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The first written mention of Fotheringhay was in 1060, and it is listed in the Domesday Book in 1086 as 'Fodringeia'.

After many different owners, the manor came into the possession of Edward III who gave it to his son Edmund Langley, the first Duke of York, and founder of that powerful house. He it was who founded the College whose chaplains and choristers were to pray for the souls of the founders and their families. Edmund's son Edward Langley continued the work until he was killed at Agincourt in 1415. His body was brought home and buried in the choir, although it was not finished until about 1430. To this private, collegiate church was added the parish church in the same style, begun in 1434. This is the only part which remains today.

Fotheringhay is most famous for the birth of Richard III at the castle in 1452, and for the trial and beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. At the time of Richard's birth Fotheringhay had become one of the principal seats of his parents, Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville, Duke and Duchess of York, and he spent his first six years here. Members of the Richard III Society join villagers at the annual carol service, and have given a memorial window to the church and refurbished the chapel in memory of the House of York.

Mary Stuart was brought here in September 1586 after 18 years in captivity in different safe places and prisons in other parts of England. Her trial took place in the Great Hall of the castle on 14th and 15th of October, and she was beheaded on 8th February 1587.

The castle does not seem to have been used after Mary's death. It fell into ruins and was pulled down in 1635. The stones have been used to build many cottages and walls around the village.

(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)

(Updated 1 July 1997 - Maurice Kellner)