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A History of Brickendon

Families of Brickendon

This chapter attempts to throw a little light on a few of the families that have lived in the parish over the years. Not surprisingly perhaps more information seems to be available about the more affluent families than of those of more modest means. One striking point is that with few exceptions most of the families remained in Brickendon for only one or two generations.

Demain Saunders

Undoubtedly one of the most influential families in the recent history of the parish has been that of the Demain Saunders. Responsible for the building of one of Brickendon’s fine – if perhaps eccentric – mansions, as well as the chapel, and donating the village hall to the parish has clearly earned them a special place in the parish history.

In 1874 Henry Wilson Demain Saunders leased Brickendon Grange from the Rev Benjamin Newman Cherry; and he bought Hacketts Farm in April 1875, Fanshaws and Bentleys Farms and other parcels of land in March 1883 and Bourne Farm in July 1883. This would have given him ownership of almost the entire area we think of today as the village of Brickendon. In 1883 he built the house we now know as Fanshaws. A draft lease for Brickendon Grange shows that he came from Honey Lands near Waltham Abbey. Honey Lands (or Honeylands) is said to date from the time of Edward I (1272-1307) and the name is believed to come from a former occupant, Hugh de Honiland.

Henry was born on 22 May 1822 in Sittingbourne, Kent, where his father was a customs agent. He was the fourth child of Charles Saunders and Anna Maria, née Demain. It is understood that he used to visit his uncle Henry Demain who was chaplain to Hertford gaol.

HWDS married twice. A snippet from the web – later removed – stated that he married Rosabel Attwood (b. 24 July 1821, d. 16 August 1867) on 28 August 1855 in Barming, Kent; however, the marriage certificate gives her name as Rosamond. She died in 1867 aged 46 and the death certificate gives Henry’s occupation as a bank manager. He married Minnie Edenborough on 1 February 1871 at Waltham Cross, although the marriage certificate gives her first name as Minna. Their daughter’s birth certificate erroneously gives Henry’s occupation as an Australian merchant.

In another snippet from the web, a clip from the Queenslander newspaper of 24 November 1894 (six years after his death) tells us that HWDS was a shareholder in Dalgety and Co Limited and that he was a merchant of 52 Lombard Street in the City of London. The Post Office London Directory for 1880 gives him as a merchant with Dalgety, Du Croz & Co, general merchants.

Henry appears to have had just one child from his marriage with Minnie, Constance, who was born on 30 November 1871 at Honey Lands. If there were any children from his first marriage, they are not known. HWDS died on 11 November 1888 at Bayford church, where he is buried. After his death his widow and daughter continued to live at Fanshaws for a while but moved to Bourne Orchard on 29 September 1896. They moved back to Fanshaws in 1900 and returned again to Bourne Orchard in 1904. They appear to have adopted the motto Parva Domus Magna Quies (Little Dwelling of Great Quiet) for Bourne Orchard.

Minnie Demain Saunders married as her second husband Arthur Henry Kingsley on 20 August 1892; he is believed to have been sixteen years younger than her and it had apparently been supposed that he would marry the daughter, Constance. Minnie died on 28 August 1929 and is buried in Brickendon church field, and Arthur died on 8 March 1933. A plaque in the chapel at Brickendon describes him as ‘A lover of the Country and the open sky; A friend of birds and beasts’. Arthur Kingsley served as a councillor on Hertford Rural District Council, as chairman of Brickendon Rural Parish Meeting and as manager of Bayford School. During the First World War he was engaged in munitions work at Gretna with part of the S Pearson and Son Ltd company, although in what capacity is not known.

Constance and her mother were both keen gardeners and kept a garden diary, which they entitled MK and CDS, Our Garden Book. There are two volumes and there is said to be a third but its whereabouts is unknown; the first was started in 1897 and runs to 1900, the preface of which reads:

MEN learn to Build Stately, sooner than to Garden Finely, said Bacon the Philosopher. How shall Those excuse themselves, who have achieved Neither? Our house does but suggest the Homestead of the Olden Time. Our Garden is what Schiller called a “Seeking after the Lost Ideal,” – a faint Attempt to Realise what we have dreamed, or read of, or admired.

At the best, we are only Newcomers. The Old People preceded us at the Farm. Their History was never written, save perhaps on the Fly leaf of the Family Bible; or by chance allusions, on the musty Parchment of their Title-Deeds.

