Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Hemel Hempstead, is a market-town in Herts. It stands among hills, on a pleasant slope at the river Gade, adjacent to the Grand Junction Canal and the Aylesbury Road, 7 miles N from Watford, and 8 W from St Albans. Boxmoor station on the main line of the L. & N.W.R. is 1½ mile from the town, and the M.R. have a branch from the main line at Harpenden, with a terminal station here. The town was known at Domesday as Hamelamstede, and some Roman relics were found at it in 1837. It consists chiefly of one street nearly a mile long, and is somewhat irregularly yet well built. It was incorporated by Henry VIII., is now governed by a bailiff chosen annually on St Andrew's Day, is lighted with gas, and has a good supply of water derived from an artesian well. It is a seat of petty sessions, and has a weekly market held on Thursday for corn, straw-plait, and general produce, a sheep and cattle fair on Holy Thursday, and a pleasure fair on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The industries include brewing, tanning, and the manufacture of straw-plait, and there is also a considerable trade in timber. There are paper mills near the town employing a large number of hands, and at Two Waters paper was first made in England by machinery in 1804. The town is well furnished with public buildings, there being a spacious town-hall with a corn exchange, literary institute with library, and vestry hall, a large market-place, and a police station. A public recreation ground was opened in 1878. There is a head post office, with branch offices at Boxmoor, Frogmore End, and Marlowes, and there are two banks and a savings bank. The West Herts County Infirmary at Marlowes, S of the town, founded in 1826, was built in 1875-77 at a cost of nearly £14,000, the old infirmary building, after being enlarged and improved, being taken over by the trustees of the King's College Hospital for a convalescent home. The parish church of St Mary is a large and ancient building of clunch and flint in the Norman and Early Decorated styles. It consists of chancel with north aisle, nave, aisles, transepts, south porch, and central tower, with a lofty spire; and it contains a very ancient font or brass of 1480, several marble tablets, some memorial windows, and a fine monument to the late Sir Astley P. Cooper, Bart. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; net yearly value, £520. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. Population of the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary, 2759. The ecclesiastical district of St Paul's was formed in 1878. The church is a modern building of flint and stone in the Transitional style of the period, between Early English and Decorated. The living is a perpetual curacy of the value of £275 with residence, in the gift of the Vicar of Hemel Hempstead. Population of the ecclesiastical district of St Paul, 1577. There are also a church belonging to the Reformed Church of England, a meetinghouse of the Society of Friends, and Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. The parish contains also the districts of Boxmoor and Two Waters, and the hamlets of Corner Hall and Crouchfield. BOXMOOR is noticed under a separate heading. The area of the parish is 7138 acres of land and 46 of water; population, 9678. The manor was given partly by King Offa of Mercia, to St Albans Abbey, partly by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, to Ashridge College; passed in the time of Henry VIII. to the Waterhouses, and went from them to the Halseys, to whom it now belongs. Hempstead Bury House was the seat of the Waterhouses, was visited by Henry VIII., and is now represented by only small remains. Gadesbridge, the residence of the Astley Cooper family, is a fine mansion standing in a park of 150 acres.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Hemel Hempstead St. Mary|
|Poor Law union||Hemel-Hempstead|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Hemel Hempstead from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Hempstead, Hemel (St. Mary))
Land and Property
A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hertfordshire is online.
Online maps of Hemel Hempstead 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.