“Rannulf, brother of Ilger, holds one hide in Stagnehou and William holds it of him.
There is land for three ploughs (worked by three oxen apiece). On the demense is
one (plough) and six villeins have another and there could be a third. There are
two cottars and there is woodland to feed 20 swine. The land is worth fifty shillings;
when received, it was worth 20 shillings.”
The location of the Stagenhoe mansion/Sue Ryder Care Home today.
The red square depicts 120 acres to illustrate the area of the manor in 1086
The important St Albans Highway ran over the hill and passed through the manor of
Stagenhoe. Passing drovers and pilgrims would have brought news of the outside world
– of crusades and revolutions; the rise and demise of kings.
From 1246 until 1366, Stagenhoe is mentioned frequently in documents – a knight’s
fee; rights of warren (to kill game) and rights of hunting, hawking, killing beasts
and fowls (provided this was not in the King’s forests). According to a charter of
1268/69 a tradition arose that the owner of Temple Dinsley at Preston had the right
to stand on the front door of Stagenhoe on Christmas Day and fire off a gun.
Toward the end of the thirteenth century, a monthly rental shows six named copyholders
paying rents and later Lay Subsidies show a slight increase of tenants – so Stagenhoe
had around the same density of population from Domesday.
According to the Subsidies records from 1306 to 1314, the manor of Stagenhoe had
grown by seventy acres. Later Subsidy Rolls show that the number of tenants had also
increased by six, including a smith and a shepherd.
There was an incident in the early fourteenth century when Thomas Horn of Stagenhoe
was assaulted and robbed by Thomas Cranmer, William Swayn, Richard Shepherd and Robert
Hayward ‘so that his life was despaired of’. They stole six florins worth 30/8d and
his goods. Then again, Henry de Bungay and Bartholomew de Burghersh plundered another
Stagenhoe tenant, Hugh Veysey and raped his wife. They were chased and caught at
Cambridge where they were imprisoned – but later, they escaped.
During the Black Death of 1349, Stagenhoe, like much of the surrounding Hertfordshire
countryside, suffered grievously - the number of tenants dwindled and the Lord’s
holding was left derelict and untilled.
Edmund Pilkington lived at Stagenhoe and reared a family of seven there in a manor
house that was not on the present site, but ‘at a lower level about the middle of
the Park’. Hine suggests that if excavations were made, ‘it would probably be found
that the building was of Tottenhoe stone and of modest dimensions’.
Re: leisure pursuits at Stagenhoe. As the Lords had rights noted earlier they would
have hawked and hunted. Some of the field names perhaps hint of archery and country
dancing – ‘Butts Mead’ and ‘Morris Croft’
By the beginning of the 1600s, the Stagenhoe estate had grown to around four hundred
acres – probably the result of the Earl of Derby’s acquisitions.
Richard Hale was a benefactor to the poor people of the parish of ‘Paules Walden’,
making a bequest of £3 6s 8d to them in his will.
Hine mentions that there is a deposit of the Hale Household and Accounts Books at
the British Museum. From these it is possible to follow the day-to-day life at Stagenhoe
and Kings Walden. He writes that it is a remarkable collection that should be transcribed
as a record of English estate life in those days.
During the stay of the Hales family, the estates of Stagenhoe and Kings Walden were
administered together. Thus, although the family coach was kept at Kings Walden,
the family who lived at Stagenhoe used it for their frequent visits to London. From
there, provisions were brought for both houses.
During the English Civil War, the Hales took little interest in the uprising although
they declared themselves as being for the Parliamentary cause. A nephew raised a
horse troop and was forever quartering it at Stagenhoe and Kings Walden. This caused
Rose Hale and her son Rowland some disquiet and expense – ‘Since the beginnings of
April, there is taxed upon this parish near nine score pounds and what is to follow,
Owners and tenants of Stagenhoe: 1086-1932
Rannulf - brother of Ilger.
Simon Fitzsimon of Weston.
John de Verdun and heirs, John, Thomas and John.
Sir John Pilkington and heirs, Edmund and Sir Thomas.
Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby and heirs, Thomas, Edward, Henry and Fernando.
The Hale family: Richard, William and Rose, Rowland and Sir John.
