A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Eldeham, xi cent.; Audenham, xiii cent.; Audham.
The parish of Aldenham lies to the south of the county and contains 6,033 acres of land, of which (in 1905) 1,047 acres were arable, 3,666 acres were permanent grass, 224 acres wood, and about 200 acres land covered with water. (fn. 1) It lies for the most part between 300 ft. and 340 ft. above the ordnance datum, but at Caldecot Hill to the south-west of the parish it rises to 432 ft. The River Colne forms its north-western boundary and a small stream called the Brook, a tributary of that river, flows through the parish on the east side from south to north. To the south is the Elstree Reservoir made by the Grand Junction Canal Company on what was a part of Aldenham Common, under an Act of Parliament passed in 1793. (fn. 2) The upper soil of the middle and north parts of the parish is gravel and sand, which are worked in places for industrial purposes, while in the south and east occurs the London clay. The subsoil is of chalk in the north and west parts, and the Woolwich and Reading beds occur at the outcrop of the London clay.
There were formerly extensive commons and wastes in the manor, Aldenham Common, the largest, covering most of the southern part of the parish. In 1576 the tenants brought an action against the lord of the manor complaining that he intended to inclose a third of their common, which they said contained 2,000 acres. The lord admitted that the common extended to 1,000 acres and that he, having no convenient manor-house, proposed to inclose 50 acres and build a house thereon. (fn. 3) Inclosures were made from time to time till the date of the Aldenham Inclosure Act of 1801, when only 375 acres of common remained open, all of which were inclosed under this Act. There is now very little waste land in the manor beyond the green at Letchmore Heath.
The parish is intersected by several roads, the more important of which are the Watling Street which runs from north to south through the middle of the parish; a road from Radlett through Aldenham village to Watford and New Bushey; a road from Aldenham village to Elstree; another from Radlett to Boreham Wood; and one from Aldenham village to Stanmore. There are also numerous cross roads, packhorse roads, and grass lanes. A station at Radlett on the main line of the Midland Railway was opened for traffic on 1 October, 1868. The improved train service and the recent development of a part of the Kendals and Aldenham Lodge Estates near to the station have brought an increasing suburban population into this district. Other than this the population consists largely of gentlemen engaged in commerce in London who have small estates here, and of farmers and agricultural labourers.
Among interesting place names occur the following: 'Pusephytel, Shireshurnedercroft, Burnecrofts, Le Dene, Hundershul, Manefeld, Leuwardescroft, Wyneberdesworth, Horsedenforlong, Echenefeld, Westerleye, Foxlee, Berercswellewik, La Wouderidinge, Lerediman, Pontfeld, Pourinthewowe, Gannokes.'
In 1898 two Roman kilns were discovered in a sandpit adjoining Loom Lane about a quarter of a mile from Watling Street. The pottery made here was of the common Romano-British type, the particular point of interest being the identification of the name of the potter, which was Castus. (fn. 4) Romano-British pottery is said to have been found at Letchmore Heath.
It is evident that a great part of the parish of Aldenham was thickly covered by trees, certainly as late as the Norman Conquest. In the charter granted by Offa to Westminster Abbey in 785 the density of the woods is referred to, (fn. 5) and about 1064 it is stated that the thickness of the woods made the road to London dangerous to travellers. (fn. 6) In the fourteenth century the abbot from time to time appointed one of the villein tenants to look after the woods under the bailiff. (fn. 7) The theory that this parish was at one time probably forest land is further corroborated by the large amount of waste that remained till the seventeenth century and the present well-wooded condition of the neighbourhood.
The parish was formerly divided into two parts, namely, Aldenham, which comprised all the land to the west of Watling Street; (fn. 8) and Titburst, or Tidburst, which included the remainder of this parish (fn. 9) and also extended into the parishes of Shenley and Ridge.
The village of Aldenham lies on the north-west part of the parish on the road from Radlett to Bushey. It is pleasantly situated on well-wooded high ground from which extensive views of the surrounding country may be obtained. The houses are of brick, with slated or tiled roofs. Near the church, standing back from the road on the north side, is a block of tall white cottages now called Lion Cottages, which, till the Poor Law Act of 1834, formed the poor-house. (fn. 10) A little to the west of the church on the south side of the road to Bushey is the pound.
There are several hamlets, the principal of which is Radlett (Radwelleheved, (fn. 11) xiii cent.; Radelett xv cent.), which was formed into a separate ecclesiastical district in 1865, and is quickly increasing in population owing to its nearness to the railway. Letchmore Heath, which lies at the meeting of three roads to the south-east of Aldenham village, is a large hamlet, the cottages in which are mostly of brick, slated or tiled. A little to the south on Boydens Hill is Aldenham School. Batlers Green is a smaller hamlet consisting of a modern farm-house, a few cottages, and an old farm-house of the seventeenth century or earlier belonging to Mr. R. C. Phillimore, which has three gables in front with plastered panels, much restored. Round Bush is a small hamlet to the east of Aldenham village.
The bridge called High Bridge, between Radlett and Colney Street, was apparently built in the sixteenth century either by Sir Ralph Coningsby or at the charge of the two hundreds of Dacorum and Cashio. In 1677 there was some uncertainty as to the builder, but when it had been broken down by a flood about thirty-eight years before, Sir Thomas Coningsby had been presented for not repairing it, and he had declared that the duty belonged to the two hundreds. (fn. 12) The old bridge was built of wood, but it was taken down in 1745 and reconstructed of brick. (fn. 13)
Medburn Bridge on the road between Elstree and Radlett was built in 1769 at the joint expense of the lords of the manors of Kendals and Aldenham, who erected it in a great measure for their own convenience, the road being occasionally flooded, and there being previously a mere handrail bridge for foot passengers. In 1825, on account of the growing traffic and the increased body of water owing to Aldenham reservoir, the bridge was taken over by the county. (fn. 14)
From an early date there seem to have been constant disputes regarding the manor of ALDENHAM between the abbot of St. Albans and the abbot of Westminster. By a charter of somewhat doubtful authenticity, it would appear that in 785 King Offa granted to Thorney or Westminster Abbey 10 casata of land in Aldenham of which the bounds are given in Anglo-Saxon; these bounds seem to show that the land granted included practically all the western part of the present parish up to the Watling Street. (fn. 15)
By another doubtful charter Edgar, in 959, is represented as having confirmed Aldenham to the abbey of Westminster, and it was again confirmed to the same abbey in 1066 by Edward the Confessor. (fn. 16) By the Domesday Survey we learn that the manor was held by the church of St. Peter of Westminster, and lay in the hundred of Dacorum. (fn. 17) The monks of St. Albans appear to have claimed rights in the manor from an early date, and in 1167 we find the hundred of St. Albans, now Cashio Hundred or the liberty of St. Albans, fined for a murder committed in Aldenham, (fn. 18) showing that Aldenham, or at all events a part of it, was then considered to be within the liberty. The monks of St. Albans asserted that the manor was given to them by King Offa at the foundation of their abbey in 793, (fn. 19) but there seems to be little, if any, evidence to bear out this assertion. (fn. 20) The whole of the early evidence regarding Aldenham appears to be exceedingly unsatisfactory. It is stated that Abbot Frederick of St. Albans (106477) leased the manor to the abbot of Westminster for twenty years, during which time the lessee was to keep the Watling Street or the road to London, which passed through the thick woods there, safe for travellers. Although Abbot Frederick only ruled for thirteen years it is said that he granted the lease, and was alive at the time of its expiry twenty years later, when he claimed the return of the manor, which, however, the abbot of Westminster denied him. (fn. 21) The dispute continued for over two hundred years, but eventually it resolved itself into the question whether the abbot of Westminster held Aldenham of the abbot of St. Albans, and, consequently, if Aldenham was within the jurisdiction of the liberty of the abbot of St. Albans in his hundred of Cashio. These points were raised in 1202 (fn. 22) when a jury gave a verdict favourable to St. Albans, and in 1256 an action was brought in the king's court which ended in an agreement between the parties, whereby the abbot of Westminster acknowledged that the bailiffs of the abbot of St. Albans should hold view of frankpledge in the manor once a year, and should have 4s. in lieu of all fines; that the township of Aldenham from henceforth should do suit at the hundred court of Cashio from three weeks to three weeks; that the abbot of Westminster should present every bailiff of Aldenham, on his appointment, to the coroner of the liberty of St. Albans; that when the bailiff of the liberty received any writ for attachment in Aldenham, he should send the tenor of the same to the bailiff of Aldenham. On the other hand, the abbot of St. Albans granted that the abbot of Westminster should have the imprisonment of all men arrested in Aldenham except the men of the liberty of St. Albans, and that the gallows erected at Kemprow (Keneprowe) should be common to both abbots for hanging those condemned. (fn. 23) Again in 1437 disputes arose as to the rights of the abbot of St. Albans in Aldenham, and the suit which ensued was only abandoned from want of funds. (fn. 24)
It would seem probable that the origin of the claim of abbots of St. Albans to bring the tenants of Aldenham within the jurisdiction of their church was the contention that Aldenham was within the great soke of Park or the district within the jurisdiction of the court-leet of Park. This is borne out by the fact that the cattle which in the dispute of 1256 were said to have been seized were driven off to the manor of Parkbury, which was held by the abbot of St. Albans, (fn. 25) and this theory would account for the fact that it was only the jurisdiction of the court-leet and hundred court which the abbot of St. Albans claimed and obtained under the agreement before alluded to, and not lands or the manor.
