A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Datchworth has an area of 2,018 acres, of which about three-quarters is arable land, the remainder, with the exception of about 18 acres of wood, being permanent grass. (fn. 1) It is long and narrow in shape, sloping upwards from just over 200 ft. in the north to over 400 ft. in the south. The road from Aston to Bramfield winds down the centre of the parish and is crossed in the north of the parish by the main road from Stevenage to Watton; the hamlet of Bragbury End lies at the cross-roads with the house and park of Bragbury, the residence of Mr. Samuel S. Berger, J.P. The park has an extent of about 50 acres and is watered by the River Beane. In the south the central road is crossed by the road from Woolmer Green to Watton, the hamlet of Datchworth Green being situated at this junction.
The village of Datchworth is on the west side of the main road where a lane turns off south-west towards the rectory. The site of the manor-house with the remains of a moat is situated in the angle thus formed and the church of All Saints is a little further south. On the north side of the green is a late 17th-century building of timber and plaster and brick with a tiled roof now divided into two cottages. The initials [W B D] and date 1694 are placed in plaster over three gabled windows. Near by on the green is the whipping-post, to which the handcuffs are still attached. About half a mile south of the village is Hoppers Hall, a timber and plaster house with tiled roof of mid-17th-century date. It is gabled and has a small porch. Two of the rooms still have their original fireplaces, over one of which is a painting of a hunting scene, probably of the date of the house. The staircase has turned balusters and square newels with ball heads and is probably original. A little further on is Cherry Tree Farm, a 17th-century brick house plastered, with a tiled roof.
There are several hamlets in the parish. In the south is Painter's Green, where the road forks to Datchworth Green and Hawkin's Hall. In the extreme south of the parish are the hamlets of Bull's Green, where there are the remains of a moat, and Burnham Green, partly in Digswell parish. By the Divided Parishes Act of 1882 Swangley Farm and Cottages in the north west were attached to Datchworth instead of Knebworth for civil purposes. Oak's Cross, on the road from Stevenage to Watton, marks the north-eastern angle of the parish.
The subsoil is London Clay in the centre, surrounded by Woolwich and Reading beds, and giving place to chalk in the north, where there are two disused chalk-pits. There are also two small chalk-pits in the south-west and a large gravel-pit west of the village.
Place-names mentioned in the 13th century are Godbyry, Chippeden, Pesecroft, Baronesfeld, and Baronesgrave. (fn. 2) The first three of these survive in the early 18th century as Godbury, Chibden, and Peascroft. (fn. 3) Others which occur in the 17th and early 18th centuries are Candell, the Great Lawne, Foldingshott, Cunden Field, Clubden Field, Rockleys, Collewood or Colewood, Datts or Jacks, Lethmore, Feeks Shott Pitle, Shoulder of Mutton Field, Hitchfield, Rush Grounds Field, and Pakesgrove. (fn. 4)
King Edgar, who reigned from 959 to 975, gave land in Datchworth to the church of St. Peter of Westminster, (fn. 5) which was confirmed to that abbey by Edward the Confessor as 4 hides and 1 virgate. (fn. 6) The abbot himself held 3 hides and 1 virgate (fn. 7); the other hide was held of him by Aluric Blac before the Conquest. With regard to other lands Aluric was the man of Archbishop Stigand, and his successor Lanfranc made this an excuse for seizing Aluric's hide in Datchworth, and was thus in possession of it in 1086. (fn. 8) Besides the 4¼ hides in Datchworth originally belonging to Westminster there were 3 virgates, of which previous to the Conquest 2½ virgates were held by three sokemen of King Edward, (fn. 9) and half a virgate by Alstan, a man of Almar of Benington. (fn. 10) In 1086 the 2½ virgates were held by two knights of Geoffrey de Bech, (fn. 11) and the half virgate by Robert of Peter de Valognes. (fn. 12) These portions are not heard of again, so presumably they became absorbed in the manor. The overlordship of Datchworth remained in the hands of the Abbots of Westminster. (fn. 13) When the abbey was converted into the seat of a bishop in 1540 Datchworth was confirmed to the see. (fn. 14) The bishopric of Westminster was abolished in 1556, but in 1554 Datchworth was granted by the queen to the Bishop of London and his successors to hold in free alms, (fn. 15) and an interest in the manor remained to the see as late as 1693, when the manor was still charged with an annual rent of £3 to the bishop. (fn. 16)
