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A History of Brickendon

Brickendon Village part 3


Bentleys Cottage, facing the village green, is probably the oldest remaining building in the village. It was originally the farmhouse for Brickendon Green Farm and the 1622 Survey of the Manor of Brickendonbury gives the name as Flexmoores, when it was in the occupation of Thomas Baldock. The house was at one time divided into a pair of small cottages and at another time into three. It is a Grade II listed building, the nucleus of which is said to be a hall house of the fifteenth century or earlier. The house has been substantially modified and extended over the ages. The central chimney – now the only chimney – was rebuilt in 1928. It has been said that much of the original architecture of the cottages, including some fine pargetting, was lost when it was stripped to the frame and renovated in 1973. However, a lot of what was removed at that time was simply some of the later additions and alterations and the house is now probably closer to the original than it was before 1973.

The name Bentleys appears to have been adopted in the mid-nineteenth century, although after whom it got its name has not been established. It is possible, although unlikely, that it was named after William Bentley who built the Brickendon workhouse at Horns Mill in 1833. In the 1846 tithe awards James Hankin was at Brickendon Green Farm. Perhaps this was a descendant of the James Hankin who, in about 1808, was dispossessed of Tewin Gate Farm by Lord Cowper of Panshanger and moved to Brickendon. John Carrington in his diary writes: To Hankins Sale, Tewin gate Farme, as he leving the Farme & gone to live at Brickendon. Less than a year later, Carrington writes, Not to Church but to Mr James Hankins buring at Tewin Church, he was brot from Brickendon in a Herse & Coach in pair & 2 little carts & buired about 3 clock ... it is thought leeving Tewin hert him, a good neighbor, aged 60. In 1860 Hankin relinquished his rental of Bentleys Farm and it was then let to Joseph Wilson of the Horns public house at a quarterly rental of £52 10s. There is a letter in the county archives suggesting there was some question as to whether a victualler was a suitable person to rent a farm; in the event, however, he did indeed rent it. At least he was able to write, which the previous tenant was not. The fields are listed as Broxborn (or Broxbourne) Field – so named because it lay in the parish of Broxbourne – Further Newlands (two fields), Hither Newlands, Home Mead (two fields), Pightle (two fields), Upper Claypits, Lower Claypits, Great Waters, Long Waters, Middle Waters and Lower Waters.

Cassey’s directory of 1864 lists Joseph Wilson (already mentioned) at Bentleys Farm. In 1879, on the death of Joseph, David Arthur Wilson took over Bentleys Farm, and the 1891 census refers to Bentleys as Wilson’s Farm. A newsletter of the East Herts Archaeological Society in 1976 reports on finding a number of nails dating from the fifteenth century in one wing of Bentleys Cottages, supposing that Bentleys was once a grange on the Brickendonbury estate.

Henry Wilson Demain Saunders purchased Bentleys Farm as well as other properties (see Families of Brickendon) from the Manor of Brickendonbury in 1883. In 1947 Bentleys was two cottages and was sold to the Wallace brothers as part of the Fanshaws estate, at which time they were in the occupation of Signey Adsett and Mrs Phipps. Number 1 cottage included a forge and there was an allotment with number 2. A large wooden horse-drawn snow plough and a tar wagon were kept behind the forge. In the 1980s Bentleys was home to Norman Sheffield, who discovered and was the first manager of the rock band Queen, and his family.

Clements Farm and Clementsbury

Clements Cottages

Like most of the rest of Brickendon, Clements Farm was originally part of the Brickendonbury estate. The Place-names of Hertfordshire says that a Calendar of Patent Rolls of 1454 held at the Public Record Office states that Clements was associated with Philip Clement. The 1622 Survey of the Manor gives George Cranfeilde at Clemens.

In the 1846 tithe award Clements Farm is listed as comprising Long Holborne, Little Holborne, Holborne Mead, Pear Tree Mead, The Grove, Six Acres, First Chalk Field, Second Chalk Field, Five Acres, Oak Mead, Oxleys, Barn Field, Longe Slipe, First Darton Wood, Second Darton Wood, House and Yards.

An entry in the court rolls of 9 April 1625 states that: Isabella Shotbolt widow shall secure her dyke in the Lane at Upper Holborne before Christmas day next under payment of 12d. Although not certain this probably refers to one of the fields that is now part of Clements Farm.

