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History of the Parish

Located six miles west of Northampton, the Parish covers an area of some 3,000 acres and contains two villages, Great and Little Brington, and the hamlet of Nobottle, home to just 13 houses, one of the smallest hamlets in England.

It was once part of a large Anglo-Saxon estate, with a manor house at Nobottle, and land in Brington, Althorp, Harlestone, Glassthorpe and Flore. William the Conqueror gave this estate to his illegitimate son, William Peverel, whose descendants held it for over 400 years, until the first Sir John Spencer acquired it, together with the advowson of St Mary’s Church at the beginning of the 16th century.

The village has been known as Great Brington since 1648, although in medieval times it was known as Cherche Bryngton or Brington Magna to distinguish it from the hamlet of Lytell Brington or Bbryngton Parva.

Althorp remained part of the parish of Brington until 1648 when it became a separate civil parish.

The church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest and largest building in Great Brington. A beacon was placed on it square bell tower, circa 1200AD, to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The church was rebuilt by John Spencer in 1519 and the Spencer Chapel was added as a mausoleum for his family which currently houses the remains of or memorials to 20 generations of Spencers, the last, the 8th Earl Spencer who died in 1991. Also buried in the church are Lawrence Washington, the great-great-great-grandfather of the first president of the United States and his younger brother Robert, who were cousins of the Spencers and came to the Bringtons from Sulgrave in the county at the beginning of the 17th century

The Tudor Rectory was rebuilt in 1822 for George Spencer, the youngest son of the 2nd Earl Spencer, who was Rector of the parish from 1824 to 1830.

The medieval cross on the Green outside the church was once crowned with a sundial and was a market cross or churchyard cross. Since 1886 the Reading Room, once Great Brington’s Infant School, has been the social centre of the Parish.

–from “Aspects of Brington”, a history of the parish by the late Dr Stephen Mattingly.

To bring the “parish history” up to date…

As of the early 2020’s, in addition to the parish church, the Old Rectory, the medieval cross and the Reading Room, Great Brington also boasts a Post Office & Shop and the Fox & Hounds Public House/Althorp Coaching Inn whilst Little Brington is home to The Saracen’s Head Restaurant & Pub, Brington Primary School and the spire of the parish church of St John on Nobottle Road, which was pulled down in 1947.

And a fascinating parish fact: BETSY ANN RUSSELL (20 August 1842 to 24 October 1955) who died at the age of 113 years & 65 days and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was the world’s oldest living person at the time, was born in Great Brington!