Northampton has so much history to explore. And Heritage Fest proved that there is a lot to learn and discover! Heritage Fest came to the town centre and it brought a new lease of life and fun to the town during the summer holidays.

This was part of Northampton Borough Council’s #CelebrateNorthampton summer programme where visitors and residents could take advantage of three interactive experiences to learn more about Northampton’s heritage.

I thoroughly enjoy learning more and more about the county I consider home, so going along to experience the three activities was a prime opportunity to expand my mind and see what and who have made Northampton what it is today.

There was something interesting to discover across every corner in Northampton and there was plenty that people could get involved with too. For the three activities, I got to return to the Guildhall for one of Looking Glass Theatre’s Mystery Tours, I took a Classic Bus Ride tour around Northampton’s heritage sites and witnessed 100 years of Northampton history on the catwalk in Grosvenor Shopping.

Here is what I got up to and what my thoughts were on each experience:

Looking Glass Theatre Mystery Tours

After attending the Looking Glass Theatre’s Famous Figures tour, which I had nothing but good things to say about, I was very excited to take part in a different type of tour they had put on especially for Heritage week. Once again, I was greeted by James and instantly, we were taken back from 2019 to 1019!

What was interesting about this particular tour was that we dived deeper into the history of the Guildhall itself, how it was built, the fact it was divided into different sections, we met the original designer of the Guildhall, Edward William Godwin, who begun designs when he was only 28, between 1861 and 1864, in neo-Gothic style.

Godwin became one of our main tour guides throughout, as we ventured past the Mayors hallway, into the main and old courts and even down to the dungeons where James made it very atmospheric by turning the lights off and telling the story of a haunted spirit that wanders around.

I even caught a fright when I volunteered by James to look through the dungeon peep hole to see someone looking back through! I yelped a bit, but it was all part of the interactive fun!

The tour ended in the Guildhall grand hall which is always a grand way to end the tour. James thanked us for our time and it was nice that all the actors gathered for a bow. It really opened my eyes to the history of the Guildhall and some of the famous figures behind it.

Classic Bus Tours

Luckily just a short walk away from the Guildhall, the Classic Red bus was standing tall opposite the Guildhall and I found the last seat right up at the top – obviously the best seat in the house (or on the bus!)

It started at The Guildhall and went through the town centre – it was amazing how much you notice when you’re sat at the top of a double decker bus as you see things you wouldn’t normally see from afar.

It was a really good way of seeing the whole town on a classic bus ride and looking around, there were lots of families with young kids who were enjoying the experience – it was a delightful sight to see.

I even managed to get a photo on the bus by the bus driver – thanks, Mr bus driver!

100 Years of Northampton Fashion Show

A Fashion Show which showcases 100 years of Northampton history in just 15 minutes? I didn’t think so either until I saw it.

Located in the Grosvenor Centre, opposite Primark, it was a big, wide open space that was ideal for a fashion show. As you walked up towards the runway, you could spot the actors getting ready inside the backstage shop which displayed a mini-exhibition of photographs of old Northampton, including the work of John Hendy.

The show was put on by Red Rumpus, who not only put on a fashion show for us, but they put on a full theatrical performance! They made sure to entertain the guests who sat down right before the show even began, right up till the end.

The show gave us a rollercoaster ride of decades, fashion eras and famous figures of Northampton. We went right from 1890 to the 1990’s and there was strutting, singing, acting, dancing and more! I found myself clapping away at the music and smiling the whole way through – it was amazing to see how much fashion has changed over the decades and learning about Northampton more.

The Heritage Festival just proves how much Northampton has to offer with it’s past, present and future. It’s a fabulous event that deserves to be celebrated more and I hope will continue in the future.

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