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A History of Brickendon

Wormley West End

As its name suggests, Wormley West End was originally the western part of the village and parish of Wormley. However, whereas Wormley itself now forms part of the conurbation stretching along the river Lea north of London from Waltham Cross through Cheshunt and Broxbourne to Hoddesdon, the hamlet of Wormley West End is now part of the parish of Brickendon Liberty. The name Wormley probably comes from the old English wyrma leah, meaning a clearing (or wood) infested with grass snakes. In Domesday times the name was Wermelai.

Wormley West End looking towards the Woodman (blow-up of the road sign in more pictures)

Wormley West End came into existence sometime between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries by the forming of a clearing in Wormley Wood. Until comparatively recently, whereas Wormley itself was part of the Wormleybury estate, much of Wormley West End came under the ownership of the Broxbournebury estate (see The Broxbourne Bits). Ecclesiastically, Wormley West End is in the parish of St Laurence, Wormley.

The Ordnance Survey map of 1883 shows just West Lea, Manor Farm, the Woodman and an infant’s school.

There are three entries for Wormley in the Domesday Book, although which one(s) appertain to Wormley West End is/are not certain. In Hertford Hundred:

(1) The Canons of the Holy Cross of Waltham hold Wormley. It is assessed at five hides. There is land for four ploughs. In demesne three hides and two and a half virgates, and there is one plough, another possible. There five villagers have two ploughs. There are four smallholders, three cottagers, and two slaves. There is meadow for four ploughs, meadow for four ploughs [sic], pasture for the livestock, and woodland for 300 pigs. The total value is and was £4; in the time of King Edward, 100s. This manor belonged and belongs to the Church of the Holy Cross of Waltham.

(2) Wimund holds Wormley from the count [Count Alan of Brittany]. It is assessed at one and a half hides. There is land for two ploughs. In demesne is one plough; and six smallholders with one cottager have one plough. There is meadow for two ploughs, pasture for the livestock, and woodland for 150 pigs. From half a weir, 50 eels. It is and was worth 40s; in the time of King Edward, 60s. Alfsi, a man of Edeva, held this manor and could sell. This land belongs to Cheshunt.

(3) In Wormley Alwin son of Dodda hold two and a half hides from the king. There is land for two ploughs, and they are there, with six villagers and one slave. There is meadow for two ploughs, pasture for the livestock, and woodland for 150 pigs. All together it is worth 40s; when received, 50s; in the time of King Edward, 60s. Wulfward, a man of Asgar the staller (or constable), held this manor and could sell. This manor was sold for 3 marks of gold after the arrival of King William.

The 1937 edition of Kelly’s Directory states: By the County of Hertford Review Order, 1935, part of this civil parish [Wormley] was transferred to the parish and urban district of Cheshunt, part to the parish of Brickendon Liberty and the remainder to the parish and urban district of Hoddesdon.

Coal posts in Wormley Wood and on Holy Cross Hill

There are two Coal and Wine Tax Posts near Wormley West End, one just outside Brickendon Liberty parish and the other on the parish boundary. The former is near the top of Holy Cross Hill, the other deep inside Wormley Woods at the junction of two footpaths. These served as tax collection points for coal, wine and other goods going into London following the Local Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act of 1861. Coal posts were originally erected roughly twenty miles all round London as a result of the Coal Duties Act of 1851; however, the 1861 Act reduced the area to include only those places within the Metropolitan Police district. There are over 40 known remaining coal posts in southern Hertfordshire alone. The 1851 and 1861 Acts were successors to other measures to collect duties on goods going into the City of London since the time of the Plague and the Great Fire, although why the City should stake a claim to an area over 1,200 times its own size is not clear. More information about coal posts in Hertfordshire is available from the Brookmans Park Newsletter to whom many thanks for the use of the photographs. The coal post in Wormley Woods was recently cited as proof that a right of way existed through the woods.