There used to be a medieval farmhouse, said to have been a hall house which had been extended and divided into two cottages. In the 1940s one half of the house was the home of Charlie George, the cowman at Clements Farm. However, having been in disuse for many years, the house was in such a decayed state that a demolition order was served on it dated 23 October 1956 and it was finally demolished in the late 1960s/early seventies.

Sale particulars dated 13 October 1893 show that the old farmhouse comprised four bedrooms, hall, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, scullery and dairy. In 1959 the farmhouse was the end cottage of Clements Cottages nearest the farm. The present farmhouse, known as Clements House, its brickwork hidden under a coat or two of paint, was built as a home for the head gamekeeper and was known, unsurprisingly, as Keepers House. In the 1891 census Noah Childs and his family were at Keepers House, and James Mardell, his wife Mary and nine children were at Clements Farm.

In 1869 William Thomas and James Walker are given at Clements Farm and in the 1901 census William Clements and his family were living there – unlikely to have been related to Philip Clement who gave the farm its name – and Joseph Glover was there in 1914. Following the death of Sir Edward Pearson in 1925 Clements Farm was put up to let and was described as ‘a beautiful model stud farm’. Clements Farm has been farmed by the Vigus family for three generation. It was rented by Walter Vigus in about 1926, although the 1926 edition of Kelly’s Directory lists Alec Totman, farm bailiff to Lady Pearson of Home, Dunkirks, Clements, Sewards and Blackfields farms, and the Post Office Directory of 1929 gives James Bird, farm bailiff to W Vigus, junior, of Clements and Blackfields farms. Walter used to show his Dairy Shorthorn cattle and was a well respected show judge. Walter’s son Joe bought Clements Farm in 1959.

Clementsbury is one of the most recent additions to the history of Brickendon. In about 2001 twenty-three homes were converted from disused listed farm buildings of Clements Farm – the model stud farm built by Edward Pearson in about 1903 which included a cart shed, barn, covered yard, implement shed, bull houses, piggeries and stables. These farm buildings are understood to have replaced earlier timber buildings which were destroyed by fire probably around the turn of the century. The cleverly devised name, however, is something of a misnomer since the word bury – which has the same old English root as burgh or borough – originally meant a fortified enclosure and in medieval times came to signify the site of a manor, and Clements was neither fortified nor a manor in its own right.


According to The Place-names of Hertfordshire, Sewards is said to have been associated with John Syward and John Syword (fifteenth century unpublished deeds). The present house is believed to have been built in about 1699 and was renovated in 1901 by Edward Pearson. A topographical map of Hertfordshire in 1766 by Andrew Dury and John Andrews shows Sewards as Bray’s Farm, no doubt as it was then in the occupation of John Bray, father and son.

In the 1846 tithe awards Sewards is listed as comprising Adams Hill, Croft, Home Mead, Ladle Field, Ladle Mead, Dales Croft, Twenty Acres, Backwards Field, Mare Leys, Back Lane Field, Farmhouse and buildings; the tenant then was George Rayment. However, before 1929 much of Sewards Farm was in St John’s parish and other fields, within the parish of St John’s, included Wilkins Field, Swan Croft, Rye Field, Strawberry Croft, Three Corner Field, Hop Ground, Honey Field, Oak Orchard, Reddings, Moory Field, Gamblyns Field, Dole, Pennage Mead, Lower Blanches and Great Harmans.

In 1869 Samuel and Edmund Balls are found at Sewards and in 1891 William Cooper and his family are there; interestingly the 1891 census gives his occupation as farmer and railway clerk. In the 1901 census James Cooper is there, perhaps William’s son, although he was not listed as a son of William in the 1891 census, and Captain Joseph Cameron Dunbar is there in 1910. At the 1912 annual parish meeting it was reported that Sewards was unoccupied the previous year resulting in the sum of £4 10s having to be written off as unrecoverable. In 1914 John Paton Ker is in residence and Joseph Lee is listed there in 1918.