Howsoever, they must have succeeded each other, in irregular Fashion, for Two Hundred Years or more, before we ever saw the Place; and All may have done Something for their Garden and Their Dwelling House. To improve and Beautify both, was clearly their constant Aim. The Barns and Outhouses were placed on the North Side, where they disfigured nothing, and served to keep off the Cold Wind. To the South was the small Pleasaunce, which also extended at the Back of the House. This was separated from the Kitchen Garden & Orchard by a Fence, in which was an Ancient Ivy-covered wooden Archway, and here a Family of Owls were wont to rear their Young every Spring. In older Days a Path proceeded thence throughout the Orchard, but when Bad Times came, and the number of Old People decreased, the Path and the Kitchen Garden were suffered to grass over, and come to Naught. A Piece of the Pleasaunce was sacrificed to the Cultivation of Vegetables, and beneath the Fruit-trees you beheld only sodden, neglected Turf. The South Side of the Pleasaunce still produced brave Flowers, in long Beds edged with Box. The Old People, whose Strength had decayed, even as their means had fallen short, much desired to reach their Flowers quickly; and also to behold them from their Living Room, when Rheumatism and Asthma confined them to the House. At length, when Pence had been saved, and Consultation taken, a Door was cut in the South Wall, – an easy Access gained to the Earthly Paradise, and a View obtained of its Contents.

This was the last Achievement of the Old People. They made other Changes at last, which were no Benefit to the Farm, and which marked that the Shadows of the Prison House were upon them. But in the main, so far as in them lay, the Best Part of their Reign was marked by a Striving after the Beautiful, and an Emulation of the Good.

We have only striven to build upon their earlier Foundation; to adopt and to follow out the Suggestions which they left Behind.

To their Memories, therefore, and to the Welfare of that which they Loved, – this Garden Diary is dedicated.

Most of the entries pertain to the garden, specifying in inordinate detail what was planted, what had come into flower, the weather, of trips to various parts of Europe returning with plants for the garden; many specify a particular saint’s day or religious feast. There are accounts of the annual amateur flower show at Brickendon Grange and the amateur carnation show in Bayford as well as photographs, sketches and poems. Several entries, however, make more interesting reading in terms of shedding a little light on the history of the place and its peoples. These include:

3 April 1897 On this day two memorable Things occurred. A letter was Printed in that Chronicle the Hertfordshire Mercury, which threw some light upon the Old People. One of the Latest of them (belonging to the Period of Decadence) was a “Mr Gutteridge, Corndealer with a Shop in the Fore Street of Hertford, also owner and Occupier of the small Farm on Brickendon Green. He always used the Road from Brickendon-lane by Brickendonbury House – then occupied by the Morgans – and so by the Avenue to Hertford. His Daughters, after him, also used the same Road, Morning and Evening daily, and their little Conveyance, drawn by a Pony, must surely be remembered by some Few yet living. It was proverbially styled “the Brickendon Mail.” ” Read the letter.

20 August 1897 One of us Happened to get Married this Day Five Years since. We keep the Feast industriously.

February 1898 Let it be set down for future Reference, that the Avenue of Beech Trees, from hence [Bourne Orchard] to our former Home [Fanshaws] was planted in January of the Year of Grace MDCCCXC [1890]; and that of Lime Trees, leading towards Bayford, in the November of the succeeding Year.

25 March 1898 The Snow becomes a Serious Matter. The Village Thoroughfare is encumbered by Drifts four feet in Depth.

28 September 1898 On this Day two Years since, we left our former Home and took Possession of this Attaching Place.

26 July 1899 A great Day with us, which saw the Inauguration of the Brickendon Rural Cottage Garden Flower Show. We endeavour to communicate our own Enthusiasm to our Village Friends.

22 January 1901 This must be a day of great sorrow – to be observed in the Garden as in our whole Country. Our Best of Queens, whose Diamond Jubilee fell in the year which saw the Birth of Garden Book, is ours no longer in this living World. The Flowers, Earth’s purest, mourn for Earth’s noblest, and whisper Requiesent with their tears.

Part two of the garden diary, entitled The New Pilgrimage, starts in 1904. It is written in less detail than part one and begins:

In the Year of Grace one Thousand eight hundred and eighty three, the Place that we came from was Grass and Bushes, and the Rabbits alone played there. No House nor any Building could be seen, save the thatched Roof of the Homestead which gave the Place its Name.

Throughout the diary Constance and her mother rather strangely refer to one another as ‘my colleague’. However, CDS records the death of her mother with these words:

Minnie Kingsley my dear Mother who made this Garden and who stands in the midst of it here, died on Wednesday morning the twenty eighth of August 1929. She walked in this Garden in the late evening of August the twenty sixth, and saw the white roses there.

