The Insider Guide to Northampton (and a bit beyond)
Want to visit but have no idea what to see, do and try? We do! We do!
Keen to make the most of everyone’s favourite East Midlands county town (creative licence on my part, what of it?), but no clue where to even start? Well, you’re in luck! Our insider guide has the best locations in mind for your perfect trip or day out in Northampton. Have a tasty bite, catch a show, visit the most unusual and interesting places you can only find in the heart of the country. Whether you’re a local looking to stretch your legs and make your way out of the house a wee bit more, or you’re seeking a holiday destination somewhat off the beaten track, you’ve come to the right webpage! Pow!
If your heart so desires, you may munch your way through the entire town meal by meal, almond milk in your fridge which is just about to turn, be damned. Start early at the Magee Street Bakery – these guys really know good food, with sourdoughs, croissants and Scotch Eggs as far as the eye can see. Be there early or miss out, as these tasty treats do have a habit of flying off the shelves rather swiftly. Once the clock ticks over to lunchtime, head down to The Bread & Butter Factory for some top notch grub and a friendly vibe, and a plate of Eggs Bens’ so louche it might actually be illegal. Or, if it’s a Sunday, give The Lamplighter a go – the roasts are jaw-droppingly good here. At night falls, and if you’ve not yet given up and asked your significant other to roll you home yet, then please the kids with a gander at Buddies, Northamptonshire’s own ever-growing chain of American diners. There’s four locations to choose from in Northampton, and an American style meal for everyone in the family – a good choice if the nippers love a burger. If you’re in the company of some picky eaters then there’s no need to despair, as staff are very accommodating to meal modifications. If the kids like the American vibe but are more pizza potty, check out Brooklyn Pizza. Mahoosive tasty roundels of cheesy and pepperoni goodness, washed down with Brooklyn craft beers! If the grown ups want a bit more of a fine dining experience The Royal & Derngate is home to Restaurant Hibiscus. It’s Northants based Tom Hewer in partnership with award-winning chef Lee Scott and it makes use of the very best locally sourced food (VERY pretty too), catering for pre-show theatre audiences in relaxed and tres intimate surroundings.
I mean, there’s always the Premier Inn, but it’s hard to visit anymore without waking up in a cold sweat, having visions of Lenny Henry grinning at the window. So why not give Sedgebrooke Hall a go instead? A Victorian manor house located in the village of Chapel Brampton, just fifteen miles from Northampton town centre, it’s surrounded by 13 acres of foliage for you to wander through after heavy rainfall, inhaling vigorously. Or, while we’re on the subject of halls, try out Rushton Hall. Still less than a half hour drive away in neighbouring Kettering, this is one for if you really want to treat yourself. It’s got 4 red stars, 3 rosettes, and a spa with so many treatments and classes your friends, family, and familiars might not recognise you when you leave. If you’re out Silverstone way, set within its own gardens and grounds with far reaching views, is Paulerspury House, a private house that can be booked for B&Bs, exclusively for private events, corporate entertaining, a family gathering or just an excuse for a peaceful break. It really is a beaut!
Go on, give the Northampton Heritage Trail a go. Starting at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the best preserved of the four Norman round churches left in the country, you’ll then make your way past such sites as Northampton Market Square, home of artisan nibbles and quirky collectables, and Hazelrigg House, a historic Grade II listed sandstone stately home. It’s an idyllic meander around the town centre (not all of it, but take the beauty where you can), and the gorgeous old churches are worthy of an insta-snap of. If you can, it’s best to schedule your stroll on a misty morning, for added drama. Plus, if you’re prepared to do an extra 20 minutes on foot, then continue South from St. John’s Church until you reach Delapré Abbey, an old medieval nunnery. If walls could talk, then these ones could more than satisfy your inner budding historian. The main Abbey can be explored with a guided tour in the mornings or free flow from 1pm. Did you know, to celebrate the great church buildings that we have in Northamptonshire and their treasures, 2018 has been designated The Year of the Churches? Northamptonshire’s Surprise has nominated 100 of the best across Northamptonshire, check them out, soooooooo many in our little Shire.
