A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Great Munden has an area of 3,758 acres, of which 1,895¾ acres are arable land, 927½ permanent grass and 97 wood. (fn. 1) The elevation of the parish is for the most part well over 300 ft., and in the north-west and along the eastern border of the parish it is over 400 ft. The village of Great Munden lies on the road which branches off westwards from Ermine Street at Puckeridge; the road from Little Munden to Westmill crosses it in the centre of the village, and passes through the hamlet of Nasty to the north of it. The church of St. Nicholas, with Munden Bury adjoining, is at the west end of the village, and the rectory about three-quarters of a mile further along the road to the south. The old rectory, with the remains of a moat, is about the same distance due west of the village. In 1606 it is described as a house consisting of eleven bays built of timber and covered all (excepting one bay) with tile, 'five bayes being chambred over and boorded, these five bayes being contrived into two heights or stories and the whole building disposed into 17 roomes vizt. the halle, buttrey, parlour, three bedchambers below and six chambers above (the dayrie having a cornloft over it boorded), kitchin and three other roomes adioyning.' There was also a dove-house within the moat and a bridge with a gate of timber and boards over the moat. The glebe lands consisted of about 53 acres. (fn. 2)
Near the old rectory is an early 17th-century cottage, with weather-boarded timber framing and thatched roof. Brockholds Farm, with the remains of a moat, is on the eastern boundary of the parish, a short distance north-east of Levens Green. There are remains of homestead moats also at Mill Farm and Rush Green. Rowney Priory, with the site of the small house for Benedictine nuns, founded in 1164 by Conan Duke of Britanny, is in the extreme south. The present house is modern, but there is a wall within it about 3 ft. 6 in. thick, faced with flint, which may have been a part of the priory. In the grounds a stone coffin and a stone mortar with two handles have been found. Potter's Green is a little to the north. About a mile and a half south of the village is High Trees Farm, an early 17th-century timber and plaster house of two stories with later additions. It still retains its original brick chimney stacks. Within, the hall is now divided into two rooms, the south end being cut off by an oak panelled screen. Much original oak panelling, an oak staircase and an old kitchen fireplace still remain.
The inclosure award was made in 1852, with an amendment in 1858. Both are in the custody of the clerk of the peace. (fn. 3)
In 1888 a detached portion of Little Munden was added to this parish. (fn. 4)
Great Munden or Munden Furnivall
In the time of King Edmund GREAT MUNDEN or MUNDEN FURNIVALL belonged to one Ethelgifu, who by her will of 944–6 demised it to one Elfwold for his lifetime. (fn. 5) Immediately before the Norman Conquest it was held by Eddeva the Fair. (fn. 6) William the Conqueror gave it to Count Alan of Britanny, in whose time it was assessed at 7 hides and half a virgate. (fn. 7) The overlordship of Munden Furnivall remained in the hands of the subsequent holders of the honour and earldom of Richmond. (fn. 8)
The earliest sub-tenant recorded is Gerard de Furnivall, who died in Jerusalem at the beginning of the reign of Henry III. The manor came into the king's hands by his death, presumably owing to the minority of the heir, and was granted, saving the dower of Gerard's widow, to Lady Nichola de Haye, who had been an ardent supporter of King John against the barons, 'for her support in our castle of Lincoln, for as long as it pleases us.' (fn. 9) Later in the same reign Munden was again in the possession of the Furnivalls, and in 1242 Christiana, widow of another Gerard de Furnivall, was granted the custody of his heir. (fn. 10) Christiana's son Gerard lived until almost the end of the century, dying some time between 1290 and 1302. (fn. 11) He had two daughters, Christiana de Aylesford and Lora or Loretta, widow of John de Ulvesflete, (fn. 12) the manor of Munden Furnivall being apportioned to the younger. (fn. 13) Both Lora and Christiana had descendants, Gerard de Ulvesflete descendant of the former, and John de Aylesford, a minor, descendant of the latter, both being alive about 1362. (fn. 14) During the hundred years following, however, both lines apparently died out, for by 1461 this mesne lordship of Great Munden had passed to another branch of the family, who had the title of Lord Furnivall and was descended from Thomas de Furnivall, brother of Gerard de Furnivall and uncle of Lora and Christiana. (fn. 15) In 1461 it was held by John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Furnivall, (fn. 16) who had married the heiress of the Furnivalls, and the manor continued to be held of his heirs, in socage, for the rent of a pair of gloves. (fn. 17)