Westlea (more photographs including some of inside the house in more pictures)

West Lea (or Westlea) was the principal house in Wormley West End, almost a kind-of mini-manor house. It is believed to date from Elizabethan times, although its origins have not been found. The house has been considerably extended on several occasions by different owners. Bryant’s map of 1822 shows Westlea simply as a ‘cottage’.

On 25 March 1761 Thomas Rhodes of Hockley, Essex, was admitted to the copyhold of Westlea, his wife Sarah having inherited the property on the death of her cousin, Sarah Moore, who had been admitted on 21 April 1742. At this time the property was part of the manor of Baas, which had been owned since 1569 by Lord Salisbury. Unfortunately the court records for Baas manor only survive from 1747. In 1761 and 1771 the property was described as ‘formerly in the occupation of Matthew Heath, labourer, and since of Joseph Whackett’. In 1771 Captain George Welstead, formerly of HM Customs and Excise, purchased the property, substantially extending it and naming it West Lea. George died in November 1829 leaving the property to his eldest brother, Charles of Valentines in Essex, who, on his death in 1832, left it to his nephew Thomas Evitt, an attorney at law of Haydon Square, London. His wife Elizabeth, age 65, is living there at the time of the 1841 census. In 1828 George Welstead purchased an adjoining property, the Green Man with outbuildings and orchard, from William Akers, which was part of the manor of Broxbourne and had previously been held by Robert Akers. He also bought another neighbouring property in 1820 (see in brief below).

In about 1855 the property passed to Thomas Augustus Evitt, son of Thomas Evitt, and he continued to purchase from the Broxbournebury estate further parcels of land down towards Wormley Wood. In 1864 T A Evitt sold the property to William Wallace, a merchant of Austin Friars in the City of London, who mortgaged it to Evitt. However, in 1872 the business in which Wallace was a partner, Gledstanes & Co, went bankrupt with debts of £1.7 million. Westlea, another cottage and the contents of the house were put up for sale in October 1872; it was not sold at this time and was again on the market in May 1873. George Boulnois Ireland purchased Westlea in August 1873 for the sum of £5,800 and he erected a plaque on the back of the house serving no obvious purpose, the date of which is uncertain. Sadly George was declared as being of unsound mind in the High Court on 10 July 1880 and committed as a lunatic, his wife seemingly having played some part in these proceedings. Westlea was then sold at auction and was purchased by a young stockbroker, Frederick Lewis Vaughan, for the sum of £4,500. In 1888 the large south-facing conservatory was pulled down and a rather regal-looking convex facade erected, the craftsmanship of the interior matching that of the outside. Reclaimed Spanish oak panelling from Lord Hillingdon’s residence The Wilderness was installed in what was then called the billiards room, measuring 34ft by 27ft, with an intricate overmantle carving in the style of Grinling Gibbons. Also included in this contract were bedrooms above and a water closet and a cloakroom for the sum of £4,300.

In the early 1890s Westlea was purchased by Archibald Peel, MA, JP, DL, a nephew of the former Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, and his wife Lady Georgiana Adelaide n�e Russell, daughter of the former Prime Minister Lord John Russell, later Duke of Bedford. In 1910 Archibald Peel fell from his horse and died three days later as a result of his injuries, although his death certificate attributes the primary cause of his death to senile decay. He was aged 82. Following his death his widow sold Westlea to George Reginald Stamp, a director of Royal Assurance – a post also held by William Wallace some years earlier – and proprietor of Broxbourne Golf Club. George died at Westlea in September 1939.

Westlea was then purchased by the Brooke Bond Tea Company, it was said as its war-time headquarters. However, in 1939 Brooke Bond dispersed its headquarters staff to a number of new locations and Westlea was only one of several sites. Westlea was apparently designated as a PG Tips Guest House. There was also some suggestion that it may have been a cover for wartime operations of the Secret Services but no evidence of this has been forthcoming. Not surprisingly during the war many of the staff at Brooke Bond were young women, who lived on site and some of the outbuildings were converted for use as their accommodation, one of them being named Falcon House. From the early 1800s until 1957 the Westlea estate comprised all the houses to the west of the mansion up to the end of the lane, the outbuildings and some 24 acres of pasture and woods. When Brooke Bond came to sell up in 1957 the estate was sold off in separate lots.

