History of Kettering, Northamptonshire

History of Kettering:

Fig. 3 Adrian Gael, Pharaoh and His Army Engulfed in the Red Sea, oil on panel, 54 x 73 cm. Location unknown. Collection Glück, Budapest (1926) (artwork in the public domain)

Kettering was first mentioned in the history books during the 10th century (around 956), but it has been in existence even before that. Anglo-Saxon tribes once inhabited Kettering, and it was one of their first villages. The word Kettering is derived from combining two words ‘Ketter which refers to the village’ and ‘Ingas mean the people’ – people of the Ketter or Kettering, making its first name as ‘Ketteringas or Cateringes’.  This Anglo-Saxon village has been mentioned in the Domesday Book Survey of 1086 as a small village with 150 residents, and it is mentioned as ‘Cateringe’. By this time, Kettering already had been handed over to the Abbey situated in Peterborough. Kettering had a rich agricultural history with two watermills, which the villagers used for grinding of grain and flour and farms filled with vegetables.

The Growth of Kettering:

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The only reason why Kettering was developed rapidly from the 11th century onwards, was due to its agricultural value which later became the source of trade. It was converting into a market town. By the 12th century, Kettering had its church and became a small market town in the next century (1227). The kings in every time made modifications to the marketplace to bring improvement because the population was increasing for this reason only. New shops were opened where one could only buy something in exchange for something.

Kettering During 16th and 17th Century:

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Kettering was flourishing with trade, agriculture, and shops in the 16th century. More and more people were coming to Kettering from far away to trade goods. Kettering instituted its first grammar school in 1577 which opened the doors for education in the small market town. In the 17th century, 80 people died due to an outbreak of plague in Kettering. This affected the locals more than trade as people started migrating to nearby villages and towns for safety. However, Edmund Sawyer generously donated money in 1688 for building almshouses in Kettering which helped the town regain its position and stability.

Kettering During 18th and 19th Century:

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Kettering laid the foundation of its first industry in the 18th century when straw plaiting and wool industry were booming the textile in the Britain. Kettering also launched its shoe and boot industry in 1778; this sector was the result of efforts of Thomas Gotch, who sought perfect opportunity to bring prosperity to the town. Sadly, the shoe and boot industry faced an exponential decline in the 19th century, but it did, however, get its hands on the gas light in 1834.

The 20th Century Kettering:

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Kettering was booming with developments and modifications. A public library was established to promote literacy in 1904 as there were no fond readers. Kettering also made an excellent comeback in the shoe and boot industry. Kettering is also amongst earliest towns to receive electricity (1904). The famous art centre ‘Alfred East Art Gallery’ was opened in 1913 followed by Wicksteed Park and Kettering War Memorial in 1921. New Hospitals, shopping centres, parks, and recreational centre wrapped in food & drink restaurants, Kettering today is one of the emerging towns in the UK.

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