A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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STANSTEAD ST. MARGARET'S
The earliest name of this parish seems to be Thele (Thele, xii cent.; Theele, xiii cent.; Le Ele, xiv cent.; Theyle, the Yle, xvi cent.). At the end of the 13th century it took an alternative name from the bridge over the Lea and was called Pons de Thele, Punt de Tyull, Pons Tegule or Pons Tegleri (fn. 1) (Pontherigg, xiv cent.). In the 16th century it begins to be called St. Margaret's Theale (Margarthele, 1535) and Stanstead Thele, the first from its church and the second from the fact that the village of St. Margaret's adjoins the village of Stanstead Abbots, from which it is divided by the bridge over the Lea. Stanstead St. Margaret's is a modern form of the name. The parish has also been known by the name of Lea Vale and Old Stanstead. (fn. 2)
Stanstead St. Margaret's is a small parish, containing only 407 acres. About one-half of it consists of arable land and one-third of permanent grass, while there are about 60 acres of woodland. (fn. 3) This lies chiefly in the extreme west of the parish where Golding's Wood is situated. The soil is mixed on a subsoil of chalk and gravel. The River Lea forms the eastern boundary of the parish. In 1858 a bronze spear-head was found in the river here. (fn. 4) In this part of the parish the land is about 100 ft. above the ordnance datum and rises towards the south-west to about 300 ft. The Great Eastern railway has a station called St. Margaret's, lying north of the village in the parish of Great Amwell.
Stanstead St. Margaret's seems to have been originally a part of the parish of Great Amwell, in the middle of which it lies. There is no mention of it in the Domesday Survey, but it had acquired a separate parochial existence by the middle of the 13th century.
The bridge called in early records the Punt de Tyall or Pons Tegule, from which the parish possibly took one of its names, carries the main road to Hertford over the Lea. There was a bridge here early in the 12th century, when the manor of Stanstead Abbots (on the other side of the bridge) appears under the name of 'manerium de Stanstede et Pontis de Thele.' (fn. 5) In 1247–8 it was deposed that the men of London had built a granary at Thele (ad Pontem Tegule) in which they placed corn which they carried to London in their own ships instead of in the king's ships. (fn. 6) At the end of the 13th century the dues from the bridge of Thele were taken by the warden of Hertford Castle, and in 1299, in a suit brought by the monastery of St. Albans against the warden of that castle concerning tolls which he had taken in St. Albans and Barnet, it was stated as an analogous case that Henry III and his predecessors and William de Valence Earl of Pembroke, whom Henry had appointed governor of the castle (q.v.) in 1250, had always taken tolls at the bridge of Thele. (fn. 7) In 1331 Aymer de Valence Earl of Pembroke, governor of the castle, died seised of the tolls of the bridge of Thele, (fn. 8) and the bridge remained attached to the castle until the death of Queen Isabella, when the castle (q.v.) reverted to the Crown, and the king in 1359–60 granted the bridge of Thele with the bridge of Ware to John Lucas of Ware. (fn. 9) It was afterwards acquired by John of Gaunt, to whom the castle of Hertford (q.v.) was granted in 1360, and descended with the castle, except for occasional leases. (fn. 10) When in 1630 the castle and manor of Hertford were finally alienated from the Crown, the bridge of Thele passed with them to William Cecil Earl of Salisbury. (fn. 11) The bridge was a wooden one until 1873, when an iron bridge was built. (fn. 12)
The village of St. Margaret's is a continuation of Stanstead Abbots, on the west side of the Lea, along the road to Hertford. From this a road runs south to meet the main road from London to Ware, which passes through the parish on the west, and along this road are situated the church and manor-house, with St. Margaretsbury (so named only about twenty years ago), now the residence of Mr. Septimus Croft, lying to the west. At the junction of the two roads is a pair of framed timber cottages with thatched roofs, probably not earlier than the first half of the 19th century.
