The town of Northampton lies comfortably and peacefully amid some of the busiest locales in England. London is a mere sixty miles or so from Northampton and Birmingham, the proverbial Second City, is only fifty miles away on the other side. In a way, Northampton is kind of like a far-outlying suburb to both of these massive metropolises. It is definitely nothing like the crowded parts of either city, and it enjoys a rather cool suburban flavor that gives it plenty of night life. Northampton is a very prestigious city in historical circles, though, and it shouldn't be thought of as merely a suburb of some larger city. Northampton even has a sizable population itself, with its four hundred thousand citizens making the town the twenty-first most populated places in England. On the other hand, Northampton does not have official city status which is kind of an anomaly for a town of this size with so much history under its belt. It is in fact the third largest settlement in the United Kingdom that doesn't enjoy recognition as a city.
Northampton's rise in population is rather recent but the town has been a famous part of England for quite some time. The claim to fame in this case was shoemaking and English folks from all around would come to Northampton in the old days to visit some of the most prestigious specialty shoe stores in the country. Companies like Tricker's and Church's had shops in the town but they also had factories and leather became a kind of default second industry that further bolstered the city built on shoes. Many of the classic factories and stores can still be found to this day but a larger portion of them have either been demolished or changed into other businesses. Either way, it is definitely interesting to walk around downtown, see a building that existed hundreds of years ago, and imagine the sheer amount of traffic that must have walked the same steps for generations untold.
The history of Northampton of course goes further back than cobbling, though, and remains that date back to the Iron Age have been uncovered in spades around the town. The city played a particularly large part in medieval history as well and the remains of a Norman Castle from the 1100s can be still be seen. Northampton was also one of the major Jewish cities during the 1200s and this led to a rather regrettable piece of the town's history. Gold Street, which can still be found today, was once a sizable Jewish Community and it was here that three hundred Jews accused of stealing from the King were rounded up and executed. After the bloodbath the remaining Jews were run out of town. This tale shouldn't be seen as a commentary on Northampton, though, rather than yet another interesting bit of history that has occurred within this hallowed almost-city. It is for these reasons that we should respect Northampton just as much as we do its larger neighbors.
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