Local patrons honoured with commemorative boards

Published: Monday, 15 March 2021

Two individuals who made a significant contribution to the welfare of Northampton’s residents are now remembered on commemorative wooden boards in the town’s Guildhall.

The boards for Mary Bouverie and James Manfield were unveiled on 12 March by the Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Brian Sargeant and Mayoress, Ray Kelly-Sargeant.

The tradition of commemorating individuals who made a significant contribution to the welfare of Northampton’s residents began in the 17th century, and there are already several boards in the Guildhall’s Mayors’ Names Gallery, which date back to 1640.

Councillor Tim Hadland, Cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise said: “We wanted to revive this tradition to honour some of the town’s more recent patrons and create a permanent reminder of their legacy.

“There are so many fascinating and worthy individuals whose impact on the town is still visible today, but Mary Bouverie and James Manfield really stood out for their contributions.”

Mary Bouverie

Mary Bouverie OBE lived at Delapré Abbey and allowed public access to the abbey’s park and gardens. Her services to the town began with her work at Hardingstone Parish Church, where she ran the Sunday School for 20 years, and volunteered as a warden for a further 25 years.

During the First World War she was involved in medical war work and charities, and her contribution to public health continued when she was elected as the President of Northampton General Hospital in 1938, a post she held until her death in 1943.

She made a significant contribution to education in the town, as a member of the Education Committee and Chair of the Juvenile Panel of Magistrates, along with participation in the county Girl Guide movement and the Roadmender Club. She donated buildings and land for a youth club and mission church in Far Cotton and playing fields in Hardingstone.

James Manfield

James Manfield was a leading shoe manufacturer who donated his family home to the Northampton County Crippled Children’s Society in 1924, and the building became known as the Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital. He gave thousands of pounds to local causes and funded the provision of children’s meals for several years. When he became Mayor in 1905, he donated his expenses to poor relief in the town. 

As Chairman of Northampton Corporation’s Improvements Committee, he was so appalled by living conditions in the town’s slums, that he vowed to devote himself to their improvement, giving large sums of money to the Salvation Army to distribute amongst slum dwellers.

Once covid restrictions are lifted, anyone wishing to view the boards can make an appointment with the Guildhall office, by emailing the Guildhall office or calling 01604 838400.