The name 'Crick' probably evolved from the Celtic word 'Kreik', which became Old Welsh 'Creic', meaning a rock or cliff. The village itself is situated on the edge of the Northamptonshire plateau, so that the name 'Creic' is clearly descriptive of the position of the original settlement. The earliest document, the Geld Roll (1077), and the Doomsday Survey of 1086, have the village spelling as ‘Crec’. According to Gover's 'The Place Names of Northamptonshire' there have been many variations of the name, e.g. Crec, Crek, (1086). Kreic, Creyk, (1201). Creke (1284). Criek (1328). Creek, Creake (1340). Kreke (1517). Creke, Cricke (1598). Creek (1610). Crieke (1618). The variations follow the language changes from Saxon to Norman-French and then old English. The earliest the present day spelling of Crick is seen in 1613.
It seems likely that the village first came into existence in its present location somewhere in the post-Roman period - Watling Street, forms Crick's western parish boundary and traces of Roman buildings have been found within the area of the present-day village, so there has been occupation in this area for a very long time. Earlier still, this area was inhabited by Bronze-age and Iron-age tribal groups, and many traces of round houses from this pre-Roman time have been excavated in a series of archaeological digs around the M1 and DIRFT industrial sites.
In the medieval and early modern period, Crick was a thriving manor - and thanks to the discovery of Crick's early manorial rolls and other medieval documents in one of Oxford's college archives, we have a unique picture of life in the village between about 1400 and 1700.
Up to 1777 and the implementation of the Enclosure act, farmers owned or rented multiple strips of land, or furlongs, scattered in the 4 great fields which surrounded the village. As these strips were repeated ploughed the middle of the strip became raised relative to the edges giving rise to the ridge and furrow pattern seen in many fields in the midlands. After 1777 the furlong system was replaced by single unified holdings for each of the farmers. Sheep farming was a popular livelihood and where fields were subsequently turned over to grazing the historic ridge and furrow pattern persists in the field surface.
At the time of the Doomsday book Crick had a population of 17 villagers (villeins), 6 smallholders (bordars), 4 slaves (serfs), 4 freemen (sokmen), and a priest. Together with the women and children, who were not counted, the population would have been around 120 people in 32 households, making Crick quite a large village. Later the ‘manor’ of Crick was divided, one third of its income being given as a founding gift to St John’s College, Oxford; the college remains the ‘Lord of the Manor’ to this day, although in name only. The population gradually increased so that by 1720 had risen to 600, living in 128 houses. Sheep farming and the processing and weaving of wool were predominant activities in the village.
But by the end of the century, with the industrial revolution providing large-scale mechanised wool processing and weaving, Crick’s rural wool industry went into decline. Houses were reclaimed and people were sent to the workhouse in the Derry, (then called the Wells).
Despite this Crick continued to be a largely self sufficient rural community through the 19th century with income coming from providing grazing land for the cattle and sheep drovers heading to local Midland markets or London. By 1861 the population of Crick had risen to 999, and a census revealed that there were: - 23 Farmers and Graziers. 3 Wheelwrights. 1 Saddler. 3 Boot and Shoe makers. 5 Innkeepers. 2 Beer Retailers. 1 Brewer. 1 Maltster. 2 Millers. 2 Blacksmiths. 3 Butchers. 3 Bakers. 4 Grocers. 2 Tailors. 1 Rope and Twine Maker. 1 Tallow Chandler and Ironmonger. 3 Builders. 2 Brick Makers. 1 Plumber and Glazier and 1 Surgeon. The woollen industry had completely disappeared by this time. But 50 years on, at the beginning of the 20th century, Crick’s population had dropped to just over 600 as villagers moved into industrialised towns such as Rugby.
Today the village continues to flourish, with an active and caring community. New housing has allowed the population to grow to around 2000 people and good transportation links gives easy access to employment possibilities in the surrounding towns.
In medieval times cottages were distributed along two roughly parallel streets. One was the present High Street-Church Street alignment. The other, to the east, was roughly along the line of Boathorse Lane, Lauds Road, Bury Dyke, and the footpath to Drayson Lane.
Early dwellings were very simple huts, built from timber, wattle and daub or cob (dried, unfired clay mixed with chopped straw) with a thatched roof and unglazed shuttered windows. . Structural timber, especially hardwoods like oak, gradually became more scarce and so by the 17th century building in stone became the norm. Until the 19th Century when long distance transportation became possible with the canals and trains, building materials had to be locally sourced. Everything for house building came from a few miles radius of the village and could only be moved by horse and cart. Quarries were opened around the village to extract the local brown ironstone that was used in many of Crick buildings of the 1600 and 1700s. There were no building plans other than in the minds of the resident craftsmen and their apprentices and this, together with the availability and use of local materials, gives rise to the unique character of the village technically referred to as being ‘vernacular’ (literally 'of the place'). Roofs were thatched using reeds harvested from the local wetland, which still partially exists today behind the Eldonwall Industrial Estate and near the motorway.
In the late 1700s onward brick was used for house building, again locally sourced from brick pits and over 3 million were also supplied to construct the Crick tunnel on the canal. The brickyards in Crick continued to thrive up to the early 1900s.
With the development of mass transportation, housing stock and design becomes more generic, no longer vernacular. This is called 'polite' architecture - buildings of non-local style designed by an architect. Thatch was replaced by Welsh slate or tiles and house styles particular to a period become recognisable throughout the country:- Georgian, Victorian, 1930’s, 1960s, up to the present day. Examples of most of these polite styles can be seen in the village today.
With the exception of the St Margaret of Antioch Parish Church, which is grade 1 listed, there are 46 other grade 2 listed constructions, mostly houses dating from the 17 and 18th centuries, in Crick. The centre of Crick is designated as a "Conservation Area" by the local Planning Authority.
The canal came in 1814, and thrived for over 100 years. The wharf supplied coal and lime from the Midlands for Crick and the surrounding villages, and other goods from London.
The railway followed in 1884 but our railway station, which was shared with Kilsby village, closed 80 years later in 1964.
During that period all manner of domestic and agricultural goods were sent via the goods yard and there was a regular passenger service to Rugby and Northampton. The station supplied the local storage warehouse during the ‘Cold War’ period and later material for building the M1.
Watford Gap has carried major transport routes for 2000 years, from the Roman Watling Street to the M1. The railway and canal also share this route, which has brought trade to the area from early times and continues today with the logistics park of the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), and the M1. However the arrival of the M1, DIRFT, Costco, and Eldonwall has brought with it unwelcome visual, light and noise pollution which affects the entire village.
Amongst the many past residents who have left their mark on Crick are Archbishop Laud (the rector of Crick who became Archbishop of Canterbury), George ‘Cabin’ Smith (the champion of canal children), Thomas Edward Marson (farmer, painter and sportsman), Jack Haswell (world motor cycle champion), Gerald Le Champion (racing driver and pilot) and more recently the 1960’s pop group The Fortunes.
Crick remained an agricultural community into the mid-20th century. Today it is home for many industry and service workers in the region. Crick has a considerable number of recorded historic features. However, over recent years there have been several substantial housing developments which have increased the village size beyond what would have been expected. Further uncontrolled development will have an adverse effect on the historic character of the village, parish and community. For the history and heritage of the village to be preserved, future growth must be appropriate to maintain the rural context and feel of the village.