Rose Hale (Sir John’ widow) married Sir John Austen. Their heir - Sir Robert Austen.
The Heysham family: Robert, Robert, Giles Thornton, Robert, Robert Thornton the Younger.
The Fourteenth Earl of Caithness
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Sir Henry Whitehead
Dorothy Gertrude Dewar
Historical Jottings about Stagenhoe 1246 - 1650
A new mansion at Stagenhoe circa 1650
According to Chauncy, the Hertfordshire historian, John Hale rebuilt the manor house
at Stagenhoe in about 1650. There is a surviving bill dated 1648 for charges incurred
from the pulling down of ‘the old house’. Capital for the rebuilding was raised in
part by the selling of timber in Frydays Wood in 1649 where more than nine acres
Some details of the construction of the new house survive: carpenters were employed
for sixty-six days and bricklayers, for one hundred-and-six days. Local brick and
tile kilns could not cope with the demand so 16,000 bricks were ordered at nineteen
shillings a thousand. The accounts are incredibly detailed showing, for example,
the purchase of one peacock for ten shillings to strut the formal garden.
A sketch of the new mansion from around 1700 depicts stag hounds in full cry, horns
blasting, whippers-in and followers on foot with frightened stags lurking in the
woods. Quite oblivious elegantly-attired guests move around in a stately manner and
there is a family dancing master. The Kings Walden coach-and-four sweeps up the drive.
At the two ends of the forecourt are charming arbours and there is a walled garden
with its regimented beds and borders and pots and tubs. The depicted estate includes
a brick kiln, a cow byre and a dovecote.
The plague of 1665 affected Stagenhoe. One of the tenants, Mr Warner ‘and his entire
In 1698, the estate had 28 tenants, paying rent of £66. Five were Chalkleys – others
included John Slow, Thomas Prudden, John Tuffnayle, Humphrey Manfeilds, Thomas Younge
and Father Nutting. The state was sold by Sir Robert Hale to Robert Heysham, a London
draper, for £18,284 in 1703.
In 1737, ‘about 12 at night on 29 November a fire broke out at Stagenhoe and in a
few hours burnt down this fine seat’. Losses amounted to £10,000. ‘It was occasioned
by workmen running of lead for weights in some new buildings just finished’. Only
the cellars and lower portion of the stables and parts of the Jaden House (sic) remained.
Stagenhoe rebuilt by 1740
The mansion was rebuilt over three years in the Palladium style and the Heysham’s
returned to it in 1740. Twenty-seven years later, in 1767, Squire Giles Thornton
Heysham contracted and died from smallpox (despite the availability of free inoculations
Giles successor was Robert Thornton Heysham who married the Pauls Walden girl, Hannah
Jepp, daughter of Jonathan. As the Jepps bought property at Preston Green, it is
worthwhile mentioning them – Richard Jepp of Stagenhoe bottom Farm is included in
the Poor Law accounts between 1768 and 1792.
Perhaps as a result of the smallpox outbreak, Robert had a ‘Pesthouse’ built a short
distance from Pauls Walden, in a belt of trees opposite the entrance to the Hoo.
Here were taken victims of smallpox who were provided with bundles of straw. It was
not easy to make the sufferers go, nor keep them – the accounts record the spending
of 4s 11d on the windows that Widow Bailey broke.
The diet was ‘generous’ – if the inmates were to die, they went in style! The standing
dish was pork that was washed down with gin and wine. The patients were nursed by
Dame Eves (in between her consumption of quarts of beer). Dr Vaudeval bled the inmates
and apothecary Joseph Pilgrim ‘physicked ‘them. When the ministrations failed, John
Hill made the coffins, and William Jeeves, the shrouds.
The Lord of the Manor was also the local magistrate and heard local cases in the
Justices room at Stagenhoe – Sarah Agnell was examined as she was ‘with child’ and
Shambrook’s ring, marriage fees and beer at the wedding were financed.