According to the 1933 edition of Kelly’s Directory Sewards was the residence of Lt-Col Leonard Markham Crofts, DSO, and he and his wife, Margaret, are listed there in the 1924 electoral register. In 1936 the resident is given as William Edward Blackett-Ord. Charles Hook, farmer, is listed at Sewards at several times between about 1929 and 1937 so he was presumably the bailiff or farm manager for two different owners. W E Blackett-Ord was chairman of the parish council from 1946 to 1949. It was during his tenure as chairman that council meetings started being held in the home of the chairman, which whether by design or otherwise made it less convenient and more intimidating for parishioners to attend council meetings. His wife was chairman of Fanshaws Room Committee. They left the village in 1951.

In 1951 Sewards was purchased by Dr Robert John McNeill Love, an eminent surgeon of his day and co-author with Henry Hamilton Bailey of A Short Practice of Surgery which was first published in 1932. In 2003 the book was still in print – in its 23rd edition – and, at 1184 pages, it is not so short! After he was widowed Dr Love took his housekeeper, herself a widow, to be his second wife. Like several of his predecessors at Sewards Dr Love also served on the parish council. In about 1968 he sold the farm and a couple of the cottages to Frank Vigus, who purchased it for his son Tim. Dr Love died at Sewards in 1974 at which time his widow sold Sewards and the other cottages. Tim Vigus sold the farm in 1988 when he moved his farming operations to Devon and the farm then became dispersed among several landowners.

Sewards Old Cottages – now named Toad Cottage and Farthings – were built by Sir Edward Pearson in about 1900 and Sewards Farm Cottages in about 1913, all as estate workers’ cottages for Sewards Farm and formed part of the Sewards estate. The 1901 census lists Squires Cottages between Sewards Farm and Paradise Row. Whether this was the original name for Sewards Old Cottages is not clear, although it seems likely. Certainly they were just a pair of cottages, one of which was occupied by Anthony Green, estate carpenter, his dressmaker wife Annie and their ten children, and the other was home to William Carter, a horse keeper, his wife Mary Ann and their three children; their son William junior’s occupation is given rather appropriately as a carter. Joe Coleman, Dr Love’s chauffeur and handyman, lived at what is now Farthings. The Homestead, next to Sewards farmhouse, comprises several converted farm buildings which were built by the Pearsons in 1900.

The Farmer’s Boy and other watering holes

The Five Horseshoes in the foreground with the Farmer’s Boy behind c. 1910

The earliest known reference to the Farmer’s Boy is in 1862, although it is believed to be older than that. Papers for the Crown Brewery, owned by Thomas Driver Medcalf of Ware Road and Railway Street in Hertford, show that the Farmer’s Boy was known as the Woodman until sometime before 1871. Kelly’s Directory of 1870 lists by name the Farmer’s Boy as a public house, run by Thomas James Harrison; up until then it was listed in Kelly’s simply as an unnamed beer house. In 1885 Thomas Harrison and George Bird appear to have been the tenants. The present building includes what was originally the pub as well as a small cottage, a stable and a shed.

The Crown Brewery, including the Farmer’s Boy, was sold to Percy Hargreaves of Abridge, Essex, in about 1885, and in 1895 Benskins purchased the brewery and closed it. Hertford Museum has a copy of sale particulars, dated 16 December 1895, for the Crown Brewery and nine public or beer houses including the Farmer’s Boy, which contained bar and parlour, tap room and cellar, kitchen and five bedrooms, stabling, gardens and outbuildings; also a cottage let to a Mrs Bird. At some stage the Farmer’s Boy was acquired by the Waltham Abbey Brewery since McMullen’s purchased the Waltham Abbey Brewery, including the Farmer’s Boy, in July 1898. In 1918 the keeper was a Miss Elizabeth Isabella Webb, in 1925 Francis and Rosa Bird, and in 1937 it is Robert John Brighty. The licensee in 1962 was Ernest Denmer Childs. McMullen’s sold the Farmer’s Boy in October 1990, when it closed for refurbishment and reopened as a free house in 1992.

