Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire



as described in 1880





Barkway is an ancient Village on the old High Road from London to Cambridge; it is four miles from Royston, and fifteen from Hertford. The Parish is extensive, containing more than 5,000 acres. Camden, in his Description of Hertfordshire, date 1593, says, he has seen the place termed Bergwant, which signifies in Saxon a way over the hills.

At the Conquest the lands of Barkway were divided between four great lords, and afterwards into eight Manors as at present. Edward I. granted it a Market to be held on Thursdays, and a fair annually for six days. In the reign of Elizabeth, in 1592, a great fire destroyed nearly the whole place, and on the re-erection of buildings the Market Day was changed to Friday, and afterwards discontinued, in consequence of Royston Market, which is but a short distance from Barkway.

The Village has some good houses, and in the old coaching days there were several large Inns, which now are diminished in size and importance.

The Church is a large and venerable structure, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, consisting of a nave, chancel, and aisles, with a tower containing six bells at the west end. It has been recently restored and reseated at the cost of Mrs. Vernon-Harcourt. There are many handsome mural monuments and inscriptions of interest to the memory of members of the Chester and Salstonstall and other families, who formerly resided at the Manor Houses in this Parish, many of which monuments and inscriptions are recorded by Chauncy, Clutterbuck, and other historians. A fine monument to Sir J. Jennings is by the celebrated sculptor, Rysbach. There are also some interesting fragments of old painted glass in the windows, forming a part of a scene descriptive of the creation. The living is a Vicarage, united with Reed, in the gift of Lord Strathnairn, of the annual value of 510.

United to this Parish is the Hamlet of NORTHAMSTEAD, or Nuthamstead, which has a population of 254; number of acres, 1096.

In the British Museum are seven curious specimens, being portions of metal votive offerings to Mars and Vulcan, found at Barkway, and bequeathed by Lord Selsey. There is also a bronze statuette of Mars, very perfect, found at the same place.

The road from Barkway to Barley passes between the Parks of Newsells and Cockenhatch. NEWSELLS is a beautiful domain, well wooded with fine timber. It is a large and commodious Mansion, at present in the occupation of Lord Strathnaim. EARLSBURY PARK is also a delightfully situated House and grounds, occupied by Colonel Clinton.

Population of Barkway, 934.

Guide to Hertfordshire , 1880