Robert Heysham expanded the Stagenhoe estate acquiring 117 acres in Kings and St
Pauls Walden. The field names on the Stagenhoe estate that appeared between 1780
and 1835 were recorded by Hine as follows:
What follows is another list, this time of Stagenhoe tenants, farm-hands, men and
maid servants, that has been extracted from Stagenhoe deeds and family papers between
1720 and 1820. They include some familiar ‘Preston’ surnames:
When the purse strings of country gentlemen began to be stretched during the French
revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and in order to pay for additions to the estate,
Thornton Heysham was forced to execute a mortgage of £11,000, land elsewhere was
sold, Stagenhoe Bottom Farm was let out to William Bates of Harpenden and the mansion
was taken by the wealthy Carbonell family who were wine importers.
It proved impossible to save the estate which was finally sold to Charles Baron Feversham
of Duncombe Park, York for £25,000. After mortgages had been satisfied, Heysham was
left with £1,278 – a sad ending for a family that had rebuilt the mansion and improved
the land for more than a century.
Included among the farm labourers of the estate during the early nineteenth century
were John Bunyan, James Fobler, Luke Church, James Halfpenny and Charles Butter.
Some Irish labour was used and old men from St Pauls Walden were used for docking,
rat killing, mole catching, hollow draining, bean setting, hulming or yelming and
cleaning out the horse pond.
The Lord Feversham owned Stagenhoe for a mere six years. He probably intended that
it should be the country seat of one of his sons, but this they didn’t want, so the
property was sold in 1841 for £29,500 to Henry Rogers who enjoyed the estate with
his four sons.
A new entrance at the Hitch Wood point of entry was constructed (Thornhill’s Lodge);
an artificial warth for foxes, built; a lake was dug in the park that contained pike
and a light railway was engineered. The brick and lime kilns were put into working
order, chalk pits were utilised to lime the land, sand was discovered and dug at
Stagenhoe Bottom and an archery ground was laid out beyond the Wilderness. The Rogers’
brothers also played cricket on the home pitch sited on Dovehouse Close (known affectionately
as Duffers’ Close)
The Rogers attended St Pauls Walden Church and had two Stagenhoe faculty pews that
stood together on the right-hand-side of the nave and ran through to the south aisle.
They were ‘high box’ pews and were supplied with a charcoal stove which Henry poked
vigorously if the sermon was too long. The pew also had green baize curtains to allow
There was an inheritance controversy following Henry Roger’s death. His eldest son,
Henry jnr, swore a declaration that he recalled destroying in a fire three deeds
of conveyance from his father to his three younger brothers and that a charge on
the estate to his brother Thomas of £200 pa was also burnt. He claimed it was his
The early nineteenth century
Lord Caithness and the Duchess de Medina Pomar
Indemnities and releases were given by Henry Rogers jnr., however, and in 1869, Henry
sold the estate (now 606 acres) to Lord Caithness for £37,700. An accompanying declaration
to the Abstract of Title revealed some of Stangenhoe’s features: a waterfall and
stewponds; a pheasant dell; a melon ground; an ice house and showed the St Albans
Highway clearly traversing the estate from the direction of Preston and on to Kimpton.
In 1874, William Henry Darton sold more than 23 acres of Earns (or Herons) Field
Wood to Lord Caithness for £1,000. The acreage was certified by George Wright of
Preston Hill Farm who was ‘well acquainted with the tenure and position of the said
wood’ as he had acted as Overseer and had therefore ‘beaten the bounds of the parish
as an annual custom’.
Lord Caithness was accessible and affable – often dropping in on his tenants (and
their wives) for a couple of hours chat and to down glasses of whisky. Once a month,
the staff was given a dance in the servants’ hall. Hammond, the coachman, would play
the fiddle and there were casks of beer on tap. Anyone in the village was welcome.
This gregariousness was possibly born of loneliness as the Lord’s wife died in 1870
shortly after coming to Stagenhoe. In 1872, he married a widow, Maria, the Duchess
de Medina Pomar who was the daughter of Senor Don Jose de Mariategui. .
Lord Caithness spent thousands of pounds to bring Stagenhoe up to his new wife’s
standard of accustomed magnificence This renovation included the addition of a third
storey by the Hitchin builder, Jeeves. The Lord’s coat of arms and motto, ‘Commit
Thy Work To God’, was added to the pediment above the windows. The British Museum
has a pencil study by Buckler (25 June 1832) of the two-storied mansion and a sketch
of the changed building in 1845.