In 1285 Gerard de Furnivall had created a further sub-tenancy by conveying the manor to John de Kirkeby, Bishop of Ely, for the yearly rent of a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. (fn. 18) John died in 1290, and was succeeded by his brother William de Kirkeby, (fn. 19) who lived until 1302. At this time a third of the manor was in the hands of Mathania, the second wife of John de Cobham, (fn. 20) but the remainder passed on the division of William's inheritance between his sisters to Margaret, wife of Walter de Osevill, (fn. 21) with the reversion of Mathania's third and the third held in dower by Christine de Kirkeby, William's widow. (fn. 22) In 1304 Walter and Margaret de Osevill settled Munden Furnivall upon their sons John and Henry and the heirs of Henry. (fn. 23) Henry de Osevill died before 1334, (fn. 24) when his widow Alice held one third and his brother John, who survived him until 1335, held the other two thirds. (fn. 25) Eventually the whole came to John son of Henry de Osevill. Cecily his daughter and heiress married Guy de Boys, (fn. 26) who was holding the manor in right of his wife in 1350. (fn. 27) He died before 1370, in which year Cecily was holding it alone. (fn. 28) After her death Munden Furnivall seems to have been held by John and Agnes Durham, (fn. 29) who conveyed it in 1389 to Margaret, daughter of Cecily and Guy de Boys, and her husband Robert Dykeswell. (fn. 30) Margaret married secondly Henry Hayward, (fn. 31) and thirdly, before 1419, Walter Pejon or Pegeon. (fn. 32) She was succeeded by Thomas Hayward or Howard, her son by her second husband. (fn. 33) Thomas died shortly before 1447, when the manor of Great Munden was conveyed by trustees to Sir John Fray, chief baron of the Exchequer. (fn. 34) He also made himself secure against the claims of various heirs of Thomas Howard. (fn. 35) In 1460, however, he was obliged to sue Simon Rode and Joan his wife for illegal entry by force into the manor. Joan claimed that she was the heir of Mabel Grimbaud, one of the sisters of Walter de Osevill, upon whom the manor had been entailed failing the heirs of Henry de Osevill. (fn. 36) The claim was not successful, for Sir John Fray died seised of Great Munden in the following year. (fn. 37) His widow Agnes, who married secondly Sir John Say, held the manor until her death in 1478, when it passed by grant of the trustees to her second daughter Margaret, the wife of John Leynham or Plomer. (fn. 38) Some years later Munden Furnivall came into the possession of Sir William Say (son of Sir John Say by an earlier wife), who had married Margaret Lynham's elder sister Elizabeth, then the widow of Sir Thomas Waldegrave. Though he is said to have acquired it by purchase, (fn. 39) it is thus possible that it came to him by failure of Margaret's heirs. He died seised of it in 1529, (fn. 40) and it descended in the same manner as his other lands (v. s. Benington) in Hertfordshire until it came to the Crown upon the death of Lady Anne Parr. (fn. 41)
In 1572 the manor was leased by the Crown to William Lord Burghley for a term of thirty-one years from 1595, (fn. 42) which lease was renewed to Sir Robert Cecil in 1600 for twenty-one years. (fn. 43) The latter died in 1612, bequeathing the lease of Great Munden to William, Earl of Cranbourne, with remainder to James Lord Stanley and his wife and Robert Stanley, his brother. (fn. 44) It reverted to the Crown on the expiration of the Tease, and is said to have been granted to Charles Prince of Wales in 1620, but the grant does not seem to be extant. (fn. 45) In 1628 it was granted to Edward Ditchfield and others, (fn. 46) and is said to have been sold later to Edward Arris. (fn. 47) Thomas Arris, his son, (fn. 48) sold the manor in 1700 to Robert Hadsley, (fn. 49) whose son Robert sold it to Sir John Jennings in 1723. (fn. 50) In 1789 it was purchased from his son George Jennings by William Baker of Bayfordbury, (fn. 51) in whose family it descended (fn. 52) until it was purchased by Messrs. Paine, Brettell & Porter, solicitors, in 1900.
