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Extract from Kelly's Directory, 1910
Chester House

Chester House, about half a mile from the church at Irchester, is an ancient Elizabethan mansion of stone and obtained its name from the Roman encampment here, Irchester having been a Roman station; it is a manor of itself and consists of one house and farm, and adjacent are earthworks. In 1874 a Roman burial ground was discovered on an estate about half a mile from Chester House; about 400 skeletons were found, all facing eastwards, a number of stone coffins, and one of lead containing skeletons, besides eight bronze vessels packed in a ninth; some of the vessels were in an excellent state of preservation; two being perforated at the bottom and partly up the sides with elegant patterns; many coins and Roman pottery have also been found, and, in a field adjoining the workings, iron slag has been met with: one of the stone coffins mentioned above, now in a field abutting on Chester House, is roughly hewn out of a solid block of Northamptonshire freestone, with a huge slab of the same for lid, secured by strong iron cramps; a similar stone coffin, together with the leaden one and the bronze vessels or bowls, are in the possession of the trustees of the late H. R. Arkwright esq. of Knuston Hall. Coins, with other relics, are still occasionally met with. H. M. the King, in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, is lord of the manor. [Kelly's Directory]
The Ekins family occupied the house in the early 17th century, a branch of the family moving to Rushden Hall. Some were deputy stewards for the Duchy, one was MP for Higham Ferrers, and other public office in the district was served by the family.
By 1874 it was the property of G. F. Whidbourne, Esq., but in the occupation of the vicar of Irchester, the Rev. Jacob Tomlin. [Whellan's Directory]
In the early 20th century Chester House was occupied by Mrs. Sidney Smith.

A disastrous fire occurred in 2010 but the house, with 84 acres of land, is currently undergoing restoration by the county council with help from a Heritage Lottery grant. It will become an educational centre, with walks around the area and along the river-side. Exhibitions of archaeological finds will eventually be located there.


This extract from the Irchester Index of Wills shows these as resident at Chester when they made their wills.

In 1662 an inventory was taken of all the goods and possessions of Thomas Ekins when he died.


SURNAME Forename status/occ
type
year
HAMERTON Julian widow
W
1546
HAMMERTON John
W
1569
SKYNNER William
W
1568
FREMAN Joan widow
W
1572
DARLINGE Peter husbandman
W
1583
EKINS Thomas elder
I
1662
MULSO Elizabeth widow
W
1679
EKINS John gent
W
1708

The aproach to the farm - the dig area
The farm house

In 2016 members of Rushden & District History Society joined a retirement group from RAE Thurleigh, for a conducted tour of the archaeological dig at Chester House, shortly before the work was ended on this particular area in front of the house. Excavations here included a stone lined well, and some post holes suggesting Saxon occupation.

an outbuilding Outbuildings awaiting renovation
An outbuilding
Outbuildings awaiting renovation
Outbuildings awaiting renovation
to be roemoved
an old cart shed and out buildings
modern barn and silos will be removed


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