Another pub – or rather a beer house – in Brickendon was the Five Horseshoes, then a couple of doors down from the Farmer’s Boy but now, due to extensions to the pub, just next door. It is understood it was originally known as Brickendon Beer Shop, later the Horseshoes and finally the Five Horseshoes. In 1882 Kelly’s Directory lists three beer retailers of unnamed establishments in Brickendon: Joseph Langman, Thomas Saville and William Wareham. It is understood that the establishment run by William Wareham was McMullen’s first off-licence in Horns Mill Road. Mrs Mary Saville is listed as a beer retailer in 1898, and John Ricketts in 1918; John and Elizabeth Rule were there in 1924 and Mrs Rule is given as keeper of the Five Horseshoes in 1937. The Five Horseshoes ceased to be a beer house in 1956 when it was sold by McMullens – with a restriction that it should not be used to sell wines, spirits or beer. The buyer, a builder from London, added a bathroom, WC and kitchen and then sold it again. Just when and from whom Mac’s acquired the Five Horseshoes is not known; it is possible it was the two or three cottages that was once part of the Hacketts estate. The last licensees were Mr and Mrs Oakley who also used to serve Sunday teas, and they also ran a small shop for daily necessities (including sweets for the children). When the Five Horseshoes closed the Oakleys retired to live in Fanshaws Lane, and Len and Marge Freer at the Farmer’s Boy maintained a small shop until about 1977. It is understood there was serious fire at the Five Horseshoes in about 1943.

Also listed in Kelly’s is the Horns Tavern, later the Hart’s Horns, which was at that time in Brickendon parish, although this area is now part of Hertford (see Lost Brickendon and WWE). In 1854 the publican was Joseph Wilson, who later rented Bentleys Farm. The earliest known reference to the Horns is 1714 when the landlords were John Norman and Bernard Shrimpton. In 1729 the pub, part of the Brickendonbury estate, was surrendered by John Lawford, Hannah Archer and Margaret Heley to John Searancke, bringing it into the ownership of the Hatfield Brewery. In 1825 Joseph Field acquired the pub from John Samuel Storey and Francis Carter Searancke. According to an undated draft will of Joseph Field the Horns had been in the possession of John Norman, then Benjamin Shrimpton, then John Best and now William Thomas.

Also no longer within Brickendon, West Street used to boast its own brewery. In the 1840s Samuel Ongar Nicholls, who ran the Oddfellows Arms, started a brewery which continued to be run by the Nicholls family until as late as 1965. There were also a large number of pubs and beer houses in West Street hamlet, few of which still exist; one that may have given cause for some confusion at the time was named the Five Horseshoes. The 1891 census gives five public houses in West Street, Pegs Lane and that part of Castle Street which lay within the Liberty.

The Chapel

The Chapel of the Holy Cross and St Alban with its extension in 2002

Constance Demain Saunders wrote in her Garden Book: “And so it was that my Colleague [her mother] some years ago set aside a portion of this Plantation Meadow, and called it Church Field.” This field belonged to the old Hacketts Farm, part of the Manor of Brikendune, (Brickendon) bestowed by King Harold upon the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross. And so, before our Chapel could be built, the purpose of our field was marked, in 1931 by the setting up of a great Cross of Oak, designed by Alexander Nairne [canon of St George’s Windsor] and carried out by the workmen of George Kett of Cambridge. And as this year 1931 was also the Millenium of the poet Virgil, the words Divini Gloria Ruris [the glory of the divine country] were carved in the Oak of the Great Cross. The Cross was dedicated on Palm Sunday, March 29, 1931.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross and St Alban was dedicated by the archdeacon of St Albans, the Ven Kenneth Gibbs, on the eve of Ascension Day, 4 May 1932, an English spring day; cloud and sunshine, but sunshine winning: hedges and copses half clad in green and gold, not yet sumptuous, most delicate in that vernal loneliness which touches everything for a week or two each year with a kind of heavenly intimation – such was the choice and fit day for the dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Cross and S. Alban. The chapel and burial ground were consecrated the following year on Saturday, 27 May 1933, by Bishop Lander, assistant bishop and archdeacon of Bedford. At this time part of Brickendon was transferred to the parish of Bayford; however, a large part of Brickendon remained – and in 2004 still remains – in the parish of All Saints, Hertford. The chapel’s name came from the Holy Cross of Waltham, denoting Brickendon’s historic link with Waltham Abbey, and the patron saint of the diocese.

