A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish of Redbourn lies chiefly to the west of the Watling Street, which forms part of its eastern boundary and runs through a small portion of the parish in the south, where it joins the parish of St. Michael's in St. Albans. The long straight village High Street, which slopes upwards towards the north, is part of the Watling Street. South of the village this road twice crosses the River Ver, which with many curves flows north and south through the parish. On either side of the road the land dips slightly to the river level and rises again beyond, undulating throughout the parish at heights varying between 300 ft. and 400 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The High Street consists of two rows of shops and houses, among which are a few old ones of brick and timber, standing close up to the street. The only two houses of importance in the High Street are Redbourn House, the residence of Sir James Thomson, and the Priory, the residence of Mr. D. MacGregor. Small streets strike off on either side, and on the south-west a narrow opening called Fish Street leads to a large grass common which extends for nearly half a mile. In the middle of this common is a road running through an avenue of fine old elms the whole length of the common, and leading to that part of Redbourn which is known as Church End. It consists of a line of houses facing the common, and a short street leading to the church. There are some brick and timber houses, and one plastered and thatched at the north-west corner of the common. The general colouring of the houses is a good dark red, but the old red roof tiles have in some instances been superseded by slates. Near here rise some springs which form a pool and a little brook which joins the Ver. There are watercress beds on both these streams. Near the common on the south are more dwellings, a silk mill belonging to Maygrove & Co., and a brush factory. On the common are the village schools. A road from Hemel Hempstead to the Watling Street passes by Church End, and a branch of the Midland Railway has a station near. There are some outlying farms in the parish and the people are chiefly employed in agriculture. The soil, which in the valleys is gravel on chalk, with some clay on the hill tops, grows good corn crops. Some chalk and gravel pits are still worked. In 1905, 3,300 acres were arable land and 1,233 acres permanent grass. There are practically no woods, only 29 acres in the whole parish being woodland. (fn. 1)
Place-names are Jeromeside or Jerome Islands, Floures, Saldeford, Bethlespole, Burysfeld, and Hogmede. There are several Crouch fields and a Crouch Hall in the parish of Redbourn denoting the sites of crosses, (fn. 2) and many 'ends' such as Church End, Wood End, Revel End, the last being the place where the revels or wakes are said to have been held at certain festivals.
The manor of REDBOURN was given to the abbey of St. Albans by Æthelwine Niger or le Swart and Wynfleda his wife in the time of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 3) At the time of the death of King Edward, Archbishop Stigand held it, but he could not alienate it from the abbey. In this manor Amelger held of the abbot 3½ virgates. (fn. 4) Archbishop Lanfranc took the manor away from the abbey and held it for some time, but it was restored to the church under Abbot Paul (1077–93). (fn. 5) The manor of Redbourn was confirmed to the abbey of St. Albans by Henry II and John, (fn. 6) and was held by this church till the Dissolution. It seems to have belonged to the chamberlain of the monastery. (fn. 7) A lease of the manor had been made to Henry Beche for sixty years in 1538. (fn. 8)
In 1550 the manor was granted to Princess Elizabeth, (fn. 9) who, as queen, leased the site and demesne land in 1591 for three lives to Richard, Jane, and Elizabeth Rede, Richard being the owner of the site of the priory at that time. (fn. 10) The manor was granted in 1610 to Henry, Prince of Wales, (fn. 11) and in 1617 to trustees for Charles, Prince of Wales, for ninety-nine years. (fn. 12) In 1628 these trustees sold it to William Williams, Robert Michell, and others, for the rest of the term. In the same year, at the petition of the mayor and citizens of London, to whom he owed large sums, Charles granted the reversion of the manor to Edward Ditchfield and John Highlord and others, as trustees for the mayor and citizens. (fn. 13) These trustees in the following year sold the manor to Henry Meautis, John Meautis, and others, (fn. 14) possibly as trustees for Thomas Meautis, to whom a grant was made in 1638–9 of a market on Tuesdays, and two fairs on the Wednesday next after Easter, and in the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. (fn. 15) Thomas died leaving as his heir an only daughter Jane, a minor, (fn. 16) who died unmarried, and was succeeded by her uncle, Henry Meautis, elder brother of Thomas. (fn. 17) In 1652 Henry sold the manor to Sir Harbottle Grimston, then husband of Anne, widow of Thomas Meautis. (fn. 18) From Sir Harbottle the manor of Redbourn descended in the same way as Gorhambury (q.v.) to the earl of Verulam, the present possessor.
