Much of Hill End was considered to be part of Preston. It was included with the village
in the counts of 1821 and 1886 and its children attended Preston School as did the
present owner of the modern Hill End Farm.
Although the main access to Hill End is from the present B656 (which runs from Langley
to Hitchin), there are footpaths that connect with the roads which lead to Preston
and Whitwell. The census enumerators went from Hitchwood cottages to Hill End cottages
and thence to the Farm.
At the end of the seventeenth century, Mrs Foster was farming at Hill End. It was
taken over by the Cook family. James Cook (who married Mrs Foster’s daughter, Elizabeth)
was farming there in 1821. He was followed by his son, John Cook and then Thomas
Cook. From 1886 until at least 1901 William Jackson farmed there.
In 1851 it consisted of 470 acres and was worked by 21 labourers. On 23 June 1910,
Hill End Farm was offered for sale together with Little Almshoe and Langley Farms.
It was advertised as being 396 acres of rich grass and arable land with “good partridge
The farm house was described as ‘comfortable”. It was brick-built with stuccoed elevation
and a slated and tiled roof. On the ground floor were a large dining room, drawing
room, office and tiled entrance hall. There was also a dairy, brew house and cellar.
On the first floor were six bedrooms and a box room. The Farm was surrounded by outbuildings
and had a lawn, flower beds, gravelled walks and shrubberies and an enclosed kitchen
garden and orchard.
Near the main farm was a four-roomed cottage built of brick and timber with a tiled
roof. There was a smaller farm - ‘Lower Farm’ - which was part of the estate. Close
by were the two Minsden Cottages which had four rooms and were built of timber with
tiled roofs. Two more cottages were at Lower Hill End. They had three rooms and were
of brick and stuccoed construction with tiled roofs. These cottages were considered
to be part of Langley rather than Preston. Finally, there were two cottages at Poynders
End which were included in the Hill End Farm estate. Thus, there were seven cottages
on the estate where some of its labourers lived.
As well as rearing cattle, Hill End was a sheep farm. My great x3 grandfather, Robert
Currell (a shepherd) lived in one of the Minsden cottages from 1781 until his death
in 1832. In 1828, his married son, Samuel was also living there. My great grandfather,
Charles Wray (a hurdlemaker) had moved from Tewin in Hertfordshire to Hill End by
the time of his marriage in 1852.
The following are others who lived in the cottages at Hill End:
Hill End, which is now known as Langley End, is approached by a lane from the B651
between St Pauls Walden and Ippollitts. It is on the brow of a hill which rises above
woodland (shown right).
In 1911/12, Lutyens was commissioned by Mr H G Fenwick of Temple Dinsley to design
several houses and buildings at Hill End, now Langley End (for more details, seeFenwick):
Hill End (now Langley End House, Bathgate House and
Cottage at Hill end (now, Langley End Cottage).
1 and 2 Hill End Farm Cottagesand dairy.
A generator house ( now a house, Bridle Ways) and
A barn at Hill End Farm and possible alterations to
two other barns.
The houses are of similar unifying construction using narrow red bricks with a dressing
of lighter red bricks in English bond, alternate rows of ‘headers’ and ‘stretchers’.
Hill End aka Langley End (now, three properties: Langley End, Bathgate and Clifton
Houses) is a Georgian revival-style H-shaped house of two stories with flanking cross-wings.
There is an adjoining two-storey service wing which is now Clifton House. The steep
roof is made of red handmade tiles and there is a large rectangular central chimney
stack and balancing slabs of chimneys atop the two cross-wings.
At the front elevation, the roof sweeps down to a single storey at the entrance -
‘the low eaves of the entrance front are intimate in scale’. There are central double
doors which are flanked by small-paned four-lights casement windows. On the roof
slope are three hipped, lead-glazed, dormer windows which are set in oak frames.
The rear garden elevation is symmetrical with seven french casements at ground level
and above them seven casement windows at the first floor - ‘they make for a distinctive
appearance’. An echo of Temple Dinsley are the tall piers capped by stone and urns
- these are linked by a panelled parapet.