The earliest recorded sub-tenant is Hugh de Bocland, who was lord of the manor in 1192. (fn. 17) His daughter Hawise married William de Lanvaley, and apparently received Datchworth as a marriage portion, (fn. 18) for it does not seem to have passed to Hugh's son William de Bocland. In 1215 the manor was granted to Nicholas de Joland, and is described as having belonged to Geoffrey de Bocland, (fn. 19) who was perhaps a predecessor of Hugh. In 1217, however, the custody of the lands of William de Lanvaley was granted to Robert Delamare and Thomas de Winton. (fn. 20) This suggests that William had forfeited; eventually, however, Datchworth returned to the Lanvaleys and descended to Hawise's granddaughter Hawise, who married John de Burgh, (fn. 21) son of the famous Hubert de Burgh. (fn. 22) John and Hawise de Burgh conveyed the manor in 1240 to Gilbert de Wauton, for the rent of a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. at Easter. (fn. 23) Gilbert de Wauton was succeeded before 1287 by his son John de Wauton, (fn. 24) but by 1302 Datchworth had passed into the hands of William de Melksop, (fn. 25) and in 1346 was held by Henry Melksop. (fn. 26) Some time after this it was acquired by John de la Lee, from whom it passed upon his death in 1370 to his son Walter de la Lee, (fn. 27) who held it in 1376. (fn. 28) Walter's heirs were his two sisters, Margery the wife of Robert Newport and Joan wife of John Barley. (fn. 29) These two sisters in 1406 conveyed their moieties to John Coke, (fn. 30) who was succeeded by Thomas Coke after 1410 (fn. 31) and before 1428 (fn. 32). Who were the heirs of Thomas Coke is not recorded, but it seems as if the manor was divided between two daughters. One of these may have been Joan the wife of John Shawarden, who died in 1479 seised of half the manor of Datchworth. (fn. 33) She left a son John, to whom her moiety descended, and who died in 1555. By his will the rent of the half-manor was to be used to raise portions for his daughters Ellen and Susan and his younger sons Thomas and Laurence. (fn. 34) The moiety descended to his eldest son John Shawarden, who in 1572–3 sold it to Richard Foster. (fn. 35)
The history of the other moiety of Datchworth after the death of Thomas Coke is more obscure. In 1533 a portion, which from subsequent evidence would appear to be a half, was conveyed by Robert and Alice Darkenoll to John Covert and others and the heirs of John. (fn. 36) In 1559 the moiety was held by Richard Covert, (fn. 37) presumably the son of John, and was later purchased from him by Thomas Johnson. (fn. 38) By his will of 1569 Thomas Johnson bequeathed his lands to his wife Grace for life with remainder to Margaret wife of Thomas Appowell, who seems most probably to have been his niece. The half-manor passed to Margaret and Thomas, but a few years later was claimed by Richard Fuller, nephew of Grace Johnson, on the ground that Thomas Johnson had promised to convey it to him failing his own issue. (fn. 39) His claim, however, was not allowed, and in 1571 the moiety was conveyed by Thomas and Margaret Appowell to Richard Foster, (fn. 40) who a year or two later became possessed of the other moiety. Thus Datchworth was again united in the same hands. Richard Foster was succeeded before 1614 by Thomas Foster, (fn. 41) who in 1620 conveyed the manor to John Gamon. (fn. 42) Datchworth remained in the Gamon family (fn. 43) until 1693, when it was sold by Richard and Mary Gamon to William Wallis. (fn. 44) In 1719 it was purchased from the latter by Edward Harrison, (fn. 45) upon whose death in 1732 the manor passed to his daughter Audrey, who married Charles third Viscount Townshend. (fn. 46) She survived her husband and died in 1788. Her will provided that part of the Datchworth estate should go to her grandson John Townshend, but the manor was to be sold to provide an annuity for her granddaughter Anne Wilson. (fn. 47) Anne and her husband Richard Wilson seem, however, to have kept the manor, (fn. 48) for they were in possession of it in 1791, (fn. 49) and sold it about ten years later to Samuel Smith of Watton Woodhall, (fn. 50) with which manor it has since descended.