The bailiff of the manor at the death of a tenant claimed a heriot. The heir chose the best beast or chattel, and the bailiff the next best for the lord. This the customary tenants appraised, and presented the value at the next court leet, and the bailiff afterwards disposed of it at his pleasure, answering the value thereof according to the presentment. The bailiff was also woodward and had as perquisites the loppings of trees. (fn. 19)
There were two water-mills at Redbourn at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 20) afterwards called le Corne mill and le Malt mill. (fn. 21) They were leased by the abbot to William Horne of Redbourn for fifty years in 1537, (fn. 22) and were granted with the manor in 1550 to Princess Elizabeth. (fn. 23) In 1608 a water-mill in Redbourn was granted by James I to Richard Briggs for forty years, (fn. 24) and in the following year two mills were granted to Edward Ferrers and Francis Philipps. (fn. 25) In the fourteenth century there seems to have been a mill near Redbourn Heath, called 'Bettespool or Betlespol Mill.' (fn. 26) There is now a mill at Redbournbury, and Do Little Mill is on the River Ver a little farther north.
The men of Redbourn seem to have been unruly tenants of the abbot. Under Abbot Richard (1326–35) they refused to take the oath of obedience and resisted being tallaged at the will of the abbot. They offered to pay a fixed sum of 40s. at the election of each abbot, and in support of this claim they produced a charter of Nigel Niger, probably meant for Æthelwine Niger, who gave Redbourn to the abbey. This charter was afterwards found to be a forgery, and was written in a mixture of English and French, though alleged to be of the time of Edward the Confessor. The authors of the forgery were excommunicated by the abbot, but his trouble in obtaining the money did not end there. The men of Redbourn were forced to swear that they were liable to be taxed at the will of the lord, and were true bondsmen, but when the abbot by his chamberlain tried to collect the tax they refused to pay, and threatened to kill anyone who should distrain them for it. They beat the chamberlain's bedell on his making the attempt, but were finally forced to pay. (fn. 27) The men of Redbourn again, under Abbot Thomas (1349–96), rebelled against their lord, and demanded a charter of liberties concerning hunting and fishing rights and freedom from services. The abbot agreed to grant their request in part, and asked time to deliberate as to the rest. The people were apparently not satisfied with this answer, and destroyed the embankment around the meadow of the prior of Redbourn, called Pondesmede. Finally the abbot was obliged to grant the charter which they demanded. (fn. 28)
At about this time the prior of Redbourn purchased of the commoners on Redbourn Heath a road from the mill of 'Betlespol' to the lane called 'Heybriggelane,' for the safe carriage of food for his monks. (fn. 29)
It is probable that the ancient manor-house was situated at Redbournbury, and there perhaps the manor courts were held in early times, though in modern times they appear to have been held at the Bull Inn in the village. (fn. 30) The meeting between Thurstan, archbishop of York, and Christina, who aspired to be the successor of Roger, the famous hermit of Markyate Cell, probably took place at Redbournbury. The result of this interview was the establishment of the nunnery of Markyate by Abbot Geoffrey, and the instalment of Christina as the first prioress. (fn. 31)
At the end of the fourteenth century dissension arose between the abbot of St. Albans and the earl of Warwick, the lord of the manor of Flamstead, as to right of common on the heath of Redbourn, and in 1383 an agreement was made by which the earl renounced all his claim. The abbot claimed the heath because the body of St. Amphibal the martyr was said to have been found there, and the priory had been built upon the site of the discovery. (fn. 32)