The park of Great Munden is first mentioned in 1283, when Gerard de Furnivall complained that certain persons had repeatedly broken his park at Munden Furnivall, hunted therein and carried away deer. (fn. 53) In 1302 the park is described as having an area of 40 acres (fn. 54); later it seems to have been called Fludgate Park, and was leased with the manor to the Cecils under that name. (fn. 55) This name occurs again in 1723 and also the form Flutgate Park, (fn. 56) which does not occur elsewhere. It seems to have been subsequently disparked.
In 1275 Gerard de Furnivall is said to have appropriated free warren to himself in Munden where he ought not to have had it (fn. 57); in 1295, however, William de Kirkeby received a grant of free warren in due form. (fn. 58) The grant was renewed in 1320 to John and Henry de Osevill and their heirs. (fn. 59) In 1397 one John Potter was fined 20d. because he 'dug the land of the lord in the free warren of the lord and put nets in the warren and took there conies and carried them away to the damage of the lord.' (fn. 60) The warren is mentioned again in 1723. (fn. 61)
In 1275 the lord of the manor of Munden Furnivall possessed view of frankpledge, gallows and amendment of the assize of bread and ale. (fn. 62) John de Kirkeby, Bishop of Ely, claimed there in 1287 pillory, tumbrel, infangentheof and outfangentheof in addition. (fn. 63) His brother held view of frankpledge at Whitsuntide and courts every three weeks. (fn. 64) View of frankpledge is mentioned in connexion with the manor in a deed of 1723. (fn. 65) False imprisonment in the stocks was complained of against the bailiff of Sir William Say early in the reign of Henry VIII. (fn. 66) The lord also possessed the liberty of a pinfold for sheep. (fn. 67) There was a mill in Great Munden in 1086. (fn. 68) A windmill is mentioned in 1290 (fn. 69) and after. (fn. 70) There is still a windmill in the south of the parish, a little to the east of the road from Little Munden.
Brokholes or Brockholds
BROKHOLES or BROCKHOLDS was a small manor, held of the manor of Great Munden (fn. 71); in 1550 it was said to be held in socage for a rent of 36s. It owed suit of court to Great Munden. (fn. 72) A Geoffrey de Brokhole occurs in a Watton fine of 1258–9, (fn. 73) but the earliest to be mentioned in Great Munden is the Geoffrey de Brokhole who in 1327 represented Hertfordshire in Parliament. (fn. 74) In 1338 one Thomas de Burnham was summoned to answer an indictment 'that he took Alice, wife of Geoffrey de Brokhole, and her goods at Munden Furnivall and carried them away.' (fn. 75) Geoffrey seems to have been succeeded by another Geoffrey Brokhole, who was Sheriff of Essex and Herts. in 1385, and is mentioned in 1397. (fn. 76) His widow Ellen died in 1419, leaving as her heirs a daughter Joan, widow of Thomas Aspall, and a grandson John Sumpter, son of her second daughter Mary, (fn. 77) between whom the manor was divided.
John Sumpter's moiety passed at his death in 1420 to his sisters Christine and Ellen, (fn. 78) of whom the elder died without issue. (fn. 79) Ellen, who thus became possessed of the half-manor, married James Bellewe or Bellers, (fn. 80) and later, about 1439, Ralph Holt, (fn. 81) in whose family the moiety descended.
Joan, the widow of Thomas Aspall, to whom the other half was apportioned, married Robert Armeburgh, (fn. 82) and lived until 1443. Robert survived her and continued to hold the half-manor, with remainder to John Palmer, Joan sister of John Palmer, and Philip Thornbury. (fn. 83) Before 1452 it had come to Philip Thornbury, for in that year he and Reginald Armeburgh made an arrangement with Ralph Holt, to whom they owed £100, (fn. 84) which seems to have been the final step in the transfer of the estate to the latter. Ralph Holt thus became possessed of the whole manor, which descended in his family until 1543, when Thomas Holt conveyed it to John Gardiner. (fn. 85) John died in 1550, leaving a son Thomas, (fn. 86) after which Brokholes descended in the Gardiner family until 1742, (fn. 87) when it was sold by John Gardiner to Francis Welles. (fn. 88) Eventually it seems to have become merged in the main manor. The moated farm-house called Brockholds probably represents the manor-house.
