Brookmans Park Newsletter
A visit to North Mimms in Victorian Times
Note July 2001: At the turn of the last century, William Page visited North Mimms to carry out a detailed survey of the parish, its hamlets, manors, landscape and people. The notes of that visit were recently uncovered by a user of this site in New Zealand. This is the beginning of a lengthy project to reproduce, on this site, those notes. The spelling, syntax and language have been left as in the original document. Over the next months, as more information is added, this will become a complete piece of work nine chapters long and will form part of this site's history section. A note will appear on the front page of this site every time a new section is added.
Mimmine (xi cent.).
Written in 1908
The parish of North Mimms comprises 4,966 acres, and extends four and a half miles from east to west. It is traversed from north to south by the Old North Road, the main line of the Great Northern Railway, and the St. Albans road.
The surface of the parish is almost fiat, but rises gradually to a height of 400 ft. in the east. A small stream rises in Brookmans Park, flows west, wends its way north to the middle of the parish, then strikes north-east, and eventually joins the Colne.
In one part of its bed there are some deep circular rifts in the chalk, locally called Swallow Holes, down which the water rushes in whirlpools when the stream is high.
The parish is well wooded and includes three large parks, that of North Mimms Park in the west, Potterells in the centre, and Brookmans in the east.
The surface soil is very varied; chalk, gravel, and clay occur at intervals. Pasture covers 2,623 acres, cornland 1,231 acres, and woodland 648 acres (1). There are several large sheets of water which cover some 26 acres. The parish was inclosed in 1777-8 and 1782 (2).
Hamlets of North Mimms
It may be said of North Mimms that it consists of many hamlets rather than of one compact village.
Entering the parish from Hatfield by the North Road and going south, the hamlet of Bell Bar lies along a road striking off to the right. It is a small hamlet having its own post office and mission-room. There are two farms and some old red-tiled houses, but none of importance.
Further on, the North Road leads through Little Heath, now a separate ecclesiastical parish possessing a church, but until 1894 only a hamlet of North Mimms, and served by a mission-room. Little Heath is growing, and has now a population of some 700 people. In the north-east, near the road to Northaw is Mymwood House, the residence of Mr. Archibald Thompson, J.P.
The Great Northern Railway, which runs nearly through the centre of the parish of North Mimms, passes through the hamlet of Marshmoor in the north and skirts Welham Green a little further south. Marshmoor is merely a few small houses and one larger house called Frowick House, inhabited by three brothers named Lermitte.
Welham Green extends from the railway towards the middle of the parish along a road which meets the road to Colney Heath in the west. It is a hamlet of considerable size, with a few old cottages, a good many new slated ones, a new boys school, and a large house on the Potterells estate, the residence of Mr. George Curtis.
In the north-west of the parish, roads from St. Albans and Hatfield meet, and the former continues southeast to Chipping Barnet by way of Cecil Road in the parish of South Mimrns, and then joins the high road from St. Albans to Chipping Barnet.
Before the St. Albans and Hatfield roads meet they are connected by a third road, and the triangle so formed incloses the hamlet called Roestock. There is a 17th century farm-house called Estate Farm belonging to North Mimms Park, and a good many small houses and one good red-brick house now called Roestock Hall, but until lately known as the Grange. This is the residence of Admiral Sir John Fellowes, K.C.B. There is a mission room here. A small part of the common called Colney Heath extends into this parish, and near to it is a mill now worked by steam, but formerly a windmill.
Leaving Roestock southwards the road leads along the edge of North Mimms Park and through the hamlet of Water End, near the little brook. This hamlet consists of an irregular row of small houses with their gardens, and some old half-timber houses called Mother Chucks Cottages. The old village pond has been cleared away within the last few years.
A little to the south of Water End is Abdale House, a building of white stucco belonging to North Mimms Park estate, occupied by Mr. C. H. Ommanney, C.M.G.; and not far away is Hawkshead House, the property of Mrs. A. C. Clauson, the wife of Mr. A. C. Clauson, barrister-at-law. Moffats, the residence of Mr. Wilson Fox, C.B., is north-east of Hawkshead House.
None of these highways lead to the parish church, but its spire may be frequently seen, and an avenue of lime trees leads from Tollgate Road up to it and the vicarage and two or three small houses. The only other house near is North Mimms Park, but the church serves several hamlets.
Place names which occur in early deeds are Foxcroft, Walters Grove, Merlyng, Bukmermedewe, Bushcroftfield, the Florysh Hach, Strytley, Worsdell, Rothstoke or Holstoke Farm, Gybbysworth, Roundcroft, Pepperland, Rougelond, Rochebrache, Danefeld, Eldley, Aberdenecroft, Christmas Pond, Ravenshethgat, and Friday Grove.
There is a moat at Puttocks Farm, near Welham Green. A pond on the left hand of the farm entrance probably originally formed part of this moat, which included nearly an acre of ground.
In a field not far from this and north of Pancake Hall (3) there is a small irregular moat of three sides, one of which is much widened out. This moat may have included the large pond on the opposite side of the road called Dixons Hill. Its overflow is into a branch of the Colne.
The Folly Gates near Potters Bar are said to have been erected by Sir Jeremy Sambrooke, and there is a tradition that a farthing was placed under each brick. Another story is that they were erected to commemorate a visit of Henry VIII, possibly during the time when Sir Thomas More lived at More Hall (4).
Swanley Bar is thought to be a corruption of Swanlond Bar, taking its name from the family of Swanlond. It is probable that at Swanley Bar the lords of the manor took toll from all who passed through, as the lords of Hatfield did at Bell Bar.
Henry Peacham, the author of The Complete Gentleman, was born at North Mimms about 1576. He was a very talented man, being well versed in science and mathematics , as well as in drawing, painting and music.
This feature will be continued when more material is processed
Other chapters to be added over the following months (the links will become live when more information is processed).