HICHAM FERRERS, a market town and municipal borough in the Eastern parliamentary division of Northamptonshire, England, 63 m. N.N.W. from London, on branches of the London & North- Western and Midland railways. Pop. (1901), 2540. It is pleasantly situated on high ground above the south bank of the river Nene. The church of St Mary is among the most beautiful of the many fine churches in Northamptonshire. To the Early English chancel a very wide north aisle, resembling a second nave, was added in the Decorated period, and the general appearance of the chancel, with its north aisle and Lady-chapel, is Decorated. The tower with its fine spire and west front was partially but carefully rebuilt in the 17th century. Close to the church, but detached from it, stands a beautiful Perpendicular building, the school-house, founded by Archbishop Chichele in 1422. The Bede House, a somewhat similar structure by the same founder, completes a striking group of buildings. In the town are remains of Chichele's college. Higham Ferrers shares in the widespread local industry of shoemaking. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors, Area, 1945 acres.
Higham (Hecham, Heccam, Hegham Ferers) was evidently a large village before the Domesday Survey. It was then held by William Peverel of the king, but on the forfeiture of the lordship by his son it was granted in 1199 to William Ferrers, earl of Derby. On the outlawry of Robert his grandson it passed to Edmund, earl of Lancaster, and, reverting to the crown in 1322, was granted to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, but escheated to the crown in 1327, and was granted to Henry, earl of Lancaster. The castle, which may have been built before Henry III. visited Higham in 1229, is mentioned in 1322, but had been destroyed by 1540. It appears by the confirmation of Henry III. in 1251 that the borough originated in the previous year when William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, manumitted by charter ninety-two persons, granting they should have a free borough. A mayor was elected from the beginning of the reign of Richard II., while a town hall is mentioned in 1395. The revenues of Chichele's college were given to the corporation by the charter of 1566, whereby the borough returned one representative to parliament, a privilege enjoyed until 1832. James I. in 1604 gave the mayor the commission of the peace with other privileges which were confirmed by Charles II. in 1664. The old charters were surrendered in 1684 and a new grant obtained; a further charter was granted in 1887.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)