In 1380 the bounds between the manors of Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead were strictly defined. (fn. 33) This became necessary because part of the manor of Redbourn lay in Hemel Hempstead, viz., 'Coteleslond' and 'Spencereslond,' and as the abbot of St. Albans and the rector of Ashridge claimed the same jurisdiction in their manors of Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead, friction sometimes arose between them as to their respective rights. The boundaries beginning towards the east were from a certain place called the Portdelle along the high road towards the west, to a stone cross which stood at certain cross-roads there; and from the cross-roads directly towards the north through a footpath to Le Chalkdelle and thence to Holtesmere towards Flamstead. It appears that on account of the deaths of many of the more 'discrete' tenants of both manors in the recent pestilence these boundaries had been forgotten. (fn. 34)
The manor of AYNELS, AGNELS, or ST. AGNELS, which lies to the north-east of the parish, seems to have taken its name, like the manor of Agnells in Hemel Hempstead (q.v.), from the family of this name, (fn. 35) and probably followed the same descent to the family of Spendlove or Spenlowe, for in 1454 Joan widow of John Spendlove, Henry Frowick, and others granted the manor of 'Aygnellys' in Redbourn to the church of St. Albans. This grant was made in accordance with the will of John Spendlove, late husband of Joan, and in exchange for the manor Joan received a pension of 40s. for life, and a sum of £18. (fn. 36) The manor remained in the hands of the abbots of St. Albans till the Dissolution, when it was granted in 1544 to John Cokkes and Eleanor his wife. (fn. 37) John died seised of the manor in 1558, leaving Thomas his son and heir. (fn. 38) Thomas conveyed the manor to George Ferrers in 1575. (fn. 39) George settled it upon his wife Margaret in 1577, and she afterwards married Thomas Hall, or Haulle, who held the manor jointly with her till her death. (fn. 40) By the above settlement the remainder after the death of Margaret fell to Francis, a younger son of George Ferrers. (fn. 41) It afterwards came to Sir John Ferrers, grandson of George, (fn. 42) and from that time followed the descent of the manor of Flamstead in Dacorum Hundred (q.v.) till 1880. Flamstead was then sold to Sir John Sebright, of Beechwood, but St. Agnells was bought by Mr. Fryer (fn. 43) and passed to Mrs. Edwyn Fryer, the present owner, on the death of her husband. In 1881 the manor contained only 14½ acres, but the estate included 192 acres, 7 acres of which lay in the parish of Flamstead. (fn. 44)
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries land in Redbourn was held of the abbot of St. Albans by Geoffrey de Redbourn, (fn. 45) and in 1303 William Inge held 15 acres in Redbourn of the abbot of St. Albans. (fn. 46) In this land we may perhaps recognize the three virgates and a half held under the abbot by Amelger. (fn. 47) In 1321–2 William Inge died seised of a tenement in Redbourn which he held jointly with Isolda his wife by demise of Robert Inge, of the abbot of St. Albans by fealty and rent of 13s. and suit at court every three weeks. Robert had settled this estate on William and Isolda and their issue, but they had no children. (fn. 48) Isolda outlived her husband and held the manor during her lifetime. (fn. 49) After her death it passed to Joan wife of Eudo la Zouche, daughter of William Inge by his first wife Margaret, daughter of Henry Grapinel. (fn. 50) Sir William la Zouche of Haringworth, son of Eudo and Joan, in 1381–2 died seised of a messuage in Redbourn called CATTYSPLACE and 53 acres of arable held by knight service of the abbot of St. Albans, leaving his son William his heir. (fn. 51) This property seems to have passed to a younger son, for about 1404 Thomas la Zouche died seised of 80 acres of land in Redbourn, the reversion of which belonged to Sir John son of Sir William la Zouche, deceased, and Margaret his wife, who was then living. (fn. 52)
From this point the descent of the estate is lost, having perhaps become merged in the manor of Inges in Wheathampstead (q.v.). A wood called Inges Wood is mentioned in 1593–4, (fn. 53) and this perhaps gives the site of the manor. It seems to have been situated between Redbourn Mill and Hammonds End in Harpenden.
