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A History of Brickendon

The Broxbourne Bits

Parts of the parish are within neither Brickendon village nor Wormley West End. One of these parts is the portion of the parish which before 1935 formed part of the parish of Broxbourne, which includes sections of White Stubbs Lane and Cock Lane, Woodhouse Lane and Pembridge Lane. This part, like WWE, was originally part of the manor of Broxbournebury.

Although the manor house of Broxbournebury – or Broxbornebury as it is referred to in the sale particulars of the estate in 1946 – is outside the parish of Brickendon Liberty, parts of the former estate are now within the parish, and so a brief potted history of the Broxbournebury estate seems to be justified here.

In 1066 the manor of Broxbourne was held by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury. By 1086 it was in the possession of Adelaide, wife of Hugh de Grandmesnil; later Ivo, the son and heir of Hugh, gave the manor to the monks of Bermondsey Abbey, Surrey, about a mile south of the present Tower Bridge in London. However, Ivo had previously mortgaged his lands to Robert, Count of Meulan and first Earl of Leicester, and so with the agreement of the monks of Bermondsey, Robert took possession of Broxbourne. In 1198 the manor was in the possession of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, the only military-religious order of the Catholic Church that still survives to this day. In about 1544, following the confiscation of the properties of the Hospitallers, Henry VIII granted the manor to John Cock of Tewin, former bailiff of the estate for the Knights Hospitallers. He became Sheriff of Hertfordshire and Essex in 1548. John’s son, Sir Henry, is said to have entertained James I at Broxbournebury in 1603 whilst on his way to London to claim the throne on the death of Elizabeth I. Sir John was Keeper of the Wardrobe to both Elizabeth and James I. Perhaps it is after this family that Cock Lane is named, although it has also been suggested that the name came from the Cock Inn which used to sit on the corner on Hoddesdon High Street.

The estate came into the Monson family through marriage and was the seat of the Monsons until it was bought in 1789 by Jacob Bosanquet, a director of the East India Company, who did much to improve the estate. Jacob Bosanquet also acquired the manors of Hoddesdonbury and Baas, and became High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1803. In The Return of Owners of Land 1873 H S Bosanquet held 2,207 acres of land at an annual rent of £4,451 13s. Broxbournebury remained in the Bosanquet – later Smith-Bosanquet – family until 1946, when, following the death of Major Smith-Bosanquet in the war, the estate was disbursed and the manor house itself was purchased by Hertfordshire County Council for use as a school. During the Second World War the mansion was used by the government as a paper store. It was again sold and became a golf and country club, now owned by American Golf, the world’s largest golf course operator.

Broxbourne Woods

Broxbourne Woods National Nature Reserve (NNR) comprises four principal woods: Broxbourne, Bencroft, Wormley and Hoddesdonpark. At approximately 586 acres it forms the largest woodland area in Hertfordshire, most of it lying within the parish of Brickendon Liberty. The woods are owned and managed by the Woodland Trust and Hertfordshire County Council. The woods are mainly oak and hornbeam and support a number of rare species of wildlife including the white admiral butterfly and wood anemone. This is one of the most northerly points where hornbeam can be found growing naturally.

The woods are classified as ancient woodland, which means it is an area that has been continuously wooded from at least AD1600 onwards. Archaeological studies of the landscape and boundaries suggest that the woods and much of the parish was a cattle farming area and that other parts were cultivated, probably since before Roman times and possibly from as early as the late Bronze Age – approximately 1000BC. Many of the ancient field boundaries and tracks are still clearly visible today, and – to the trained eye at least – evidence of where the woods had been illegally deforested and cultivated (known as assarting) can also be seen.

Several other woods adjoin the National Nature Reserve some of which are in private ownership. In the past much of the area is understood to have been owned by the Marquis of Salisbury.

A report in the Hertfordshire Mercury of 24 February 1984 gives some details of court proceedings being taken over the unauthorised uprooting of 263 trees in Firs Wood, part of Broxbourne Woods, although it doesn’t mention against whom.

Danemead Nature Reserve within Danemead Wood is owned by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and forms part of the Broxbourne Woods complex. There is also a scout camp within Danemead Wood, bordering Ermine Street and the Borough of Broxbourne; an area of thirty-five acres, it is managed by the four scout districts of Barnet, Chingford, Enfield and Haringey.

