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Northants

Northamptonshire is the hub of droving in England, by accident of geography.   It was impossible for Welsh drovers to miss it on their way to the south-east.

It's hard to exaggerate the importance of Northampton to Wales and vice versa: "Welsh House" is the finest building in Northampton Market Square, and the inscription around that fine stonework in pic #2 reads, in Welsh, "Without God Nothing, With God Enough".  

And there is a "Northampton House" in Llanwrtyd Wells (see pic #3).

Moreover, Northampton town was, by the 14th century, the centre of a thriving leather industry - perhaps beasts that were not going to complete the journey to London in good condition were sold off there - so Edward l used it as a giant revictualling yard in his Scottish campaigns.  A century earlier, Richard 1 and John had also used the Northampton-Southampton route to defend their possessions in Normandy.  So what is now the A43/A34 was 700 years ago almost the king's most valued road, wide enough, by royal decree, for 16 knights to ride down it abreast.  

The Welsh routes from Pembrokeshire and Angelsey both cross the county; the Banbury Lane crosses on the opposite diagonal; the Oxford Lane goes due south through Northants from Leicester to the university.  And there are numerous little stretches of green lane, some utterly mysterious, to be found in this lovely, empty county, which urbanisation and tourism have left largely untouched. 

Northants image 1
Welsh House, Northampton
Northants image 2
Welsh House, detail
Northants image 3
Northampton House, Llanwrtyd