The manor of BUTLERS in Redbourn was conveyed in 1563–4 by Richard West and Elizabeth Lyon, widow, to Thomas Andrews and Edmund Wiseman. (fn. 54)
This manor is probably identical with the land in Redbourn called 'Terra Dispensatoris,' which about 1327 John Aignel claimed to hold of the abbot of St. Albans, and the service due for which was that of being the abbot's butler. At a certain feast John claimed the abbot's cup as his fee, but the abbot refused to give it to him as the feast was not in honour of his entry into the abbacy, but in remembrance of the martyr. (fn. 55) It was afterwards found that this fee had been held partly by the chamberlain of the convent and that the service due for it was that of supplying one horse whenever the abbot visited the cell of Tynemouth. An inspection of the abbey deeds showed that it had been surrendered by a previous holder. (fn. 56)
This is probably the same tenement as that called Spencereslond mentioned in 1380 as lying in Hemel Hempstead, though being parcel of the manor of Redbourn. (fn. 57) Butler's Farm, which may have some connexion with this property, lies in the south of the parish.
John Stepney died seised of the manor of LAURANS or LAWRENCE in 1527, leaving Ralph his son and heir. It had been granted to him and his wife Alice by Anne Bukberd, widow, and was held as of the manor of Hokenhanger. (fn. 58) It was conveyed by Edmund Bardolph and Elizabeth his wife, and Elizabeth Bardolph, widow, in 1577–8, to Richard Pecok, with a warranty against the heirs of Matthew Cressy of Harpenden, grandfather of Elizabeth the widow. (fn. 59)
Richard settled it in 1602 upon his brother Edward, who died in 1605. (fn. 60) The manor was settled in 1603 upon William son of William Pecok, and on the sons of Walter Pecok of Redbourn, that it might continue in the family of Pecok after Richard's death. Richard died without heirs in 1615, and William died seised of the manor in 1622, leaving Richard his son and heir. (fn. 61) The descent of the manor is lost from this time till 1689 when Michael Grigg, clerk, and Barbara his wife conveyed it to Thomas Folkes and Andrew Card. (fn. 62) In 1706–7 William Wilson and Jane his wife conveyed a third of the manor to William Parker, (fn. 63) but this conveyance was possibly made for a settlement, for in 1710 the same grantees conveyed a third to Matthew Caldicott, (fn. 64) and at the same time another third was granted to him by Phineas Cheeke and Susan his wife. (fn. 65) In 1780 Sir John Lade, bart., conveyed it to Christopher Norris. (fn. 66)
Other holders of land in Redbourn mentioned in the Domesday Survey are the bishop of Lisieux, who held 1 virgate which Wigot held of him. Alwin, the huntsman, a man of Earl Lewin, had held and could sell it. (fn. 67) A half-hide was held by Ranulph, of the count of Mortain. Siward, a sokeman of King Edward, had formerly held it and could sell it. (fn. 68) This half-hide was afterwards given by Robert count of Mortain and Almodis his wife to the abbot and convent of St. Albans, (fn. 69) and may perhaps be the same as that which Abbot Richard (1097–1119) bestowed upon the cell of Bynham. (fn. 70)
The virgate held by Wigot may have descended to Stephen de Bassingburn who was dealing with land in Redbourn in 1276–7. (fn. 71) A grant of free warren in his demesne lands at Redbourn was made in 1300 to John de Bassingburn. (fn. 72) William de Ochurst held an eleventh part of a knight's fee in Redbourn with the exception of 15 acres held by William Inge in 1303. (fn. 73) William de Ochurst was one of the six knights of St. Albans who had to attend the abbot when he rode from Tynemouth, (fn. 74) and a descendant of this William was one of the principal insurgents against the abbot at the time of Wat Tyler's rebellion. (fn. 75) Land belonging to William de Ochurst in Redbourn was acquired by Abbot Thomas (1349–96), (fn. 76) and probably became merged in the chief manor after this time.