The abbots of Westminster appear to have leased the manor from time to time. In 1361 it was leased to John de Ditton, clerk, with a stipulation that he should not cut the timber, that he should erect a new water mill, and pay the abbot and convent of St. Albans the 4s. yearly which was reserved in the agreement between the two monasteries above mentioned. (fn. 26)
At the surrender of Westminster Abbey to the crown on 16 January, 153940, the manor was in lease to Robert Duncombe, (fn. 27) and in 1543 the manor court was held in the name of the king. On 1 August, 1546, Henry VIII granted it with the rectory and advowson of the church to Ralph Stepneth, (fn. 28) and on 12 February, 1555, there was confirmed to the said Ralph and Joan his wife, and their men and tenants, freedom from toll for all their goods, as Edward the Confessor had granted to the abbots of Westminster and their men. (fn. 29)
The manor and advowson remained in the hands of the Stepneth family, (fn. 30) and were sold by Paul Stepneth and Sarah his wife on 20 January, 15889, to Edward Carey, (fn. 31) master and treasurer of Queen Elizabeth's jewels and plate, who was afterwards knighted, and died on 18 July, 1617, leaving Henry his son and heir, on whom the manor had been settled at the time of his marriage with Elizabeth Tanfield in 1602. (fn. 32) Henry was created Viscount Falkland, and at his death in 1633 he was succeeded by Lucius Carey, Viscount Falkland, his son, who in 1642 sold the manor to Sir Job Harby, bart., a merchant of London. Sir Job died in 1663, and was succeeded by his son Sir Erasmus Harby. (fn. 33) The manor was in 1664 sold by Sir Erasmus Harby to Denzil Holles, first Baron Holles of Ifield, (fn. 34) from whom it passed to Sir Francis Holles, his son, and then to Denzil Holles, third Baron Holles, who died without issue in 1694, when the manor went to his cousin John Holles, fourth earl of Clare and duke of Newcastle. At the death of the duke of Newcastle in 1711 the manor passed to his nephew, Thomas Pelham, created in 1714 Viscount Pelham and earl of Clare, and in the following year marquis of Clare and duke of Newcastle. He sold it in 1754 to Samuel Vanderwall, a merchant of London, (fn. 35) who, at his death without issue, bequeathed it to his stepson Thomas Neate. The manor was sold by Neate in 1799 to George Woodford Thellusson, (fn. 36) and was purchased in 1805 by the trustees of his father's will, (fn. 37) whereby it went to his brother Peter Isaac Thellusson, created Lord Rendlesham in 1806, in the hands of whose descendant, the present Lord Rendlesham, the manorial rights now are.
The abbot of Westminster claimed the return of all writs in his manor of Aldenham, (fn. 38) and many other liberties. There was a custom by which the copyhold tenants elected the reeve of the manor, who collected the lord's rents and delivered to the lord every year two dozen capons, two dozen geese, two dozen hens, and two bushels of oatmeal, for which the lord gave him 22s. and a livery coat, or 10s. instead of the coat. (fn. 39)
It would seem that there was no manor-house during the time that the abbot of Westminster held the manor. Robert Stepneth in 1576 complained that he had no convenient residence, but that he intended to build one and to inclose a part of the common for a site. (fn. 40) The intention to build a house he apparently carried out, but not on the spot originally proposed, as we have reference to the capital messuage of the manor at the time when Henry Carey, afterwards Viscount Falkland, succeeded to the property as the house in which Robert Stepneth formerly lived, (fn. 41) and a drawing of the old manor-house among Baron Dimsdale's collection of Hertfordshire views shows a building of the Elizabethan period. The manor-house is known to have stood in a field to the south-east of the church, where some mounds still mark the spot. It was pulled down before 1711 and was not rebuilt. (fn. 42) The field is still known as the Bowling Green. The house faced a road, closed in 1801, which once formed the fourth of the Four Want Ways, and led through the present garden of the vicarage to the church.
There is mention, in connexion with Aldenham, of a Roger Meridene in the twelfth century, (fn. 43) and again between the years 1201 and 1214. (fn. 44) It may be the latter Roger who, probably in the first half of the thirteenth century, granted to Richard, abbot of Westminster, all his right to the mill of Aldenham which he had held of the abbot; together with the mill pool, the mill stream, and the mending of the pool, for which the abbot was to pay to him and his heirs half a mark of silver every year. (fn. 45) In the same century Thomas de Meridene agreed to forego such rent, and to receive instead from the abbot and convent one pair of white gloves which should cost a penny, or one penny, every year at Easter. (fn. 46) The abbot was in receipt of a rent from a fish-pond in Aldenham in the fifteenth century. (fn. 47)
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Prior of St. Bartholomew, London, held a messuage in Aldenham of the abbot of Westminster. (fn. 48)
Within the chief manor of Aldenham were divers holdings which went by the name of manors, but whether they had all the necessary qualifications of a manor is doubtful. Amongst these was the manor of PIGGOTS, now known as Piggott's Manor, which lies near Letchmore Heath on the south side of the road leading from Elstree to Aldenham. In 1832 the estate contained 109 acres. (fn. 49)
Its name is doubtless derived from its early holders. Thomas Picot held land in Aldenham in the thirteenth century; (fn. 50) his son was Geoffrey Picot (fn. 51) who held one carucate of land of the manor of Aldenham as a free tenant, (fn. 52) and who was mentioned in 1261 and 1297. (fn. 53) The holding appears to have passed from him to members of other families. Lists of free tenants of the capital manor, which probably date from the fourteenth century, mention John Cokenwale as holding the messuage and land which once belonged to Geoffrey Picot, (fn. 54) and William Hardlyngton as the tenant of the land called Picot. (fn. 55)
In 1449 it was held by John Hale, citizen of London and brother of John Hale of Aldenham, (fn. 56) and in 1472 it was in the tenure of his daughters, Alice widow of John Penne, citizen and mercer of London, and wife of William Brayne, and Agnes wife of John Thrale, who united in settling it on Ralph Penne, son of Alice. (fn. 57) A description of the manor as held freely of the lord of Aldenham for the yearly rent of 15s 8d. seems to belong to this period. (fn. 58) Ralph granted the reversion of the manor to Humphrey Coningsby, knight, the farmer of the capital manor, (fn. 59) who paid for Piggotts an annual rent of 16s. (fn. 60) In 1548 he conveyed it to Richard Hewes; (fn. 61) and in 1570 John Ayleward and Anne his wife granted it to Thomas Briscoe. (fn. 62)
It remained in the Briscoe family till 1718, when Edward Briscoe and Margaret his wife conveyed it to Thomas Day. (fn. 63) It subsequently passed to Henry William Willis, who by his will dated 26 March, 1829, devised it to trustees for sale. These trustees sold the manor in 1832 to the executors of the will of Peter Thellusson, (fn. 64) and it has since descended with the manor paramount. In 1879 it was held by Mr. Edward Oddie, under a lease from Lord Rendlesham. Mr. Oddie died in 1884, and Piggotts manor was afterwards bought by Mr. G. W. Williams, who pulled down most of the house, and built on the site a larger one, where he now resides. (fn. 65)
