Genealogy in Hertfordshire
July 2010 Archive
This Blog is to provide up-to-the minute information on updates together with some background on how I run this web site, plus more general genealogy news.
If you have any Hertfordshire history news that should be reported here, please Tell me about it
Friday, July 30th
WARNING: I have just received an email, claiming to be from this web site, saying that my account had been closed - when we all know that this site does not have any members. Needless to say I did not open what was almost certainly malware (malicious software) that it contained and if you get similar messages (possibly claiming to be from your service provider rather than from this site) treat them with the contempt such criminal emails deserve. In my case the anti-virus software (McAfee) flagged up the message and known spam - which is why you should always have such software installed.
: Philip sent me details of a book A Daisy in the Broom about Princess, Helena College, Temple Dinsley, and I have added two post card images of the College. (Books with titles like this can be difficult as identify as containing local history - and if you know of any I haven't covered for the Hertfordshire town or village that interests you please tell me.)
: Andy reports that the coroner thought Harry Doggett's death was as a result of eating fish from Harry Duce's Fish Shop. in Watford. This illustrates one of the frustrating thing about local newspapers as there is no index and few have been digitised. Andy could find the reference to Harry Doggett because he knew there had been an inquest from the death certificate and could therefore go straight to the relevant issue of the newspaper. However Sarah, who asked the original question about Fried Fish Shops, would have found it very difficult to find the information.
Some Hertfordshire Church Post Cards
St Mary, Cheshunt
St Mary, Apsley End
St Leonard, Bengeo
St Thomas, Northaw
Wednesday, July 28th
The Antiquarian & Topographical Cabinet was published in 10 volumes between 1805 and 1811.. Volume VIII contains engravings and text descriptions relating to Hertfordshire and was published in 1810. It is available online on Google Books. In reviewing the books I have quoted what is a very helpful description of St Albans in about 1810 and have included three of the original (but later hand-coloured) engravings of the Abbey, each with a larger image option. The book also has information and engravings on Waltham Cross, Hertford (including the Castle) and Scott's Grotto at Amwell. There is also a detailed account of Dunstable Priory, not far over the county boundary into Bedfordshire.
Some More Post Card Images for the site Tring Station Stocks Cottage, Aldbury High Street, Barkway Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green
Tuesday, July 27th
Hertfordshire Leaders is a large book published in 1907, by Ernest Gaskell. It was a limited circulation, expensive looking, book full of sycophantic bibliographies, with photographs) along the lines of those by Truman Press and his brother C. A. Manning Press. If one compares the publication list of Charles Manning Press with Ernest Gaskell it would appear that Charles was publishing similar county books up to about 1907, when Ernest Gaskell took over and published more volumes for other counties. It is not clear (on the evidence I have) whether Charles sold the business to Ernest - or even whether Ernest was a pseudonym. In researching this book I discovered that there had been an earlier volume of Hertfordshire Leaders, edited by Charles and published in 1894.
In reviewing this book I have included an alphabetical list of the over 100 people described, and a sample picture and short biography of Montague Whittingham Price, of The Node, Codicote.
Occasionally I visit other sites and answer questions and I spotted one on Rootsweb asking about a school in Bancroft, Hitchin in the 1861 census. I replied pointing out that the census showed the head of household was a Miss Louisa Hudson, Schoolmistress and added "Miss Louisa Hudson is listed as running a Ladies Boarding School in Bancroft, Hitchin in the 1866 Hertfordshire Post Office Directory. The Hitchin Historical Society has published a book "Early Education in Hitchin" which does no more than mention the existence of the school. My experience is that these small schools came and went and in very few instances do any records remain - and often the census is the best evidence that they ever existed."