PRIORY OF REDBOURN or SAINT AMPHIBAL.
St. Amphibal is said to have converted St. Alban, and suffered martyrdom at Verulam soon afterwards. (fn. 77) His remains are supposed to have been miraculously found outside St. Albans in 1178, and were translated to the church of St. Albans. (fn. 78) A religious house called the priory of St. Amphibal was founded upon the site of the supposed discovery. A chapel was built there and dedicated in honour of St. Amphibal by John bishop of Ardfert in the time of Abbot William (1214–35), (fn. 79) who presented a psalter and ordinal to the chapel, (fn. 80) and also caused two gilded shrines with relics of St. Amphibal and his companions to be placed there and watched over night and day by monks. (fn. 81) An account of the spoiling of this church by the French in 1217 and the miraculous punishment of one of the robbers will be found under Flamstead in Dacorum Hundred (q.v.). There was no cemetery attached to this church, and any of the brethren who died there had to be carried to St. Albans for burial. (fn. 82)
Abbot Thomas (1349–96) presented numerous gifts to the priory of Redbourn, and added a study and wardrobe to the house there. The chapel of St. James in the priory, which had been burnt, he caused to be rebuilt, (fn. 83) and John of Wheathampstead during his first abbacy (1420–40) did a good deal of work on the buildings. (fn. 84) The high altar of the church was moved and a stone wall set up between the nave of the church and the chapel. Whether this chapel was that of St. James or another is not clear. The chapel in question was painted, and there is a record, difficult to explain in the total absence of any remains of the priory church, of the building of a chamber over the nave of the church (supra navem ecclesiae).
After the Dissolution the site was granted in 1540 to John Cokkes or Cock and Eleanor his wife. (fn. 85) In 1558 John sold the manor of the priory to Richard Rede, (fn. 86) whose title was confirmed in 1561 by Thomas son of John Cokkes and Bridget his wife, (fn. 87) and again in 1573 by William Cock. (fn. 88) In 1568–9 Richard conveyed the manor to his son Innocent, (fn. 89) who leased it in 1593 for twenty-one years to Morrice Evans. (fn. 90) Innocent died seised of the manor in 1597, leaving Richard his son and heir, (fn. 91) and in 1614–15 Richard Rede conveyed the manor to William, Lord Cavendish, (fn. 92) afterwards earl of Devonshire. He was succeeded by his son William, who died in 1628, (fn. 93) but seems to have sold the manor at about that date to Thomas Saunders. (fn. 94) From Thomas it passed to his son John who bequeathed it to his sisters, Susannah wife of John White, and Elizabeth Saunders. They conveyed it to William Beaumont, (fn. 95) who by will dated 30 December, 1661, devised this estate to Martha his wife for life, with remainder to Eignon Beynon his son-in-law, and the heirs of his body. (fn. 96) Eignon conveyed the manor in 1675 to Christopher Smith, (fn. 97) but the conveyance was probably made for a settlement, as Eignon was succeeded by his son Eignon, and he by his son Thomas in 1717. (fn. 98) Thomas appears to have sold this manor to Samuel Cormouls, for in 1762 Samuel with Charlotte his wife conveyed it to John Darker. (fn. 99) He conveyed it to John Gould who held courts for the manor from 1751 to 1776, and at about that time it was sold to James Bucknall, Viscount Grimston, (fn. 100) from whom it has descended to the present earl of Verulam. In an inquisition of 1597 a piece of ground is mentioned called 'St. Amphabell's Chapel,' containing about half an acre. (fn. 101) This was probably the site of the priory chapel.
A house called FLOWERS (Floures, Fowers) in Redbourn was held in the sixteenth century by members of the Finch family. (fn. 102) Robert Finch, whose will is dated 1512, (fn. 103) was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1523–4. (fn. 104) The tenement was held in the reign of Philip and Mary by Nicholas Finch. (fn. 105) Flower's Farm is about a quarter of a mile to the south of Church End.