The family of Penne, or de la Penne, from which PENNE'S PLACE takes its name, was settled in this parish at least in the middle of the thirteenth century. Reginald de la Penne held land which adjoined that of Geoffrey Picot, of the abbot of Westminster. This was perhaps identical with land granted to him in the reign of Edward I by William son of Wydo de Husseburn. (fn. 66) Reginald's sons Ralph and John both had holdings in Aldenham, some land there having been granted to Ralph by Geoffrey Picot. (fn. 67) In 1323 a fine levied between William and Ralph de la Penne dealt with lands in Aldenham; (fn. 68) as did a fine to which William de la Penne was a party in 1327. (fn. 69) In 1349 Ralph de la Penne is mentioned in connexion with Aldenham, (fn. 70) and in 1373 Thomas atte Penne of Aldenham acknowledged an obligation to pay 50s. sterling to Nicholas, abbot of Westminster. (fn. 71) In John Penne, who took part in the levy of a fine in 1426, (fn. 72) we recognize the husband of Alice Brayne and the father of Ralph, holder of Piggotts. Ralph died, in 1485, in possession of Penne's Place, (fn. 73) which he left to his executors in trust for sale. Humphrey Coningsby, one of his executors, apparently purchased it, and at his death in 1535 it passed to his grandson Humphrey, who died in 1559, when Penne's Place descended to his son Edward, who died in 1561 and was succeeded by his brother Thomas. (fn. 74) In 1640 Fitz William, son of Thomas Coningsby, sold the site of Aldenham Hall or Penne's Place to Henry Coghill. (fn. 75) This property remained in the hands of the Coghills till Henry Coghill, great-grandson of the above Henry, died unmarried in 1728, when it went to his uncle Thomas, who also died without issue. The manor then passed to Henry's sister Sarah, wife of Robert Hucks of Great Russell Street, London. (fn. 76) It passed with the estate of Aldenham House to their son Robert Hucks, who died unmarried in 1814, when it went to his niece Sarah Noyes. (fn. 77) Sarah died unmarried in 1842 and was succeeded by her cousin George Henry Gibbs, (fn. 78) from whose son Henry Hucks Gibbs, created Lord Aldenham in 1896, it passed in 1907 to the present Lord Aldenham.
The double moat of the original Penne's Place now forms part of the garden of Aldenham House. The site of Penne's Place is occupied by the 'Poplar Avenue,' which runs between the waterfilled moats from the Radlett drive to Grubb's Lane, into which it opens by great iron gates, now being made.
The copyhold estate of WIGBOURNES was held of the capital manor, (fn. 79) and was probably so called from the family of the same name. In 13556 John Wykebourne, reeve of the abbot of Westminster, was a tenant, and in 1497 Philip Wigbourne held lands in Aldenham which had belonged to William Wigbourne, (fn. 80) and a William Wigbourne paid subsidy on lands in this parish in 1545. (fn. 81) But already, in 1544, the messuage, land, and appurtenances called Wigbournes were not held by this family, but were in the tenancy of Henry Wrence, who settled the reversion of them, after his own death and that of his wife Isabella, on Hugh Mynors and Margaret his wife, and their heirs and assigns. In 1545 Hugh did fealty to the king, in his court at Aldenham, for these lands. (fn. 79) Wigbournes was held in 1585 by John son and heir of Robert West, and conveyed by him to William Seres, printer of the 1549 Bible in English, who, in 1590, sold it to Thomas Sutton. From Thomas Sutton it passed to John his brother, at whose death in 1614 it was inherited by his daughter Faith, the wife of Henry Coghill, (fn. 82) and thenceforward it had the same descent as Penne's Place.
'The fair house of brick' at Wigbournes mentioned by Chauncy as built by Henry Coghill in the time of Charles I probably forms a part of the present Aldenham House, which bears the Coghill arms in the pediment. The name was presumably changed after 1769, (fn. 83) some time before which Aldenham Place and Aldenham Manor House, with which it might have been confused, had been demolished. The house is a square red brick building of considerable dignity, the dimensions of the main block being 76 ft. by 67 ft. It has a central entrance and consists among other rooms of a hall, a drawing-room, formerly apparently the dining-room, with folding doors into the music-room and a bow window added probably about 1785; the library, with its Sansovino window and fine chimney-piece of about 1786, originally intended for the dining-room and so used in 1842; and the 'white parlour' between the hall and library. In recent years the kitchen was enlarged and converted into the dining-room, and the old pantry into a chapel. A billiard-room was built in 1848, opening out of the library, and enlarged in 1883. Beyond the billiard-room is the 'court room,' which, with the staircase to the gable rooms above and the mezzanine floor, was built in 1883. In the house are three seventeenth-century chimney-pieces from Elstree Hall, one with an added date, 1529. The house is filled with art treasures; the tapestries in the billiard-room and elsewhere are from the Old Windsor Tapestry Works. Among the pictures may be mentioned a portrait, formerly in the 'white parlour' and now removed to the mantelpiece of the 'bow bedroom,' of the great Lord Chancellor Sir Francis Bacon, by Van Somer. There are full-length portraits of Mrs. Philemon Pownall, as Hebe, by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1763); Mrs. Henry Townley Ward, by Romney (1780); Henry Hucks Gibbs, first Lord Aldenham, by W. W. Ouless (1877). In the chapel and the corridor leading to it are pictures of the Crucifixion with the B.V. Mary and St. John, by Simone Cantarini da Pesaro; the Baptism of Our Lord, by Pietro Lucatelli; Our Lord on the knees of His Mother (a piet), by Annibale Carracci; and the Taking down from the Cross, a sketch by Vandyck. In the dining-room are portraits of Loredan, a Doge of Venice, by Titian; Lord Aldenham, by G. F. Watts (1896); Isabella Clara Eugenia, Governess of the Low Countries for her father Philip of Spain, by Rubens; and Milton at the age of twenty, by Cornelius Jansen, besides numerous portraits of members of the families of Coghill, Hucks, and Gibbs. There are also in the drawing-room about a hundred miniatures, some of them by O. Humphreys, Cranach, John Smart, Fragonard, Cowper, Cosway, the Plimers, Leakey, and Ross. Lord Aldenham's collection of illuminated MSS. and printed service-books is well known.
By his will dated 20 August, 1423, John Dernewell left lands at Aldenham and bequeathed money to Aldenham church. (fn. 84) He was probably the owner of the messuage and lands called DERNEWELLS or DARNELLS, now Darnhills. His property went through his daughter and heir Margaret to her son John Penne, (fn. 85) from whom they apparently passed in the same way as Penne's Place, for in 1671 a messuage and land called Dernewells or Darnells in Radlett, on the road to Watford, was granted by Henry Coghill to John his son. (fn. 86) A farm called Darnells or Watership belonged to Sarah Hucks in 1769, (fn. 87) and Darnhills now belongs to Mr. R. C. Phillimore.
We find mention of WATERSHEPS or WATERSHIPPS in Radlett as early as 1235, (fn. 88) and in 1671 Henry Coghill conveyed a messuage called Watershipps to John his son. (fn. 89) This tenement appears subsequently to have become annexed to Darnhills.
