About Desborough Heritage Centre

Celebrating History & Heritage

Desborough has been an important place of settlement for thousands of years. Remains have been found here from the stone age, 10,000 years ago.

Archaelogical finds record inhabitants from 2,000 BC to the 7th century AD, that is through the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman Occupation, through to the time when Anglo Saxons adopted Christianity. The town's excavated treasures, indicating aristocratic or royal settlement are in the British Museum.

Desborough Heritage Centre, an ACE Accredited Museum proudly displays these finds as exhibitions.

We also provide a small gift shop selling heritage toys, bags, handmade cards, books on local history and a range of local arts and crafts including Bob Martin’s large collection of blown-glass animals, flowers etc.

The Award Winning Museum

Desborough Heritage Centre Awards

  • Judges choice special award 2019
  • Hindsight award for best published work 2018
  • Hindsight award for best published work 2017
  • Community award 2015
  • Historic site of the year 2014
  • Best special project 2014
  • Peoples Choice Award 2015
  • Museum of the Year 2010
  • Award for Work with Children and Young People 2011

The Desborough Mirror

Splendid among one of these archaelogical finds is the famous bronze Desborough Mirror, the most beautiful Iron Age mirror found in Britain, dating from the 1st century BC.

We proudly display a specially commissioned replica of it.

The Desborough Necklace

Seven centuries later, another important lady must have worn the gold Desborough Necklace, which is outstanding of its kind. It is made of gold coiled wire beads and garnet pendants, with a cross at its centre.

It was found, with other possessions, in the grave of an early Christian Saxon lady, and interestingly outside the Church area.

Desborough Boot & Shoe Room

From 1868 Desborough has had 29 boot and shoe factories of which Cheaney's, founded in 1886, remains.

Desborough Heritage Centre houses a dedicated boot & shoe factories room describing the industry in detail, its places, people and processes relating to the development of boot & shoe manufacture.

The Hearse

Also seizing visitors' attention among the 'things' of all sizes and kinds in the Centre is a magnificent hand drawn hearse of 1899 built by William Pass of Kettering.

Desborough Civic Society rescued the hearse from the Cemetery Chapel in Rushton Road and conserved it.

Latest news

Visit Desborough Family History group

The group meets in the Heritage Centre every Thursday from 1pm to 3pm...

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Join the Heritage Centre for coffee

Join Desborough Heritage Centre for coffee morning every first Saturday of...

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The development of Rigid Containers

While the Heritage Centre is being re-arranged, after its reduction of its superb WWI exhibition...

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Desborough Industry

Other exhibitions with artefacts show Desborough's Georgian, Victorian and early 20th Century history.

You may learn about its industries...

  • Agriculture
  • Corsetry
  • Lace-making (1820s - 1860s)
  • Inns & ale houses
  • Silk / velvet-manufacture (1820s - 1860s)
  • Shoe-making (14 factories from 1868)
  • Box-making (Rigid Containers formed in 1906)

19th & 20th century life is shown throughout, for example collections showing Desborough at War.

Exhibitions & Displays

You may see photographic records and artefacts of the following...

  • Iron Age
  • Romans in the Ise Valley
  • Anglo-Saxons in Desborough
  • Buildings before the High Street demolition in 1970
  • Desborough at War (WW1 & WW2)
  • Iron ore quarrying
  • Railway station (1857 - 1968)
  • Shops
  • Desborough's Independant Co-op formed in 1863

Other displays include trade, churches & chapels, major streets, sporting teams (football, cricket & boxing) edwardian toys, period costumes, and the activities of the community of families - many of which have lived in the town for centuries.