Irthlingborough is an ancient settlement. Evidence of pre-historic and Roman occupation has been found, together with an Iron-Age hill-fort on Crow Hill, the second largest discovered in Northamptonshire. The Roman road from Lowick to Irchester passed through the parish.
In the late eight century Offa, King of the Mercians confirmed a grant of land in Sussex whilst at Yrtlingaburg on the banks of the Nene. In 1086 Domesday Book recorded the name as Erdiburne.
In 1353 John Pyel, a local lad who made good, purchased the manor of Irthlingborough from Sir Simon de Drayton for £200 and a tun of wine. Pyel became Mayor of London in 1372. the following year he began a project to endow the Parish Church of St Peter into a Chantry College. He faced many difficulties and after his death the work was completed by his wife Joan. The College came into being on 28th February, 1388. By 1st April, 1548 the College had been dissolved.
The Vaux Manor House in Spinney Road was searched for Roman Catholic priests in July 1599. None were found although two were resident there at the time. The priest hole in the house was constructed by Nicholas Owen, alias Little John.
92 High Street was built for Matthew Draughton in 1624. It later served as a Friends' Meeting House. The first Methodist Chapel opened in 1808; the Baptist Chapel in Meeting Lane in 1723; the first Salvation Army Barracks in 1884 and Providence Strict Baptist Chapel in 1903. in recent years a Christian Fellowship Church opened in Allen Road.
An entry in the diary of Thomas Isham of Lamport records that in August 1672 the famour races were held at Irthlingborough and Mr Washbourne won a silver cup.
The first meeting of the Inclosure Commissioners was held in the Kings Arms Inn in the village in 1808 but the process took so long the final meeting did not take place until 1814. the town plough was subsequently sold to Mr Paine for £3. Pest control was the responsibility of the Churchwardens who paid James Young £3 for killing sparrows at 2d per bird. They also paid 2d per mole and a shilling for a fox.
On 2nd June, 1845 Rector Richard Ash Hannaford recorded that the railroad from Northampton to Peterborough was opened. Locals were outraged when they discovered that the station had been named Higham Ferrers Station! After several changes of name, common sense finally prevailed when in 1910 the station was finally named Irthlingborough Station. It closed in May, 1964.
In 1867 the Church School in High Street was rebuilt. It served as a National School until 1923. It has now been converted into private residences.
In November 1879 Irthlingborough born Thomas Flawn was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallant conduct during the Sekukums and Zulu Campaign.
Work began in 1887 to take down the leaning tower of St Peter's Church which was threatening to fall. Demolition and rebuilding took six years and cost £2576-0-6d.
As a result of a serious accident to an employee at the Tower Boot Factory, a branch of St John Ambulance Brigade was formed in the town in September 1895.
On Good Friday, 1897 the new Methodist Church was opened on the corner of College Street and Victoria Road. Pew rent was fixed at one shilling per quarter for front gallery seats and nine pence for the second row. Opposite stood the Working Men's Club (opened 1896) and the Board School (1897). The bend in the road became known as Ation Corner, marking salvation, education and damnation!
24th July, 1911 – Charles Astley's plane landed in meadows near the ford during the Round Britain Air Race. The factories and schools emptied as 22,000 people converged on the meadow along March Lane where the plane had landed. Mr Cross, the owner of the field charged one penny entry and the two nearest pubs, the Railway Inn and the Fitwilliam Arms soon ran out of beer. As the brewers arrived with extra deliveries the beer was run off into bath tubs and the pint glasses just dipped in. The pilot stayed overnight with Dr Robb whilst police and Boy Scouts guarded the plane.
1912 – the year that the town was lit by electric street lamps. The Midland Bank opened at the Cross, the premises of Mr Hands' Grocery & Drapery store having been demolished to accommodate it – one of four banks in the town at one time!
There was great excitement in June, 1913 when scenes for the film The Battle of Waterloo were filmed in and around the town. The director of the film, Charles Weston had married local girl Alice Inward in 1910. Several more films were made in the town in the year before World War One. The film was subsequently lost but was eventually recovered by the Historical Society and on 10th June, 2002 was shown in the town – all three nights were sold out. The film The Picturedrome opened in 1916.
Irthlingborough joined the nation and went to war. On 7th August 50 men of the 4th Battalion Northamptonshire Regt. paraded at The Cross. They joined men from Higham and Rushden to march to catch a train to take them to fight 'the German bully' – 151 were to fall in action.
The unveiling of the War Memorial in Finedon Road took place on Sunday, 13th November, 1921. The names of 151 World War 1 casualties are recorded on it.
Work started on constructing the by-pass in 1931 – it opened to traffic the following year. Much to the disappointment of local children the Gush, the stream running across the High Street, was piped.
November, 1933 – a Late Stone-Age burial urn was found in the tumulus near to the station. It contained human bones. Implements of stone, including a hand hammer, and axe-heads of the period were also found together with the skeleton of a tusked mammoth of the Neolithic Age. Yes, Irthlingborough really is an ancient settlement.
1936 – the New Bridge was opened by Mr Hore-Belisha, Minister of Transport.
1964 – the Picturedrome was converted in the Civic Hall. It closed in 1996 and was later demolished.