The abbot of Westminster held the tithing of TITBURST as parcel of his manor of Wheathampstead, which is about nine miles distant and quite distinct from his manor of Aldenham, to which the tithing adjoins. This tithing was only a small part of the district of Titburst before referred to. The tenants owed suit at the abbot's court of Wheathampstead, and there the head-borough, tithing men, aletaster, and other officers of the tithing were appointed, till about the time of the Commonwealth, when the manorial customs fell into disuse. (fn. 90)
There are no less than six holdings in Titburst in Domesday, one held by the bishop of Bayeux, which it is difficult now to identify; one by the abbot of Westminster, which was the tithing of Titburst, parcel of the manor of Wheathampstead, and which lay northward and eastward of the road from Radlett to Boreham Wood; one by Geoffrey de Mandeville, which he held of the abbot of Westminster; another by the same Geoffrey, which may be identified as the manor of Weld; one by Geoffrey de Bech, which may possibly be identified as the manor of Titburst and Kendals; and another by the same Geoffrey, which may be the strip of the parish of Ridge, between Aldenham and Shenley. (fn. 91)
The tithing of Titburst held by the abbot and convent, and later by the dean and chapter of Westminster, followed the descent of the manor of Wheathampstead, and within it were exercised all the privileges which belonged to that manor. The tithing is frequently referred to as a separate manor, and is so described in the charter of 1542 to the dean and chapter of Westminster, the charter of 1556 to the refounded abbey of Westminster, and the re-grant to the dean and chapter in 1560. (fn. 92) This tithing included the manors of Titburst and Kendals, Sherlands alias Randolphs, Charings, and the property called Porters in Shenley.
The manor of SHERLANDS, RANDOLPHS or RANDOLLE, in the tithing of Titburst, was held of the abbot of Westminster as of his manor of Wheathampstead by the rent of 18s. 4d., suit of court, the payment of a heriot, and a relief. (fn. 93) There occur mentions of the family of Titburst in connexion with Aldenham from the middle of the thirteenth century. (fn. 94) In 12678 and 12689 John son of John de Titburst conveyed to Adam de Stratton, clerk, various pieces of land in Titburst, and the services of several tenants, (fn. 95) which included, at least in some instances, suit of court. (fn. 96) This conveyance appears to have been of the nature of commendation, for John, as well as his apparent successor, Hugh son of Alan de Titburst, (fn. 97) agreed to do service to Adam at his court of Shenley. (fn. 98) Adam also acquired land in Titburst from other persons. (fn. 99)
Thus in 1198 Thomas de Waldo or de Bosco held land in Titburst. (fn. 100) In the first half of the thirteenth century Adam de Bosco had a considerable lordship in Titburst, (fn. 101) and was succeeded by his son Ralph. (fn. 102) In 1275 Alan de Waldis or De Wauz bound himself to pay half a mark yearly to Adam de Stratton in Adam's court at Shenley, for all his lands and rights in Titburst. (fn. 103) The manor of Adam in Titburst must have been forfeited to the crown, with his other possessions, in 1290, (fn. 104) and the effect of such confiscation appears to have been to deprive the manor of one mesne lord, to break its connexion with Shenley, and probably to destroy its integrity. Among Adam's tenants in Titburst were Thomas de la Ford and Ralph de Mimmes. (fn. 105) In 1296 Sir Alexander Cheyne died in possession of a manor of Titburst, (fn. 106) which he had acquired from John de Mimmes and John de la Ford, (fn. 107) and which therefore is sometimes called Titburst and Forde. It consisted of a messuage and a carucate of land, (fn. 108) and descended to William son of Sir Alexander Cheyne, who married Margaret daughter and heir of Sir Robert Sherland. (fn. 109) Probably by some settlement this manor passed to Sir Robert Sherland for life, for we find he was holding it of William Cheyne in 1308, and in 1314. (fn. 110) At his death it reverted to Robert son of Sir William Cheyne, who conveyed it to Sir Robert Redeswell, and he, in 1358, granted it to John de Somersham. (fn. 111) It afterwards passed, at the close of the fourteenth century, to William Asshe his son-in-law, and then apparently to John Turvile, who held it for a time. (fn. 112) Elizabeth daughter of William Asshe married Thomas Frowick, (fn. 113) and in 1416 and in 1443 we find this manor, under the name of 'Shyrlandes,' in the possession of the same Thomas. (fn. 114) In 1503 his great-grandson, Henry Frowick, owed suit of court to the manor of Wheathampstead for this manor, (fn. 115) and at his death, in 1527, it passed to his daughter Elizabeth, then the wife of John Coningsby son of Sir Humphrey Coningsby, (fn. 116) who held it in 1544. (fn. 117) From this date the manor, under the name of Randolphs or Randolls, became incorporated with and followed the descent of the manor of Weld in Shenley parish, (fn. 118) and it remained in the hands of the Coningsby family till Genevieve daughter of Thomas Coningsby died in 1707 and left the property to her husband Thomas Aram, whose devisees sold it to the trustees of Hon. Robert Byng. In 1748 it was bought from the Byng trustees by John Mason, maltster, of Greenwich, who married a daughter of Field-marshal Wade. He died in 1750, leaving two sons, John and George, to the latter of whom apparently this property went, for George Mason sold the Porters Estate, which he also held, to Lord Howe in 1772, and went himself to live upon this property, the name of which seems about this time to have been changed to Aldenham Lodge. George Mason died in 1806, and left the estate to his nephew Bryant, who with his son Frank was drowned on his return from India in 1809. (fn. 119) He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son John Finch Mason, whose son sold the property in 1870 to Mr. Thomas Part (who died in 1885), father of Mr. C. T. Part, who was sheriff of the county in 1898, and formerly joint master of the Hertfordshire Hounds. It was sold by the latter in 1902 to Mr. Horace Slade of St. Albans, who is now developing the property as a building estate. (fn. 120)
The manor of TITBURST and KENDALS lies to the south-east of the parish, and was held of the abbot of St. Albans. It was probably formed by a union of two or more holdings on the east of Watling Street; (fn. 121) which union must have taken place before 1237, when the manor under its present name was granted to Richard earl of Poitou and Cornwall. (fn. 122) The lordship of the abbot, however, persisted; and therefore it may be concluded that the grant was one of his service. In 1299 the manor was held of the prioress of Markyate, (fn. 123) presumably an instance of the liberality of St. Albans to this priory. (fn. 124) From the middle of the twelfth century members of the family of Tailboys are known to have held lands in Titburst and Aldenham of the abbot of St. Albans. At that time Laurence abbot of Westminster claimed part of the service which Robert Tailboys and his brothers Roger and Simon owed for holdings in Aldenham. The abbot did not suffer the dispute to be settled in the public courts, (fn. 125) but made a private agreement, in virtue of which he, with the consent of Robert abbot of St. Albans, gave twenty-three silver marks to the brothers, and conceded to them the right of pannage in the woods of Aldenham for twenty pigs every year. (fn. 126) In 1194 Richard son of Robert Tailboys paid one mark when he was put into possession of a knight's fee in Aldenham which he held of the abbot of St. Albans. (fn. 127) Ralph de Bosco made a grant to the monks of Westminster in the first half of the thirteenth century for the obit of Robert Tailboys; (fn. 128) and a certain John Tailboys lived in 12601. (fn. 129) One or other of these may have been succeeded by Guy Tailboys, the witness to many deeds. (fn. 130) In 12912 John Tailboys (fn. 131) of Titburst released to Walter abbot of Westminster all his right of common pasture in the woods of the abbot at Aldenham Frith and elsewhere; (fn. 132) thus the obligation to Westminster, incurred to Abbot Laurence, must have ceased. In 1303 John held a quarter and a fortieth part of a knight's fee in Titburst of Emericus de St. Edmund, who held of John Wake, who was a tenant of the abbot of St. Albans. (fn. 133) This family had therefore lost its original importance in Aldenham. Much of its property was probably included in the manor of Titburst and Kendals, with which Henry de Flaxtino enfeoffed Jordan de Kendale and his wife Cicely and their heirs. (fn. 134) In 1288 Jordan granted it to Master Thomas Sodington, (fn. 135) who conveyed it to John de Sodington his brother, and his kinsman Laurance de Tresham, (fn. 136) and died in 1299. (fn. 137)
