George and Henry

Their lives and times in

Victorian Wheathampstead

Mary Amy Coburn

Wheathampstead Local History Group


From the Introduction

George Wren and Henry Hobbs were both born in the 1840s and both grew up to love horses. Although they were linked by marriage, their lives were as different as chalk is from cheese. The two were my grandfathers, and this account of their lives and families is a tribute to an earlier generation who accepted hard work as a way of life but who nevertheless found happiness in their portion.

George was born and brought up in Wheathampstead. After his experience of working at the beck and call of a master, he determined to be his own man. He chose long, hard, often unpleasant manual work for what he considered to be independence.

Henry came to Wheathampstead about 1893 and was happy and content to work for a master he was proud to serve and for whom he had great respect - Major-General Cherry-Garrard. Henry's life was set against the background of the 'big' house and the estate of Lamer Park.

George and Henry lived through times of great change. Electricity and gas lit the evening of their lives, replacing the familiar and gentle light of oil lamps and candles. Water from a tap was never as sweet to them as water from a well. The once essential horse was fast being, or would soon be, replaced by the horseless carriage. There were aeroplanes, the 'wireless' brought news straight into the home; and there were 'the pictures' (to which they had never been) for entertainment.

Throughout their lives George and Henry seldom had need to travel far for their everyday requirements. Shops in the village provided more than adequately all that they needed or could afford. The occasional itinerant traveller in miscellaneous goods called at their doors. St Albans and Luton were well within walking distance, and there was the railway when a longer journey became necessary once in a while.

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