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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES



ay




CAMBRIDGE COUNTY GEOGRAPHIES

General Editor: F. H. H. GUILLEMARD, M.A., M.D.



HERTFORDSHIRE



CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

FETTER LANE, E.G.
C. F. CLAY, MANAGER.




CFUinijurgf) : 100, PRINCES STREET.
Berlin: A. ASHER AND CO.
F. A. BROCKHAUS.
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS,
anfc Calcutta: MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.



[AH Rights reserved.'}



Cambridge County Geographies



HERTFORDSHIRE



by

R. LYDEKKER



With Maps, Diagrams and Illustrations



Cambridge :

at the University Press

1909



Cambrtige:

PRINTED BY JOHN CLAY, M.A.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS



H5L?



CONTENTS

PAGE

1. County and Shire. The Name Hertfordshire. It's

Origin and Meaning ...... i

2. General Characteristics of the County ... 4

3. Size. Shape. Boundaries ..... 8

4. Surface and General Features . . . . .10

5. Watershed. Rivers . . . . . .16

6. Geology and Soil . . . . . . .25

7. Natural History . . . . . . -38

8. Climate and Rainfall ...... 50

9. People Race, Dialect, Settlements, Population . 57

10. Agriculture Main Cultivations, Woodlands, Stock . 62

11. Special Cultivations . . . . . .67

12. Industries and Manufactures . . . . .70

13. Minerals An Exhausted Industry .... 74

14. History of Hertfordshire . . . . . .76

15. Antiquities Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon ... 87

1 6. Architecture, (a) Ecclesiastical Abbeys and Churches 97

494219



vi CONTENTS

PAGE

17. Architecture, (b) Military Castles . . . 109

1 8. Architecture, (r) Domestic Famous Seats, Manor

Houses, Cottages 114

19. Communications Past and Present. Roads, Rail-

ways, Canals . . . . . . .125

20. Administration and Divisions Ancient and Modern . 135

21. The Roll of Honour of the County . . .141

22. The Chief Towns and Villages of Hertfordshire . 151



ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE

Modern Hertfordshire : Station Road, Letchworth . . 4
Ancient Hertfordshire : Thatched Cottages, Harpenden . 5
An Old Farm-House near Wheathampstead ... 7
A Typical Hertfordshire Village : Much Hadham . . 12
Bancroft, Hitchin . . . . . . . .15

Netting the Gade, Cassiobury Park . . . .21

Bishop's Stortford ........ 24

View on the Downs looking towards Wallington from

the Icknield Way . . . . . . -32

Six Hills, Stevenage (Danish Barrows) . . . -39
Tring Park ......... 46

French Row, St Albans ....... 60

Ancient House at Welwyn, now the Police Station . 62

A Hertfordshire Farm near Rickmansworth ... 64
A Lavender Field, Hitchin ...... 69

Moor Park, near Rickmansworth . . . . .72

Canal and Lock, Rickmansworth . . . . -73

Monastery Gateway, St Albans . . . . -77

The Staircase, Hatfield House . . . . -83

Cassiobury ......... 84

The Rye House: Portions of the Servants' Quarters . 86
Palaeolithic Flint Implement ...... 89

Neolithic Celt of Greenstone ...... 89

The Devil's Dyke, Marford . . . . . .92

Ancient Causeway, Verulam (St Albans) . . . -93
Roman Wall in St Germans' Meadow, Verulam . . 94



viii ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

St Albans' Abbey from the south side .... 95

St Peter's, Tewin ........ 99

St Mary's, Cheshunt . . . . . . .100

St Helen's, Wheathampstead . . . . . . 101

St Mary's, Hemel Hempstead . . . . . .102

St Albans' Abbey . . . . . . . .103

Ruins of Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans . . . .106

The Priory, Hitchin . . . . . . .107

Courtyard in the Biggin Almshouses, Hitchin . .108

The Priory, King's Langley . . . . . .109

Hatfield House, South Front . . . . . .116

Knebworth House . . . . . . . .117

Water End Farm near Wheathampstead . . . .118

Christ's Hospital School, Hertford . . . . .119

The Grammar School, Hitchin . . . . .120

An Old Malting House, Baldock . . . . .121

Chequer's Yard, Watford . . . . . .122

The "Fighting Cocks," St Albans 123

Waltham Cross . . . . . . . .124

The Ermine Street at Hertford Heath . . . .126

The Icknield Way, showing a Ford between Ickleford and

Wilbury Hill 127

High Street, Stevenage . . . . . . .129

View on the Great North Road, Codicote Village . .130
Watford . . . . . . . . . .131