The manor appears to have returned to the family of Kendale, as we find that Robert Kendale, constable of Dover Castle, had a grant of free warren over it in 1318, (fn. 138) and died seised of lands in Aldenham and Elstree in 1330, leaving Edward his son and heir. (fn. 139) This Edward leased the manor to Robert Turk, husband of his daughter Beatrice, for thirteen years, (fn. 140) and in 1366 it was settled upon Sir William Crosier and Elizabeth his daughter, who was apparently about to become the wife of Edward Kendale, son of the before-mentioned Edward. (fn. 141) In 1373 this manor was again conveyed by Edward Kendale to Sir William Crosier and others for the purposes of a settlement. (fn. 142) Edward Kendale the younger died in 1375, (fn. 143) but before his death he apparently conveyed the reversion of the manor after the death of Elizabeth his wife to Sir William Crosier. (fn. 144) In 1376 Sir William Crosier and Elizabeth his daughter conveyed the manor to Robert Turk and Beatrice, (fn. 145) probably for life. Elizabeth wife of Edward Kendale the younger afterwards married Sir Thomas Barre, (fn. 146) and in 1391 John Grey and Elizabeth his wife, who was the widow of the late William Crosier, conveyed the reversion of the manor after the death of Elizabeth wife of Sir Thomas Barre to Sir Thomas Percy, Master William de Assheton, clerk, Thomas de Hungerford, knight, and Robert de Whitby, clerk, and the heirs of Robert. (fn. 147) In 1408 Robert de Whitby conveyed the reversion to Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, son of John of Gaunt, with remainder to John, earl of Somerset, his brother. (fn. 148) Upon the death of Thomas Beaufort without issue in 1426, the manor passed to his nephew John, earl of Somerset, (fn. 149) who died in 1444, leaving an only daughter Margaret, who married Edmund Tudor, by whom she had a son Henry, earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII. This manor was assigned in 1485 as dower to Margaret upon her marriage with her third husband Thomas, earl of Derby. (fn. 150) At her death it reverted to the crown, and so came to the hands of Henry VIII, who in 1530 granted it towards the support of his natural son Henry, duke of Richmond and Somerset. (fn. 151) This duke died in 1536 without issue, when his lands reverted to the crown. The manor was leased as the manor of Titburst and Kendals to John Cooke for twenty-one years, (fn. 152) and again in January 15578 the reversion was let for twenty-one years to Thomas Hughes, the queen's physician. (fn. 153) In the same year also it was annexed to the duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 154) It was leased in 1577 for forty-one years to William Cade. On 15 December, 1607, James I granted it to Robert earl of Salisbury and his heirs, (fn. 155) and it continued in the hands of the earls of Salisbury till 1739, when James, the sixth earl, sold it to William Jephson, who bequeathed it at his death in 1766 (fn. 156) to his nephew, William Phillimore, (fn. 157) whose descendant William Brough Phillimore dying without issue in 1887 left the estate to his cousin, Sir Walter George Frank Phillimore, judge of the Court of Queen's Bench, the present baronet. (fn. 158) The estate is now held by his son Robert Charles Phillimore. (fn. 159)
There is an interesting survey of this manor, taken in 1276, at which time there were nineteen free tenants holding at a rent for all services, and two customary tenants holding at a rent and the payment of two hens, one cock, two capons, and thirty eggs, who had to mow for eight days with two men at the food of the lord of the manor, to weed, to raise the hay, to harrow, &c. (fn. 160)
The lands called MEDBURN and GREAT WESTERLIES were held in the later part of the sixteenth century by Thomas Briscoe, and in the early part of the seventeenth by Edward Briscoe, and before that by Margaret countess of Richmond, of the earl of Salisbury as of his manor of Kendals. At the death of Edward Briscoe in 1638 he was succeeded by his son of the same name. (fn. 161) Nothing further is known of this estate. 'Great Medbourn, with Chesylls and Shipcott, and Medbourn Mead with Millfield and le Bourn,' were held about 1589 by John Cocks of Aldenham and Mary his wife. They passed to John Sutton, and from him in the same way as Wigbournes to Lord Aldenham. (fn. 162)
The manor of NEWBERRIES, NEWBURY, or BONESBUSHES, in Titburst, to the north of the parish on the east side of Watling Street, was parcel of the possessions of the monastery of St. Albans, and the profits from it were appointed to the maintenance of the office of the sacrist till the fourteenth century, when they were allotted to that of the infirmarer of the abbey. (fn. 163) Geoffrey de Childewike in the time of John de Hertford (123560) extorted the manor from the abbey, but it was restored by his brother Richard to the succeeding abbot Roger de Norton (126090). (fn. 164)
Robert Louthe seems to have died seised of this manor at the end of the fifteenth century, and left his three sisters, Christine the wife of John Parowe, Alice the wife of William Morell, and Egidia the wife of Gryme, his heirs. Between 1496 and 1514 each of these three ladies conveyed her share to Humphrey Coningsby and others. (fn. 165) In 1548 Humphrey Coningsby conveyed the manor to Richard Hewes, (fn. 166) and in 1620 it was sold by Thomas Harmer to Sir Thomas Puckering, bart. (fn. 167) Shortly after this date it must have passed to Edward Briscoe, who died seised of it in 1638, leaving a son and heir Edward, who succeeded to it. (fn. 168) In 1670 Edward Briscoe settled it upon himself for life with remainder to his son George. (fn. 169) The manor remained in the family of Briscoe till 1709, when Edward Briscoe conveyed it to Jonathan Winder, (fn. 170) and in 1739 we find it was conveyed by John Paddey to Hutton Perkyns. (fn. 171) Newberries subsequently passed into the possession of Mr. William Robert Phillimore, who died in 1846. It afterwards became the property of Mr. H. J. Lubbock, who sold it some years ago to Mr. George Miller, and the latter now resides there.
The manor of CHARRYNGES in the tithing of Titburst is parcel of the manor of Wheathampstead. This manor in the fifteenth century belonged to the Penne family, and in 1485 Ralph Penne died seised of it, leaving John Roberts or Robarth, a kinsman, his heir. (fn. 172)
Between 1541 and 1546 John Coningsby appears to have purchased the four parts of the manor of Charings from the four daughters and coheirs of John Roberts. (fn. 173) The manor remained in the family of Coningsby till the end of the sixteenth century, (fn. 174) and probably followed the descent of the manor of Weld. In 1579 Sir Nicholas Bacon received a rent of 13 6s. 8d. from the farm of Charings. (fn. 175)
A property called AYDENS or EYDENS probably received its name from the family of Roger de Heyden or Eyden, (fn. 176) a tenant of John de Titburst, whose service was transferred to Adam de Stratton in 1268; (fn. 177) and who was probably connected with Joan Eyden, who in 1415 made a bequest for the upkeep of four lights in the parish church of Aldenham. (fn. 178) Eydens was held by Ralph Penne when he died in 1486, (fn. 179) and was bequeathed by him to the chantry which he desired his executors to build in the parish church of Aldenham. (fn. 180) Such provision did not apparently take effect, for Aydens passed with one-fourth of the manor of Charings to Dionisia daughter of John Roberts and wife of Thomas Mannok, who conveyed it with her share of Charings to John Coningsby in 1546; (fn. 181) from which time its history was that of the manor of Charings.
