Copyright
Richard Lydekker.

Hertfordshire, by R. Lydekker online

. (page 7 of 9)
Online LibraryRichard LydekkerHertfordshire, by R. Lydekker → online text (page 7 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


remain a large number."

To reproduce the list of these would occupy far too
much space; and it must suffice to mention that examples
of homestead moats may be seen in the parishes of
Ashwell, Braughing, Pirton, and Sawbridgeworth.

A step in advance of the homestead moat was formed
by earthworks made on the same plan as the latter, but
provided with a rampart and a "fosse," or ditch, and in
some cases also with outer defences. Of this type of
earthwork three examples are definitely known to occur
in the county, namely one at Bygrave, a second at
Whomerley Wood to the south-east of Stevenage, and
a third at Well Wood, Watton.

Yet another kind of defensive earthwork is to be
found in the shape of walls, ramparts, or ditches sur-
L. H. 8



114 HERTFORDSHIRE

rounding the sites of ancient villages. Of this we have
a local example in Kingsbury Castle, an old fortified
village lying to the south-west of the city of St Albans,
and covering an area of about 27^ acres. The village
stood upon a hill, of which the summit has been planed
off and the material employed to form steep banks or
ramparts, one of which was partially thrown down to
form the present Verulam Road, while another portion
persists in the shape of a steep fall in the gardens or yards
at the back of the houses on the north side of Fishpool
Street. The main structure of the castle was demolished
during the tenth century, and the remnant about the year
1152. It may be added that the clay-pits on the north
side of Kingsbury Castle are the reputed source of the
material of the Roman bricks of which Verulam is built.
The gigantic earthworks of the type of Beech Bottom
and Grimm's Dyke have been mentioned in an earlier
section.



18. Architecture. (c) Domestic -
Famous Seats, Manor Houses,
Cottages.

With the advent of less troublous times at the close of
the Wars of the Roses a marked change is noticeable in the
plan and architecture of the residences of the great noble-
men and country gentlemen. The need for castles or
fortified houses ceased to exist; and attention was
consequently directed to comfort rather than strength



ARCHITECTURE DOMESTIC 115

in the construction of country mansions. Fortunately
a number of these fine old Tudor residences have sur-
vived in different parts of the country; but many have
been replaced by other later structures built on the old
foundations.

These Tudor mansions usually took the form of
a large house built round a quadrangle, the hall occupying
the middle portion of the building, with flanking wings
on both sides. The building material depended upon the
locality and on the taste and means of the owner ; but in
this county brick was extensively employed by the Tudor,
and still more so by the Stuart builders.

In lordly country seats, as well as in mansions of
a less pretentious type, dating from the Tudor period
downward, Hertfordshire, owing doubtless to its well-
wooded and picturesque scenery, its good soil, bracing
climate, and proximity to the metropolis, is especially
rich, and in this respect presents a marked contrast to the
neighbouring county of Essex. The majority of these
houses, however, have been either completely rebuilt or
more or less extensively altered at later epochs.

Among the few of these noble residences that can be
mentioned here, Hatfield House, which was built between
the years 1605 and 1611 by the first Earl of Salisbury,
presents a magnificent specimen of early Jacobean archi-
tecture in brick and stone, mellowed by time to exquisitely
soft tints. The original palace, where Edward VI lived,
and where Elizabeth was kept in captivity, now forms
the stables. The mention of the virgin queen naturally
leads on to Ashridge, near Berkhampstead, formerly the

82



116



HERTFORDSHIRE



seat of the Dukes of Bridge water, where Elizabeth also
spent a considerable time in her early days. Although the
present building, which stands partly in Hertfordshire and
partly in Buckinghamshire, is mostly modern Gothic, the
fine vaulted cellar is a remnant of the old monastery and
college which formerly occupied the site. Knebworth,
near Stevenage, the home of the Earls of Lytton, although




Hatfield House, South Front

now a comparatively modern Gothic building, was
originally a Tudor mansion, dating from the reign of
Henry VII, the present house occupying the position
of one of the four wings of the original building.
Tittenhanger, between St Albans and Colney, occupies
the site of a royal residence dating from the fourteenth
and early part of the fifteenth century ; the present



ARCHITECTURE DOMESTIC



117



mansion, notable for its grand oak staircase, is stated to
have been built in 1654, although the style of the brick-
work suggests the early part of the eighteenth century.
Little Hadham Hall, at the village of that name, is
a splendid example of Elizabethan architecture in red
brick.