Contemporaries describe the Duchess as ‘a massive, rather theatrical looking woman;
flamboyant in her dress and liked wearing jewels even in daylight’. She believed
in spiritualism and the occult and considered she was the reincarnation of Mary,
Queen of Scots – even collecting personal relics of the Queen. The Duchess was possibly
the last person to be buried in Holyrood Abbey, as was Mary.
Occasionally, séances were held at Stagenhoe that were attended by villagers and
other Hertfordshire adherents. The ceiling of one of the rooms was painted with a
pale blue sky, moons, planets and stars.
One of the footmen claimed he was a devotee in order to advance his prospects and
was constantly consulted by his mistress about what he referred to (under the stairs)
as her ‘fancies’. He was however unable to hide his surprise when the Duchess showed
him a plant ‘the Spirit has bought me’ that he recognised as a geranium he had helped
the head gardener bring into the house a few hours earlier.
Locals also recalled that she trained animals. At the conclusion of séances, she
took her guests to the dining room where her dogs were set dancing and ‘doing all
manner of absurd antics on the slippery surface of the mahogany table’.
The Duchess wrote several books about her beliefs and edited a monthly review, ‘L’Aurore
du Jour Nouveau’. Stagenhoe was open house for poets, artists, spiritualists, magicians,
healers and ‘a whole world of odd people’.
On Christmas Eve, there was a Grand Ball in the drawing room to which the local trades-people
were invited and were entertained by a local band. Miss Eldred of Whitwell recounted
how her mother wore a gorgeous silk dress to the ball which was ruined when coffee
was spilt down its front and claret, down its back. She later cut up the dress and
made a chair cover.
Stagenhoe Park in 1905
When Lord Caithness died in 1881, a will could not be found. As a result, his successor
let Stagenhoe to Lord Templemore and then Sir Arthur Sullivan. He wrote and produced
‘The Mikado’ and ‘The Golden Legend’. When he entertained ‘as many as thirty young
ladies’ at weekends, locals deemed it a scandal and thought him to be a Bluebeard
or a Mormon. They later realised he was merely giving the chorus girls a pleasant
weekend in the country!
On the death of the 15th Earl of Caithness (and following much pedigree research),
the estate was sold to William Bailey-Hawkins of St Albans for £18,000. In the village,
gossip about such a low sum centred on doubts about the title of the estate. The
mansion had become somewhat run-down and its new owner embarked on a programme of
restoring, rebuilding and re-conditioning. He built the White Lodge on the Kings
Walden road together with four cottages for those who worked on the estate.
The drainage system was also renovated and the sewers were laid along the front of
the house under flagstones, down the Lime Avenue and thence into a little wood planted
for the purpose. During the excavations, the mansion began to settle and was supported
by two iron girders in the cellars. It was during this work that a secret passage
was discovered leading (so it was said) in the direction of St Pauls Walden Church.
This was bricked up so its destination and purpose are unknown.
Close to the mansion, a cricket ground was laid-out with a reed thatched pavilion.
The team was composed of sons of the owner and estate workers and played local village
and town sides.
Bailey-Hawkins hunted at Stagenhoe, Hitch Wood and Temple Dinsley – and was still
shooting aged eighty-four. The game books record the killing of a Reeves (speckled-white)
pheasant that measured seven feet from nose to tail tip.
The gardens of Stagenhoe became an attraction and landscape design became a hobby
of the new owner. An article in Gardeners Magazine (30 April, 1910) described the
layout in detail.
Following Bailey-Hawkins’ death, in 1923 Stagenhoe was sold to Sir Henry Whitehead,
a wool magnate, for £24,000. He also made several improvements to the mansion and
estate over five years that cost a quarter of a million pounds. A new lodge was built
opposite the old one on the Hitchin to Whitwell road and gates were installed to
connect the two; four cottages were built near Home Farm for twelves gardeners and
other estate workers; a 350 foot-deep well was sunk at Home Farm and a new electrical
plant installed. In the house itself, a boiler room fed seven bathrooms and sixty
radiators; a lift was installed, the entrance hall was extended and a new oak staircase
built; a canopy roof covered the dining room and plaster panels adorned the withdrawing
However, Sir Henry’s tenure was brief – he died on 29 February 1928 and his wife
sold the estate to Dorothy Dewar in 1932.
