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Bozeat is a village and civil parish in the Wellingborough borough of Northamptonshire, England, located six miles south of Wellingborough on the A509 road, near Wollaston. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 5,353.

There are many wells in the village, one of the most important was the communal ‘Town Well’. This came from a jet of water coming out of the side of a bank in Dychurch Lane. A charity was registered to provide for its upkeep.

The name of Bozeat has no doubt changed over the many years that this area has been inhabited, and an explanation is given below.

Before the Norman Conquest the Saxon thane, Strix (of Strixton) held some of the land here under Earl Waltheof, a powerful Saxon Earl of Northumbria. At the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror gave most of the land locally to his niece Judith, who became the first Countess of Northampton. Judith married Earl Waltheof, so the Saxon Earl and the Norman Lady became joint owners.

The Norman Parish Church built about 1130 is older than both Easton Maudit and Wollaston churches. It survived the Great Fire of Bozeat in 1729 when all older registers of Bozeat and Strixton were burned in the vicarage.

In the 15th century there was a thriving weaving industry within the farming community, but by the beginning of the 20th century the population had risen to 1200 and boasted a cottage lace-making industry, a shoe industry and a windmill, with many independent tradesmen, making a very self-reliant village. At this time Bozeat had at least twenty shops which enabled the purchase of all the necessities for bringing up a family, a school, five public houses and four churches.

The village shoe trade dates back to the middle of the 17th century but until the middle of the 18th century it was considered a cottage industry. Men made and mended shoes in small buildings near their homes which were called ‘shops’, but although some remain today, they now serve a different purpose. The population grew rapidly when spacious shoe factories were built, providing much-needed employment for both men and women, and these remained Bozeat’s main trade until 1982 when the last shoe factory closed.

In January 1989 a bypass road was cut through fields to the west of the village to take the ever-increasing traffic flow through to Milton Keynes. In the spring of 2001, with ever more traffic passing the village and a number of accidents, a new roundabout was constructed to replace the junction of the A509 Wollaston Road. It made access into and out of the village much safer.

The village has a number of assorted retail outlets, a post office, bus service, several industrial and commercial businesses, with many thriving clubs, associations and youth organisations. The 20th century brought the utilities to Bozeat. Mains electricity was installed in 1925, water in 1949, sewerage in 1950, and gas in 1990. Three private housing estates were built during the 1960s and 1970s and 2004 saw the demolition of an old factory and a dozen or so more families settled into village life.

The village sign was erected in the millennium year after some months of dedicated fund-raising. It represents a number of aspects of village life that have continued over the years. As the long- established families began to welcome newcomers, the ‘us and them’ feeling has given way, now making a strong caring community in the 21st century.

Bozeat has become a united, lively, and modern commuter-village, with a present population of approximately 2000. A small team of volunteers produces a quarterly magazine for Bozeat and the neighbouring Easton Maudit. It contains an editorial, news and information from the many organisations and other contributors. The centre pages contain the Village Diary which lists the activities and key meeting dates of the many groups that prosper within both parishes.

One possible explanation of what BOZEAT means has received a lot of attention lately. However, in his original book "The History of Bozeat Village", published in 1936, the Rev. J.H. Marlow gave two alternatives:

1. Bozeat probably existed in Saxon times - Saxon coins have been found - and an early spelling of Bozeat was Bosgate, suggesting Bozeat may have meant Bosa(s) gate. Bosa was a common Saxon name and a Saxon Earl Bosa held land near here. In a similar way Strixton is named after the Saxon thane Strix.

In Old English geat/gaet, and in Middle English yatt and zett are all recognised as meaning gate, opening or entrance to woods or land. All the various spellings of Bozeat over the years show some link to both Bosa and gate.

The Oxford Dictionary of Place Names quotes written records held in the British Museum which show Bozeat spelt:

1066 BOSIETE: 1154 BOSEYATE: 1150-60 BOSE GATE: 1180's BOSGIETA: 1200's BOSEGATE: : 1255 BOSYATE: 1350 BOSGATE

One possible French influence is shown in the Domesday Book (1066) spelling BOSIETE and it is possible that the Normans slightly altered the name to make it more French. There may even be a link with the French BOSQUET (small wood) or Latin BOSCUS (wood).

With all the vagaries of spelling and spoken English over the centuries it is not likely that BOZEAT is still pronounced in the same way it was originally.

2. The second explanation of the name Bozeat - that it means beautiful spring from the French Beau-jet - assumes that the pronunciation of Bozeat was the same centuries ago as it is now. So although this theory is very appealing it does not have the same historical credibility as the first - Bosa's Gate.

From an article published in About Bozeat, March 1994.

Bozeat 2000: The story of a Northamptonshire village, compiled by Philip Bligh, giving an interesting history of Bozeat. [ISBN 1-899597-13-1]

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(Source: Wikipedia)
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