Great Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire

Historical Description

Berkhampstead, Great, or Berkhampstead-St-Peter, a market-town, a parish, and the head of a union in Herts. The town stands in a deep rich valley on the Bulbourne river, and on the Grand Junction Canal, adjacent to the L. & N.W.R., 28 miles NW of London. It perhaps occupies the site of the Roman station Durobrivae, and it was a residence of the kings of Mercia. William the Conqueror made oath at it to maintain the ancient laws of the kingdom. Robert, Earl of Mortaigne, got it from the Conqueror, and erected at it a strong castle on the site of the Mercian palace. Henry I. took it from the earl in punishment of rebellion, and made it the centre of a royal domain. Henry II. kept his court at it. King John gave it for a time to Jeffrey Fitz-Piers, Earl of Essex, but resumed it at the earl's death, and made it again Crown property. Richard, king of the Romans, got it from Henry III., and died at it. The castle now belongs to the Prince of Wales as Duke of Cornwall, and gives him the title of Baron. The " honour " connected with it includes numerous-manors in Herts, Bucks, and Northampton.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Hertfordshire
Ecclesiastical parish Berkhampstead St. Peter
Hundred Dacorum
Poor Law union Berkhampstead

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Great Berkhampstead from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hertfordshire is online.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hertfordshire newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.