The Grand Junction Canal near Hemel Hempstead . 133
Haileybury College . . . . . . . .134

The Shire Hall, Hertford 139

The Salisbury Statue, Hatfield 143

Cecil Rhodes's Birth-place, Bishop's Stortford . . . 144
Ruins of Verulam House, the Residence of Francis,

Viscount St Albans ...... 145



ILLUSTRATIONS ix

PAGE

Francis Bacon, Viscount St Albans . . , . .146

Charles Lamb .148

William Cowper . . . . . . . 149

Bishop's Stortford and the River Stort . . . 155

The College Chapel, Haileybury 157

Letchworth, Open Air School . . . . . .162

Shrine of St Amphibalus, St Albans' Abbey . . .165

Diagrams . . . . . . . . .170

MAPS

Hertfordshire, Topographical .... Front Coiner

Geological ..... Back Cover

England and Wales, showing Annual Rainfall . . 55

The illustrations on pp. 7, 32, 60, 62, 64, 83, 86, 92, 93, 94,
95, 100, 101, 102, 106, 108, 109, 116, 118, 119, 121, 122, 123,
124, 126, 127, 130, 133, 139, and 143 are reproduced from
photographs by The Homeland Association, Ltd. ; and those on
pp. 4, 12, 15, 24, 39, 46, 69, 72, 73, 77, 99, 103, 107, 117, 120,
129, 144, 145, 155, 161, and 165 are from photographs by
Messrs F. Frith & Co., Ltd., Reigate. Messrs H. W. Taunt &
Co., of Oxford, supplied the views on pp. 21, 84 and 131;
Mr A. Elsden, of Hertford, those on pp. 134 and 157; and
Mr H. Valentine, of Harpenden, the one on p. 5.



i. County and Shire. The Name
Hertfordshire. Its Origin and



Hertfordshire

ERRATA

Page 33, line 12 from bottom, after Baldock, add and also near Tring.
61, line 6 from top, for Great Western read North-Western.
132, line 13 from top, for Stortford, read St Margaret's.
144, line 2, for The late Viscount Peel read The first Viscount

Hampden.

153, line 5 from top, dele has a castle and.

1 54. The market at Berkhampstead has been discontinued for
many years.

i 59. The office of high bailiff of Hemel Hempstead is held by the
mayor.



"V *" -

the word shire is never added, it may be in the case of the
latter. We then have either the county of Hertford, or
Hertfordshire, as the full designation of the territorial unit
in which we dwell. In official documents our area is
always mentioned under the title of the " County of
Hertford " ; but imperfectly educated persons when filling
in such documents frequently write the " County of
Hertfordshire." This is wrong and superfluous ; shire
being equivalent to county.

L. H. i



i. County and Shire. The Name
Hertfordshire. Its Origin and
Meaning.

The only true and right way of learning geography
(which in its widest sense comprehends almost everything
connected with the earth) is to become acquainted with
the geography or, strictly speaking, the topography
and history of the district in which we live. Modern
England is split up into a number of main divisions known
as counties, and in some instances also as shires ; the word
shire, when it is used, being added at the end of the
county name. Thus we have the county of Essex or
the county of Hertford ; but whereas in the former case
the word shire is never added, it may be in the case of the
latter. We then have either the county of Hertford, or
Hertfordshire, as the full designation of the territorial unit
in which we dwell. In official documents our area is
always mentioned under the title of the " County of
Hertford " ; but imperfectly educated persons when filling
in such documents frequently write the " County of
Hertfordshire." This is wrong and superfluous ; shire
being equivalent to county.

L. H. I



2 HERTFORDSHIRE

The word county signifies an area of which a count or
earl is the titular head. Here it may be incidentally
mentioned that the title " Earl " is of Saxon origin, which
it was attempted to replace after the Conquest by the
Norman-French " Count " ; the attempt being successful
only in the case of an Earl's consort, who is still known
as " Countess." It also obtained in the case of " County,"
which is thus practically equivalent to "Earldom."