The manor of MARCHANTES in Titburst, parcel of the manor of Wheathampstead, is mentioned in 1446. (fn. 182) It was possibly the same as the manor of Charings.
There appear to have been two properties of the name of ORGAN or ORGAR HALL, one in the tithing of Titburst, parcel of the manor of Wheathampstead, which was held in 1311 by Alice Magot, (fn. 183) and in 1388 by Thomas Edmund. (fn. 184) The other property of the same name was held of the abbot of St. Albans, as parcel of the manor of Newberries. It was early in the seventeenth century in the hands of the Briscoe family, and was held by Edward Briscoe in 1608. (fn. 185)
In 1702 Edward Briscoe of Organ Hall and Edward his son and heir apparent, joined in mortgaging Organ Hall. (fn. 186) It is now the property of Mr. R. C. Phillimore. Some closes of land, parcel of 'Orgall Hall' formed part of the endowment of the chantry of Copthorne Hill founded by Sir Humphrey Coningsby. (fn. 187)
CALDECOTE HILL (Kerricott, Carricot, Curicut, Catcothill) lies to the south of the parish. In 1630 Philip Smith conveyed a messuage called Collys here to John Edlyn; (fn. 188) and in 1641 John died seised of a messuage in 'Codicott Hill,' part of which was held of Edward Briscoe as of his manor of Piggotts. John left a son John his heir, aged five years. (fn. 189) On 31 May, 1656, we find that Anne and John Huley conveyed a messuage and lands here to Thomas Marshe, who conveyed them to Francis Duke. After the death of Francis Duke in 1666 the property went to Francis Marsh, and from him to Henry Cowsey, in whose family it remained till Henry Cowsey and John Nabls assigned their interest to Elizabeth, countess of Essex, on 22 March, 1748. (fn. 190) Caldecote Towers is now a ladies' private school, under the direction of Miss Griffiths, and stands in extensive grounds from which fine views of the Colne valley may be obtained.
The part of Aldenham parish called KEMPROW (Keneprowe xiii cent.) was the site of a gallows erected by the abbots of Westminster and St. Albans. (fn. 191) Kemprow House is now the residence of Mrs. Rickards, and the property of Lord Aldenham.
ALDENHAM ABBEY or WALL HALL was a manor the lands of which extended into Aldenham parish, but as the house lies in the parish of St. Stephen its history will be taken under that parish.
EDGE GROVE is a large three-storied house, standing in a park on the north side of the river. It was probably built during the eighteenth century, and has been added to at various times. The house is of red brick now covered with rough-cast, and has a slate roof. In the grant to Ralph Stepneth of Aldenham manor in 1546, we have mention of 'les Hedgerowes' containing 11 acres, (fn. 192) and in 1618 Sir Edward Carey, lord of the manor of Aldenham, died seised of a farm at Hennyhatch Grove or Hedgegrove in Aldenham, to which his son Henry, afterwards created Viscount Falkland, succeeded. (fn. 193) During the first half of the eighteenth century the property came into the possession of John Skey, shortly after whose death, in 1782, Colonel Skey appears to have sold the property to Mr. Hake, who made considerable alterations to the house. He did not, however, keep the property for long, but sold it to Sir John Nicholl, who procured leave in 1803 to close the public road which ran in front of this house from High Cross to Aldenham church. From him it appears to have been leased by Joseph Fawcett, a dissenting minister and poet, who died there in 1804. It was purchased early in the nineteenth century of Sir John by the Thellusson trustees. It descended from this time in the same way as the manor of Aldenham, and is now the property of Lord Rendlesham. It has been let to various persons; William Marsden, D.C.L., F.R.S., held it under leases made in 1810 and 1817. (fn. 194) It is now the residence of Mr. Charles Edward Barnett, who has enlarged the house.
DELROW HOUSE is a gabled two-storied house of plastered brickwork, standing in the hamlet of Delrow, on the road to Stanmore. A house was built here by William Hutchinson, in 1666, (fn. 195) about which time John Jesson seems to have lived here, and later Mrs. Hutchinson, a member of his family. (fn. 196) Her heir was Mr. John Wilson, great-grandson of her sister; another John Wilson of Delrow, probably his son, died in 1786. Twenty years later, Delrow House was in the possession of General Sir Hew Dalrymple, bart. (fn. 197) Sir Hew was succeeded in 1830 by his brother, General Sir Adolphus Dalrymple, bart.; he left it in 1866 to Admiral Edward Fanshawe, who sold it in 1876 to Mr. Charles Ashton. In 1889 it was sold by Mr. Ashton to Mr. John Larkin who died 7 August, 1897. The estate was sold about two years later to Mr. John Swallow Brierly, who died 17 December, 1903, and the house has since been the residence of his widow.
On the opposite side of the road to Delrow House is a good specimen of late sixteenth-century building, which appears to have formed part of a larger house. It has a fine chimney stack at the back, an oriel window on the north-west side, and a good original door.
HILFIELD HOUSE was built about 1795 by the Hon. George Villiets, brother of the earl of Clarendon. The house was then called Sly's Castle, being on or near Sly's Hill. (fn. 198) It was sold in 1818 by Villiers to John Fam Timins, who died in 1843, (fn. 199) when he was succeeded by his son William Raikes Timins. He died in 1866, (fn. 200) and was succeeded by his nephew the Rev. Douglas Cartwright Timins, who died in 1872, (fn. 201) when Hilfield passed to his son Douglas Theodore, who sold the house and park in 1906 to the late Lord Aldenham. Mr. Timins still holds some of the property, and the house is unoccupied. (fn. 202)
OTERS POOLELAND was assessed in 1694, (fn. 203) and is entered as Otterspoole House and land in 1709. (fn. 204) Some years later it became for a time the fashion of people to stay here in order to drink the waters of the pool, which, however, had no medicinal qualities. Otterspool is now the residence of Mr. Stephen Taprell Holland, J.P.
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands to the south-west of the scattered village of Aldenham. It is surrounded by a fair-sized churchyard (fn. 205) which is entered through a modern lichgate on the north, and two other gates on the west. The church consists of a chancel with north and south chapels and north vestry, a nave of four bays with aisles and south porch, and a west tower.
It has undergone restoration in 181314, 1843, 1847 and 1882 (by Sir A. Blomfield for Mr. H. H. Gibbs, the late Lord Aldenham). It is built of flint walling with ashlar dressings of rag-stone and Totternhoe stone. The chancel has a red tiled roof, and all the other roofs are leaded, of low pitch.
The earliest evidence of the history of the church is given by a small twelfth-century window in the west wall of the south aisle, which though completely 'restored' appears to be in its original position. If so the church must have had a nave and a south aisle at least, of much the same size as at present, in the twelfth century. Of the chancel of this church no traces remain. The west tower was added at the beginning of the thirteenth century, and shortly afterwards the chancel was rebuilt and a south chapel added to it. About 1300 the south chapel was extended eastward, and the chancel was like wise lengthened, to regain the side-light lost by the extension of the chapel. The south arcade of the nave and probably the south wall of the south aisle were rebuilt about 1340, and about a century later the north arcade was rebuilt, its general outlines being made to correspond with the south arcade, and the wide north aisle belongs to the sametime. The chancel arch is somewhat later, the nave roof and clearstory were added about 147080, and the upper part of the tower and the tower arch belong to the end of the fifteenth century. In the early part of the sixteenth century the chancel was widened on the north side, thus throwing it out of centre with the nave, and the west window of the north aisle and the east window of the chancel, which was destroyed in 1847 (shown in Clutterbuck's view of the church taken in 1815), were inserted. The north vestry was probably built about 1530, and an extension of the south chapel to the line of the east wall of the chancel was provided for in the will of Sir Humphrey Coningsby, 1535, but was never carried out. (fn. 206)
The chancel measures 45 ft. 6 in. by 23 ft. 6 in. The east window is modern, replacing a window of 1847. In the north wall is a sixteenth-century arcade of two bays, of coarse detail, with arches of two hollow-chamfered orders, and octagonal capitals, pillars, and bases. To the east of the arcade is a two-light window, c. 1300, its lower part blocked by the vestry roof.
