldest and most recognisable buildings, and follows on the success of last year’s sell-out mystery tours, which took place in partnership with the Borough Council, at various historical locations around the town.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity to learn more about an important part of Northampton’s heritage in a really entertaining and engaging way.”

This is the second virtual ‘Mystery Tour’ performed by the theatre company this year, following a special VE Day tour filmed in May. The next virtual tour – Voices from Northampton Castle- will be aired in July.

Search @LGTheatre on YouTube, to watch the tour at 5pm on Sunday, 14 June. Updates on the Looking Glass Theatre’s other tours, plus links to their YouTube channel can also be found on Facebook @lgheatre. 

More detailed history about Hazelrigg House is available on the Borough Council’s website.