It now remains to enquire why some counties are also
known as shires, while others are not thus designated.
In Anglo-Saxon times England, in place of being one
great kingdom, was split up into a number of petty king-
doms, each ruled by a separate sovereign. Essex was
then a kingdom by itself, situated in the east of the
country ; while Wessex was a western kingdom, and
Mercia a sovereignty more in the heart of the country.
Essex and Sussex, being small kingdoms, were constituted
counties by themselves when the country came under a
single dominion, and their names have consequently
remained without addition or alteration from Anglo-
Saxon times to our own day. The larger kingdoms, such
as Wessex and Mercia, were, on the other hand, split up
into shares, or shires, i.e. that which is shorn or cut off
and their names have disappeared except as items in
history. Hertfordshire, then, is in great part a share of
the ancient kingdom of Mercia, of which, indeed, it seems
to have formed a centre, as the Mercian kings spent at
least a portion of their time at Berghamstedt (Berk-
hampstead). It is however only the larger western portion
of the county that belonged to Mercia, a smaller area on



COUNTY AND SHIRE 3

the eastern side originally being included in the kingdom
of Essex.

As to the meaning of the name Hertford, there has
been some difference of opinion among archaeologists. In
that extremely ancient chronicle, " Domesday Book," the
name, it appears, is spelt Herudsford, which is interpreted
as meaning "the red ford." The more general and obvious
interpretation is, however, that of " hart's-ford," from the
Anglo-Saxon heart, a hart, or stag ; and this explanation
is supported by the occurrence in other parts of the country
of such names as Oxford, Horseford, Gatford (= goat's-
ford), Fairford (= sheep's-ford), and Swinford. Writing
on this subject in a paper on Hertfordshire place-names
published in 1859, tne ^ ev - Henry Hall, after alluding to
the custom of naming fords after animals, concluded as
follows : " At all events, the custom is so prevalent, and
the word hart so common for Anglo-Saxon localities, as
Hart's-bath, Hartlepool (the Hart's pool), Hartly that
though several other derivations have been given for the
capital of the county, none seems so simple, or so satis-
factory, as that which interprets it to mean the hart's ford."

This interpretation has been adopted by that division
of His Majesty's local forces formerly known as the
Hertfordshire Militia. Possibly it is supported by the
title of a neighbouring village, Hertingfordbury, that is to
say, the stronghold near Hertingford, the ford at the
hart's meadow. Whether or not it has anything to do
with the matter, it may be worthy of mention that red-
deer antlers occur in considerable abundance buried in the
peat of Walthamstow, lower down the Lea valley, in Essex.

i 2



2.



HERTFORDSHIRE



General Characteristics of the
County.



Hertford is an inland county, situated in the south-
eastern portion of England, and cut off from the nearest
sea by the whole width of Essex, which forms the greater




Modern Hertfordshire : Station Road, Letchworth

portion of its eastern border. Neither has it any great
river of its own communicating with the ocean ; although
the Lea, which is navigable below Hertford, and falls into



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS 5

the Thames at Barking in Essex, affords the means of
transporting malt (the great output of Ware) and other
products to London and elsewhere by water. As to
canal communication, this will be discussed in a later
section.

Originally Hertford was essentially an agricultural
county, as it is to a great extent at the present day ; its




Ancient Hertfordshire : Thatched Cottages, Harpenden

northern three-quarters being noted for its production of
corn. The southern portion, on the other hand, was partly
a hay-growing and grazing country. Nowadays, however,
more especially on the great lines of railway, conditions
have materially altered ; and large areas have become



6 HERTFORDSHIRE

residential districts, which in the more southern part are
little more than suburbs of the metropolis. Printing-
establishments and factories moved from London for
the sake of cheapness have likewise been set up on the
outskirts of many of the larger towns, such as St Albans and
Watford, or even in some of the villages. On the other
hand, the old-fashioned timbered and tiled or thatched
cottages formerly so characteristic of the county are
rapidly vanishing and giving place to the modern abomi-
nations in brick and slate. Gone, too, is the old-fashioned
and picturesque smock-frock of the labourer and the
shepherd, which was still much in evidence some five
and forty years ago, or even later ; its disappearance being
accompanied by the loss of many characteristic local words
and phrases, to some of which reference will be made in
a later section. The gangs of Irish mowers and reapers
which used to perambulate the county at hay and harvest
time are likewise a feature of the past.

The scenery of the southern portion of the county
differs owing to its different geological formation very
markedly from that of the northern two-thirds ; the latter
area representing what may be called typical Hertfordshire.
Although there is nothing grand or striking in the scenery
of this part, for quiet and picturesque beauty whether of
the village with its ancient church nestling in the shelter
of the well-wooded valley, or the winding and tall-hedged
lanes (where they have been suffered to remain) it would
be hard to beat ; and in many instances is fully equal in
charm to the much-vaunted Devonshire scenery, although,
it is true, the hedge-banks lack the abundant growth of



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS 7

ferns characteristic of those of the latter county. Very
characteristic of this part of the county are its open gorse
or heath commons, like those of Harpenden, Gustard
Wood, Bower's Heath, and Berkhampstead. From the
higher chalk downs on the northern marches of the
county extensive views may be obtained over the flats of




An Old Farm-House near Wheathampstead

Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire ; while in like manner
the southern range of chalk hills in the neighbourhood of
Elstree presents a panoramic view over the low-lying
clay plains of the southern portion of the county and
Middlesex.