Friday, July 23rd
The problem of late 18th century bastards: Quite by chance I have had two requests for information relating to the same illegitimate birth - see REYNOLDS/TEMPLEMAN, Bramfield, mid-18th century, one from a descendant of the mother, and the other with a link to the supposed father. This raises a number of general problems about illegitimacy records, and touches on the idea that the abolition of common law marriage (where a couple only had to publicly say they were married to be married) by the Hardwicke Marriage Act was the cause of an increase in the number of recorded bastards towards the end of the 18th century. It also makes the point that if you want me to look at your "brick wall" the more relevant detail you can provide the better.
If your ancestor was an important shopkeeper ... If your ancestors were major shop keepers in the late 19th and early 20th century there can be an enormous amount of information available if you know where to look. Mike has recently added to his blog (mikerobertsbcn.wordpress.com) some very large files of information about FISK the drapers, St Albans, 19th century which is an essential read if you are related, and very interesting if your ancestor worked in, or even shopped in, his store. Even if you have no link with the Fisk family or St Albans the large files (which take time to download) are worth looking through to give you some ideas as to what information you may be able to find about your shopkeeper ancestor. On looking through it I also saw much of more general interest for people with St Albans connections.
Markyate has moved ... The Markyate Local History Society has a new web site at misc-histories.info/markyate-hist. It gives details of their regular newsletter, The Gate, their annual journal, Markyate Past, and The Book of Markyate can be purchased from them. For those who live in Hertfordshire and the Luton/Bedfordshire area their monthly meetings restart in September after the summer break..
My activities over the next few days: My top priority over the weekend will be to finish preparing a power-point style presentation for a talk I am giving on Tuesday although I may take a few hours off to cross the county boundary into Bucks and visit the Bucks FHS Open Day at Aylesbury on Saturday. In addition any quickie questions I receive over the weekend may get a rapid turn round. I am holding several important items over until the second half of next week :
Tom has requested some information on the St Albans solicitor and farmer Isaac Newton Edwards (see note about him on Hertfordshire Men of Mark
Over the last few month Barbara has provided a lost of information on a possible connection with Hertfordshire, which will take some time to digest, and I hope to be able to say something definite.
Following an unacceptably delay due to a filing error I will be retuning some interesting documents to Jon (once he provides the address to send them) and hope to follow this with a page providing some detailed history for a historic
I have just obtained a copy of Hertfordshire Leaders, Social and Political which was published in 1907 (or perhaps 1908). It contains over 100 biographies (I will provide a list of names). It is authored by Ernest Gaskell but is so very much in the style of books by Truman Press (such as Hertfordshire Men of Mark ) and other members of the Press family. to the point where I wonder if "Ernest Gaskell" is a pseudoname.
I have a batch of post card images to add to the site and will try and get at least some of them in before the end of July.
Thursday, July 22nd
Correcting a long-standing mistake: Anthony kindly drew to my attention that I had incorrectly associated Woolmer Green with the ancient parish of Knebworth rather than Welwyn. While part of Woolmer Green was in Knebworth in Medieval times the problem arose because many years ago I acquired a post card of the wood carvers shop which incorrectly said it was in Woolmer Green, The faults have now been corrected.
Other quickies: Martin is preparing a footpath leaflet for the Hitchin area and I proved a high resolution scan of Hitchin Market Place in 1903.
Ray has drawn my attention that the interestingly named public house, The Land of Liberty, is still open and I have posted a new link - see HUNT, Land of Liberty PH, Herongate, Rickmansworth
Wednesday, July 21st
Goodbye Herts Partnership Trust. Since 1991, when I returned from a year working in Australia, I have been actively involved in committees of various kinds concerned with the provision of better mental Health services in Hertfordshire. Three years ago I decided to start to wind down this activity, and today I got a gong (or rather a very nice paper weight) when I attended my very last meeting - as a Governor of the Herts Partnership Trust. In theory this means I have more time for running this web site - but this would be an illusion as the free time is already provisionally committed to other activities related to other areas of research.. As you may have noted (Blog June 28th) I recently published a paper relating to the geological history of Cheddar Gorge, and I would like to get two or three other publications, relating to caves in Devon written by the end of the year, In addition I am giving a talk relating to my university research (human-friendly computers) on Tuesday - and have still to complete the presentation.
