Brief History of Ringstead

If you would like to know more about the history of Ringstead, we hope you will be able to find it here.

Ringstead Heritage Group was formed in September 2014. There is a group of 10 persons involved in researching the deep roots of the village. They have already come up with some fantastic new history of the village. Visit their website at:

If anyone is interested in following or joining the Group, please contact Jon Abbott by email:

Early Days

Ringstead was first documented in 1124. The name may come from the Anglo Saxon 'hring' meaning 'a circular place' - possibly referring to one of the ancient parish fields. Mallows Cotton medieval village, part of which lies within the Parish boundary, originated in the 12th century and was well established by 1274. Mallows Cotton is included on the National Heritage List for England as a monument of national importance. Click here to view the entry on the list.

The oldest building in the village is St Mary's Church, most of which dates from the first half of the 13th Century. It is built from the local ironstone which was also used in the building of private houses and often associated with limestone. More information on the history of the church is available from their web-site by clicking here.

St Mary's Church and two other buildings in the village are included in the National Heritage List for England as buildings of special architectural or historic interest. You can view the entries on the English Heritage web-site by using the following links:

Some Stories

Perhaps the most notorious incident in the village's history was the disappearance of Lydia Attley in 1850. Lydia was pregnant and her lover, William Weekley Ball who at the time was the village butcher, was suspected by many locals of her murder. The strength of local feeling forced him to leave the village and he moved to Ramsey. However, no body was found until the bones of a young girl were dug up in a ditch in 1864. William Weekley Ball was put on trial at Northampton, but he was acquitted.

By contrast, one of our most eminent former residents was Edwin Cottingham. He was born in Ringstead in 1869 and was educated at the village school. He later took over a watch and clock making business in Thrapston, becoming a leading builder of scientific clocks and instruments. Among many other achievements, he played a prominent role in a Cambridge University expedition in 1919 which proved Einstein's Theory of Relativity. One of his scientific clocks was used as standard timekeeper at Greenwich Observatory and had a guaranteed mean daily variation of not more than one-hundredth of a second!

Also of note, Ringstead was the birthplace in 1892 of Alf Roberts, father of the former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

More History

You can find much more about former residents of Ringstead, particularly in the 19th century, at the web-site Ringstead People created by David Ball who has many ancestral links to the village.

We will be developing this page of the site and would be very grateful for your help to build up a comprehensive history of the village. Please let us know if you have:

  • further information about our history, particularly any key documents;
  • photos of Ringstead in the past;
  • any personal memories of living in Ringstead.

Please use this link to send material for inclusion on the site or to contact us about anything that cannot be sent electronically.