Knebworth

A very interesting mansion is Salisbury House, Shenley,
built some time before 1669; much of the original brick
building still remaining as an excellent example of Stuart
architecture. The house is surrounded by a broad moat,
and is approached by a bridge. Mackery End, near
Wheathampstead, contains some fine examples of sixteenth
century architecture; and Rothamsted, near Harpenden,



118



HERTFORDSHIRE



is in the main a seventeenth century brick mansion,
dating from between 1630 and 1650, although it has
older portions, and the hall belonged to a house constructed
of timber on a flint base.

Of fine old houses now forming farm-homesteads there
are many examples on the western side of the county.




Water End Farm near Wheathampstead
(Elizabethan Manor-House)

Among these is Turner's Hall, to the north-west of
Harpenden, now considerably modernised.

Another very interesting building of this type is
Water End Farm, in the parish of Sandridge, situated on
the banks of the Lea about two miles from Wheat-
hampstead, and stated to have been built about 1610. It



ARCHITECTURE DOMESTIC



119



is constructed of brick- and has the straight-gabled, mul-
lioned style characteristic of the later part of the reign of
Elizabeth and the commencement of that of James I.
Like many other houses of Elizabethan times it is
constructed in the form of the letter E, and its three
stacks of brick chimneys, with octagonal shafts and




Christ's Hospital School, Hertford

moulded brick caps and bases, are especially characteristic
of the style of this period.

Of later date are the Marlborough Buildings, or
Almshouses, St Albans, erected by Sarah, Duchess of
Marlborough in 1736, and affording a fine example of
the brick architecture of that period in an excellent state
of preservation. Here also may be mentioned the Blue-



120



Coat School at Hertford, and the Boys' Grammar School
at Hitchin.

Forty years ago the county abounded in picturesque
brick-and-timber cottages, roofed with either tiles or
thatch ; but these are disappearing yearly under the hand
of the speculative builder, to be replaced by hideous box-




The Grammar School, Hitchin

like buildings of brick and slate. Some, however, still
survive, either in the towns or the smaller hamlets, such
as picturesque Amswell, near Wheathampstead, which
may be cited as an ideal example of one of the smaller
Hertfordshire villages.

As has been well remarked in another volume of the
present series, the great difference between these ancient



ARCHITECTURE-DOMESTIC



121



cottages and houses and the great majority of their
modern successors is that while the former harmonise
with their surroundings, reflect not a little of the spirit of
the builder, and improve, like good wine, with age, the
latter are altogether out of keeping, and are likely to
become, if possible, still more offensive and objectionable
with the advance of time.




An Old Malting House, Baldock

While most of the old Hertfordshire cottages were of
brick and timber, others were built of flint with brick
facings, or more rarely of rounded pebbles from the
Woolwich and Reading beds, or with brick courses and
window-mullions; some were of feather-edge boarding,
and others again of rubble and plaster.



122



HERTFORDSHIRE



In Hemel Hempstead High Street is a building, now
converted into cottages, which contains above the fire-
places on the ground and first floors the Tudor rose and




Chequer's Yard, Watford

fleur-de-lys in plaster- work ; while the back of a neigh-
bouring building probably dates from the time of
Henry VIII. Excellent examples of the old brick-



ARCHITECTURE DOMESTIC



123



and-timber cottages are to be seen in the village of
Northchurch, and also at Aldbury, east of Tring, where
the old parish stocks are likewise preserved. Most of
these Aldbury cottages are tiled, although a few are




The "Fighting Cocks," St Albans
(Ancient Inn near the Ford across the Ver)

covered with thatch, a style of roofing much less common
in that district than in many parts of the county.
Watford has still a number of old cottages, notably in



124



HERTFORDSHIRE



Farthing Lane and Chequer's Yard, and in St Albans,
especially in the market-place and French Row, there
are several dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. There is also a very remarkable old hexagonal
wooden house near the ford across the Ver at St Michael's
silk-mills, said to be one of the oldest licensed houses in
England.