In the last couple of days I have had a comparative flood of messages relating to this web site and there may be a few days delay clearing them, although I will try to get all messaged answered by the end of the month.
Tuesday, July 20th
Quaker Records in Hertfordshire. Parker asks about the Quaker records that might contain information about a possible ancestor who went to Philadelphia in 1712 - see SAMM, Hitchin Area, circa 1700. I do not have access to the original manuscriot records at HALS, but I give some general advice and provide a survey of published references to Hitchin Quakers, together with information on some of the less obvious records that are available. I also provide a review entry for Hine's book A Mirror for the Society of Friends: Being the Story of the Hitchin Quakers. including a picture of Samuel Sparvold, and Bancroft, Hitchin.
Sunday, July 18th
A Painting for a "Pie and a Pint" Evacustes A Phipson painted watercolours of old buildings, including many in Hertfordshire, early in the 20th century. Nick has contacted me to say that he has a watercolour of a public house in Greenwich painted in 1927, of a somewhat inferior quality compared with his earlier paintings. He suggests it may have been painted for "a pie and a pint" which seems very likely, as it seems likely that his sight could have been failing, making it difficult to produce the fine detail of his earlier works. (I am very interested in hearing of any Hertfordshire watercolours which were done of private houses, farms, etc, especially if you know how much he was paid for them.)
Saturday, July 17th
Did your ancestors travel through Hertfordshire? Today the gypsies came to Hertfordshire - or to be more correct Romany & Travellers Family History Society held an Open Day at Tring. I attended and it was a friendly affair with some displays, a society bookstall (I brought a useful guide On the Gypsy Trail) and a bookseller specialising in books on Romani, Gypsies and Traveller books. As a result I have set up a "Subject" page on Gypsies.
If you don't ask ... Judith contacted me to ask is I could provide more information about Memorial Inscriptions for Aldbury and I have added a description of the way the book was organised together with an example showing how information is recorded, using as an example a tombstone with a First World War and a Canadian connection. Don't forget that if a book page has only a short description tell me if you are interested and I will add a short review, and possibly a sample extract.
Friday, July 16th
So you think you know how to spell your ancestor's name??? Following the item on this blog about the number of people who had visited the Elizabeth GREENHILL, Abbots Langley, 1615-1679 Doug (who asked the original query) provided an update. In commenting I pointed out that in the 18th century Hertfordshjire Militia Ballot Lists the following surnames were indexed as Greenhill: - Gounell, Greenel, Greenell, Greenhil, Greenhill, Greeniell, Greenile, Greening, Greenill, Greinhill, Grenel, Grenhill, Grennell, Grinel, Grinell, Grinnell, Gronell, Grunel, Grunell, Grunhill, Grunill, Grunnell, Gurnel.
Some more books (and a CD): If your ancestors were involved with the law there is a chance that the records (or related newspaper accounts) will provide a different view of their life. Open & Local Justice looks at the 19th and 20th century history of the Magistrates Court based at Hatfield, while Herts Quarter Sessions 1588-1619 is a CD of the records of the county courts, covering an earlier period than the Herts County Records books. The Pretended Marriage documents a 17th century civil case relating to the village of Aldbury and the surnames Hide, Emerton and Vyner. Next comes an excellent booklet produced by the Herts Family History Society of the Memorial Inscriptions for Aldbury. The final book selected is a modern high quality history - The Book of Woolmer Green -which is part of the historic county of Knebworth.
Open & Local Justice (Hatfield) Herts Quarter Sessions 1588-1619 The Pretended Marriage (Aldbury) Memorial Inscriptions for Aldbury The Book of Woolmer Green [Welwyn]
Following the posting of Mystery Photograph, Letchworth Garden City, circa 1910 earlier this month (see blog) Keith reported that by the time of the 1911 census :Arthur John Conder and his wife Margaret Conder were living in Hill House, No 145, Baldock Rd (see photo). Her husband had a small 'farm' at the back growing fruit and veg for which he sold in Letchworth from the back of his horse and cart. Can anyone who knows modern Letchworth say whether the house in Baldock Road is still there - and also whether the analysis of the first photograph is correct?