CUMBERLAND HOUSE is a large house of red brick covered with ivy and stands at the east of, and faces the common. It is said to have been built by the 'butcher' duke of Cumberland as a hunting box at the time when he kept his celebrated pack of hounds at Dunstable Downs. A year or two ago in rebuilding one of the chimneys a brick was found bearing the date 1745. This estate was for many years the subject of a chancery suit, in consequence of which it came to John Hodgkiss. In 1881 Cumberland House was occupied by William Thompson White under a lease from John Hodgkiss. (fn. 106) It is now the residence and property of Mr. R. Cecil Peake, who bought it in 1890 from the widow of William T. White. (fn. 107)
The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel of three bays, a nave of three bays, a north aisle, a south aisle, with the addition of a chapel at its eastern end, a south porch and a western tower. Any Saxon church that may have existed here was replaced in the twelfth century by one which forms the nucleus of the present building, and had an aisleless nave 25 ft. wide, a chancel, and a western tower. Its approximate date is given by the record of the dedication of the church of Redbourn by Herbert Losinga, bishop of Norwich (1094–1119). (fn. 108) To this building a north aisle was added about 1140, the arcade between it and the nave being of Totternhoe stone with semicircular arches of two orders, having a billet moulding towards the nave, and round pillars with composite scalloped capitals, no two of which are alike. The chancel appears to have been rebuilt about 1340, to which date may be attributed the chancel arch of three orders with clustered responds, the two sedilia (in which are used three late twelfth-century foliated capitals of Purbeck marble), and the north-east and south-west windows. The east window of three lights, with net tracery and feathered cusps, is a modern restoration. The south aisle of the nave was probably added about 1350 to 1360, and was extended eastward to form the chapel of our Lady of Pity about 1448–55. The chapel has three-light windows on the east and south, and a small south doorway. (fn. 109) The clearstory was added to the nave about 1478, (fn. 110) and the north aisle, which was called St. John's aisle, from the altar of St. John the Baptist, which stood at its eastern end, was rebuilt in 1497; (fn. 111) this aisle retains the roof then made, the beams in the eastern half being moulded, while the rest are plain.
The west tower retains much of its twelfth-century design, including the pilaster buttresses, to which a fifteenth-century buttress has been added at the southwest angle. At the base of the upper story is a string course with the saw tooth and billet ornament, and the north window of this stage preserves an original jamb, but the east and west windows have been enlarged in the fifteenth century. The east arch of the tower is also of that date, and the west doorway is an insertion of the same time.
The greater part of the church is plastered on the outside, but the chancel is faced with chequer work of flint and stone, and part of the north side has some good flint facing. The interesting and very effective ornamental brickwork in the parapet over the south aisle, and the side chapel of our Lady of Pity, seems to be work of about 1478, and contemporary with the clearstory. The north-east window of the chancel is of about 1350, and that next to it has been altered in the sixteenth century. There are several marks of sun-dials about the church, particularly on the second buttress from the east on the south side of the nave, and on the buttress at the south-west of the chancel.
The fine oak rood-screen of five bays is in a good state of preservation, retaining the canopies below the loft, though the loft itself has been taken away. The screen appears to have been erected about the year 1478. (fn. 112) It is to be noted that the bosses on the east side are carved, while those on the west side are plain. The marks of the positions of the nave altars are clearly to be seen on the west face of the screen, on either side of the central doorway.
At the east end of the south aisle is the matrix of the brass of Richard Pecok and Elizabeth his wife, 1515, with their four sons and two daughters. The brass itself, which was formerly on the south wall of the chancel, is lost. In the south porch is another matrix of a brass to a member of the same family, showing a man and his wife with one son and eight daughters. The Pecok badge serves to identify it. In the floor of the chancel is a slab with the brass figures of a knight and his lady with six children, of Elizabethan date. Above is a shield of arms, but no inscription; it seems from the account in Salmon's Hist. of Herts. that the brasses were formerly on an altar tomb, identified as that of Sir Richard Rede, 1576. There are several monuments of the Beynons in the chancel, and hatchments of the Grimston family.