The house and outbuildings was purchased by Harry Alexander (Alex) and Edith Mary (Molly) Shutes – of Ready Mixed Concrete and Hales Waste – who further extended the house and later divided it into three – Nutwood (not to be confused with Nutwood Cottage, as it often is!), Westlea and Eastlea – and converted the outbuildings – that is, the Mews, Stable, Lodge, Fountain and Bothy Cottage – into domestic dwellings. Clock House was converted from an agricultural building into a house in the late 1950s by Alex and Molly Shutes as a wedding present for their daughter Cheryl. Bothy Cottage was a former cowshed and has been since renamed Beech Cottage. From 1997 to 2002 that part of the house that retained the original name was home to Gary and Margot Bick, who have provided much of the research for this history of Westlea.

The Woodman

A wedding party at the Woodman, at this time selling Christies ales, c. 1907 (photo of inside the Woodman in more pictures)

Believed to be of the seventeenth century or earlier, the Woodman was a dwelling house before it became a public house. The earliest known reference to the Woodman is in 1840 when it was kept by Thomas Harknett; the 1841 census gives his occupation as tapman and his age 61. He was still there in 1855, but in 1859 Mrs Ann Harknett is given as the landlady, and in the 1861 and 1871 censuses the landlord is given as William Nicholls. In the 1881 census Richard Phipps, an agricultural labourer, is living at the Woodman. Kelly’s Directory gives Conrad Seeley there in 1882, Roland Harris between about 1886 and 1902, Robert Francis Venables in 1906 and 1908, Edward William Cann between about 1910 and 1922, Percy J Charles in 1929 and Edward Day in 1937.

McMullen’s of Hertford bought the Woodman from GR Smith-Bosanquet of Broxbournebury in October 1921 for the sum of £1,100. Major Smith-Bosanquet also owned the Bull Inn and the New Inn in Broxbourne. In March 1963 the parish council was notified of a change of licensee from FR Whiteman to Alexander Frank Jones. The Woodman became a listed building in April 1988.

In Brief

Reference to another, unnamed, property has been found which was close to Westlea and the earlier Green Man and which was presumably later demolished to make way for extending the gardens of Westlea. In 1682 it was in the ownership of Thomas Closon (or Clason) who in his will left the house and lands to Elizabeth his daughter. She died intestate on 7 January 1732 and the estate passed to Dr Samuel Widnes, relationship unknown. In his will of 1740 Dr Widnes left the property to his wife Mary who on her death on 13 January 1773 left it to her neice Elizabeth Fleming and her husband Curtis. Edward Gale purchased the property and it later passed to Thomas Elkins who left it in his will to three friends, John Robinson, Augustus Welstead and Thomas Evitt, with permission for his wife Ann to continue living in the house. In 1820 George Welstead purchased the property from the friends and executors of the late Thomas Elkins.

Tylers Cottage is believed to have been named after John Edward Tyler who worked as a horseman for George Stamp of Westlea in the 1920s and 30s. The cottage had previously been known as Westlea Cottage and was at one time the laundry for Westlea.

Nutwood Cottage was rebuilt in about 1990 using many of the original bricks and timbers after the original pair of cottages were destroyed by fire. The original cottages are believed to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

In 1899 Horace James Smith Bosanquet of Broxbournebury entered into a tenancy agreement with James Eadie for Wormley West End Farm, although it is unclear which property this was. In 1924 James Eadie agreed to give up some of the land he was renting, by this time from George Reginald Bosanquet Smith-Bosanquet.

Many of the properties in WWE are listed buildings. The Old Cottage, said by some to be the oldest in the hamlet, is early eighteenth century, as are numbers 31 and 33; Mimms Cottage, however, is believed to be seventeenth century.