Another Ryder medal. (RYDER & Son, St Albans, Early 20th Century) has turned up! Samuel Ryder was a very successful St Albans mail order seed merchant who was a keen golfer who is best remembered because of the he donated the Ryder Cup. He also awarded medals for horticulture (undoubtedly to help promote his seeds) and some time ago I asked if anyone knew if they were all of the same design. Rita has written to say that her nan, who lived in Glasgow, won one like the one illustrated. Unfortunately the back is not engraved with the name and date. Does anyone know of any different designs - or knows of anyone from Hertfordshire who won one?
The Places Home Page: The Webmaster has updated the Places Home Page to reflect changed made recently - including a note on the URL you need to link your web site to a given town or village to ensure continuity of service and you will get the page with the correct menu.
Thursday, 15th July
LATE NEWS: Romany & Travellers FHS Open Day. After my Mental Health meeting at Hertford this morning I dropped into HALS for a quick break and discovered that the Romany & Travellers Family History Society Open Day is on SATURDAY (17th of July) at the British Red Cross Hall, TRING. (see their web site www.rtfhs.org.uk). I am planning to attend and will post a report here - particularly as it affects Hertfordshire. If you miss this they will be having a stall at the Buckinghamshire FHS Open Day in Aylesbury on 24th July.
[Other news from my trip to Hertford will hopefully appear over the weekend.]
Wednesday, 14th July
Britons Camp, somewhere near St Albans - Another picture: Another postcard sent from the camp appeared on ebay, showing men of the Lincolnshire Regiment by a tent in the camp, has been seen. Unfortunately I was outbid - so I cannot provide an image where the men are recognisable. The view behind the tents shows more or less level farm land with hedges - which confirms what we already know, but does not help identification of the location, .
Less Genealogy this week: The spell of hot weather means I have taken time off to relax, rather than spending my time at the keyboard. It has also reduced the number of emails I have received. A combination of other factors, including a problem with a bank, a family day out, and one of my last mental health meetings before I finally retire from all committees after about 19 years representing the voluntary sector viewpoint, also means less time to spend on this site. For this reason there may be no more updates till the weekend.
Tuesday, 13th July
Wikipedia Seen This Site Walkern 64 Walkern Thomas Greenhill (Surgeon) 51 Elizabeth GREENHILL, Abbots Langley, 1615-1679 Ayot St Lawrence 38 Ayot St Lawrence Watford 35 Watford Cassiobury House 27 Watford Lady Katherine Ferrers 21 The Wicked Lady of Markyate Cell Essendon 20 Essendon Sparrows Herne 18 Stocks House 17 Stocks House, Aldbury Chaulden 15 Chaulden House, Hemel Hempstead, 1766 onwards Reed's School 13 London Orphan Asylum, Watford Verulam House, St Albans 10 PALIN, St Albans, 1855-1882 Hemel Hempstead 8 [Broken Link] High Wych 8 High Wych Albury, Hertfordshire 8 Albury Chipperfield 7 Chipperfield Felden 5 Box Lane Chapel
Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead
Sheila Dewey 5 Out of Sight
Linking with Wikipedia: Following the success of working with Google/maps to produce A Guide to Old Hertfordshire it seemed sensible to have links from the Wikipedia web pages on named Hertfordshire towns and villages to the matching page on this site - at least for the pages which have been modified. In fact there are already about 50 links from Wikipedia that have been put there by other people and the table shows the Wikipedia page, the linked Hertfordshire Genealogy page, and the number of times the link has been used in the first six months of 2010.
