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Holdenby, pronounced and sometimes spelt Holmby, is a small village situated in some of Northamptonshire's most picturesque countryside, with wonderful views east and west. It consists of small cottages, farms, and a well preserved stone built schoolroom (not now used for education). These buildings surround a village green where once children would play and celebrate May Day in true traditional style.

Alongside the village green are the grounds of Holdenby House, once the site of the palace of Holdenby which was built by Elizabeth I's chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton. The original palace has been replaced by a 'modern' house of great beauty and dignity in Tudor style, incorporating parts of the old building. Now only two lonely gateways of the outer courtyard of Hatton's mansion remain - they stand in isolation in a field next to the present house.

Charles I was brought here as a prisoner of Parliament from Newark, and he stayed here for four months in 1647. His recreation was to play bowls at Boughton, and when crossing the long bridge at Brampton he used to meet some of his supporters, who gave him secret messages. This was reported by the then miller who lived at nearby Brampton Mill and sadly (legend has it) the mill never prospered from that day and fell into disuse. On the night of 2nd June 1647 Cornet Joyce came to take the King in the custody of the Army to London. When Charles asked for his warrant he pointed to the men behind him and the King observed wryly that it was a warrant that needed no spelling.

(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)