Constance was a magistrate and lived for some years in Vestry House in Church End, Walthamstow, east London. She was a governor of the Monoux School in Walthamstow and appears to have been a genealogist, although whether in an amateur or professional capacity is not clear, having several articles and booklets published. On leaving Vestry House in 1930 and returning to Brickendon she offered the remainder of her lease to Walthamstow Borough Council (another discovery from the web); Vestry House has since become the Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library and Museum. She was also a vice-president of the East Herts Archaeological Society. Constance died in Brickendon on 22 May 1955, aged 83, and is buried in the church field she helped establish.

Constance Demain Saunders was chairman of the parish council from 1931 until 1945. Whilst she was chairman she donated to the parish council the village hall (Fanshaws Room) and recreation grounds, by a deed dated 9 May 1944. The recreation ground has since been developed, apart from the tennis courts. The village hall had long been used for village events and was known simply as ‘the barn’.

It is perhaps a sign of her eccentric nature that after the war CDS used to have her driver, Mr Watts, who lived in Lower Hacketts, drive to Soho to collect her rations every week. That – and her generosity to the village – may also help to explain why on her death her estate, which was left for the upkeep of the church, was little more than £20,000.

There is a memorial plaque inside the chapel with the inscription:


That is: Henry Wilson Demain Saunders, his wife Minnie and daughter Constance, built this place, sacred to the Glory of God and in the faith of the Lord Jesus.

Below is a brief family tree showing the slightly confusing marriages; Constance appears to have been the last of the Demain Saunders.

    Charles Saunders +
Anna Maria Demain
  Lt-Col Samuel Edenborough    
    |   |    
Rosabel Attwood
Henry Wilson Demain Saunders
Minnie Edenborough
Arthur Henry Kingsley
        Constance Demain Saunders


Again only two generations of the Pearson family were involved with Brickendon for a period of a little over thirty years, but their influence has been far greater than this might suggest.

George Pearson purchased the Brickendonbury estate in 1893, but died within five years of taking up residence, on 3 March 1899. He was born near Bradford in 1834 and was, until about 1898, head of the construction firm S Pearson & Sons. To give some idea of the size of his business empire, in 1899 Pearsons had work under construction to the value of tens of millions of pounds. George Pearson was a magistrate on Hertford Petty Sessional Division from 1896 to 1899. He married Sarah, daughter of Weetman Dickinson, and had by her three sons and five daughters. By his will his estate was divided into 16 shares; three shares went to each of his younger sons, Ernest (or Edward) and Frederick, and two shares to each of his daughters, one for her absolute use and the other in trust for her children. His eldest son, Weetman, who succeeded him as head of S Pearson & Sons, had been provided for within his father’s lifetime. The value of his estate was approximately £250,000. There is understood to be a stained glass window in the east end of All Saints church in memory of George Pearson and there is a ‘Brickendonbury vault’ in the churchyard.

Sir Weetman Pearson was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Colchester between 1895 and 1910; he was created a baronet in 1894 and later became 1st Viscount Cowdray.

Sir Edward Pearson succeeded his father at Brickendonbury. He was born at Bradford on 10 May 1874 and married, in 1904, Susannah Grace, daughter of the late Richard Benyon Croft of Fanhams Hall, Ware. Like his father before him he was a director of S Pearson & Sons and became a magistrate in 1901. He became High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1909, was knighted in 1917, was mayor of Hertford for three years and was president of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society. He also gave land on Parliament Square, Hertford, for the erection of the war memorial.

He was very keen on scientific methods of farming and bred a fine stud of Shire horses and a noted herd of Dairy Shorthorn and Devon cattle for which he won several prizes. Sir Edward died in 1925 and although his widow continued to own Brickendonbury for some years she did not live there after her husband’s death. Lady Pearson survived until 1973.

Whereas Sir Edward’s tenure at Brickendonbury brought significant improvements to the various estates and he seemed to have been remembered with some fondness, it is unlikely the same could be said of his father, who appears to have acted as a rather highhanded squire. In 1895 there were unpaid poor rates from Mr Pearson, who appealed for a reduction of his rates; a reduction was agreed from £500 to £350 but still Mr Pearson objected; the final rates were assessed at £300. In 1897 George Pearson, JP, took Mrs Saville and her son Arthur of the Five Horseshoes to court for mowing and using grass at Well Green that belonged to him. The case ended up in the Chancery Division of the High Court and, although there was no fine, costs were awarded against the defendants. He also blocked off several rights of way on his property and found himself on the other side of the legal fence when Hertford Borough and the Rural District Council took action against him. This ran for several years and reached the national newspapers – which they came to refer to as L’affaire Brickendon. The case reached the High Court with a writ issued on 13 May 1898, the plaintiff being the Attorney-General. In the end a compromise was reached whereby the rights of way were rerouted and Mr Pearson paid £1,000 towards the plaintiffs’ counsels’ fees and their costs. One letter in the Hertfordshire Mercury on the subject is recorded here – read the letter. A writer in The Guardian in 1899 claims that ‘everybody recognises that Mr Pearson has behaved handsomely in regard to the settlement’, a sentiment that is not borne out by a solicitor’s letter to E E Pearson dated 24 February 1899, which includes the following:

The more we think about this matter the better we are satisfied that the arrangement made was a desirable one, and one which adds value to the Estate. When our Mr Wright left Hertford at the conclusion of the trial he met Mr Scott Fox and a Colonel Denham, an elderly gentleman who resides in the neighbourhood of Hatfield, and who used to shoot over the Estate with Mr Russell Ellice. We found that this gentleman knew all about the estate and about the footpaths; that he had also had a good deal of conversation with Mr Russell Ellice upon the subject, and there is no doubt that if he had been called into the witness box, we should have lost our case to a very great extent. Colonel Denham congratulated us on the satisfactory settlement, which he considered added many thousand pounds in value to the saleable value of the estate.

One of the rights of way that has been lost was an ancient through route between Hertford and Enfield known as the Market Path.


Perhaps the most well-known family to have lived in the village in recent years is the Barclay family. Charles Theodore, who first rented Fanshaws in 1909, is said to have been ‘of the Quaker banking family’; however, his relationship to the banking Barclays seems to have been somewhat distant and he was more closely related to the Gurneys, another family of Quaker bankers. He was the son of Henry Ford Barclay and his first wife Richenda Louisa (neé Gurney); in 1865 HF Barclay became a director of the bank Overend Gurney & Co, which crashed rather spectacularly the following year. HFB later became a partner in another of the Gurney’s banks and in 1896 the banks of the Barclays and the Gurneys merged.

It has been suggested that Charles Barclay, being a regular commuter to London, was in some way responsible for the building of Bayford station, although this has not been substantiated. Certainly, given the expense of building this part of the line, with the Ponsbourne tunnel and two viaducts at Hertford, it is quite likely that the Barclays, as well as other local businessmen, would have contributed to the cost of the work. Charles Barclay died in 1921 in the library at Fanshaws. He and his wife, Josephine Lister (neé Harrison) had five known children: Margaret Emily, Christopher Gurney, Juliet Richenda, Anthony Lister and Theodora Mary. Fanshaws was the home to Christopher Barclay and his wife Phyllis, who appear not to have had any children although Phyllis had two children from an earlier marriage, and of Theodora, who never married. Christopher Gurney Barclay served twenty years on the parish council.

Several Barclays are buried in Bayford churchyard, including Charles (1837-1910), Charles Theodore (1867-1921) and his wife Josephine Lister (1870-1950), Charles Roger (1878-1900) and his wife Charlotte Cassandra (1843-1917), Christopher Gurney (1897-1962) and Theodora Mary (1906-90).

A publication of the Institute of the Motor Industry in 1985 for the centenary of Fanshaws mentions that the Barclays employed eighteen house servants and fifteen outside staff at Fanshaws some of whom were Spanish and all of whom were known by their Christian names or a nickname. Among those that are known about are the following. Mr Gilmore (‘Gilly’) was the estate carpenter and he lived in Little Fardens. Arthur Hooper was head gardener under the Barclays for a short while before they moved out and was retained by the Institute of the Motor Industry when they moved in. He wrote two books about his lifetime as a gardener, one entitled Life in the Gardeners’ Bothy, the other yet to be published. Before Arthur Hooper the gardener was a man aptly named Gardener. George Fry was horse trainer and chauffeur from about 1911 until the 1960s; he had seven children, one of whom, Alys, married a US Army soldier based near Brickendon and they moved to the USA in 1946. Several Frys are understood to be buried in Bayford churchyard.

In the 1920s the Barclays entertained the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. For the occasion a twenty-eight-piece gold dinner service which was insured for over £600,000 was loaned by the bank. The servants were dressed in their formal livery of scarlet and gold, each one costing £100 and replaced every year.


Although not a resident of the village, Henry Sweeting, a butcher of Hertford, warrants a mention since he rented land in Brickendon and has apparently given his name to a small wood and a house in the village. In May 1658 Sweeting was admitted as a tenant of Holburns and Holburns Wood and he surrendered his copyhold on 12 May 1665; he clearly rented the land and woods again later as he left this, as well as other farming land to his grandson, also named Henry. In 1715 the grandson surrendered Houlbourns (or Holborns) Close and Wood. For some at least the butchers’ trade appears to have been a prosperous one in these days as Sweeting was quite a wealthy businessman.