As I expected some people had added links between place pages and I was delighted to find there was only one broken link. The top place surprisingly turned out to be Walkern, and my suspicion is the attraction of Jane Wenham, Witch of Walkern. The legend of The Wicked Lady of Markyate Cell is the explanation for the link from Lady Katherine Ferrers. The interest in Ayot St Lawrence may be due to the fact that it is the location of George Bernard Shaw's house (popular National Trust site). The link between Thomas Greenhill (Surgeon) and Elizabeth GREENHILL, Abbots Langley, 1615-1679 suggests a student project as 48 of the accesses were in the same month. Why? It is claimed that Thomas was the 39th and last child of Elizabeth Greenhill!
From my point of view the most interesting link was between Sheila Dewey and Out of Sight. In 1987 Sheila wrote the play Out of Mind about my daughter Lucy, in the year leading to her death. If you read what happened to Lucy you will understand why this site requests donations to support a mental health charity in Hertfordshire.
A number of these pages have been edited to make them more friendly when they are visited from Wikipedia, with some return links added.
Sunday, 11th July
An Improved Tell Me Facility: Now that the Blog is working well it is appropriate to overhaul the message interface to include a more appropriate wording. In particular the stats show that many people have entered the facility but never sent a message. The change will be run for a week or two - and if there are no problems I will make matching changes to Ask Chris - and also reword the FAQ where appropriate. To help me test the facility why not tell me what you think of the site.
Saunders of Hemel Hempstead and Redbourn: Tony and Katherine have both contacted me - and some more information on the Saunders family has been added to the page.
Saturday, 10th July
Catching the Tourists coming to Hertfordshire: The statistics for this web site makes interesting reading. In the first 9 days of July 5573 people had visited this site and 244 people had visited this Blog page (which is not indexed by Google at my request). But why have 149 visits have been made to the Hatfield House page and 80 to the Knebworth pages but only 31 to the Hatfield page (which is the "official" gateway to the Hatfield House page). The answer is undoubtedly that many people are using search engines to plan visits to Hatfield House and Knebworth House (both significant tourist hot spots). Other web pages with a very high relative hit rate are Vital Records (156) and HALS (148). These two pages are clearly of genealogical interest - but the numbers suggest many of the visits come through search engines.
There is a problem if someone enters this site via a search engine. All they get is the "content" page and they will not get the left hand menu to guide them round the web site. This has been recognised for years and as a result all pages should have either a Home button at the bottom of the page and/or a box at the top which leads them into the site and provides a menu. With so many tourists visitors to the site it is likely that many would like to see the old pictures of Hertfordshire on this site - while some might have Hertfordshire ancestors. As a result a combined logo/button box has been created and will be used on pages which are likely to be found using search engines. The aim is to inform the casual visitor to the site - and tempt them to explore further. It will also be added to other place pages as appropriate, when they are updated for other reasons
The logo has initially been applied to the following pages: Hatfield House (with updated external links), Hatfield House in Olden Times, The Manor of Ponsbourne, Hatfield, Knebworth, Vital Records and HALS. In addition a number of other key pages will have the logo added, as routing background maintenance - which is normally not noted on this blog.
Shortening the Blog: Toward the end of the month this blog has been getting very long, with many pictures. To speed things up the Current Blog page will only show the last 7 days of posting - with a link to earlier pages at the bottom.Friday, 9th July
Paper Making in Hertfordshire: The Paper Trail is a Heritage Site celebrating the origins of the mechanical paper making in Hertfordshire. When I cam to publish details of this summer event I decided that the subject of paper making needed some attention. There is now a Paper Making page,
The Paper Trail Summer Event
Emergency Vehicle Extravaganza
Canal Trips, View Frogmore Mill, etc
Hertfordshire Countryside: The July issue is now out and I enjoyed the article The Patron Saint of Horses whish deals with the patron saint associated with St Ippolyts. There was a longer article on Historic Hertford and a shorter article on Eastwick Manor. There was an article Redbourn 900 describing plans to celebrate of 900 years of the village's existence, but neither the article or the www.redbourn900.co.uk web site included any significant amount of history!