Waltham Cross

Did space permit, reference might be made to old
houses in Hertford, Berkhampstead, and other towns and
villages, but the facts mentioned are sufficient to indicate
the interest of the county to antiquarians in the matter of
ancient buildings, and before concluding this section we
must not omit to mention what is certainly not the least



ARCHITECTURE DOMESTIC 125

interesting of all Hertfordshire antiquities the Cross at
Waltham which Edward erected to his beloved Queen
Eleanor ; the last before arriving in London of the fifteen
commemorating the resting-place of her body on its
journey from Grantham to Westminster Abbey in 1290.

19. Communications Past and Present.
Roads, Railways, Canals.

Lying as it does on the direct route from the metropolis
to the north and north-west of England, and containing
in its western portion the formerly important city of
Verulam, Hertfordshire, as might be expected, is traversed
by several trunk roads leading in those directions, two
of which date from Roman times. What these lines of
communication were in pre-Roman days we have no
means of knowing, although it is probable that they were
little more than rude tracks through the great forest, or
"weald," which in those days extended some forty miles
to the north of London, and afforded shelter to the great
wild ox, red deer, wild boars, bears, and wolves. Road-
making was a special attribute of the ancient Romans ;
and after they had constructed highways from their early
stations in Kent, they probably set to work on those in the
counties to the northward of London. So well made and
so straight were these ancient Roman roads that many of
them (with in some cases a certain amount of local deviation)
have remained the main highways of the country down to
the present day. Immediately before the introduction of



126

railways, when the coaching traffic was brought to its
highest pitch of development, these main trunk roads
thanks to the invention of Macadam were maintained
in superb condition, though with the extension of the
railway system some of them were allowed to deteriorate.
There are three great Roman roads traversing
Hertfordshire Watling Street, the Icknield Way, and




The Ermine Street at Hertford Heath

Ermine Street. Watling Street starts from Dover, and
after passing through London, enters the county to the
south of Elstree, whence it is continued through Colney
Street, Park Street and St Stephens to St Albans, and
thence on through Redbourn and Markyate Street, and
so to Dunstable whence it eventually reached Chester




The Icknield Way, showing a Ford between Ickleford
and Wilbury Hill



128 HERTFORDSHIRE

and Holyhead. Although frequently miscalled the North
Road, the modern representative of Watling Street is
known as the Chester and Holyhead road. Originally
the Roman road in the neighbourhood of St Albans ran
altogether to the west of the Ver, from Gorham Block to
the Pondyards ; this section of the modern road, which
crosses the river to enter the city, having been constructed
during the years 1826 1834.

The Icknield Way (taking its name apparently from
the British tribe of the Iceni) may be the oldest of the
three great tracks, and originally of pre-Roman age, as,
like the Pilgrims' Way in Kent, it mainly follows the
line of the chalk downs. It may be called a cross-
country road from the west of England, cutting the
Watling Street at Dunstable, and thence extending in
a north-easterly direction across Hertfordshire through
Little Offley, Ickleford, and Baldock, and thence by
way of Royston, where it crosses the Ermine Street, to
Newmarket and Yarmouth.

The Ermine Street, the third great Roman road, takes,
on the other hand, a northern direction, passing through
Cheshunt, Wormley, Broxbourne, and Wadesmill, and so
by way of Buntingford to Royston. There is however
some difference of opinion about its course.

Of modern roads, the Chester and Holyhead road has
been already mentioned as following in the main the line
of the Old Watling Street. Of equal importance is the
Great North Road to York, passing through Barnet,
Hatfield, Welwyn, Codicote, Stevenage, and Hitchin.
Of other highways it must suffice to mention that the




CO



bfl



L. H.



130 HERTFORDSHIRE

Bedford road branches off from the Chester and Holyhead
at St Albans to run through Harpenden, and so on to
Luton, in Bedfordshire ; while the main road from
London to Cambridge and Norwich takes the line of
the Lea valley on the eastern side of the county, which
it leaves a short distance to the northward of Bishop's
Stortford.




View on the ' Great North Road,' Codicote Village

In coaching days St Albans was a far more bustling
and busy town than it is at the present day ; a very large
number of coaches passing daily through the city each
way, the majority running on the Holyhead and Chester
road, but a certain number taking the Bedford line. The
two chief coaching and posting inns were the Peahen and
the White Hart, both of which are still in existence.



COMMUNICATIONS



131



The speed and smartness with which the mail-
coaches were run in the days immediately preceding their
abolition was little short of marvellous.

