Answers to Questions

 

Village development along the Old North Road

between Thundridge & Puckeridge

August, 2010

 

Places

Thundridge

Puckeridge

Anthony White (anthony.white6 @t ntlworld.com) of Cheshunt, asks: Joseph White, my ancestor, was born 1750 in Thundridge. I believe Thundridge was not where it is now but a little to the east where Coward is now. Can you confirm?

The simple answer is that the old church, and Thundridgebury (see Old Church & Thundredgebury) were almost certainly the centre of the village in medieval times, but by 1750 the majority of houses in the parish clustered around the Wadesmill area, Cowards was some way south of the old Church. What had happened can best be seen by looking at the map below covering a larger area

Detail from

Dury & Andrews

Map of Hertfordshire, 1766

The road from London to  Cambridge between Wades Mill and Puckeridge

   
     
   

The Road runs diagonally across the map starting from the "modern" Thundridge (not named) but immediately south of the river crossing, Wades Mill, High Cross, Collier's End and Puckeridge.

The old Thundridge parish lies south of the River Rib and the original church is where Thundridge is marked on this map (with Cowards to the south).

Wades Mill, High Cross, Collier's End and part of Puckeridge were in the parish of Standon.

The Romans built a number of major roads running north from London and the above road was part of the road later known as Ermine Street, or the Old North Road from London to Cambridge. When the Romans left Britain in 410 AD virtually all their roads fell into an extreme state of disrepair and comparatively few people travelled unless they had to. However traffic had got so heavy that by 1663 the road became the first every turnpike road in England, with a toll gate at Wadesmill. (more information or link). Effectively the Old North Road, as it was then called, became the 17th century equivalent of the 20th century M1 motorway. People travelling along the road would require the equivalent of service stations - places to eat, drink and sleep, for themselves and their horses (and livestock if they were taking them to market). There would also be a need for farriers to shoe the horses, and wheelwrights to repair the carts. If you lived in the parishes of Standon or Thundridge would you site you business by the ancient churches or the busy highway. If you look at the maps you will see that the result is ribbon development along the road at each of the hamlets. At some stage the last everyday houses disappeared from round the old church of Thundridge - and (further research would be needed) it might be that the occupant of Thundridgebury felt that the old village lowered the tone of the area and demolished the last remaining houses.

Because the population had moved new churches were built at Wades Mill, High Cross and Collier's End.

Similar things happened on the the road north of Puckeridge - as can be seen in a 1719 strip map of the road to Kings Lynn.

See also Traffic passing through Wadesmill in the 19th century

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

August 2010   Page created