Some More Hertfordshire Books: At their monthly meeting the Herts Local History Society has a box of books/booklets which members can borrow. I noticed these four titles last year but didn't get round to putting details on this web site - so here they are.
Friends' Meeting House, Hemel Hempstead The Deacons of Corner Hall [Hemel Hempstead] Sandridge Parish War Memorial Agricultural Workers of The Camp, St Albans
Using pictures from this web site: James is moving to Bushey and wanted to uses some Raphael Tuck images for his web site. The situation is that nearly all of the post cards I use are out of copyright - and I own the copyright of the digital image. In these cases I have no objection to you using the images for non-commercial purposes on your web site or in your family history - as long as you quote the source as www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk. In many cases I can also let you have high resolution scans which, for some postcards depending on how they were originally printed, will allow reproduction up to at least A4 size. This service is free but, as always, donations for mental health are always appreciated if the result is satisfactory.
Thursday, 8th July
Agriculture ain't what it used to be: Last year I was walking along a footpath beside a huge field of wheat and I was interested to see that one poppy had succeeded in growing. Such uniform fields of crops are commonplace today, thanks to the widespread use of modern weed killers, etc., but would have seemed strange to our Hertfordshire Ancestors. Yesterday I was at College Lake Nature Reserve, near Tring, to celebrate the fact that the Beds, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust was 50 years old this year. One of the organised walks was to see the Agricultural Weeds Project where wheat is grown and harvested as it would have been done in the past. As a result of careful management the plot now supports a wide range of annual wild flowers which would have be well known to farm workers 100 or more years ago. By the time of our visit most of the flowers were over - and a visit in June would have been more colourful. [This reserve is just over the county boundary into Bucks, but the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust also has many reserves which help to preserve small parts of the landscape as it was.]
Descendants of fellow criminals get in touch: In 2005 Sylvia asked about her ancestor George Bowman, who had sent to St Albans prison in 1891. along with John Boxhall.. Now Linda, who is a descendant of John Boxall is hoping to contact Sylvia. This all goes to remind us that for many people the most useful surviving records are often those connected with criminal activity. See BOWMAN, South Mimms & St Albans Prison, Late 19th century.
A Bit of Site maintenance: In connection with the above item I discovered that about ten of "Answer" pages from 2005 and 2006 had incorrect titles and in some cases wrong keywords - problems that are only really important when pages are being found by search engines, such as google. As a result I have corrected the omissions, and at the same time reformatted the pages to the current normal format. I also found the following answer pages were not currently accessible:
Wednesday, 7th July
Society of Genealogists: Much of my early family history research was done in the Society of Genealogists in London - and some of the key information on my Norfolk ancestors came from notes left by Harvey Bloom, who was active there in the early days of the Society. I see that the Society celebrates its 100 anniversary next year and is currently planning to digitise many key records. A recent leaflet says:
One of our aims is to digitise our most frequently used records and collections to prevent any further damage and to ensure their preservation for future generations. The Bank of England Will Extracts, for example, date from 1717 to 1845 and were due to be destroyed before the Society salvaged them in 1985. These fascinating documents include extracts from the wills of Charles Dickens, The Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson. This collection will be one of many that will be preserved by digitisation. As well as making our records and collections available online we plan to make more educational material available such as the 200+ courses and lectures that we host each year. This will ensure that no one misses out on the chance to start or further their family research.
They are trying to raise money to advance such activities. You can help in a number of way, including becoming a Friend of the Society of Genealogists, see their web site for details.
New information on Wheathampstead: Anthony contacted me from Denmark to tell me the excellent web site Wheathampstead.net has been extensively updated since I first reported on it. In particular the section Early Families of Wheathampstead contains much new material.
