The Northamptonshire market town of Kettering in the UK combines modern amenities with a long and illustrious history. If you travel the 130 kilometers from London to visit Kettering, you will immediately notice that it has a full range of businesses. There are clothing shops, fine restaurants and public houses, antique dealers, commercial cleaners, and just about every service a small population demands. Of course, Kettering maintains the full complement of municipal services, such as the police and fire departments .
Kettering, on the west bank of the River Ise, has a population of over 50,000. The town’s name is believed to refer to the “kinsfolk of Ketter,” an obscure historical figure. The Hallstatt people established a prehistoric settlement in the general area, which entered the Iron Age around 500 BC. These people were responsible for constructing a series of hill forts, principally in neighboring Irthlingborough.
Fast forwarding to Roman times (early first century BC), the Belgic tribe of the Catuvellauni settled the region. In 43 AD, the Romans conquered the Belgic land. Modern Kettering traces its roots to an unwalled Roman British settlement on the north end of the current town. Roman occupation extended into the fourth century, and the area became famous for its iron-smelting activities. The Roman settlement grew and reached the parishes of Geddington and Weekley.
There seems to have been a period between the Roman and Anglo-Saxon eras in which Kettering was unoccupied. However, a Saxon burial site dating back to the fifth century AD indicates that settlers occupied Kettering early in the Anglo-Saxon era. The kingdom of Mercia arose, and by the seventh century, had converted from paganism to Christianity. The Danes conquered the area in 889 AD. However, King Edward the Elder captured the territory for England in 917. The Vikings of York briefly conquered the region in 940 AD, but the English retook the territory two years later.
Kettering as an established village dates back to the tenth century. In 956, King Edwy chartered some land — primarily occupied by scattered family farmsteads — to Aelfsige the Goldsmith. King Edgar chartered the monastery of Peterborough in 972.
Kettering is one of the fastest-growing towns in the UK, and its town centre is seeing some major redevelopment efforts. Kettering boasts an adult employment rate of over 80 percent, one of the highest in the UK. This is a business-friendly town, being the home for Weetabix, RCI Europe, Pegasus Software, Timsons Ltd and Morrisons Distribution. The UK’s oldest theme park, Wicksteed Park, attracts over a million visitors annually.
Tresham College has a new £20 million campus to support its 16,000 students and staff of 800. The Kettering General Hospital in Kettering provides service for northern Northamptonshire. Many tourists visit the magnificent Boughton House, only 4.8 km northeast of Kettering.
An estimated £10 million has recently been invested in the Town Centre development. Work on the award-winning Market Place continues. The Horsemarket has been extensively improved and is open for business, supported by new bus terminals and evening taxi service.
New improvements are being planned for Market Street, Sheep Street, and Market Place. Streets are being spruced up and roads are becoming friendlier to pedestrians by limiting superfluous traffic. Streets will share the same high-quality building materials used in the Market Place development. Town planners anticipate an increase in the number of shoppers and retailers in the Town Centre due to these improvements.
Kettering’s attractions and services include the following:
- Manor House Museum – a place that takes a ‘hands-on” approach to history that appeals to individuals of all ages. Includes regular activities and temporary exhibitions.
- Alfred East Art Gallery – a showplace for local artists and for permanent exhibitions. You can see the works of Sir Alfred East, T. C. Gotch, and others.
- Hotels – Kettering is served by The Royal Hotel, Kettering Park Hotel, The Red Lion Hotel, and Rushton Hall.
- Restaurants – Mouthwatering and top-rated restaurants include Bella Sicilia, Beradi’s, Little Chef, Mazza Indian Restaurant, The Old Bakehouse, the Palmichael and Red Rose.
- The Lighthouse Theatre – Kettering’s premier entertainment venue, featuring live stage plays, a science museum, and many other attractions.
- Student Council – the Kettering Borough Council is aimed at involving Kettering teens in the running of their own community.
When you visit modern Kettering, make sure to walk the ancient grounds and try to imagine all the generations of early settlers who helped establish the town – it’s a fascinating glimpse into the past.