The Brickmakers of St Albans
A Talk given to the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society at St Albans on 7th January 2003

William Veyse

15th Century Brickmaker

Excavations at Kings Langley Palace

In 1437 William Veyse, brikemaker to the king, was appointed to search for earth suitable for making brike. In 1440 breke from le Frithe, St Albans [probably the part of Bernards Heath earlier known as Frithewode], was used for making fireplaces and ovens in the royal palace at Kings Langley. In the same year William Veyse supplied bricks from the same source for making the creste of a stone wall at the Tower of London.

Talk: I have not looked up the original records to see exactly how the origin of the bricks is described, but this would appear to be the earliest documentary reference to making bricks on Bernards Heath, and possibly in the St Albans area. The use of brick for the fireplaces and ovens in the Palace of Kings Langley may be related to the fact that the palace was being rebuilt following a major fire.

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Supplementary Information

Picture from Kings Langley: A Hertfordshire Village by Scott Hastie & David Spain

Additional biographical information: William Veyse

Kings Langley Palace

{Additional Background.}

The Royal association with Kings Langley started in the late 13th century, and by the late 15th century the palace seems to have been in decay. In a reasonable account of the Palace, there are references to chimneys in 1292 accounts including "covering columns & iron supports of chimney in lordís chamber with lead lest they catch fire." In 1431 "there was a great and disastrous fire at the manor of our lady Joan the Queen at Langley, of buildings, chattels, gold and silver vessels and furnishing; and all this disaster came about through the negligence and drowsiness of a ministrel and insufficient care of a lighted candle."

Kings Langley WEA, The History of Kingís Langley, Kings Langley, 1963 (Editor Lionel M Mumby)

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