In the south wall at the east end is a similar window, but now of one light, which, though patched, dates from the lengthening of the chancel c. 1300. Below it is a modern piscina with an old drain, and modern sedilia, and west of the sedilia a doorway into the east end of the south chapel, having over it part of a lancet which belongs to the thirteenth-century rebuilding of the chancel, and was blocked up at the lengthening of the south chapel in c. 1300. Slightly to the west of the lancet, at a lower level, is a much restored trefoiled arch with shafts and moulded capitals over a piscina recess belonging to the thirteenth-century chancel, and having had sedilia on its western side. The east respond of the arcade of three bays, which takes up the rest of the south wall of the chancel, and opens to the south chapel, cuts into the lancet before described, and though the details of this arcade are the same throughout, with arches of two chamfered orders, and octagonal pillars with moulded caps and bases, of a style not later than c. 1260, it seems clear that the eastern bay must have been added at the lengthening of the south chapel c. 1300, copying the earlier detail. The roof of the chancel is modern, replacing a plaster ceiling removed in 1847.
The south chapel, which is known to have been the Lady chapel, has a three-light east window with geometrical tracery, c. 1300, and to the same date belong the first window from the east in the south wall, of two lights, and the piscina and locker below, with shafts and moulded capitals and bases. To the west of this window is the end of a moulded wooden beam embedded in the wall, which probably formed the head of a wooden screen and dates from c. 1300. The west part of the south wall is taken up by the Crowmer monuments, above which are two thirteenth-century lancets, partly cut away to give room for the canopy of the monuments. At the south-west angle is a turret (1905) containing the rood-loft stairs; the upper and lower doorways are old.
The nave is of four bays, 60 ft. long by 14 ft. wide, with south aisle 9 ft. 6 in. and north 19 ft. 8 in. wide. The south arcade is of two chamfered orders with sharply pointed arches, and octagonal pillars with capitals ornamented with paterae of leaf-work at the angles, c. 1340. In the south aisle are three two-light windows of the same date, the south doorway being a modern restoration, and the porch, of timber on low red brick walls, of no great age. The west wall of the south aisle contains the small twelfth-century window already mentioned, and over it a circular light with quatrefoil tracery, probably added when the aisle was altered in the fourteenth century.
The north arcade belongs to the middle of the fifteenth century, and is designed to match the south arcade, though differing in the height of the pillars and in details of moulding and ornament. The three two-light windows in the north wall of the north aisle belong to the same date, but the three-light west window is of the sixteenth century, of the date of the widening of the chancel, and the north doorway has been renewed. The roofs of both aisles are of the fifteenth century, somewhat earlier than that of the nave, which was added when the clearstory was built, and has tie-beams with arched struts resting on stone corbels, carved as angels holding shields. The original painting of the roof is in a good state of preservation, with a pattern of red roses on the tie-beams. The north chapel (fn. 207) is of the same width as the north aisle, and opens to it by a wide depressed sixteenth-century arch, kept low to provide abutment for the west arch of the north arcade of the chancel, which overlaps it.
In the north wall is a blocked doorway and two windows of two and three lights respectively with segmental heads, while a third of three lights is in the east wall, hidden by the organ. The north vestry has a square-headed two-light window in its north and east walls, fitted with the original wooden shutters with wrought iron strap hinges.
The west tower is of three stages, the lowest parts dating from the early years of the thirteenth century, and in the north and south walls of the ground story are lancet windows of this date, though much repaired. The tower arch is of the end of the fifteenth century, and at the north-east angle is a half-octagonal staircase turret of the same date. The belfry windows are of three lights with tracery in the head, and the tower is embattled, with a flat lead roof, from which springs a small leaded spire of 'Hertfordshire' type.
There are modern screens across the tower arch, between the north and south chapels and the chancel, and at the chancel arch, the latter having a loft over it, and at the west end of the south chapel is part of the fifteenth-century rood-screen, rescued from a carpenter's shop, fitted together, and made out with new pieces where necessary. A modern screen crosses this chapel east of the Crowmer monument, and there is a screen at the west of the north chapel, probably put there in 1847.
The Crowmer monument consists of two canopied altar tombs side by side, with the effigy of a lady on each. The canopies have cusped four-centred arches under an embattled cornice, with shields in the outer spandrels, and grotesque heads in the inner pair. The heraldry was unfortunately 'restored' in 1840 by a stonemason, and much damaged. There are three shields on the front of each tomb, those on the eastern being (1) Crowmer, (2) a fesse on which three roses between six crosslets fitchy, (3) a roughly incised cross, probably modern. On the western tomb (1) a fesse between three saltires engrailed, (2) the same quartered with the second coat on the other tomb, (3) as (1), but with a label bearing crosslets fitchy. In the eastern spandrel of the canopy, coats (1) and (2) of the eastern tomb quarterly, and in the western spandrel coat (1) of the western tomb.
Parts of a number of brasses remain in the church, but unfortunately the inscriptions are lost in most cases. The style of the figures shows that the majority fall within the years 14501530. Two in the chancel preserve their inscriptions, those of Lucas Goodyere, a late sixteenth-century brass with a figure of a woman in a shroud, and Nicholas Chowne, 1569, where the inscription and armssable three thatcher's hooks in pale argentalone remain. Of the rest the figures of Edward Brisko, 1608, and Helen his wife, can be identified from Clutterbuck's description in 1813, when they were on an altar tomb since destroyed, and in the chancel is the indent of an armed figure with two shields bearing the arms of Stepney, gules a fesse checky or and azure between three owls argent. Other figures in the chancel are those of a man and his wife with two sons and six daughters; another of a lady, and another group of man and wife with five sons and six daughters. In the south chapel is a fourteenth-century coffin lid with a defaced inscription, and three slabs with various brass figures unnamed. In the vestry is part of the palimpsest brass of John Long, 1538, inscribed on a fifteenth-century plate.
The chancel has good modern seats and desks, and within the altar rails is a modern inlaid bishop's chair. The font is of Purbeck marble, of the thirteenth century, having a square bowl resting on four shafts with a central stem.
There are eight bells and a sanctus: the treble and 2nd by Warner 1889, 3rd by Mears, undated (c. 1800), 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th by Warner 1865, and tenor by G. Chandler, of Drayton Parslow, 1683. The sanctus bell is inscribed, 'Thomas Waller Ralph Hickman 1647.' It is by William Whitmore of Watford. (fn. 208)
The church plate consists of a communion cup without a paten, of London make, 1565, with two bands of ornament on the bowl; a second cup, London, 1635, inscribed round the lip of the bowl, 'a challis belonging to the parish church of Aldenham I.W. : E.R.'; two patens, a standing paten, and a flagon, all of 1854, and a glass cruet, silver-mounted, c. 1885. There are also two pewter flagons, dated 1703. In the tower is an exceptionally large iron-bound chest with three locks and a very curious screw key.
The registers are as follows: i, 15591659; ii, Baptisms, 16591712; iii, Burials, 165977; iv, Marriages, 16601713; v, Baptisms, 17131812; vi, Burials, 17131812; vii and viii, Marriages, 17161812. In the overseers' accounts are entries of burials for 16823 and 16981712.