Garnons or Henry-At-Danes
GARNONS or HENRY-AT-DANES, of which no trace now remains, probably took its name from the family who originally held it, for a John Garnon appears in a list of the tenants of Great Munden manor in 1346. (fn. 89) In 1417 there is mention of Henry atte Dane in Great Munden, (fn. 90) who seems to have been succeeded by Robert atte Dane. (fn. 91) In 1473 Garnons was merely called a tenement; it was then in the possession of John Humberston. (fn. 92) In 1526 John Humberston, perhaps the son of the last-named John, conveyed Garnons, then called a manor, to William Hamond and others. (fn. 93) Sixty years later another William Hamond was holding it, (fn. 94) and sold it about 1600 or later to Sir John Watts. (fn. 95) The latter died seised of it in 1616, leaving a son John, (fn. 96) and it apparently remained in his family, for in 1665 Garnons was held by Richard Watts, (fn. 97) who had married Catherine Werden. (fn. 98) His daughter Katharine, to whom the manor descended, married Charles first Earl of Dunmore, (fn. 99) who in 1709 conveyed it to Sir John Werden, his wife's uncle. (fn. 100) Sir John's heir was his son John, who died without male heirs in 1758. (fn. 101) In that year Garnons was sold by William and Caroline Louisa Kerr to Francis Fryer, (fn. 102) which suggests that it had either been previously sold to the Kerrs or that they were Sir John Werden's executors. Next year Francis Fryer sold it to Robeit Ireland, (fn. 103) who died soon after, leaving a widow Anne and three sons, the eldest of whom was William Ireland, upon whom Garnons was settled after the death of his mother. (fn. 104) After this settlement in 1786 there is no further record of Garnons.
In 1551 the buildings and lands of the dissolved priory of ROWNEY were granted to Thomas Bill, (fn. 105) who is said to have devised them to his daughter Margaret and her husband Michael Harris, (fn. 106) but if so they cannot have held them long, for before 1566 they had been acquired by Richard Smythe. (fn. 107) In that year he sold the chapel and lands for £20 to John Ruse, who sold them for £25 to Cyrus Ruse. In 1569 the last-named complained that Richard Smythe refused to give up the documents connected with the lands. Richard Smythe replied that the bargain had never been completed, and that Cyrus had entered into the premises and destroyed his grass. (fn. 108)
Later Rowney is said to have been sold to John Fleming. (fn. 109) In 1641 Thomas and Richard Fleming brought a suit against Henry Birchenhead,' by whose unconscionable practices they had been deprived of the chantry house in Rowney and other property.' (fn. 110) In the following year, however, Thomas Fleming sold Rowney to Henry Birchenhead, (fn. 111) in whose family it descended for a while. It is said to have been conveyed to Thomas Jenner, whose daughter Anne married Francis Browne, (fn. 112) who possessed it in 1700. (fn. 113) Their son Thomas Browne is said to have devised it to Charles and Robert Jenner, of whom the latter conveyed the whole to Thomas Marlborough, whose second daughter Elizabeth possessed it in 1821. She was married to James Cecil Graves of Baldock, and had a daughter Mary. (fn. 114) The subsequent owners are not known. Michael William Balfe, the Irish composer, is said to have resided at Rowney for a while, and to have died there in 1870. (fn. 115) It is now the residence of Mr. James Henry Dugdale, J.P.
The parish church of ST. NICHOLAS lies to the west of the village, and consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, south porch and west tower. (fn. 116) It is built of flint rubble with stone dressings; pudding-stone occurs in the foundations. The tower is plastered and the roofs are tiled.
The nave and chancel were built in the 12th century and the south aisle in the middle of the 14th century. The tower dates from the latter part of the 15th century, and at the same time, or it may be in the first years of the 16th century, the chancel arch was widened southwards. The porch is modern, and the repairs of the 19th century include considerable restoration of the south arcade.
The east window of the chancel is modern, of three lights, with flowing tracery in a pointed head. In the north wall is a narrow single-light window of original 12th-century date, having a round head and widely splayed jambs. It is much repaired externally with cement. In the south wall is a 14th-century doorway with a pointed head, almost wholly restored, and to the west of it a two-light square-headed window of the 15th century. The wagon roof is modern. The chancel arch is four-centred and flat, and is supported on the north side by the respond of the original 12th-century arch, which dates from about 1120 and has circular angle-shafts on the east and west sides and a rudely voluted capital with a square abacus and a moulded base. On the south side the chancel arch dies into the south wall of the chancel, and thus is considerably southward of the axis of the chancel and nave.