Whilst not certain it is probable that the wood now known as Sweetings Wood was formerly Holborns Wood and the fields known as Sweetens and Sweetens Next Lane were previously known as Holborns Closes, the wood and land rented by Henry Sweeting. In a memorandum dated 13 December 1671, Henry Sweeting and Robert Winspeare, the latter the tenant of Farthings, the two men agreed to swap ditches!

Memorandum that it is agreed by Henry Sweeting that Mr Robert Winspeare is to have and peaceably injoy [sic] a ditch which I have given unto him in consideration of a ditch the said Robert Winspeare hath given unto me against my wood in his field Farthings as witness my hand…

Henry Sweeting was one of the first Quakers in Hertford, holding meetings in his home and he was the largest contributor to the building of the Friends Meeting House, the oldest remaining Quaker Meeting House in the world. Interestingly, one of the chief persecutors of Quakers in Hertford was Viscount Fanshawe, magistrate, MP for Hertford and one-time owner of Fanshaws in Brickendon – see Brickendon Village part 2. It is said that as a Member of Parliament he was one of the chief protagonists for the Conventicle Act, one of the main pieces of legislation used to persecute Quakers.

Henry was brought before the Archdeacon’s Court on several occasions for not paying church rates, for non-attendance at church and for not having his children baptised. He was also brought before Hertford Borough Court on 2 November 1681 for ‘tethering his fat steers upon King’s Mead’ since hay from King’s Mead was intended for the poor. Sweeting was jailed on several occasions for his convictions, the first occasion in January 1661 and once for eight years. One of his children was born whilst he was in jail. However, the experience cannot have done him much harm as he lived to be 91.

Henry was baptised at All Saints church on 14 February 1621 and was buried on 25 May 1712. He married Lyddiath, who died in 1689, and they had four known children: Henry, who predeceased his father, Elizabeth, James and Sarah. His father, who died in 1647, was also named Henry and was also a butcher. Their shop in Hertford was on the corner of Maidenhead Street next to the Green Dragon; it later became Stallabrass’s butchers shop and the site is now occupied by Boots Opticians.

Henry Sweeting appears among the list of Freemen of the Borough of Hertford in 1648, for which he paid a quarteridge [sic] of 4d, and also in the list of 1710.

Holborn appears to have been quite a common name in these parts as, in addition to Henry Sweeting’s land, Clements Farm has fields named Long Holborne, Little Holborne and Holborne Mead, and there is a Holborn Farm at Wormley West End. The name Holborn means a stream or brook in a hollow; the hollow of Clements Farm being alongside Brickendon Lane, which itself was once known as the Hollow Way.


Whilst not exactly a family – he was a confirmed life-long bachelor – some mention of John Ben Snow is merited here as he appears to have put Highfield Farm on the map during his ownership between the wars. Born on 16 June 1883 in upstate New York, JBS started work for FW Woolworth as a stock ‘boy’ in 1906, having graduated from New York University’s School of Commerce. Four years later he was one of a handful of Woolworth’s managers to come to the UK to spearhead Woollies’ ‘invasion’ of Britain. He was later made a director of Woolworth’s and was a multi-millionaire before he retired.

It was whilst he was in the UK that Jon Ben Snow discovered a love of horses. As a novice he bought his first horse and hired a groom to give him riding lessons, and in 1923 he bought Highfield Farm where he had stabling for twenty horses, a polo field to the north and a riding field to the south. He had built for himself the rather tasteless Spanish-style bungalow known as Highfield House which seems quite out of place in the Hertfordshire countryside, and had the gardens landscaped. Highfield was JBS’s weekend retreat where he played polo, went foxhunting with Major Smith-Bosanquet’s Hunt and hosted lavish parties. George Beeby was his trainer, Maurice Head his groom and his lady-friend Jeanne Grenier managed the household. For reasons of propriety Mlle Grenier slept at Jepps farmhouse, where she rented a room. He also found a liking for steeplechasing and raced his horses at hundreds of meetings. He had many successes and came just one place short of his ambition to win the Grand National.

JB Snow retired from Woolworth’s in 1936 and returned to America in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, where he took a more active role in running a chain of newspapers, having been an absentee partner in the business for many years. He died, aged 89, on 21 January 1973. He was a man of short stature, somewhat shy, with a sharp intellect and strong Christian principles and a generous philanthropist; a man who liked to work hard and play hard.

Most of the details about Jon Ben Snow came from JBS - a biography of John Ben Snow by Vernon F Snow. The original was published in 1974; a second edition, published almost twenty years later, includes many more photographs, including several pictures of Highfield, both inside and out.