The ‘oldest new brewery in the country’, Phipps NBC and Albion Brewery Bar, has been in Northampton for over a century and it delivers an atmosphere of entertainment, pub food, award-winning beer, and original gin. It’s located at the bottom of Bridge Street, the more ‘youff’ nightlife hotspot of the town. The Princess Alexandra boasts good beer, nice wine, and a friendly neighbourhood vibe. Pull up a seat in front of the log burner, get the papers out, and relax. They also do awesome pizzas and a nice selection of drinking nibbles. A pub that’s recently been revamped and reopened is the The Wedgwood in the heart of Northampton. Whether you’re after a chilled meal or a wild night out, they specialise in both. The roof terrace is one of the town centre’s coolest; the hanging lights illuminating many a mid afternoon meal, after work drink and late night get together, making the terrace one of the cosiest corners of the town centre to hide away from it all and enjoy some nice food and drinks. Did someone say cocktails and supper? If you’re wanting to feel just a little bit exclusive, Haycock and Tailbar on Derngate, is an exclusive basement bar where you can enjoy fine drinks and good conversation. Sometimes you have to call beforehand, sometimes you can just get in; we play roulette and leave it to chance (when we’re feeling dangerous). If you’re looking to let go of your inhibitions a wee bit, Sazerac cocktail bar is quite cool, although it can be a bit hit or miss (sometimes VERY busy and rowdy). It does offer bar-tending masterclasses though, after which you can dance like no one’s watching in their ‘Back Room Club’. Budget for an Uber home.
Remember the Market Square from earlier? Well, if you begin your shopping spree there and dillydally on down the road for a hot minute you’ll find yourself in The Cultural Quarter. There’s plenty choice and great service to be found in each store in the area, but if you’re looking to spend a pretty penny stick your nose in Berties on Guildhall Road. You like boutique clothing from independent designers right? If you’re after a few more mantelpiece decorations (don’t kid yourself, you always are) or a trinket for a friend (don’t kid yourself, you should do this more often) you’ll want to check out MOOCH on St Giles Street. Lovely smiley owners with great taste in things you didn’t know you needed. Love cheese (actual cheese, not cheesy decor)? Try out St Giles cheese shop which was established in 2010 by husband and wife team Steve and Caroline Ward. Born & bred in Northampton, their little shop was awarded the runner-up prize for best new cheese retailer in the UK at the British cheese awards in 2011.
Oh my, where to begin! You may not think it, but there is rather a lot of touristy goodness to soak up in this town. If you’re looking to kick back and relax, then swing on down by Cottesbrooke Gardens and wander around the vistas and lakes. If you’re looking for the exact opposite, then get the whole family together and kit up at OnTarget an indoor shooting range where you can act out your fantasies of being in an action movie montage scene. Northampton and Lamport Railway is an excellent way to get a dose of history as you ride up and down in the restored steam trains and if you’re still feeling as though modern transport is just too damn efficient, then you can always hire a barge for the day at Northampton Marina and bob along the River Nene.
It may not be pretty or quaint, but the rugrats love the Riverside Hub with its incredible gargantuan play area including a NASA-rocket-style tower for kids to climb. It was designed for adults to enjoy too – as an alternative to watching the fun from afar – although you also have that option if you’d prefer to sit and socialise. Or, if you’re not claustrophobic, pay a visit to Trapp’d for some spooky escape rooms – though this one’s strictly for older kids only.
As you walk into the Magic Bean Emporium, a fairytale themed coffee shop , you’re greeted by a giant mural of Hagrid alongside other Harry Potter knick knacks. Any literature fan will be in their element here as they grab a sandwich and a Snow White (that’s a white hot chocolate!) And be sure to swing by Yellow Bourbon on Angel Mews, an amazing coffee shop that wouldn’t look out of place in Shoreditch.
In the heart of the Cultural Quarter is the Errol Flynn Filmhouse, a cinema which airs both arthouse and blockbuster movies in a comfy and stylish atmosphere (you can take wine in, yay). The first screen, situated adjacent to the Royal and Derngate theatre, opened on the 20th June 2013 on the birthday of the Hollywood icon after which it is named. Or, if you’re looking for still rather than moving images, swing by one of Northampton’s numerous art galleries. NN Contemporary Art is the place to be for all you modern art lovers, while the Primrose Gallery caters to those of us with more fine art persuasions – plus it offers a picture framing service for all your holiday snaps.
Hipster men will have their “I woke up like this” beard and man-bun combination looking on point, with the barbers at Dapper Chaps offering classic services like a wet razor shave. This one’s obviously not for us ladies, but it’s nice to treat the men sometimes, right? To further satiate your inner indie kid, head out to the village of Moulton to J Gallery and Coffee House, an independent contemporary visual art gallery and coffee shop. And for a suuuper trendy dinner, check out #ashtag Justin Chef, for fancy and theatrical presentation of grilled treats. Super grub, plus it’s fairly reasonably priced. #blessed
Also check out Northamptonshire – Britain’s Best Surprise. Sooooo much info and things to do on there!
ON THE MOVE in any of our other Muddy counties?
Check out the brand new Insider Guides to cities and towns from the other Muddy Stilettos editors…