Bozeat can claim to be an ancient village as remains have been found of a Saxon burial ground. The parish church of St Mary dates back to 1130 and was probably built on the site of an earlier church.
Fortunately the church survived the Great Fire of Bozeat in 1729. A villager, Widow Keech, living in a row of cottages by the churchyard, is said to have been responsible for starting the fire. Rumour has it that she left her baking unattended in the hearth to gossip with her neighbours. Within a few hours, helped by a strong wind, many houses, farm crops and buildings were burnt to the ground.
In the 15th century there was a thriving weaving industry in Bozeat and the Weavers' Guild gave rich and beautiful gifts to the church. There were also many pillow lace workshops in the village. One was in Easton Lane, kept by James Nichols, who died in 1884. These lace schools lasted until the machine lace of Nottingham ruined the village trade.
Later Bozeat was known for its boot and shoe factories. Many British soldiers marched to war in 1914 in boots made in Bozeat. In the heyday of the shoe industry Bozeat could boast four shoe factories. The village revolved around the factories as these provided work for most of its inhabitants, the women having special working hours to enable them to provide meals for their children and menfolk. Shops, too, were either closed all day or open for limited hours when the shoe factories were shut for holidays. Until fairly recently, Bozeat was an incongruous mixture of factories and farming, there being twelve farms around the village, half of them with large milking herds. Today there are three farms with milking cows and only one small closing-room remains of the shoe industry.
Although not a 'son' of Bozeat, one young airman of the Second World War is remembered each year on Remembrance Sunday with great gratitude by the village. When his plane developed engine trouble, he instructed his crew to bale out. Then Lt John Ahern, aged 22 years, of the United States Air Force, crashed his plane beyond the village, in the fields of Red Gables farm. His life was lost, but lives and property in Bozeat were saved that day.
Faces and cottage interiors, unknown to the outside world but well remembered by Bozeat's older generation, were made immortal in the paintings of Charles Spencelayh RA. For many years he lived in a house in London Road. He painted many of the older folk and was well known in the village, where he helped many an aspiring artist.
During the 1960s Bozeat's population was almost doubled. Three new housing estates brought young families to rejuvenate village life. At first there was a feeling of 'us and them' but old Bozeat's strong village spirit prevailed and soon old and new merged to form today's lively and caring community.
(The above extract from 'The Northamptonshire Village Book', compiled by the Northamptonshire Federation of Women's Institutes, is reproduced by kind permission of the publishers, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire)
The following publications provide further insight into the history of Bozeat :
MARLOW, Joseph Horace. The History of Bozeat Village. Publisher: J. Stevenson Holt: Northampton, 1936. pp. 98. [With plates.]
STRINGER, Keith. "Dryburgh Abbey and Bozeat, Northants", Innes Review, v. 24, (2) 1973, pp. 133-147 (ISSN: 0020-157X). Publisher: J. S. Burns and Sons, Glasgow
SALZMAN, L F. (ed.). "Bozeat", The Victorian history of the county of Northamptonshire, v.4, 1937, pp 3-7. Publisher: Oxford University Press, London
Parish 2000 for the village of Bozeat. Allison Printers, Thrift Street, Wollaston, Northants. April 1998
"The Church of St Mary" - pp 3-5
"A concise history of Bozeat Methodist Church" - pp 6-7
"Bozeat Independant Wesleyan Church" - p 8
Description and Travel
"Dungee Corner Meadow S.S.S.I." - pp 22-23
"Bozeat from the air" - pp 32-33
Rev. Norman Palmer, "The family that built Bozeat" (Berril family) - pp 41-43
"The Partridge-Underwood family" - pp 57-58
Rev. Norman Palmer, "Bozeat then" - pp 28-32, 34-38
"Bozeat Windmill" - pp 39-40
Ernest Dilley, "Pudding Bag Lane" - p 45
"Bozeat field names" - p 24
"Wells" - pp 62-63
"Lace Making" - pp 26-27
Rev. Norman Palmer, "The history of education in Bozeat" - pp 46-48
Bozeat Historical and Archaeological Society The Hon. Secretary D A Stafferton 44 Mile Street Bozeat Wellingborough Northants. NN29 7NB