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Gretton is a village and civil parish in North Northamptonshire. It is in Rockingham Forest and overlooks the valley of the River Welland and the neighbouring county of Rutland. At the time of the 2001 census, the parish had a population of 1,240 people, increasing to 1,285 at the 2011 census.
The village is noted for having the tallest church tower in Northamptonshire, and the second-oldest running pub in Northamptonshire, the Hatton Arms. The Hatton Arms was recently renovated. The pub was originally part of Carlton Manor gatehouse in the 12th century. According to legend it became a pub in 1672 when the licence was granted to a negro servant who saved the life of Sir Christopher Hatton, Elizabeth 1st chancellor, who lived in nearby Kirby Hall.
Gretton is one of the few villages to retain its stocks and whipping post, which can be found on the village green. The last recorded use was in 1858, when a villager was put in the stocks for six hours after failing to pay a fine for drunkenness.
Iron currency bars from the Iron Age have been found. The Roman colonists also worked the ironstone deposits in this area. There were ironworks here in Edward the Confessor's reign in the 11th century, when Gretton was a royal manor. The industry came to the fore again from 1881 to 1980, providing ore for Corby's steel works.
Most of the earlier houses – a fair number dating from the 17th century – are built of local limestone, sometimes banded with darker ironstone and roofed with thatch or Collyweston stone slate. The buildings in Gretton are of a wide variety in age and architectural style, ranging from the centuries-old 'Corner Cottage' in Arnhill Road, to a relatively modern housing estate on the south-east side of the village.
The Old School House, built in 1853, was the first purpose-built school in the village. The infants' classroom at the east end housed 70 children at times. The school operated until 1908, when the present school in Kirby Road was opened. Subsequently, it was used as the village community centre before being converted in the 1970s into a private house.
Barn House, in High Street, is one of the few houses in the village that retains its thatched roof. In the 1940s there were about 40 thatched houses, now there are merely a handful.
Stoneleigh House, in High Street, was formerly the premises of parchment makers. Springs were fed under the house into ponds which were used for soaking and cleaning the animal skins for preparation as parchment. Remnants of the drying sheds and other buildings still exist at the rear.
Opposite the village green is a stone-mullioned building, Tythe Farm. It has been considerably changed and extended, after having been in a serious state of disrepair during the last century. In 1919 the district surveyor found it to be unfit for human habitation. To the rear of the farm is the Tythe Barn (rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in 1985), which used to store the 10% of village produce that went to the church.
Caistor's Cottage, in Caistor Road, was once a tiny cottage belonging to a shepherd called Castor.
The Post Office and Stores, in High Street, is part of a Victorian terrace called Pages Row. Formerly owned by a brewery, pigsties at the rear were rented out for sixpence a year. The Gretton Pig Club, in which owners and breeders traded information and sponsored breed improvements, operated from 1876 until 1977.
Overlooking the village green is the 'old' Gretton Stores (now Threeways), whose last storekeeper was Mr. Pegg. A fire in the early sixties destroyed the upper floor and thatch. The original wooden store sign was rescued by the current owner and is being renovated.
This business was replaced by the 'newer' Gretton Stores. It was previously the White Hart pub, which closed in 1931. The Stores building is now used as a tea shop.
Stonycroft, in Station Road, is an 18th-century cottage. It has some narrow stone-mullioned windows, and an interesting stonework panel over the door.
Gretton House, in High Street, is Georgian, but has a large neo-Jacobean addition of the 1880s. It was a family home until the Second World War, when it was requisitioned by the War Office as a military hospital. Following the war, it was converted for use as a convalescent home for employees of the Corby steel works. Since 1992 it has been a home for people with Prader-Willi Syndrome.
Manor Farmhouse, in High Street, is a good example of banded ironstone and limestone. It has a datestone of 1675. Originally called Warren Farm, it overlooked Warren Field. The names suggest that this was where the medieval manor obtained its rabbits.
The Old Vicarage, in Station Road, is 17th century with later additions. It served as the vicarage until about 1830.
Gretton Primary School, in Kirby Road, built in 1908, has an impressive stone bell tower and a schoolmaster's house. It is still a thriving village school with four classes and more than 100 children.
- Office for National Statistics: Gretton CP: Parish headcounts. Retrieved 10 November 2009
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
- "Key to English Place-names".
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