The Gardens, originally known as Melbourne Gardens, were created by John Collier, and after his death in 1886 they were bought by John Franklin, a successful hotelier, who renamed them Franklin's Gardens the following year.
In 1888 the Gardens were sold for £17,000 to the Northampton Brewery Company who started making extensive improvements. New features included a running track, bicycle track, cricket ground, swimming pool, bear pit, a large ornamental lake, an improved monkey house and a larger zoological garden.
Franklin's Gardens was described as the "Champs Elysees of Northampton" and trams ran from the town centre every few minutes for a penny. Home matches began in Abbey fields, next door to Franklin's Gardens and it wasn't until the late 1880s when the Saints moved to Franklin's Gardens.
At the end of the 1896/97 season a new stand was built by Mr A Dunham's building company, 45 feet long and costing £45 5s. It was carpeted and reserved for members paying 10s 6d for season tickets. Ladies got away with paying only five shillings!
On October 9th 1920, a two page advertisement in the Independent appeared offering 15,000 shares in a new company, Franklins Gardens Sports and Pleasure Co Ltd. The company prospectus proposed to turn the site into a sports complex, allowing the Saints to play at the Gardens in return for a percentage of the gate.
During the Second World War Franklin's Gardens was used for livestock. However that didn't last long, as there was a new-look Franklin's Gardens in, with its £6,000 Member's stand.
The 1966/67 season kicked off with style with the opening of the Peter Haddon designed Gordon Sturtridge Pavilion, marked by a floodlit game between the Saints and an R E G Jeeps XV. The pavilion enhanced the Gardens' reputation for being one of the finest rugby grounds in the country.
During the 1976/77 season the club acquired a four-acre training pitch on a 60 year lease at the back of the ground and in November 1977, the committee pulled off its biggest coup by buying Franklin's Gardens outright for £30,000.
In the early 1990s a raft of temporary stands increased the capacity up to 10,000. Then in 2001 the stadium underwent a complete re-build. The fans got their first look of the
£6 million new look Franklin's Gardens on September 8th, 2001.
The Tetley's and South Stands were opened formally by Sir Ian McGeechan with the horseshoe stadium completed in summer 2002 with the building of the Church's Stand, opened by five Saints legends. But there was more development to come in 2005 when an extension to the South Stand became the latest piece to the Franklin's Gardens jigsaw.
With a capacity of 13,500, 48 executive boxes, numerous bars and hospitality areas, the renowned Village area, 1,500 car parking places and three training pitches Franklin's Gardens is now the envy of European rugby. But the club has plans to make this even better, with a proposed development of the Sturtridge end that would complete the stadium bowl and take capacity up to 15,500, representing a 15% increase in the possible number of people who can come and watch the Saints play their unique brand of entertaining rugby.