A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Nettleden was originally a chapelry in the parish of Pylesthorne or Pitstone in Buckinghamshire, but was formed into a parish in 1895 from parts of the parishes of Ivinghoe and Pitstone, and at the same time transferred from the county of Buckinghamshire to that of Hertfordshire. (fn. 1) It is in Cottesloe Hundred in Buckinghamshire, but it is locally situated in the hundred of Dacorum. St. Margaret's, formerly a hamlet in Ivinghoe, now forms a part of Nettleden, and lies in the east of the parish. Ivinghoe nunnery or St. Margaret's de Bosco or Mursley nunnery, was founded in this hamlet about 1160 by Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, (fn. 2) and traces of its site still remain near St. Margaret's Farm. The buildings in 1802 were almost entire, and the refectory remained till the early nineteenth century.
Nettleden is a small parish containing 781 acres, the greater part of which is grass land. The village, which is about three-quarters of a mile south-west of Great Gaddesden, and consists of the church and a few houses, stands in a valley, which, running south, meets that of the Gade. The land slopes up from the village to the north and west.
Nettleden is connected by road with Great and Little Gaddesden. The nearest railway station is about two and a half miles from the village at Great Berkhampstead on the main line of the London and North Western Railway. The soil is flinty loam and the subsoil clay with flints, and the chief crops are wheat and beans.
The parsonage house at Nettleden was built in 1856, and designed by Lady Marian Alford, mother of the present Earl Brownlow. It is now inhabited by Mrs. Charlton Lane, a cousin of Lady Brownlow. When the parish of Potten End was formed in 1894 Nettleden was united with it, and a vicarage provided at Potten End.
There is no separate manor in this parish, but the manors of Ivinghoe, Pitstone, and Missenden extend into it. (fn. 3) In 1309 a grant of free warren in Nettleden was made to the rector and brethren of Ashridge, (fn. 4) who held rents from farms there and perquisites of court at the time of the suppression of their house. (fn. 5) A grant of free warren in Nettleden was made in 1664–5 to the earl of Bridgewater, (fn. 6) whose descendant, Earl Brownlow, is now the sole landowner in this parish.
The church of ST. LAWRENCE is practically modern, having been almost wholly rebuilt in brick by John earl of Bridgewater in 1811. It consists of a chancel, nave, western tower, and north porch, the tower being almost the only part of the structure in which there is any old walling.
All windows are of fifteenth-century design, and in a few cases a little tracery of this date has been re-used. The chancel has an east window of three lights and two two-light windows on north and south. The chancel arch is four-centred, of two orders, the inner resting on engaged octagonal shafts with moulded capitals, and there is an oak chancel screen.
The nave is lit by four three-light windows in which some of the stonework appears to be old. There are north and south doorways with chamfered jambs and hollow chamfered four-centred heads, and over the north doorway a shallow porch.
The tower, though much restored, seems to be in part old and is of three stages with an embattled parapet, the latter largely of modern brickwork. The belfry openings are of two trefoiled lights with fourcentred heads. In the ground stage are square headed north and south windows, each of two trefoiled lights, the north window being blocked up; both are of the sixteenth century, and this may be the date of the old work in the tower. The west door is modern and the whole exterior, including the angle buttresses, is covered with rough-cast.
The chancel has a panelled and painted wagon roof, while that of the nave is open timbered, both being modern. The small octagonal font is also modern. On the south wall of the nave is a mural monument to 'Edmund Bressy, esqr., late of London,' 1612, Lucretia (Anderson) his wife, 1610, and their four sons and one daughter. The effigies of the husband and wife kneel on either side of a desk under an entablature carried by Corinthian columns, and the children, in lower relief and to a smaller scale, are represented in a row below them. In the floor of the chancel is a handsome brass to George Cotton, 1545, with the figure of a man in armour and an inscription in black letter with the date in arabic numerals. There are four shields with the arms of Cotton, a cheveron between three hanks of cotton, differenced with a molet. The church plate is modern and consists of a silver chalice, paten, and flagon.
The registers of Nettleden are with those of Great Gaddesden, and are partly mixed with those of that parish. They comprise burials 1687–1713 and 1740–69, and baptisms, burials, and marriages 1784–1812. (fn. 7) Other entries will be found in the registers of Pitstone.
As there is no mention of the church or chapel of Nettleden in the taxation of churches under Pope Nicholas in 1291 it is probable that it was built after this date. In 1381 it is mentioned as annexed to the church of Pitstone, (fn. 8) and a licence was granted in 1470 to John Hunden, bishop of Llandaff, to consecrate altars in the chapel. (fn. 9) The advowson probably passed with that of Pitstone to the earl of Bridgewater. The living is a vicarage annexed to Potten End, a hamlet in Great Berkhampstead, with which it was formed into an ecclesiastical district in 1894, (fn. 10) and is now in the gift of Earl Brownlow.