The first half of the nineteenth century saw the
introduction of railways, which gradually but surely killed
the old coaching traffic. One of the first lines to be




Watford

opened was the London and North-Western in 1838
which traverses the south-western side of the county,
passing through Watford, Boxmoor, Berkhampstead, and
the outskirts of Tring. In 1853 a branch line was opened
from Watford to St Albans, and another to Rickmansworth
in 1862. With a short break between Boxmoor and
Hemel Hempstead, the North-Western system is con-
nected with the Midland by means of a branch line from

92



132 HERTFORDSHIRE

the last-named town to Harpenden. The main line of the
Midland, which traverses the western half of the county
by way of Elstree, St Albans, and Harpenden, was opened
in 1868. Both St Albans and Harpenden have branches
of the Great Northern Railway to Hatfield, which is on
the main line; the latter continuing through Welwyn,
Stevenage, and Hitchin. By means of a branch line of
the Great Northern from Hatfield to Hertford, we reach
the Great Eastern, the fourth great railway in the county,
the main line of which runs through Broxbourne, Saw-
bridgeworth, and Bishop's Stortford, but connected also
with Ware and Hertford, and having a branch from
Stortford to Buntingford.

With such a multiplicity of lines, it might well be
imagined that railway communication between nearly all
parts of the county would be well-nigh perfect. As
a matter of fact, this is by no means the case; and the
journey by rail from the western to the eastern side, owing
to changes and delays, is so slow and tedious, that it is fre-
quently found convenient to hold important Hertfordshire
meetings, like those of the County Council, in London.

As regards water-communication, the western side of
the county is served by the Grand Junction Canal, which,
after leaving Leighton Buzzard, enters the county near
Tring, and thence runs by way of Berkhampstead, Box-
moor, Hemel Hempstead, Runton Bridge, Watford and
Rickmansworth in a south-easterly and southerly direction
to London. A considerable amount of barge-traffic is still
carried on on this canal, although nothing approaching
that in pre-railway times. In those days the whole of



COMMUNICATIONS 133

the coal-supply for north-western Herts came by canal to
Boxmoor, whence it had to be carted for long distances
some 14 miles to Harpenden, for instance. As there are
at least two very steep hills which become impossible for
heavily laden teams when the roads are slippery between
Boxmoor and Harpenden, the inhabitants of the latter




The Grand Junction Canal near Hemel Hempstead

picturesque village were apt to run short of firing at
Christmas.

On the other side of the county the Lea is navigable
for barges as far up as Ware and Hertford ; and here too
a considerable amount of heavy traffic is still carried on by
water.

In this place mention may conveniently be made of



COMMUNICATIONS 135

the New River, running from the valley of the Lea near
the Rye House, at a gradually increasing distance from
that river, to the metropolis. The New River, or
Middleton's Waters, as it used also to be called, was
constructed in the reign of James I, at first almost
entirely by Sir Hugh Middleton, but later on by a com-
pany with a special charter, for the purpose of supplying
north London with drinking-water. The chief sources
of the New River are the springs at Chadwell and
Amwell. At the present time an original 100 share in
the New River Company is worth an almost fabulous
price.

20. Administration and Divisions
Ancient and Modern.

The present administration and administrative divisions
of Hertfordshire, like those of other English counties,
have been gradually evolved and developed from those of
our Saxon forefathers ; each alteration in the form of local
government and of local administrative boundaries being
based on the previously existing system. By the Saxons
each county was divided into a number of main divisions
known as hundreds, or wapentakes, each governed by a
hundreder, or centenary (the equivalent of the Old German
Zentgrafen), and each having a name of its own. Hert-
fordshire is now divided into eight hundreds, the names
of which, commencing on the western side of the county,
are as follows : Dacorum (including Tring), Cassio (with
the important towns of St Albans, Watford, and Rick-



136 HERTFORDSHIRE

mansworth), Hertford, Braughing, Broadwater (occupying
nearly the centre), Hitchin and Pirton (on the north-west
corner), Odsey (in the extreme north), and Edwinstree
(on the north-east). Originally they were more numerous,
Cassio, for instance, being much smaller than at present,
while the Hitchin division was reckoned only as a half-
hundred. The origin of the names of most of the
hundreds are self-apparent ; but that of Cassio (originally
Kayso) appears to be unknown, while that of Dacorum
has some connection with the Danes, perhaps referring
to a Danish settlement.