In the north wall of the nave are three three-light 15th-century windows; the first has a four-centred head, the second is similar but with tracery, and the third has a segmental head. All are much repaired. Between the two easternmost windows is an image niche of the 15th century with an ogee crocketed head, and retaining traces of decoration in blue, red and gold. The north doorway, which is now blocked, stands between the two westernmost windows, and is of the 12th century, with a round head. Externally it has a large edge-roll supported by engaged shafts with cushion capitals enriched with incised ornament. The abaci are splayed and the bases moulded. The nave arcade is modern, with a few old stones. The west respond is of the first half of the 14th century. At the west end is a 14th-century door opening into the tower. The roof of the nave is of the late 15th century supported on carved corbels. The east window of the south aisle is original; it is of three lights with flowing tracery. Beneath it stands a stone reredos discovered during repairs in 1865; it consists of a central trefoilheaded panel, with a smaller one on either side. The head of the central panel has been cut down, destroying the proportions of the design. A piscina of the 14th century is in the south wall at the east end, with an ogee trefoiled head. Occupying nearly the whole length of the south wall between the piscina and the south doorway are two moulded ogee-headed recesses of about 1350. Above them is a three-light window with a four-centred head, and there is a similar one to the west of the south door; all but the jambs of these windows is modern. The south door, which is two-centred of two moulded orders, is original. The west window, which is much restored, also dates from the middle of the 14th century.
The tower is of three receding stages, and is surmounted by an embattled parapet and a small needle spire. The string below the parapet has grotesque gargoyles, much defaced, at the angles. The west window appears to be modern. There is an original single light on the south side of the second stage. In the north face of the bell-chamber is a two-light window with a quatrefoil in the head. The windows in the west and south faces are similar but much decayed.
There is an early 17th-century oak pulpit of hexagonal shape, carved with two stages of arcading and enriched with strap ornament. The base is modern. In the chancel are early 16th-century stalls and bench ends, some of them carved with the initials R. K.
Of the six bells, the treble is by John Warner & Sons, 1882; the second, inscribed 'Jesus be our spede,' 1621, with a shield inclosing an arrow between the letters R.O.; the third, 'Praise the Lord,' 1621; the fourth, 'God save the King,' 1621; the fifth, 'Sonoro sono meo sono deo,' 1621, all by Robert Oldfeild; and the sixth, by John Warner & Sons, 1881.
The registers are contained in four books: (i) all entries 1558 to 1682; (ii) baptisms 1678 to 1787, burials 1678 to 1787, marriages 1687 to 1753; (iii) baptisms 1788 to 1812, burials 1788 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1788 to 1812.
The advowson of the church was from the earliest times in the possession of the lords of the manor. In 1285 it was conveyed with the manor to John de Kirkeby, (fn. 117) and followed the descent of the manor until it came to the Crown at the death of Lady Anne Parr. (fn. 118) In 1604 it was granted for one turn to Thomas Nicholson, (fn. 119) and in 1688 to John and George Churchill and Thomas Docwray. (fn. 120) With the exception of these two cases the Crown has presented down to the present date. (fn. 121)
In 1581 and as late as 1596 the tithes of sheaves, grain and hay were held by Michael and Margaret Harris. (fn. 122) A hundred years later it appeared that only a few of the lands paid tithe, and that some had been commuted for money. (fn. 123) In 1723 and 1789 some of them at any rate were held by the lord of the manor. (fn. 124)
A certificate for a meeting-place of Protestant Dissenters in Great Munden was taken out in 1700. (fn. 125) There is now a Gospel Hall at Levens Green.
In the parliamentary returns of 1786 it is stated that a donor unknown gave a rent-charge of £5 4s. to twelve poor persons. The annuity was redeemed in 1904 by the transfer to the official trustees of £208 consols, the dividends of which are applied in pursuance of a scheme 19 May 1905 for aged and deserving poor resident in the parish, with a preference for widows.
In the same returns it is also stated that a donor unknown gave land for bread for the poor, in respect of which the parish is in possession of 13a. 1 r. 34 p., producing about £11 a year, which is applied in the distribution of sheets and towels to about fifty cottagers.
In 1902 Anne Dawson, by will proved at London 14 June, left £160 15s. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £4. 0s. 4d., to be applied for the benefit of poor widows at Christmas. The stock is held by the official trustees.