No record of THELE occurs in the Domesday Survey, and it was probably included at that date in the manor of Hailey in Great Amwell. The woodland mentioned in the extent of that manor in 1086 (fn. 13) may be the woods in St. Margaret's, for Hailey itself is very bare. Hailey in 1086 was held by Geoffrey de Bech. (fn. 14) In the early part of the 12th century it had come to Ralph Pincerna, of whom it was held by the Buruns, (fn. 15) and that the Buruns held land in Thele is evident, for Roger de Burun granted a tenement on the banks of Thele to the abbey of St. Albans. (fn. 16) In the reign of Henry I Aubrey de Vere appears as mesne lord in Hailey between Ralph Pincerna and the Buruns, (fn. 17) which also tends to show that Thele was originally included in Hailey, for Aubrey de Vere's descendants, the Earls of Oxford, (fn. 18) appear as overlords of the manor of THELE alias GOLDINGTONS (fn. 19) (Thele, xiii cent.; Goldingtons Thele alias St. Margaret's Thele alias Stanstead Thele, xvi cent.). By the end of the 13th century, apparently, the manor and advowson had become divided among the following co-heirs of a tenant under the Earls of Oxford: Lucy wife of Henry Chacepork, (fn. 20) Alice wife of William le Marchand, (fn. 21) Mabel wife of Nicholas le Mareschal, and possibly Margaret wife of John de Lovetot. Between 1274 and 1276 John de Lovetot and Margaret his wife (fn. 22) seem to have acquired the interests of the other co-heirs (fn. 23) and in 1277 obtained a grant of free warren in their demesne lands here and elsewhere. (fn. 24) They also received a quitclaim from Mabel de Waunford in 1287, who held in dower. (fn. 25) In 1281 John de Lovetot received a grant of a weekly market at Thele on Thursday and an annual fair there on the vigil, the feast and the morrow of the Nativity of St. John Baptist and the six days following. (fn. 26) Joan wife of Humphrey de Bohun (lord of Ware) quitclaimed to John in 1281 all right to hold view of frankpledge, (fn. 27) and later he claimed assize of bread and ale and gallows. (fn. 28)
In 1303 William de Goldington was holding a fee of the Earl of Oxford, (fn. 29) half of which was in Bengeo, (fn. 30) and the other half probably in Thele. William de Goldington was holding the manor in 1313 (fn. 31) and died seised before 3 February 1318–19. (fn. 32) He was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 33) who received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Thele in 1328 (fn. 34) and settled the manor on himself and his wife Katherine in tail in the following year. (fn. 35) He died about 1338, when the manor remained with Katherine for life. (fn. 36) She married as her second husband John Fermer, who died holding the manor in her right in 1354. (fn. 37) Accounts for the manor while it was in his hands include the farm of the fishery, valued at 5s. 6d. (fn. 38)
Katherine died in 1358 and was succeeded by her son John de Goldington, aged twenty-six. (fn. 39) He had a son John Goldington, and the latter a son, also John Goldington, (fn. 40) who died seised of the manor in 1419. (fn. 41) His son Thomas, then aged fifteen, (fn. 42) survived him only a short time and Thele passed to his cousin and heir John Hinxworth of Ashwell, who was holding it in 1423. (fn. 43) John Hinxworth released all right in the manor in 1436 to John Fray and others, (fn. 44) who appear to have been trustees for Sir Andrew Ogard, kt., who died holding it jointly with his wife Alice in 1454, leaving as his heir his son Henry, aged four. (fn. 45) Henry Ogard was knighted, and by his will proved in 1511 he left the manor of Thele to his son Andrew, (fn. 46) who held it until his death in March 1525–6, when it passed to his son George. (fn. 47) In 1553 George Ogard leased the manor of Thele to Thomas Fleminge of Stanstead for ninetynine years. He died shortly afterwards, bequeathing the remainder of the lease to Agnes his wife, who married John Thorowgood. (fn. 48)
In 1560 George Ogard sold the manor to William Frankland, clothworker of London, (fn. 49) who died in 1576, leaving Goldingtons to his son William for life with reversion to his nephew Hugh for life. (fn. 50) Hugh died in January 1607, (fn. 51) and in 1623 William Frankland his nephew with Lucy his wife conveyed the manor to Simon Adams, citizen and draper of London. (fn. 52) Simon Adams in 1637 settled the manor for the purpose of the payment of an annuity to Sarah his wife, (fn. 53) and in 1651 his son Simon Adams of Aston upon the Wall (co. Northants), clerk, sold it together with the messuage lately built upon a parcel of land called Quitchells alias Cutchills and the right of feeding one cow on Amwell Marsh to Henry Lawrence of St. Ives (co. Hunts.) for £1,090. (fn. 54) This Henry Lawrence was a relative of Oliver Cromwell and a member of the Commonwealth Council of State; his learning received the praise of Milton. On the death of the Protector he declared Richard Cromwell his successor, but on the return of Charles II he retired to Thele, where he died in 1664. (fn. 55)
