Opening doors to Daventry’s grisly past

Moot Hall, Daventry Market Square
Moot Hall, Daventry Market Square

A GRUESOME past will be unveiled at one of Daventry’s most historic buildings as part of an open weekend.

The Pigeonhole in the 18th century Moot Hall will be opening its doors over the Heritage Open Days weekend (September 7 to 9), with tales of the last woman to be publicly hanged in Northamptonshire.

Paul Bowditch, who runs the Pigeonhole, said: “We’re going to have a few things on display, like the twinning charter between Daventry and Westerburg in Germany.

“But one of the more interesting things will be about Elizabeth Pinckard, who was the last woman to be publicly hanged in the county and whose trial was held in the Moot Hall.”

Mrs Pinckard’s mother-in-law, also called Elizabeth Pinckard, was found dead on October 3 1851 at Thrupp, between Daventry and Long Buckby.

The younger Mrs Pinckard was tried at Daventry and found guilty of murder, and was sentenced to death.

At the time there was much local interest in the case and attempts were made to downgrade the charge to manslaughter, but to no avail.

Mrs Pinckard was hanged before a crowd at Northampton Gaol on Tuesday, March 16, 1852.

The Moot Hall has served numerous civic purposes down the years, including the town’s gaol, council offices, mayor’s chambers, museum, visitors’ centre, courthouse and more.

Mr Bowditch said: “When we moved in we knew there was history in the building. Since then we discovered there was an older, larger building here by looking in the cellar.

“It looks like they kept the old cellar and built the Moot Hall, and the Plume of Feathers over the top.

“There’s a window in the cellar that apparently dates to the 1500s.”

Places taking part in the Heritage Open Days also include Casey’s Club, Holy Cross Church, and the United Reformed Church.

There will also be guided walks around the town and on Borough Hill.