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Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

Historical Description

Hoddesdon, a market-town and an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1844 from the parishes of Great Anwell and Broxbourne, Herts. The town stands on rising ground, backed by extensive woods, near the New river, the Lea navigation, the confluence of the Lea and the Stort, the boundary with Essex, the G.E.R., and Broxbourne village and station, 4 miles SE from Hertford. It consists chiefly of a long wide street (High Street) from whieli, at its termination, two narrow streets branch off and run parallel at no great distance from each other. The High Street contains many well-built and neat houses and shops, and a new and handsome post office. The town-hall, also situated in the High Street, is a building of brick and stone which was erected in 1835. A fine old market-house of wood, resting on arches and pillars, and ornamented with carved figures, was taken down in 1834. The old conduit is a curious fountain representing a woman with a pitcher from which fine soft water continually flows, was given to the town in 1679 by Mannaduke Bawdon, and, together with an inn which still exists, is mentioned as follows by the poet Prior in his ballad of Down Hall: "Into an old inn did their equipage roll, At a town they call Hod'sdon, the sign of the Bull, "Where a nymph with an urn divides the highway, And into a puddle pours mother of tea."

The church was built in 1732, repaired in 1827 and in 1849, and enlarged in 1865, and is a commodious edifice of nave with chancel aisles and a tower erected in 1888 at a cost of £1200. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; gross value, £300. There are Brethren, Congregational, and Wesleyan chapels and a Friends' meeting-house. A grammar school was founded by Queen Elizabeth, but has long been extinct. A weekly market is held every Wednesday for cattle, sheep, and pigs, and there are special sales of horses, carriages, and agricultural implements on the fourth Wednesday in each month. A pleasure fair is held on 29 and 30 June. The town has some very ancient inns and an important brewery; also some large building and other works. The neighbourhood has been noted since the tune of Isaac Walton as a resort of anglers. About 1 mile NE of the town is Rye Common, now nearly covered with houses, and possessing a neat iron church. Here also is situated the famous Bye House, well known for its connection with the Rye House Plot of 1638, in which one Rumbold arranged with other conspirators to waylay and shoot Charles IL on his journey from the Newmarket races-a plan which was frustrated by the unexpectedly early return of the king. The house has been modernized and converted into a hotel, but retains a fine dining-hall, and during the summer months it is a favourite resort for excursionists. There is preserved here " the great bed of Ware," a famous bedstead supposed to be large enough to accommodate twelve persons. The ruins of Nether Hall are in the neighbourhood. There are several chief residences, among which may be mentioned Rawdon, an embattled building of red brick erected in 1622 and enlarged in 1877, Woodlands, High Leigh, and Esdale House. The Marquis of Salisbury is lord of the manor. Acreage of the civil parish, 2618; population, 4053; of the ecclesiastical, 3650.

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


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

Ancient CountyHertfordshire 
Civil parishGreat Amwell 
Poor Law unionWare 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Hoddesdon from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Hoddesdon are available from a number of sites:

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.

Postal districtEN11
Post TownHoddesdon