In 1275 it was found that the Abbot of Westminster had been holding view of frankpledge illegally in Datchworth for the past forty years and had neglected to attend the sheriff's tourn, for which offence he was fined. (fn. 51) Apparently, however, he continued to hold it, sometimes as appurtenant to his main manor of Stevenage. (fn. 52)
Hawkin's Hall or Hawkyns
The reputed manor of HAWKIN'S HALL or HAWKYNS first appears in 1564, when it was in the possession of the younger branch of the Bardolf family, who held the manor of Crowborough in Watton-atStone until 1564. Hawkin's Hall seems to have extended into Watton parish, so it probably joined their lands there. In 1564 Edmund Bardolf settled the manor of Hawkin's Hall on Elizabeth Bardolf, widow, presumably his mother, for her life, with annual rents to be paid to Edward, Ralph, and Richard Bardolf, with remainder to himself and his heirs. (fn. 55) Lands in Tewin and elsewhere were conveyed with the manor. (fn. 56) In 1591 the estate was sold by Francis and John Symonde and John and Elizabeth Clerke to Edward Fitz John. (fn. 57) In 1657 it was in the possession of Ralph Pennyfather, (fn. 58) who in 1673 sold it to Edmund Knight. (fn. 59) After this date there is no further record of the manor.
BRAGBURY (Bragborrowes, Brackberrie, xvii cent.) was owned at the end of the 16th century by Thomas Michell, son of John Michell, who held it of the manor of Friars in Standon in socage by fealty. He settled it in 1602 on his son Thomas, who was about to marry Martha Bussye, and who succeeded his father in 1610. (fn. 60) Bragbury is now in the possession of Mr. Samuel S. Berger, J.P.
The parish church of ALL SAINT (fn. 61) consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, north vestry, west tower and south porch. It is built of flint rubble with stone dressings, and the roofs are tiled. The whole building is plastered externally. The nave is probably of the 12th century. Late in the 13th century the north aisle was added, and the lower part of the tower dates from the 14th century. The chancel arch is of late 15th-century date, but the rest of the chancel was wholly remodelled at the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century, and none of the original work can now be traced. The south porch is probably of the same date as the alteration of the chancel. The top stage of the tower was rebuilt in 1875 when the church was restored; the north vestry is modern.
The chancel has an east window, and two in the south wall, of about 1600. The east window has a four-centred head which has been blocked, and the three cinquefoiled lights in a square top are modern. The two south windows are of two lights. On the north a modern two-centred doorway leads to the vestry. The roof, of the late 16th or early 17th century, is of the collar beam type, with plaster.
The nave has a north arcade of four bays, which is now much out of the perpendicular, and a truss has been thrown across the aisle, against it, with a buttress outside the aisle wall to support it. The arches are two-centred, of two hollowchamfered orders, and rest on octagonal columns with moulded capitals and bases. The responds have modern detached shafts of Purbeck marble with crudely foliated capitals, which support the inner order only, the outer hollow chamfer descending without interruption to the ground. In the south wall are two windows, one on each side of the south door. That on the east, of about 1360, is two-centred within, but externally shows two cinquefoiled lights in a square head. That on the west is also of two cinquefoiled lights much repaired. The heads are wholly modern, but the jambs are old.
