Northampton began around the Chalk Lane, St Peter’s Street area. It is thought that before the Castle there was some sort of Saxon/Danish defences here, and in that period the town was surrounded by an earthwork.
It appears that Waltheof, Earl of Northampton at the time of the Norman conquest was ordered by William the Conqueror to build a castle here. This was probably a wood and earthen structure called a motte. In 1072 Waltheof was executed, later the title was granted to Simon de Senlis and he built the stone castle. It appears that the new Castle was well under way when Senlis went on the crusade in 1095.
1106- Meeting here between Henry I and his brother, Robert Duke of Normandy, Senlis dies, Castle becomes a Royal Castle held by Henry II.
1122- Henry I celebrated Easter at the Castle.
1157- Henry II held a great Council here.
1164- Trial of Thomas Becket held at the Castle.
1174- King received William the Lion, King of Scotland as a prisoner at the Castle.
1176- A great Council held.
1142-1176- Monarchs recorded as using the Castle six times.
1177- Royal repairs and alterations to the Castle and again in 1185.
1199-1216- Reign of King John. King John visited the Castle 30 times during his reign and spent about £300 on it.
1205- King John moved the Treasury to the Castle.
1215- At the signing of the Magna Carta Northampton was one of the four Royal Castles given up by John.
1264- Barons War, Castle held by Simon de Montford.
1381- The last parliament held at the Castle.
1452- Henry VI rented the Castle to Robert Caldecote for £5 per annum.
1460- Battle of Northampton took place in Delapré Abbey grounds, forming part of the War of the Roses.
1662- Charles II ordered the sleighting of the town of Northampton (as it had sided with the Parliamentarians during the 1640s Civil War) and the demolition of the Castle. But only “part of the Castle walls” were pulled down, and the remains continued as the gaol.
1675- Castle ceases to be the county gaol and the new Sessions House built in George Row circa 1676 (As a result of the Great Fire of 1675).
1680- Daniel Readings sold the right to the rents of the Castle Ward and other meadows to Robert Heselrig. See the splendid Heselrig House in Marefair.
1706- The Heselrigs bought osier beds at St. Andrew’s Holm and Scarlet Well near Castle
1729 (Circa)- The Castle had become orchard and pasture, and was later planted with cherry trees and gooseberries.
1813- The Crown ceased to own the Castle when some 13 lots went on sale. Sales continued.
1852- Part of the Castle site was bought by London & North West Railway, with the line to Market Harborough opened in 1859.
1861-Sir Arthur Hazelrig sold the rest he owned.
1876-L&NWR bought the rest of the Castle.
1879- Demolition of most of the Castle to make way for Castle Station.
1879- In spite of a County petition for its preservation, only a Postern Gate survived the 1879 destructions. Later re-built by the station entrance on Black Lion Hill. Though no longer at the top of the steep Castle bank, it is there for all to see – and feel pride in its great past.
1960’s- Archaeological excavations (1961-65) of part of the Castle remaining in the eastern section.
2012- Evaluation trench dug by Northants Archaeology for WNDC (details here).
2013- New station building to be built on the site. FONC are pushing for the station to incorporate a celebration of the castle.