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Watford, Hertfordshire

Historical Description

Watford, an ancient market-town and a parish in Herts. The town stands on the river Colne, on Watling Street, and on the L. & N.W.R., at the junction of the branches to Rickmansworth and St Albans. It has two stations on the railway, known as Watford Junction and High Street, and is 8 miles SW from St Albans and 15 by road and 17¾ by by rail from London. The town is well drained, and has a I good supply of water. It is the head of a union, petty sessional division, and county court district, and has a weekly market which is held on Tuesday. There are three large breweries, several mailings, a steam laundry, an iron foundry, some corn mills, a head post office, two banks, and some good hotels. The Watford Public Library and College of Science, Art, Music, and Literature occupies a fine building of brick and stone in the Italian style, containing numerous class-rooms and a lecture-hall capable of holding nearly 400 persons. The workhouse is a building of brick capable of holding 281 inmates. The London Orphan Asylum stands near the railway station, in grounds of about 40 acres, and consists of seven large buildings of brick in a modern Elizabethan style, with a chapel. It is capable of accommodating 350 boys and 200 girls. The endowed schools are located in spacious buildings erected in 1882-84 at a cost of about £5000. They have an endowment of about £400 a year, and can accommodate 200 boys and 100 girls. The Salters Company have almshouses for eighteen poor persons, and there is a cottage hospital with ten beds. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St Albans; value, £620 with residence, in the gift of the Earl of Essex. The church, dedicated to St Mary, is an ancient building of the Early English period, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, N and S porches, two chapels, and a fine embattled western tower with spire. It has some ancient brasses and some fine monuments to members of the Morrison family and others. St John's is a fine church in the Early English style, erected in 1893. The ecclesiastical district of St Andrew was formed in 1869. The living is a perpetual curacy; net value, £450 with residence. The church is a modern building of flint and stone in the Early English style. The ecclesiastical parish of Oxhey was formed in 1879 from the parishes of Watford and Bushey. The living is a vicarage; net value, £177 with residence. The church, dedicated to St Matthew, was erected in 1880 at a cost of £6000, and is a building in the Early English style. Oxhey Chapel is a small rectangular building of brick, containing a beautifully carved ancient reredos and a fine monument to Sir James Altham, Baron of the Exchequer (died 1617). The ecclesiastical parish of Leavesden has been noticed separately under Leavesden Green, and the hamlet of Cashio under that heading. There is a Roman Catholic church, a building of flint and stone in the Decorated style, which was erected in 1890 at a cost of over £5000, and there are General and Strict Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. Acreage of the parish, 10,780; population, 20,269; population of the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary, 9571; of St Andrew, 5578; of Leavesden, 3666; of Oxhey, 3344. There is an urban district council consisting of fifteen members.

Watford or Western Parliamentary Division of Hertfordshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 63,890. The division includes the following:- Dacorum (part of)-Aldbury, Berkhampstead, Bovingdon, Flaunden, Hemel, Hempstead, King's Langley, Northchurch, Puttenham, Tring, Wigginton; Watford (except the parish of Aldenham)-Abbots Langley, Bushey, Rickmansworth, Sarratt, Watford.

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 
Ecclesiastical parishWatford St. Mary 
LibertySt. Albans 
Poor Law unionWatford 

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

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Watford

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Watford 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 Watford 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 districtWD17
Post TownWatford