The south doorway is modern, with detached shafts on the outside. The 17th-century south porch has a four-centred entrance arch and four narrow blocked loops, two in the east and two in the west wall.
The north aisle has a 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled lights in a square head at the eastern end of the north wall. The jambs only are old. The east and west windows and the western of the two in the north wall are modern, of two lights, with rear arches of the late 14th century. Over the east window of the aisle are the remains of three small niches.
The tower arch is lofty, and, in common with the whole of the lower stage of the tower, is of about 1380. The west doorway is blocked and the tracery in the west window is modern. The upper stage of the tower and the tiled octagonal spire with dormers is modern. The windows of the upper stage are of two cinquefoiled lights, with a quatrefoil over, in a two-centred head.
A recess under the south-east window of the nave, with a chamfered two-centred arch of the 14th century, contains a stone slab with a floreated cross. There is a brass in the chancel to William Paine, with a symbolical device. The date is about 1600.
The font, standing at the south entrance, has an octagonal bowl with trefoiled panelled sides and an embattled edge, on a moulded octagonal stem and base. A chair in the chancel and an oak chest with three locks in the vestry are of the 17th century, to which century also the poor box may probably be referred.
A bequest to the altar of St. Dunstan occurs in 1512. (fn. 62)
The advowson of the church of All Saints (or All Hallows) at Datchworth belonged to the lords of that manor at an early date. In 1192 the Abbot of Westminster made an agreement with Hugh de Bocland, then lord of the manor, that he should pay 20s. to the abbot on each institution. (fn. 63) In 1240, however, John de Burgh, who was lord of Datchworth and Walkern, granted the manor of Datchworth to Gilbert de Wauton, but kept the advowson of that parish with his manor of Walkern. (fn. 64) From that date Datchworth advowson followed the same descent as the manor of Walkern (fn. 65) until 1725, when William Capell, third Earl of Essex, sold it to the Rev. William Hawtayne. (fn. 66) The latter a few months later sold it to William Greaves, fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, (fn. 67) and he shortly afterwards conveyed it to his college, (fn. 68) in whose hands it has since remained. (fn. 69)
A terrier of the reign of Charles I gives a very detailed description of the rectory-house and lands. The house is described as being covered with tiles, the chiefest part of the building whereof is 62 ft. longe north and south and is 18 ft. broade east and west, which is devided into two stories conteyning 10 roomes, whereof 5 are upon the ground viz. one little lodgeing chamber, one seller, one hall, one parlor, one buttery. And 5 roomes over these, viz. one chamber over the seller and little chamber, one chamber over the hall with a closet or studye belongeing to it, and one chamber over the parlor, with a studye over it over ye buttery. One other part or parcell of the said dwellinge house adjoyning unto the forenamed part and is 35 ft longe east and west and 14 ft. broad, which containeth 4 roomes, viz. one kitchen and a brewhouse on the ground and 2 chambers and boarded over the kitchen.
There was also near by another 'parcell of buildinge' covered with thatch, 44 ft. by 15 ft., with 'three severall roomes upon the ground, and one roome at the west end hath a chamber boarded over it.' Another similar structure but smaller contained three rooms, and there was also a great barn 94 ft. long, with six bays, and a small barn 34 ft. long. These buildings were surrounded by a garden, an orchard, and various yards. The glebe lands then extended over about 15 acres. (fn. 70)
Places of meeting for Protestant Dissenters were certified in Datchworth from 1719 to 1809. (fn. 71) There is now a Baptist chapel at Datchworth Green.
In 1881 Mrs. Elizabeth Bunting by her will, proved at London 30 November, bequeathed £500, which was invested in £500 11s. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £12 10s., to be applied in support of the Sunday school and day school held in the National schoolroom.
In 1899 the Rev. John Wardale, the rector, by deed gave the sum of £22 London, Brighton and South Coast Railway 5 per cent. stock, the annual dividends of £1 2s. to be paid to the parish clerk for the winding up of the church clock.