Hill End - (above) side and front elevation; (below) rear views circa 1912 and 2010
Daphne du Maurier at Hill End
Between 1940 and 1942, the novelist Daphne du Maurier (1907 - 1989) (right) lived
at Hill End. Daphne’s husband, Tommy, was stationed in Hertfordshire so she, her
three young children and a nanny decamped to Hill End as a paying guest of Henry
‘Christopher’ Puxley and his wife ‘Paddy’. Here, she wrote Frenchman’s Creek in 1941.
Here, Daphne would ‘breakfast in bed and wander in the garden and go for walks to
my heart’s content. While at Hill End, it was reported that, ‘protected by the champagne
and roses of life at Langley's End, Daphne could still watch a formation of 20 German
bombers on their way to bomb Luton … and see the beauty of them rather than the deadly
menace they embodied. She wrote,’ It really was rather an
Langley End Cottage (formerlyCottage at Hill End, below) is a T-shaped asymmetrical
house with a long single storey wing and a short 1 ½ -storey wing. It has white,
small-paned wooden casement windows with heavy glazing bars. Some windows have a
tile lintel and drip
The steep roof is constructed with red hand-made tiles. There are two large internal
square chimneys, each with clasping corner pilasters and waisted top. Within the
grounds of the cottage is a dovecote.
Langley End Cottage (formerly, Cottage at Hill End)
1 and 2 Hill End Farm Cottages (below), originallywith an adjoining dairy, are a
in a single 1 ½ storey block with gable windows. In the recessed centre, which gives
a two-storey elevation between the lower wings, there are red tiles hung to the first
The steep roofs are made of red tiles with a continuous tiled eaves corbel and there
is a huge central chimney stack with clasping corner pilasters and waisted top. The
front doors are made of planked wood and there are small-paned, wooden flush white
1 and 2 Hill End Farm Cottages
In addition to the building mentioned above, Lutyens also designed two other buildings
at Langley End. Firstly, a barn at Hill End Farm; it is a long 1½ storey building
with a steep red-tiled roof. He also designed a generator house, which has now been
converted into a house, and an adjoining wall.
To the south of Langley End Cottage is an 17/18th century weather boarded barn. The
white-painted boards on the gable tops which represent a V-shaped roof truss may
have been added by Lutyens around 1911.
exquisite sight, so remote and unreal, those silvery creatures like humming birds
above us at about twenty thousand feet, while above them circled their own protective
After the birth of her son, Christian, at Cloud’s Hill, Offley, Daphne returned to
Hill End where she shared the mansion with a number of refugees. Her stay came to
an end when Paddy Puxley found her in Christopher’s arms.
Hill End Farm, Langley End
Addendum: Hill End c1913 from L Weaver’s Small Country Houses of Today
Weaver writes:Hill End makes no parade of classical forms and the nature of the site
and the relation of the house to the road indicated a ground plan not even purely
symmetrical. But even in plan, the service block to the north-east, the house is
perfectly balanced on both of its main elevations - and the garden side is a very
just example of the spirit of classical repose in a composition possessing no definite
classical features. It is Sir Edwin’s happy gift to combine with such a decorous
conception elements of variousness such as the flanking walls to the little terrace
on the entrance front with their attractive niches. His very difficulties are the
occasion of new successes. To secure a proper disposition of the servants’ quarters
and to arrange the northeast front so that it took up a proper alignment with the
road involved making the kitchen block and yard of an irregular shape. So admirably,
however, is this part modelled that from no point of view is there any suggestion
of distortion. The complete picture gives the impression that just so and no otherwise
could Hill End have been built. The best art in any medium must always give the idea
of being inevitable.
In the scheming of the rooms generally Sir Edwin has provided that every room in
the house, with the exception of the school room and the servants’ quarters shall
have the sunny south-east aspect. It is impossible to give Hill End Higher praise
than to say it is a little Temple Dinsley of which it is a near neighbour. For all
its modesty in actual size and accommodation it is informed with that quality of
breadth and dignity which is the essence of the classic spirit