The advowson of the church from the time of which we have any record of it belonged to the abbot and convent of Westminster. The church was appropriated in 1391 by the abbot for the performance of mass at the altar of St. John the Baptist in Westminster Abbey every year on the morrow of the Translation of St. Swithun, on which day King Richard II was crowned, for the healthful estate of the king and Queen Anne while they lived, and for their souls after their death. (fn. 209) This appropriation was confirmed by the bishop of Lincoln on 2 November, 1391, in obedience to the king's desire. (fn. 210) In 1397 Abbot William Colchester assigned the church of Aldenham to the prior and convent of the monastery of Westminster, on condition that they provided both the due celebration of mass on the morrow of St. Swithun's Day, and the celebration of the obit of the abbot. On the occasion of the former service they must pay 26s. 8d. for the pittance of the convent, and 14s. 4d. for wax lights to be burnt before the altar of St. John the Baptist. On the anniversary of the abbot's death they must give 2s. and a cup of wine to each monk of the monastery, and to the convent 26s. for a pittance and 2s. 6d. for bread. They must bestow 40s. on the poor at Aldenham and 20s. on the poor at Westminster. (fn. 211) The right of presentation to the vicarage was retained by the abbot. After the dissolution of Westminster Abbey the advowson followed the descent of the chief manor (fn. 212) until the year 1878, when the rectory and advowson were purchased of the trustees of the Thellusson estate by Henry Hucks Gibbs, the late Lord Aldenham. His son is now patron. (fn. 213)
The advowson of the vicarage of Christ Church, Radlett, is in the gift of the vicar of Aldenham.
In 121718 the abbot of Westminster petitioned for leave to establish a chantry in the church of Aldenham for the souls of Esmond atte Broke and others, according to the authorization of the dean and chapter of Westminster. (fn. 214) No further trace of this chantry has been found. Sir Humphrey Coningsby bequeathed rents from lands called Brooks, Edmonds, Staffords, and Scotts, in Aldenham, for finding a priest who should say divine service in the chapel of our Lady for twenty-one years from the day of his death, which occurred on 5 June, 1535. (fn. 215) A chapel existed in Titburst as early as 12478. (fn. 216)
The chapel of St. Mary the Virgin and St. George the Martyr (fn. 217) at Cobden Hill (Copthorne Hill) was a building of brick with a roof of tiles and had a porch covered with lead. (fn. 218) It was founded by Sir Humphrey Coningsby, Justice of the Common Pleas, 'for the consolation of Christ's faithful, and especially for the infirm, and for men and women broken with age, and women who have infants, and who dwell far from the parish church.' (fn. 219) It was licensed for the celebration of the eucharist and of baptisms on the 14 November, 1520. (fn. 220) Ralph Penne, by his will dated 11 March, 14834, had directed his trustees, one of whom was Sir Humphrey Coningsby, to charge his lands with a sum sufficient to build a chapel at Cobden Hill and 'to purchase easements' from the Roman Curia. (fn. 221) Probably nothing was done under this bequest, as Sir Humphrey Coningsby refers in his will to the chapel built by him at Cobden Hill, (fn. 222) but he also mentions a chantry in the church of Aldenham, where the soul of Ralph Penne among others was to be prayed for, and which was perhaps founded in lieu of the chapel directed by Ralph. The chapel was destroyed under the Act of 1547 for dissolving chantry chapels, though the jurors presented that the chapel was two miles distant from the parish church, and 'about it dwelt the most part of the substantial men of the parish, and a quarter of a mile from the said chapel was a suspect place called Bushey Heath where divers robberies had been committed. In time past, before the chapel was built, many houses, their occupants being at the parish church, were broken into by thieves, and this was the reason why the chapel was first founded.' (fn. 223) The lands of this chantry were granted in 1552 to Thomas Street, (fn. 224) and again in 1583 there is a grant of these lands to Theophilus Adams and Robert Adams and the heirs of Theophilus. (fn. 225) In a settlement of the manor of Newberries in 1670 the chapel house at Copthorne Hill is mentioned. It was settled upon Edward Briscoe with remainder to his son George. (fn. 226) The site of the chapel is not exactly known, but Radlett church, a modern building erected in 1864, is supposed approximately to occupy the site.
Abbot William, in 1399, assigned to the perpetual vicar of Aldenham a house with a hall, chambers, bottlery, kitchen, bakehouse, and garden. (fn. 227) The keeper of the Church House of Aldenham paid rent to the abbot in the fifteenth century, (fn. 228) and in 1620 the Church House and two other houses called the 'Kitchine House and the Clerkes House,' built upon a parcel of ground adjoining the churchyard of Aldenham, were granted to Sir Henry Carey in exchange for the land called Priest's Heath. (fn. 229)
The Baptists seem to have had a footing in Aldenham at an early date, and in 1806 a licence was taken out for a messuage in Aldenham to be used occasionally as a meeting house for the worship of God by Protestant Dissenters called Baptists. In 1815 a room in the farm-house of Thomas Jenkins Gee, in the parish of Aldenham, was licensed as a place of religious worship for Protestant Dissenters. On 16 January, 1828, the house of James Embler was licensed as a place of religious worship for 'Protestants,' a designation used by the Wesleyans. (fn. 230)
There is a Primitive Methodist chapel at Four Want Ways built in 1887, and a Church mission room at Letchmore Heath erected and finished in 1898 at a cost of about 700. A temporary Wesleyan Methodist chapel has been erected at Radlett, and a Congregational chapel of brick.
The Foundation of Richard Platt.
In 1599 Richard Platt, citizen and brewer of London, erected, with a licence from Queen Elizabeth, a grammar school and almshouses in this parish, which he conveyed to the Corporation of the Brewers' Company, London, with certain lands and premises in St. Pancras, Middlesex, the rents and profits thereof to be applied for the support of the said school and almshouses.
Under the scheme of 1902 the corporation have set aside a sum of 10,000 consols as a separate foundation under the title of Richard Platt's Almshouse Charity, the dividends of which, amounting to 250, are applicable, after repairs and cost of management, in allowances and gifts to the inmates, medical attendance, and nurse.
In 1635 Elizabeth Brown left 50 to be laid out in land of the annual value of 3 towards the yearly maintenance and relief of the poor. A close of land containing by estimation 2 acres 1 rood called Parwise, in Elstree, was purchased with this legacy and accumulations.
In 1776, under the Boreham Wood Common Inclosure Act (16 Geo. III), 3 acres 25 poles were allotted to the churchwardens of Aldenham in lieu of their right of common in respect of the said 2 acres 1 rood of land; and under the same Act these lands were exchanged for 7 acres 2 roods 21 poles in Elstree, known as the Parish Field. In 1903 the charity land was sold and the proceeds were invested in 1,801 8s. 3d. consols with the official trustees, producing 45 a year.
In 1697 William Hutchinson charged Delrow House in this parish with the annual sum of 2 for the benefit of the poor. These charities are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 2 November, 1897, under which the poor of Radlett and of that part of the civil parish of Aldenham which is in the ecclesiastical district of Elstree have a share in the benefit of these charities.
This parish is in possession of a messuage known as the 'Chequers' public-house let at 40 a year, and three cottages let at 18 a year, and a sum of 215 6s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, arising from investment of part of the proceeds of a sale in 1874 of allotment land formerly belonging to the charity, the remainder having been applied in the repair of the cottages. This charity is also entitled to an annual payment of 1 charged upon 10 acres of land called Priest's Heath in Aldenham. Under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 8 February, 1870, the income, about 60 a year (including the next mentioned charity), is applicable towards the maintenance and repair of the parish church and, subject thereto, towards defraying the other expenses usually covered by a church rate.
In 1904 Mrs. Eliza Henrietta Atkinson transferred to the official trustees of charitable funds the sum of 100 India 3 per cent stock. The dividends thereof, by the trust deed, were to be applied in augmentation of the Church Estate Charity, so long as her husband's grave in the churchyard should be kept in order.
The Aldenham Almshouse Charity was founded in 1854 by Colonel W. Stuart, who erected four almshouses and outbuildings at Round Bush, Aldenham, and by deed endowed the same with 1,667 14s. consols. In 1898 the stock was realized and proceeds re-invested in the purchase of 1,727 15s. 3d. India 3 per cent stock, to which a sum of 72 4s. 9d. like stock was added by the trustees, raising the trust fund to 1,800 stock, which is held by the official trustees. The four inmates receive 10 a year each.