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Sponne Coat of Arms
St Lawrence Church, Towcester

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Roman Period

Towcester’s origins can be traced back to the arrival of the Romans, when the walled garrison town was initially given the Roman name of ‘Lactodorum’.

The church is dedicated to St Lawrence, a Roman saint, who was a deacon of the church in Rome in the third century. He was martyred in Rome in the year 258, during the persecution of Christians, under the emperor Valerian, slowly roasting to death on a gridiron.
The gridiron remains the usual emblem of St Lawrence. He is the subject of the modern stained glass window in the south porch.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the Romans had previously constructed a substantial building on the site now occupied by St Lawrence Church. Sir Henry Dryden's excavations in 1883, under and around the south porch, have uncovered tiles from a Roman hypocaust, which provided the building with heating. Box flue tiles, pilae and hollow box voussoir tiles have also been found.
The discovery of a piece of quarter-rounded, blue painted cement moulding which would have been part of a hot or cold plunge bath, is further evidence that this site may have been the bath house of a mansio (major administrative building).

Areas of Roman herringbone brick flooring (opus spicatum) remain and a section of herringbone flooring can still be seen from the outside boiler house staircase, to the east of the south porch. The bricks (12cm x 8cm x 4cm) are set edgeways in pink Roman cement. The first south wall of the church sits on this flooring.

Image of Roman flooring
Roman flooring