Hertfordshire Genealogy

Guide to Old Hertfordshire


Hemel Hempstead




Hemel Hempstead

A  hamlet on the western boundary of Hemel Hempstead, now effectively part of Bourne End

Dury and Andrews' 1766 map shows "Vink Well" on the north side of the Bulbourne River, near Bourne End. Later the Grand Junction Canal was built along the approximate line of the river, while the main London to Birmingham railway runs along the northern side of the valley.

A barge passing north along the Grand Union Canal, past the open Winkwell Swing Bridge, with the Three Horseshoes public house in the background.
From The Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire

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Catherine Hayden (catherine.hayden @t btinternet.com)'s greatgrandfather Jesse Ausden was blacksmith there in 1871 and 1881 (source - the censuses) and later moved to Bourne End..  Some time ago I wrote to the Hemel Gazette about it as they were doing a series of articles on blacksmith's forges in the Hemel area.  She visited the hamlet in 1998 and has supplied the following notes:

 It is a tiny hamlet lying between the railway line and the canal, in the parish of Bourne End.  There are 4 terraced cottages on the left of the lane, a modern bungalow, a large old house, set in an acre or two of garden and the pub, called The 3 Horseshoes, on the right of the lane.

I talked to an elderly couple in the large old house who told me that the forge had originally been attached to their house but that in the 1920s it had moved across the road and was attached to the end cottage (nearest to the pub car park).  There are marks on the gable end wall of this cottage, showing the roof-line of the forge building.

The couple had lived in the old house for about 50 years.  When they first moved there, they occupied two-thirds of it (nearest to the pub) and a man called Fred Brown who had been champion ploughman of Hertfordshire, occupied the other end where they thought the forge had been. When they obtained the whole house, that end of it was near derelict. They had to put in a steel beam to support the roof and they built a bay window from bricks, which came from an out-house which they demolished and which had been the communal wash-house when the house was cottages.

Both were local people; the man had lived within 50 yards of his present home all his life.  He was aged about 70.  He could not remember the Ausden family name, although he remembers watching horses being shod at the forge across the lane.

The lady spoke briefly to a 91 year old woman, Alice, who had lived in Winkwell all her life and who lived in the end cottage. She remembered the Ausden family when they lived in what is now her home and ran the attached forge. This may have been one of Jesse's sons, continuing the family business as I know that by 1891 Jesse was living in Bourne End Lane.

I have a photo of the house in Winkwell which I could send if you are interested. There is also a line drawing of it in a booklet called "Miss Salisbury's notes on the history of Bourne End" p12. [reproduced here]

Miss Salisbury's notes on the history of Bourne End

edited Joan Hands

Published by the Dacorum Museum Advisory Committee [See DHT], 1985 

See also Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum  

If you know of other books, websites, etc, relating to this place, please tell me.

Hemel Hempstead Home Page