In former days, it may be mentioned in this place,



8 HERTFORDSHIRE

the inhabitants of most, if not all, of the English counties
had nicknames applied to them by their neighbours;
"Hertfordshire Hedgehogs" being the designation applied
to natives of this county, while their neighbours to the
eastward were dubbed " Essex Calves."



3. Size. Shape. Boundaries.

The maximum length of Hertfordshire, along a line
running in a south-westerly and north-easterly direction,
is about twenty-eight miles; while its greatest breadth,
along a line passing near its centre from the neighbour-
hood of Tring to that of Bishop's Stortford, is very nearly
the same. Owing to its extremely irregular outline, the
county has, for its size, a very large circumference,
measuring approximately 130 miles. Here it should be
stated that the ancient area of the county differs some-
what from that of what is now known as the administrative
county. According to the census of 1901, the area of
the ancient, or geographical county, included 406,157
acres, whereas that of the administrative county is only
404,518 acres 1 , or about 630 square miles. The difference
in these numbers is due to the fact that certain portions
of the old county, such as that part of the parish of
Caddington originally included in Hertfordshire, have
been transferred to adjacent counties. The figures relating

1 In the Report of the Board of Agriculture published in 1905 the
number of acres is given as 402,856 ; and this is taken as the basis of
calculation in section 10 and in the diagrams.



SHAPE SIZE BOUNDARIES 9

to population, etc. given in the sequel refer to the ad-
ministrative county.

In size Hertford may be reckoned a medium county,
its acreage being rather less than that of Surrey, and about
half that of Essex.

To describe the shape of Hertfordshire is almost an
impossibility, on account of its extremely irregular con-
tour ; but as its two maximum diameters are approximately
equal, it may be said to lie in a square, of which the four
angles have been cut away to a greater or less extent in a
curiously irregular manner. The reason of this irregular
outline, seeing that only the eastern border is formed to
any great extent by a river-valley, is very difficult to guess.
Where its south-eastern boundary leaves the Lea valley
in the neighbourhood of Waltham Abbey, Middlesex
gives off from Enfield Chase a kind of peninsula running
in a north-westerly direction into Hertfordshire; while,
in its turn, Hertfordshire, a short distance to the south,
sends a better-marked and irregular peninsula (in which
stands Chipping Barnet) jutting far into Middlesex. In
consequence of this interlocking arrangement, a portion
of Hertfordshire actually lies to the south of a part of
Middlesex, although, as a whole, the former county is
due north of the latter. Another, but narrower, pro-
jection runs from the south-western corner of the county
in the neighbourhood of Rickmansworth so as to cut off
the north-western corner of Middlesex from Buckingham-
shire; while a third prominence, in which Tring is
situated, is wedged into Buckinghamshire from the
western side of the county. Other minor projections



10 HERTFORDSHIRE

occur on the north-western and northern border, of
which the most pronounced is the one north of Baldock,
jutting in between Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

As regards boundaries, Hertfordshire is bordered on
the east by Essex, by Middlesex on the south, by
Buckinghamshire on the south-west, by Bedfordshire on
the north-west, and, to a small extent, by Cambridgeshire
on the north. From a short distance below the Rye
House to Waltham Abbey the boundary between Hert-
fordshire and Essex is a natural one, formed by the rivers
Stort and Lea; but the other boundaries of our county
are, for the most part at any rate, purely artificial.

It should be added that these boundaries at the present
day do not everywhere accord with those of half a century
ago. The parish of Caddington was, for instance, in
former days partly in Hertfordshire and partly in Bedford-
shire, but under the provisions of the Local Government
Act of 1888, confirmed in 1897, the whole of it was
included in the latter county. Certain other alterations
were made about the same time in the boundary.