From 1075 until 1846 the parishes of Hertford All Saints and Bayford came under the archdeaconry of Huntingdon in the diocese of Lincoln, over a hundred miles away as the bishop flies; in 1846 they became part of the archdeaconry of St Albans in the diocese of Rochester. Then on the founding of the diocese of St Albans in 1877 they became part of that diocese.

The chapel is built on part of a field named Great Farden, which was then part of Hacketts Farm. Constance Demain Saunders called the field – or at least part of it – Plantation Meadow, most likely because it had been planted with a number of specimen trees in preparation for the coming of the chapel. One of these was a cutting from the Glastonbury Thorn – see the Legend of the Holy Thorn.

The land and funds for building the chapel, as well as the church cottage (Rose Cottage), were given by Minnie Kingsley and her daughter, Constance. Timbers for the chapel were left to season on the village green. It was a stipulation of Miss Demain Saunders that Brickendon men should be employed in the building of the chapel and four Phipps brothers were amongst their number. It is said that a penny was placed in each corner so that the chapel should never be poor. The font was originally a sundial from the garden at Fanshaws, hollowed out and adapted, the altar had been a table from Bourne Orchard, the bell was given by Josephine Barclay, money for the clock was given by Miss Traill and the clock itself was installed in 1949. The bishop’s chair was made and carved by Col Sworder, brother of Miss Sworder, the chandelier came from a church in London which had been destroyed in the Great Fire and had hung at the Grange, Fanshaws and Bourne Orchard, and the pews came from Ely cathedral, donated by George Kett of Cambridge.

An extension to the chapel was built in 2002 and dedicated on 6 October at the service of harvest festival.

Social Housing

A small terrace of houses in Brickendon Lane, a terrace in Brickendon Green and 31 homes in Fanshaws Lane were original built as municipal housing. All but a small number are now in private ownership. The houses in Brickendon Lane and Brickendon Green are believed to have been built in the late 1940s. The houses in Brickendon Lane and Fanshaws Lane were built on a field known as Little Farden which was originally part of the Hacketts estate. A plan of Hacketts estate in 1870 shows a small gravel pit in Fanshaws Lane, roughly where the car parking area now sits.

As can be seen from the style of the houses, those in Fanshaws Lane were built in three stages: numbers 2 to 8 were built in the 1950s, 10 to 24 a few years later, and finally numbers 26 to 62 in 1970. It is understood that a deal was struck between the former owner of the land on which some of the homes were built and the rural district council whereby the council obtained the land and the former owner was granted planning permission for building two or three houses on Brickendon Green.

In Brief

Sweetings was built for Miss EM Sworder in 1936 on land sold to her by Constance Demain Saunders of Hacketts. Kelly’s Directory of 1937, however, lists Miss Sworder at Farden; perhaps this was the original name for the house. The house itself was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (1883-1978) who was a leading figure in the garden city movement and one-time chairman of Stevenage New Town Development Committee. The name of the house is thought to have come from the name of the piece of land close to but not upon which it was built, Sweetens, a corruption of Sweetings. Some details of the man who apparently gave his name to Sweetings is given in Families of Brickendon. Sweetings was later home to FB O’Brien who was chairman of the parish council and treasurer of the Fanshaws Room Committee for a while in the 1970s.

The origins of Edwards Green have not been ascertained. The farm there dates only from the 1970s; the Peters family had been farming several parts of the former Brickendonbury estate since 1958 and built the farmhouse at Edwards Green. It has been suggested that it was named after Sir Edward Pearson, but Edwards Green is shown on maps dating from before the Pearsons bought the estate. The green itself is common land.

Wellpond Cottage was originally a bungalow with one upper room, built in 1957 for Mr and Mrs Boosey of Bourne Orchard (see Shades of St John) as a home for their gardener, on land that was formerly part of the Hacketts estate. It was originally named Bourne Orchard Cottage and was extended and converted into a two-storey dwelling in about 1977 by John Perrin, who most likely renamed it at that time. Richard and Virginia Haryott purchased Wellpond Cottage from John Perrin in about 1984.

Well Green is clearly so named because of its well, which, it is said, used to supply water to Brickendonbury until a new well was drilled by the Pearsons near the entrance drive to the manor house. Like Edwards Green, Well Green is registered common land.