The history of Cottingham and Middleton can be traced back to Roman times. The ‘Via Devana’ Roman road from Leicester to Huntingdon ran along the route of Corby Road, part of School Lane and Ashley Road, and remains of a Roman building were discovered in Bury Close during construction in the 1960s.
Cotingeham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, at which time the village was owned by Peterborough Abbey. Although Middleton was not around at this time, it still dates back to at least 1197 when it is mentioned in a ‘feet of fines’, which were registers of land transfers.
The parish church of St Mary Magdalene dates back to the 13th Century with the earliest recorded Rector in the village being Hugh de Patteshall in 1239. A Methodist Chapel opened on Corby Road, Cottingham in 1808. This chapel later became the Methodist Hall when the larger chapel was built alongside in 1878. A Congregational Chapel opened in Main Street, Middleton in 1844. This building is now a private house.
From the 18th Century, Cottingham and Middleton were unusual in having many Copyholders, private landowners who had a marked influence in the development of the local community. In 1854, the Copyholders installed iron water pipes to channel natural spring water to pumps in the villages. This system supplied villagers with fresh water for some hundred years before mains water was installed in 1957. The Copyholders also contributed towards the construction of Middleton school in Camsdale Walk (opened 1856) and a major restoration of St Mary Magdalene Church in 1880.
Cottingham and Middleton is now served by one local shop, but many of our older villagers can remember a time when there were two post offices, several general stores, bakeries, butchers and even a bookmaker and undertaker in the villages.
Around the end of the 19th Century, villagers would have had up to eight pubs to choose from – the Royal George, Spread Eagle, Three Horseshoes, The Crown and the King’s Head in Cottingham – and the Red Lion, Exeter Arms and Woolpack in Middleton. Rumour has it that women were not allowed into the pubs at this time, and that some used to gather in the Reading Room on Church Street, Cottingham to have their drinks passed through a hatchway from the King’s Head pub next door!