A century remembered

The Village Millennium Book for Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Ashridge

Edited by John Leonhardt

Rural Heritage Society, 2000

A4 hardback, 319 pages, many photographs


This book is a wonderful collection of articles and rememberances of the area, with much useful reference material, well structured by the editor. For anyone who wants to know about the village's recent history, and about how it is now, the book is an essential read, and many of the articles are real gems. The village is very lucky to have such a well-produced record

There are two main sections. There is a chronological history from 1891 to the 1990s and this is followed by a "Topics" section which covers About the parish, The Churches, Ashridge College, Educational Establishments, Shops trades and businesses, The National Trust, Farms and Smallholdings, Sport and Outdoor pursuits, Other social organisations, Buildings in the village and The natural world.

As the title suggests, there is only limited information on the village and the nearby hamlets before about 1900, and the articles on John O'Gaddesden's House (links back to the 14th century) and the Manor House  (which has a stone tablet dating it from 1576) concentrate very much on the buildings' 20th century history. Having said this there are several features that will attract the genealogist. 

The chief is a section of "Families in residence for the whole of the 20th century." This contains accounts of a number of families, often with family trees firmly routed in the 19th century, including the following surnames: Andrews, Fountain, Forester, Janes, Jones, Liberty, Mogg, Oakins, Orange, Page, Purton, Rogers, Saunders, Stanbridge, and Talbot. There is a residents list from the 1891 census (and a list of the inhabitants in 1999). There is also a Roll of Honour which gives short biographies or the men of Little Gaddesden who died in the Firt World War. The following is a typical example:

177585 Sapper Samuel George OAKINS of the Depot, Royal Engineers was killed in action on 11.11.1917 aged 33 and is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery Belgium.

Born on 2.12.1883, he entered school on 18.4.1887 and lived at [36] Little Gaddesden. He was awarded a certificate, having distinguished himself in Religious Knowledge examinations as noted in the school log of 22.2.1895. He left school in 1895 with a certificate of proficiency and enlisted in Berkhamsted.

[Note - the "house number" is presumably the 1891 census enumeration number.] 

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Page updated August 2005