The manor was soon afterwards sold to Thomas Westrow, (fn. 56) and after his death in 1675 (fn. 57) it was held by his widow Elizabeth. (fn. 58) In 1689 it was purchased of her by Francis Roston, who was holding it in 1700. (fn. 59) It passed to Richard Kynnesman of Broughton (co. Northants), (fn. 60) who sold it in 1714 to Spencer Cowper of Hertford Castle (co. Herts.). (fn. 61) On the death of Spencer Cowper in 1727 (fn. 62) the manor descended to his son William Cowper, from whom it passed to a son of the same name, and from him to his son, also William Cowper. (fn. 63) The latter died without issue in 1798, and the manor of Thele was inherited by his brother Charles, (fn. 64) on whose death it passed to his sister Frances Cecilia. (fn. 65) She married the Rev. Joseph Stephen Pratt, (fn. 66) and died in 1849, when the manor descended to her son the Rev. Charles Pratt, rector of St. Margaret's. (fn. 67) He held it until his death, and in 1889 it was bought of his executors by Mr. Septimus Croft, (fn. 68) who is the present lord of the manor and resides at St. Margaretsbury.
The site of the manor and the demesne lands of the manor were sold separately from the manor by George Ogard in 1559 to John Thorowgood and Agnes his wife, who were then holding a lease of the manor (fn. 69) (q.v.). John Thorowgood died in February 1568–9, and his lands descended to his son and heir Thomas. (fn. 70) At the end of the 17th century the capital messuage appears to have been divided between co-heirs, for in 1685 Thomas Wale, citizen and goldsmith of London, sold one-quarter and onethird of a quarter of it to Robert Peter the elder, citizen and girdler of London. (fn. 71) In 1782 the site of the manor was held by Anna Maria Lake, spinster. (fn. 72)
The manor-house on the west bank of the New River, opposite to and a little south of the church, has been much restored, but appears to date from the 17th century. It is a timber-framed building with a tiled roof. There are 18th-century iron gates at the principal entrance. These are surmounted by a shield charged with the arms of Lake with the coat of augmentation, beneath which is the motto 'Un Dieu un Roy un cœur.'
The church of ST. MARGARET consists of chancel measuring internally 35 ft. by 19 ft., nave, which has no structural division from the chancel, 32 ft. by 19 ft., and two modern north vestries, the westernmost containing a stair to the modern west gallery. The walls are of flint rubble coated with cement and have stone dressings. The roof is tiled. The church was made collegiate about 1316. (fn. 73)
The nave was built in the early part of the 12th century and the chancel about the middle of the 14th century; a north chapel and aisle were also erected at this period, but these were subsequently pulled down. The church is now a rectangular building with the two modern vestries on the north side.
In the east wall of the chancel is a 14th-century window of four trefoiled lights with geometrical tracery in the head; it has been much restored. On each side of the window is a tall shallow niche with cinquefoiled arch and crocketed canopy; the sills are supported on grotesque heads. In the north wall is a small and plain stone bracket, perhaps for a light. In the sill of the easternmost window in the south wall is a plain bowl of a piscina. On the north side of the chancel are two bays of arcading, now buried in the wall; part of one of these columns was recently exposed during a restoration, but was covered up again. The columns were of four engaged shafts separated by a roll moulding, the capitals were moulded; the windows inserted in these bays are modern. In the south wall of the chancel are two 14th-century windows, each of two lights with cusped opening in the head; between them is a blocked 14th-century doorway; a slight break in the wall to the west marks the junction of the 14th-century work with the original 12th-century wall. There is no chancel arch.