Don't forget the Tring Villages: On 28 June I raised the question of books that failed to end up in the copyright libraries. More ephemeral material is even more likely to get lost and on Monday I called into the Tring public library to look at their local collection. I immediately discovered that they had no copies of the excellent local monthly news magazine Village News: Puttenham, Wilstone, Long Marston, Little Tring. This often includes news of historical interest, written by people with considerable local knowledge. Hopefully the library will get copies in future. Fortunately the most recent issues are available online at the Tring Rural Parish Council web site or at the Wilstone web site.
Tuesday, 6th July
Some useful local contacts: (Can you tell me of others I have missed)
The Bunt - The Buntingford Railway and Local History Society has monthly meetings and a quarterly magazine, There are some photographs on its web site.
The Rushden Village Site includes a pictorial tour around the village and some local history pages. At it represents an old country activity I was interested to see there was a group of
There is a Braughing Local History Society which had monthly meetings and occasionally publishes small books. The next meeting is on July 20th ands is on "The World of the Working Horse".
The Letchworth and District Family History Group's next meeting is on the 21st July on "
The Dacorum History Digest contains many interesting articles of local history - and those relating to the history of papermaking are particularly well represented. Within Dacorum the emphasis is on the Hemel Hempstead area.
Monday, 5th July
Visitors to the Site:
Month Unique Visitors Number of Visits Pages Accessed Jan 2010 16488 20790 62915 Feb 2010 14817 19005 54272 Mar 2010 16941 21575 60288 Apr 2010 14673 18233 50986 May 2010 15424 19320 49212 Jun 2010 13755 17460 45260 Per Day 512 647 1794 Per Hour 21 27 75
It is interesting to see where visitors came from. In June 20% of the visitors entered using the direct entry address, 72% went straight to a specific page from a search engine (about 90% of these from google) and a surprising 7% entered using direct links from other web sites. This points to a problem as it would seem that many of these references are out of date - leading to the dreaded "404 page not found" error. As a result I am making enquiries to see if anyone coming in with an out-of-date page URL will get a friendly message and be redirected to the home page.
There is one disappointing feature of the statistics. While there have been some very generous donations from some individuals to support the site's dedicated mental health charity, Herts Mind Network, the average donation works out at a mere £0.0023 per visit. If you use the site regularly have you made a donation recently.
Sunday, 4th July
Mystery Photograph, Letchworth Garden City, circa 1910: Keith reports that this picture is said to show his ancestor at Paddock Close, Letchworth, and wants to locate where it was taken. Google/maps show that Paddock Close was a circle of early garden city houses, and it is clear that they are not shown in the picture. By carefully examining the picture it is suggested that the footpath across the field might have connected Baldock Road with Paddock Close. It is nice to speculate that it show Mary Condor walking home on a Sunday summer afternoon carrying a bg of goods purchased in Hitchin market! Can anyone confirm the identification of the view - or suggest another alternative?
In answering the above query I also updated the external links on the Letchworth Garden City page.
Charity and the First World War: To raise money for the mental health charity Mind I am currently selling copies of my book about Hemel Hempstead, The London Gunners come to Town, on ebay at £10 per copy, post free, with at least £2.00 of every sale going to charity. [Ebay reference 130406822666. 130406830274] The rest of any money raised will be spent on upgrading the library which supports this web site.
Saunders of Hemel Hempstead and Redbourn: Katherine provided some useful additional information on the family which illustrates how useful finding a will can be.
Lock Keeper's Cottages: Only 24 hours after posting the picture of Lock 39 Donna's update Lock Keeper's Cottages, Bulbourne, 19/20th Century fills a gap in the list of canal worked that have lived in the cottage by Lock 39.
Saturday, 3rd July
Saving Water on the Grand Junction Canal: I have just acquired a very interesting post card of a lock on what is now known as the Grand Union Canal. When the canal was very busy in Victorian Times a number of modifications were made to speed traffic and/or conserve water. This picture (from a very faded original) shows one of the additional narrow locks that were installed on the canal north of Tring Summit. The lock (No. 39) is at Startops End, Marsworth, and is actually about 100 yards inside Buckinghamshire. However it is appropriate to include a mention on this Hertfordshire site because it is an important part of the canal complex in the Tring area.