Of the lights and images in the church we have mention of the following:—The images and lights of St. John the Baptist and St. Katherine, apparently in the north aisle; the image and light of St. Mary in the choir, which would be at the high altar; the image and light of St. Mary of Pity in the chapel of apparently the same dedication on the south side; the lights of St. Michael, St. Stephen, St. Laurence, and St. Nicholas; the rood light; the light of the Easter sepulchre; the hearse light. (fn. 113)
There are six bells, the treble by H. Knight, 1716, second and third by John Waylett, 1716, fourth by Pack & Chapman of London, 1770, fifth by Taylor & Symondson, 1839, and tenor recast by Warner, 1875.
The church plate consists of a silver Elizabethan chalice with a paten cover, bearing the date 1577, and a standing paten having the inscription 'Ex dono Johannis Biby Anno Domini 1728,' a flagon of the same gift and a Sheffield plate salver.
The first book of the registers begins in 1626 and contains baptisms to 1695, burials to 1701, and marriages from 1685 to 1701. The second book has baptisms from 1696 to 1737, burials from 1695 to 1749, and marriages from 1703 to 1744. The third book contains baptisms from 1738 to 1772, burials from 1744 to 1768, and marriages from 1744 to 1752. Book iv contains baptisms only, from 1773 to 1812; book v burials only, between 1769 and 1812. The sixth and seventh books contain marriages from 1754 to 1798, and from 1798 to 1812 respectively. The first book was in 1830 returned as 'very imperfect' and has been irregularly kept. The third book has burial entries overlapping the second book, in which burials are irregular. (fn. 114)
The church of Redbourn was part of the possessions of the abbey of St. Albans, and to it was annexed the church of Flamstead till the beginning of the twelfth century, when they were separated. (fn. 115) It was confirmed to the abbey by Henry II and John. (fn. 116) Abbot Paul (1077–93) assigned part of the tithes of Redbourn for the maintenance of writers in the abbey scriptorium. (fn. 117) In 1518 the abbot and convent leased to Ralph Rowlatt all tithes of grain and hay of the rectory of the parish church of Redbourn, which belonged to the office of chamberlain of the monastery, and half of the great barn in the manor for forty-one years. (fn. 118) In the following year the tithes of the manor, which belonged to the office of almoner, were leased to the same Ralph for thirty-one years. (fn. 119) At the Dissolution the advowson of the vicarage was granted in 1542 to Richard Andrews and Leonard Chamberlain and the heirs of Richard. (fn. 120) In the same year these grantees conveyed their interest in the advowson to Ralph Rowlatt of St. Albans, (fn. 121) who died seised of it in 1543, leaving his son Ralph his heir. (fn. 122) Edward VI granted the advowson in 1550 to his sister Princess Elizabeth, (fn. 123) but this was probably the overlordship, as it is mentioned in the grant that the advowson was in the tenure of Rowlatt, and he in 1561 conveyed it to Sir Nicholas Bacon. (fn. 124) Sir Nicholas was succeeded by his son Francis, who conveyed the advowson to trustees for a settlement upon himself and his wife for their lives, with remainder to Sir Thomas Meautis, (fn. 125) who had married Anne daughter of Sir Nathaniel Bacon, nephew of Sir Francis. (fn. 126) Thomas Meautis conveyed the advowson to his elder brother Henry, Francis Lord Dunsmore, and others in trust for his daughter Jane, who was an infant at the time of her father's death, and subsequently died unmarried. Her uncle, the abovementioned Henry, was her heir, (fn. 127) and in 1652 he and his co-trustees sold the advowson to Sir Harbottle Grimston, who had married Anne, widow of Sir Thomas Meautis. (fn. 128) From Sir Harbottle the advowson has descended with the manor to the present earl of Verulam.