Great Groves, which was once part of the Fanshaws estate, is a detached part of the Broxbourne Woods NNR complex. It is about forty-five acres of ancient semi-natural woodland. Two areas are not ancient semi-natural woodland; one is Grays Plantation which used to be a field containing a small stock pond and was planted with trees in 1919. The other was an area of woodland garden, no doubt created by Constance Demain Saunders and her mother.

Broxbourne Zoo

In 1969 the owner of Upper White Stubbs Wood, Cyril Stamp, submitted a proposal to turn the woods into a zoo, having the previous year already felled numerous trees in the wood, much to the concern of the parish council. Although the original application was refused, planning permission for the zoo was granted on appeal in 1970. The zoo was sold in the mid-seventies to Peter Phipps, and in 1984 it was bought by the Sampson family. The Sampsons inherited what was then generally considered and reported to be Britain’s worst zoo. By then the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 had been introduced and in consultation with government inspectors, the new owners decided to close the zoo on Christmas Day 1984 in order to carry out the extensive modifications required. A zoo licence was granted in July 1985 and the reborn Paradise Park and Woodland Zoo opened at Easter 1986. In 1990 the zoo was renamed Paradise Wildlife Park and it is now Hertfordshire’s most popular paid tourist attraction and has earned an excellent reputation for wildlife conservation.

In Brief

Etteridge Farm in 1946

According to The Place-names of Hertfordshire Ettridge Farm is said to have been associated with Jane Etheridge (1698, Feet of Fines for Hertfordshire), and Calais Wood with Alice Calewe (1294, lay subsidy rolls). The farmhouse is a listed building said to be seventeenth century and altered in the late eighteenth century. A shed opposite the farm is also a listed building. In 1890 Josiah Rudd is given as the farmer of Etteredge Farm [sic]; in 1910 Thomas Symes is listed as the farmer at Etteridge Farm; and between 1913 and 1945 William and Margaret Alexander are there. Until 1946 the farm was part of the Broxbournebury estate; in the sale particulars of the estate Etteridge Farm is given as 142 acres 1 rood 4 perches. The buyer of the farm was AH Nicholls who inherited as a tenant Bob Vigus, brother of Joe at Clements Farm. J & R Vigus ran Clements and Ettridge Farms as a single unit for some years until in 1951 Bob gave up his tenancy of Ettridge Farm and moved to Cambridge where he became a successful cattle breeder.

Model Cottages and Franksfield Cottages were originally service homes for the Broxbournebury estate. Franksfield was originally three attached cottages which was at one time condemned as unfit for human habitation but was brought back to life and converted into a single house which is now named Badgers Wood. It is believed to have been named after Gilbert Frank (1307, lay subsidy rolls). The 1891 census lists John Ansell, a labourer, Joseph Lucy, also a labourer, and John Norman, a police officer, at Franks Fields, each with their respective families. In 1946 the west cottage was under requisition by Hertford Rural District Council, the centre cottage was let to Mr Davidson at 7s 6d a week and the east cottage was let to Mrs Durgan for £12 pa. At Model Cottages one was let to Mrs Childs for 5s 5d a week and the other was let to Mr WS Giles at 8s 3d a week. Model Cottages were most likely so named following Prince Albert’s encouragement for the design of better domestic accommodation for the industrial classes on the Royal estates, especially at Windsor.

What is now named Blue House was originally known as Keepers Cottage; it is a listed building of the late seventeenth century. In the 1891 census this appears to have been the only occupied dwelling in Pembridge Lane, the occupant being Stephen Dawson, a gamekeeper, and his family. In 1946 Keepers Cottage was in the occupation of James Hickman, a service tenant, who purchased the property for £500; it included a wood store, two chicken houses, tool shed, meal house, loose box, garage, gamekeeper’s hut and two sets of kennels and runs.

The present name of Pembridge Lane Farm suggests it was named after the road in which it lies; however sales details of the Broxbournebury estate in 1946 give the name as Pembridge Farm, which may suggest quite the reverse – that the lane was named after the farm. Either way the origins of the name Pembridge have not yet been traced. The tenant of the farm in 1946 was Mr A Brighty who paid £18 a year for the 25 acre 0 roods 26 perches farm.

Also part of the Broxbournebury estate were a pair of semi-detached cottages and a detached thatched cottage at Broxbourne Common. In 1946 the latter was known as Rudds Cottage, no doubt after its inhabitant William Rudd, to whom it was let at 3s a week; this is now named Brambles. Number one Broxbourne Common Cottage was let to Mr H Birkby for 12s 6d a week and number two was occupied by Mr A Phipps, a service tenant.