4. Surface and General Features.

The contours of a district depend almost entirely upon
the nature of its geological formations, and the action of
rain, rivers, and frost upon the rocks of which they are
composed. These formations in the case of this county
are briefly described in a later section. Here it must
suffice to state that hard slaty rocks form jagged mountain
ranges, while soft limestones like our Hertfordshire chalk



SURFACE AND GENERAL FEATURES 11

weather into rounded dome-like hills and ridges, and
heavy clays form flat plains. As the bed-rock, or, as we
may say, foundation, of Hertfordshire, is constituted either
by chalk or clay, it is the two latter types of scenery that
mainly characterise this county. It is only, however, on
the north-western and northern borders of the county, as
at Ivinghoe in Bucks, or between Sandon and Pirton, that
we find typical chalk scenery, where the downs forming
the north-easterly continuation of the Chiltern Hills of
Buckinghamshire enter our own area. Here we find the
rounded downs and hollow combes characteristic of the
South and North Downs of the south-eastern counties;
and the same absence of woods, except where artificial
foresting has been attempted. Some approach to true
chalk scenery is likewise shown on the line of hills
on the London side of Elstree, where they overlook the
clay plain forming this part of northern Middlesex.
There is, however, a difference in the scenery of this
part as compared with that of the downs to the north in
that these hills are partially covered with a capping of clay
or gravel, while the beds or layers of which the chalk is
composed slope towards the plains at the base of the
ridge instead of in the opposite direction (see section on
GEOLOGY).

Elsewhere the chalk is covered over to a greater or
less degree, alike on the hills and in the valleys, with
thick deposits of clay, sand, and gravel. These com-
municate to the hills and valleys a contour quite different
from that of chalk downs ; and in many parts of the
county we have a series of more or less nearly parallel



12



HERTFORDSHIRE



lines of low undulating hills separated by wide, open
valleys. Examples of this type of scenery are conspicuous
in walking from the valley of the Ver at Redbourn across
the hill on which Rothamsted stands, then descending
into the riverless valley of Harpenden, again crossing the
hill to the east of the latter, and then descending into the
valley of the Lea near the Great Northern railway station.




A Typical Hertfordshire Village: Much Hadham

This capping of clay permits the growth of forest on
the hills, as do the alluvial deposits in the valleys ; so that
in its well-wooded character the scenery of the greater
part of the county is altogether different from that
characterising the bare North and South Downs and
the Chiltern Hills. Where the chalk comes near the



SURFACE AND GENERAL FEATURES 13

surface there is a marked tendency to the growth of
beech-trees, splendid examples of which may be seen in
Beechwood Park. Elsewhere in the chalk districts the
elm is the commonest timber-tree ; although it should be
said that this species of tree was originally introduced into
England from abroad.

Reference has already been made to the numerous
open commons dotted over the chalk area of Hertford-
shire. These appear to have been left as open spaces at
the time the country was enclosed, owing to the sterility
of their soil, which is unsuited for growing good crops
of either corn or grass. Many of these commons, as
in the neighbourhood of Harpenden, were enclosed some
time previous to the battle of Waterloo, when corn in
this country was so dear, and every available piece of land
capable of growing wheat consequently of great value.
It may be presumed that the commons with the best soil
were selected for enclosure ; but most of such enclosed
commons produce inferior crops, partly, it may be, owing
to the plan on which they are cultivated. Till twenty
years ago or thereabouts all such commons in the writer's
own neighbourhood were divided into a number of parallel
strips, separated by grass " baulks " ; these strips repre-
senting the respective shares of the copyholders of the
district, who had the right of grazing on the original
common. The absence of hedges rendered it necessary
that the same kind of crop should be grown each year on
every plot. This made it not worth the while of the
occupiers to spend money on high cultivation. Of late
years many of these enclosed commons have either been



14 HERTFORDSHIRE

built over, or come under a single ownership, thereby
obliterating one more interesting page in the history of
the county.

To the south of the Elstree range of chalk hills
the scenery suddenly changes, and on emerging into
Middlesex from the tunnel through these hills on the
Midland Railway we enter an extensive grassy plain,
characterised by its abundance of oak trees, the scarcity
of elms, and the total absence of ash. Parts of this plain,
which is continued through Middlesex to London, form
the great grass-growing and hay-producing district of
Eastern Hertfordshire.

A plain very similar in character to that south of
Elstree is entered upon to the northward of Baldock, just
after leaving the line of chalk hills, although the greater
portion of this northern plain is situated in Cambridge-
shire and Bedfordshire. When travelling northward from
London by the Great Northern Railway, observant per-
sons, after passing through the tunnels traversing the chalk
hills north of Hitchin, cannot fail to notice the general
flatness of the country as this great plain is entered.
Although so like the southern plain in general appearance,
this northern plain, as is noticed in the section on Geology,
is composed of much older rocks.

The heights of some portions of the chalk area above


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