Parish History

The Parish has Mesolithic remains, buildings and other remains from the 12th century Sewardsley (or Showsley) priory, Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Easton Neston House and features dating from the area’s intensive workings during the Industrial Revolution. A history of Easton Neston Parish can be read in detail here.

Nicholas Hawksmoor’s 1790s Easton Neston House viewed across Long Water.

The parish began taking its current shape from 1499, as common land was enclosed into private ownership. Easton Neston House was built where Easton Neston village once stood and the countryside around the house was transformed into private parkland. The Oxford to Northampton road was re-routed away to the western boundary of the Easton Neston House estate and a ‘model’ village replaced the original Hulcote settlement.

Agriculture is, and has always been, the local industry but ironstone quarrying and brickmaking were important until the early twentieth century. By that time a network of rail tracks had been built to link brickworks and limekilns in the north of the parish to Towcester ironworks. However, by the mid-twentieth century these had vanished, leaving only the disused claypits and ironstone quarries, and the former brickworkers’ homes, Showsley Cottages, as visible evidence. Today most local people work outside the parish or from home.

The 1851 Census of Great Britain records that there were 36 houses in the parish. This number had risen to 40 by the 1901 Census when population peaked at 165, reflecting the presence of extended families and resident servants. The 1891 Census showed 27 domestic staff at Easton Neston House and the vicar and his wife shared the vicarage with seven children, one married, a daughter-in-law, and four servants. In the twentieth century the population declined as residents no longer had servants, as family members moved elsewhere and as tenanted properties fell vacant when estate workers lost their jobs. By 2010 empty properties had been refurbished and reoccupied. The parish population is now at its highest for many years.