Friday, 2nd July
Is this the missing WW1 Army Camp?
Where was Britons Camp, St Albans? Many photographs survive, but apart from one which shows that it was in a shallow valley with road running through it and a wood in the distance, there is no firm evidence as to where it was. John has kindly supplied the above photograph of fields just north of Sandridge which shares some similarities with the site of the camp. One re-examining the original photograph, and looking at a 1884 O.S. map and Google maps (satellite and street views) I have concluded that while the above picture does not match the WW1 photo, the valley could well be the site, if there were high trees along the south of No Mans Land Common at the time. I have my doubts - but it could be what we are looking for. Can you help in the search to locate this large army camp?
B.T.W. Quite by chance the area in the photograph, and the candidate site for the military camp, are part of Heartwood Forest.
Thursday 1st JulyWhy not plant a tree for your Hertfordshire Ancestor: Before the Iron age much of Hertfordshire was covered by forest, and there has always been a need for woods to provide timber and fuel. A few ancient woods (much changed by woodland husbandry over the years) survive and the Woodland Trust has now acquired some 800 acres of farmland near Sandridge, immediately south of No Mans Land Common. The area includes some small surviving old woods. The plan is to plant some 600,000 trees in coming years to recreate a significant forest area less that 25 miles from central London..
Towards Pudler's Wood
In Langley Wood
The area is of particular family interest in that my first home (until the age of eleven months) was in Sandridge and my ancestors have farmed in the immediate area for several hundred years. In fact a small spinney close to the east boundary of the new forest area was planted on Hammonds Farm by my father some 89 years ago.
A spell of fine weather (actually really too hot) tempted me to visit the new forest yesterday. Much of the area is still large open fields, although there were small patches planted last year with very young trees, almost invisible in the distance because of the length of the grass. However in a few years major changes will start to show, and the whole area will be a great haven for woodland animals and plants for future generations to see and admire.
So why not visit the Woodland Trust's Heartswood Forest page - and even better plant a tree (or trees) for your Hertfordshire ancestor(s). If you live in England you could also come to Sandridge on 28th August and attend the HeARTwood Festival, the annual family summer festival celebrating trees and woodlands through art.
Berkhamsted Local History & Museum Society Exhibition: The Society was celebrating 60 years of existence and at the time of writing the exhibition is still on (until Saturday July 3) at the Berkhamsted Civic Centre. The exhibition consisted of a large number of informative display boards - the people in the picture are looking at portraits of people with historical connections with the town. There were also several display cases of objects connected with the town - including a 2nd world war gas mask - of the kind I played with once the war was over and they were no longer needed. There were a good display of publications on sale - including some by the Dacorum Heritage Trust - most of which were known to me although they are not all listed (yet) on my web site. I was most interested to see copies of the annual journal The Chronicle, and noted several articles of interest. I gather Volume VII will be published shortly - and I may well include a review page later highlighting some of articles which will be of wider interest.
I fully realise that many of the readers of this blog live far to far away to attend - but if you are researching your family history it is useful to know something of the local family history organisation. Some, like as the Berkhamsted Society mentioned here - are a source of excellent local history publications, and there is a wealth of local knowledge among their members.
Reorganisation of Front Pages and Blog
Comments received over the last few moths suggest that the Blog is a very useful facility, particularly for regular users. In addition it is believed that most people who visit the site for the first time find it using search engines such as Google - and information on the latest changes is not relevant for them. For this reason it has been decided to drop the monthly summary of updates as a low priority. This allows the home page to be greatly simplified, as the very long lists of updates were rather overpowering. The welcome page has also been simplified and the aim will be to change the picture at frequent intervals. Further changes are planned in July to the Introduction, Tell Me and Ask Chris pages to bring them fully in line with the existence of the blog and the Guide to Old Hertfordshire.
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