One of the most remarkable facts connected with
the hundreds of Hertfordshire is that three of them do
not lie within what farmers call a ring-fence. Dacorum,
for instance, has two outlying areas in the south-eastern
corner of Cassio, and a third wedged in between Cassio
on the west, Broadwater on the north, and an outlying
portion of Cassio on the east. Broadwater, again, has a
small outlier on the Middlesex border of the south-eastern
" peninsula " of Cassio ; while Cassio itself, inclusive of
the one already mentioned, has no less than eight of these
curious outliers, one situated in the extreme north in the
hundred of Odsey.

Each hundred originally had its own court, or "hundred-
mote," which met monthly ; and it was divided, as at
present, into townships, or parishes. The parish, in turn,
had its own council, or gemot, where every freeman had
a right to appear. This assembly or council made its
own local by-laws, to enforce which it had a reeve, a
bailiff, and a tithingman, with the powers of a constable.



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 137

The reeve was chairman of the township gemot y and
could summon that assembly at pleasure.

Passing on to more modern times, we find Hertford-
shire occupying a peculiar position in regard to local
government and administration in that it possessed a kind
of imperium in imperto in the shape of what was known
as the Liberty of St Alban ; in other words, a large area
on the western side of the county originally under the
jurisdiction of the abbots of St Albans, who had the
power of inflicting the death-penalty. Originally there
was a separate Commission of the Peace for the Liberty,
so that a Justice for the County had no jurisdiction in
the former unless he had been specially inducted. This
arrangement was found, however, to be inconvenient,
and the Liberty, as such, was abolished, although it was
taken as a basis for the splitting of the county into a
western and an eastern division for judicial purposes.

The chief officers of the county are the Lord Lieu-
tenant and the High Sheriff; the former (who in Hert-
fordshire is always a nobleman) being the direct local
representative of the sovereign, and having the appoint-
ment of magistrates and the officers of the territorial
forces, while the latter (who is a commoner) is the head
of the executive department in the administration of
justice. The Lord Lieutenant holds office for life, or
during the sovereign's pleasure, but the Sheriff is appointed
annually by the Crown. Deputy Lieutenants are supposed
to act, in case of need, for the Lord Lieutenant.

Formerly the greater part of the business of the
county was conducted by the Justices of the Peace, or



138 HERTFORDSHIRE

Magistrates, at Quarter Sessions, but most of this is now
transferred to the County Council, which, as previously
stated, often meets in London. This County Council,
which was first established in 1888, is composed of
Aldermen and Councillors ; the latter of whom are elected,
while the former are what is called "co-opted," that is
to say, selected by the Council itself, either from its own
body, or from the general public. The duties of the
County Council include the maintenance of high roads
and bridges ; the appointment and control, in conjunction
with the magistrates, of the police ; the management of
reformatories and lunatic asylums ; and, in a word, the
general carrying out of the laws enacted by Parliament.

According to a scheme elaborated in an Act of Par-
liament passed in 1894, the more important minor local
bodies are denominated District Councils, and those whose
function is less Parish Councils ; the former having
control of the more populous towns and villages, other
than cities and boroughs, and the latter those with fewer
inhabitants. For this purpose many parishes are divided
into a more populous Urban and a less populous Rural
District. Certain towns in the county rank, however,
as cities, or boroughs, and have larger powers and different
forms of government ; being ruled by a Mayor and
Corporation, and having magistrates and a police force
distinct from those of the county. Among these privileged
towns, St Albans ranks as a city, while Hertford and
Hemel Hempstead are boroughs. Hemel Hempstead is a
very ancient borough, and has, in addition to its Mayor,
an official known as the High Bailiff.



ADMINISTRATION AND DIVISIONS 139

The county is likewise divided into a number of
Poor Law Unions, each with a Board of Guardians,
whose duty it is to manage the workhouses, and appoint
officers to carry out the work of relieving the poor and
those incapacitated by age or other cause from earning
their own living.




The Shire Hall, Hertford

As regards the administration of justice, Assizes are
held by His Majesty's Judges three or four times a year
at the Shire Hall, Hertford, for the whole county ; the


1 2 3 4 5 7 9

Online LibraryRichard LydekkerHertfordshire, by R. Lydekker → online text (page 7 of 9)