On the north side of the nave two bays of the arcade are buried in the wall; the apex of a third, the westernmost arch, is exposed. It is of two wave-moulded orders, and forms the head of the doorway to the gallery; in the built-up arches are inserted a modern window and doorway. In the east end of the south wall is a 14th-century window of two lights with a cusped opening in the head, much restored; a little to the west of it, on the outside, are the jamb stones and round arch of a narrow light, now blocked, of the original 12th-century nave; the arch is cut from a single stone. The south doorway is of 14th-century date with arch of two moulded orders and jambs with hollow moulding between ogees and fillets; parts of the stonework have been renewed. The west window is modern. The nave roof retains three late 15th-century trusses with king-posts and cambered tie-beams. Over the west end is a small modern bellcote.
Beside the stair to the gallery is a slab with indents of a foliated cross, shields and remains of an illegible inscription; in the chancel is a slab with indents of a halffigure of a priest of 15th-century date. There are several inscribed floor slabs to members of the Lawrence and Cresset families of 17th-century date.
The earliest record of the church occurs in the year 1271 when it was divided between the four heiresses as already mentioned. (fn. 74) About 1316 Sir William de Goldington, then lord of the manor, founded a college of a warden and four chaplains who were to celebrate mass at the altar of St. Mary in the church of St. Margaret for the souls of Sir William and of Margaret his wife, their heirs and ancestors, and also for the soul of Robert de Vere Earl of Oxford, his heirs and ancestors. Sir William endowed the college with various lands in Thele, Amwell and Bures Giffard and the advowsons of the churches of Thele and Aldham. Licence to appropriate the church, the revenues of which were said to be insufficient for the support of a rector, was shortly afterwards granted to the college. (fn. 75) The college remained on this basis throughout the 14th century, receiving a few other grants of land, (fn. 76) but by the beginning of the 15th century it had become exceedingly poor, many of its lands had been alienated, and it consisted of only one priest. (fn. 77) Accordingly in 1431 licence was granted for its lands to be alienated to the hospital of St. Mary 'Elsyngspittel' in London, the prior of which was to supply two regular canons for the college of Thele. (fn. 78) On the dissolution of the hospital in 1530 (fn. 79) the rectory of Thele came to the Crown, and from this time it has been a lay donative. In 1536 Henry VIII granted it to Roger Poten, the late prior of the hospital, (fn. 80) and in 1539 he granted the reversion of the rectory with the lands pertaining to Richard Higham. (fn. 81) The following year Richard Higham received licence to alienate it to Philip Parys. (fn. 82) Philip was knighted at the coronation of Queen Mary in 1553, (fn. 83) and died in 1558, when his heir was his kinsman Robert Parys, aged five. (fn. 84) In 1561 the advowson was held by Ferdinand Parys of Linton, co. Cambridge, who sold it in that year to Nicholas Baesh. (fn. 85) In 1563 Nicholas settled the rectory and mansion-house on his wife Dorothy and their heirs male. (fn. 86) Nicholas Baesh died in February 1590–1 and was succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 87) who shortly afterwards sold the rectory to his mother, Dorothy, and her second husband (fn. 88) Robert Booth. (fn. 89) After Dorothy's death Robert mortgaged the rectory to Sir Reginald Argall, kt., of Higham Hill, co. Essex, into whose hands it finally passed. (fn. 90)
The history of St. Margaret's rectory after this date becomes very obscure. In 1626 it was held by Dorothy Lacy, widow of Matthew Lacy of Melton Mowbray, co. Leicester, and on her death in that year it passed to her six daughters and co-heirs. (fn. 91) They must have sold it, for in 1650 it was held by Sir Thomas Stanley, kt., (fn. 92) but some time afterwards it passed to the lord of the manor of Goldingtons, and in 1684 was held together with that manor by Thomas Westrow. (fn. 93) From this date it has descended with the manor (fn. 94) (q.v.). In 1899 by an Act of Parliament abolishing all donatives it became presentative. (fn. 95)
A meeting-place for Protestant Dissenters in the parish was certified in 1700. (fn. 96)
An unknown donor—as stated in the Parliamentary Returns of 1786—gave land for teaching one child. The land, known as Red Marsh, was sold in 1861 and the proceeds invested in £108 13s. 11d. consols, with the official trustees, subsequently augmented by accumulations to £153 15s. 6d. consols, producing £3 16s. 8d. yearly, which is applied in paying the apprenticeship premium for a poor boy, when there is sufficient money for the purpose.