Harpenden or Harden, a village and a parish in Herts. The village stands near the river Lea, on the Bedford road, 1½ mile from the boundary with Beds, and 4½ miles N by W from St Albans, and has a station on the M.R., and another on the Luton branch of the G.W.R., with a post, money order, and telegraph office (S.O.) The parish comprises 5112 acres; population, 3916. The manor of Wheathampstead - cum - Harpenden belonged anciently to Westminster Abbey, and now belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. The manor of Rothamsted belongs to the Lawes family, and that of Annables to the Smyths. Rothamsted, an ancient, picturesque, Elizabethan house, standing in a well-wooded park, is a seat of the Lawes family, and Harpenden Lodge is a seat of the Lydekkers. A chemical laboratory was built in 1855 by subscription and presented to Sir J. B. Lawes in testimony of his discoveries in agricultural chemistry, a new detached building being added in 1888. Straw-plaiting, bleaching, brick-making, and some brewing are carried on. Races are held the Friday before the Epsom races. The living is a rectory in the diocese of St Albans; net yearly value, £401 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The former church was Late Norman (about the time of Stephen), but largely altered to Later English, and was cruciform, with originally a central tower, which was destroyed by fire, and succeeded by a western tower. The present church was built in 1862 at a cost of £4600; retains the tower of the previous church; is in the Decorated English style, and cruciform, and has a restored ancient font of Purbeck marble, and several monuments, including brasses of the Cressey and Annables families. There are Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, and charities worth about £260 a year. A lecture hall and reading-room was erected in 1887.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Harpenden St. Nicholas|
|Poor Law union||St. Albans|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Harpenden from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Harpenden (St. Nicholas))
Land and Property
A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hertfordshire is online.
Online maps of Harpenden are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hertfordshire newspapers online:
- Hertford Mercury and Reformer
- Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, and General Advertiser
- Watford Observer
The Visitations of Hertfordshire, 1572 and 1634. Edited by Walter C. Metcalfe, F.S.A. is available on the Heraldry page.