The rectory and tithes were granted in 1550 to Princess Elizabeth, (fn. 129) who granted the reversion of them with half of the great barn mentioned above after the expiration of the lease to Ralph Rowlatt, to Thomas Andrews and Edward Wiseman in 1560. (fn. 130) In 1598 Stephen Soame and others granted the rectory and tithes to Edmund Bressey, (fn. 131) who in 1617 died seised of tithes belonging to the rectory of Redbourn, which he had acquired from Richard Rede. He left Edmund his son a minor. (fn. 132) This was possibly only a lease, as the rectory afterwards passed to Eignon Beynon, the owner of the manor of the priory. (fn. 133) The earl of Verulam is now lay rector.
In 1512 the brotherhood of the Holy Trinity was founded in the church, to which Robert Grygg, Robert Finch, and others left lands if it should be established, and Henry Aston bequeathed to it all his 'lomys, lynyn and wollyn, with all the geyr that longen thereto, they doyng ij trentalls for my soul, my wyfes soul, and all my frendes soules.' In 1517 Emma Carpenter left a legacy to the brotherhood. (fn. 134) There was also a gild called 'Our Lady yeld.' (fn. 135)
There was a church-house at Redbourn in the fifteenth century, and in 1486 Robert Hayward of Redbourn left a sum of money towards its repair. (fn. 136) The inhabitants of Redbourn in the sixteenth century kept 'a neighbourly meeting or feast in the church house' at Whitsuntide, 'where they made merry together to the maintenance and increase of love and charity amongst them, and at the same time contributed liberally their money towards the reparation of the church and buying of necessaries for the church, and such like uses.' (fn. 137)
A tenement called the 'Swan' in the street of Redbourn was given by the last will of Thomas Pecok for finding an obit. Alice Royse gave a close of 6 acres and William Carpenter rent from a field called Ayles for like purposes. (fn. 138) William Carpenter by a will dated 1479 also left money 'for the sustentation of the bells and the steeple and to the new building and making of the aisle called St. John's Aisle in the church.' His executors were to ordain four new torches of the value of 26s. 8d. 'for to burn about my corps and herse the days of my burying and months mind, and after that to serve daily at the masses in the same church to be sung by the priests which shall be hired to sing them for my soul as long as they will thereunto endure.' He also left money for the four lights, the Rood light, our Lady light, St. John's light, and St. Katherine's light, and to the making of the new chapel in Markyate 'if the work thereof proceed.' He also established an obit in Redbourn Priory. (fn. 139)
Conventicles were held at Redbourn in 1669; one for Quakers at the house of William Barber and Thomas Bigg, at which about forty people ordinarily attended, though sometimes as many as two or three hundred were present. The other for Anabaptists was held at the house of Richard Stringer. (fn. 140)
The first registration of a meeting-house for Nonconformists was in 1796, and a Congregational chapel was opened at Redbourn in 1802, and enlarged in 1807, and again in 1865. In 1869 a number of the congregation left this church and formed a Baptist church, and others left about 1825, and formed a Hyper-Calvinistic church and built a chapel. There are now two Baptist chapels, and Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, the last of which was built in 1837. (fn. 141)
Sir Richard Rede (or the Dudley Hill Charity), founded in 1560, the endowment consisting of freehold land, called Dudley Hill, containing 10 a. 2 r. 28 p., let in garden allotments, producing about £18 a year. The official trustees also hold £52 7s. 3d. consols in respect of this charity.
Mrs. Sophia Baskerfield, by will 1846, left £100 consols for the repair of vaults and monuments in the church; and also £200 consols for the Sunday school and the poor, which has been apportioned as to £160 consols for the former and £40 consols for the poor.
The several sums of stock are held by the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds, and the scheme provides (inter alia) that subject to the expenses of management the annual sum of £4 shall be paid for the benefit of some Sunday school in the parish in which instruction is given in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England; for the repair when needed of the vaults and the monuments of the Baskerfield family; all the residue of the yearly income to be applied by the trustees for the benefit of the poor of the parish generally, or such necessitous persons resident therein as the trustees should select; in subscriptions in aid of the funds of a dispensary, or convalescent home, provident club or society; contributions towards providing nurses for the sick and infirm, cost of outfits in aid of emigration or distribution in articles in kind, or money.