Stagenhoe is a small settlement located just over a mile south-east of Preston. Today,
it nestles close to St Pauls Walden, just off the B651, and lies in this parish.
The name, Stagenhoe, probably derives from the Old English words, stacgena hoh meaning
‘spur of land of the stags’.
The first recorded historical mention of the manor of Stagenhoe is in the Domesday
So, Stagenhoe was a small community of one hide - around 120 acres. (The manor of
St Pauls Walden was ten times greater) Many local farms have a higher acreage. Besides
the Lord of the Manor, there were only eight heads of households, probably eight
homes and around forty people. The manor included woodland.
Since this article was originally written, three e-mails have been received that
shed light on the occupation of Stagenhoe mansion from 1943 until its purchase by
the Sue Ryder Fondation.
Dorothy Gertrude Dewar died in June 1943. Marion wrote to say that a friend was born
at Stagenhoe in December 1944. The mansion was then a nursing home - perhaps it was
sold during the intervening months. However, although his birth certificate clearly
states his birthplace as Stagenhoe, his mother was adamant that he was actually
born at St Pauls Waldenbury. It is understood that a doodlebug landed nearby around
this time and perhaps this was why the mother-to-be was transferred to another large
The birth certificate records that the person attending the birth was ‘E E Hughesdon’
- Evelyn Ellen Hughesdon. There are several documents that mention her. She was born
at Greenwich, London in 1893. Twenty-seven years later, in 1920, she was appointed
by the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Institute for Nurses. She was transferred to Scunthorpe
in 1922 and then from St James Hospital, Balham, London to West Africa in the autumn
of 1924. By 1939, Evelyn was nursing at St Mary Abbots Hospital in Kensington and
Chelsea. Then followed her work at Stagenhoe but in 1946, she was back in London
at St Stephen’s Hospital. Evelyn died a spinster on 3 September 1965 at 213 Wickham
Lane, Abbey Wood, London, SE2.
Then Rene wrote from France that her parents had sent her Stagenhoe Park - a small
elementary boarding school - between April and July 1948 to ‘foster her English ability’.
She reported that the school had eighty to ninety pupils who were aged between six
and twelve. Rene recalls that the school had relocated to Stagenhoe in the previous
year. ‘The park looked half abandoned, the meadow needed to be mown - but a cricket
pitch had been made’. There were no flowers and the ‘swimming pool was empty and
muddy. Just a vegetable garden had been set - which was a valuable resource in the
post-war food restriction period’.
The headmaster was Mr Griffith - ‘ we used to call him “ Mr G”’. Rene kept in contact
with his daughter for a while and ‘suspects she may have taken over the direction
of the school’. She understood that the school ‘moved to another place, or even disappeared’.
Recently, Rene’s recollections were confirmed by Jeremy. He wrote, ‘The school moved
to Stagenhoe Park in 1946 following the war, from Northaw House (near Potters Bar),
becoming Stagenhoe Park Preparatory School. (It was) started by my grandparents in
the late 1920s. The House was rented by my grandfather, Paul Griffith, who ran the
boarding school together with my grandmother, Daphne. The school continued at Stagenhoe
until mid-1963, when my grandparents retired and the school closed. The remaining
boys at the school mainly transferred to a new school in nearby Stevenage (I think).
‘(The photographs below are of) my grandparents and their family are on the verandah
at the top of the steps leading down to the garden (the stone sleeping lions that
sit on each side of the steps are there to this day); my grandfather seated with
the family dogs, and of myself with my grandparents again on the verandah’.
‘The school continued at Stagenhoe until mid-1963, when my grandparents retired and
the school closed. The remaining boys at the school mainly transferred to a new school
in nearby Stevenage (I think). ‘There are still a number of the school’s Old Boys
who keep in touch. Amongst the more famous past pupils of the school are Peter Kindersley
(co-founder of Dorling Kindersley publishers) and actor Richard Marner ( best known
as the German colonel in the TV series “Allo Allo”). Richard was one of a number
of White Russian refugee children taken into the school by my grandfather prior to
the war, along with a number of German and Russian Jewish refugees.
‘I have attached an aerial photo of the school taken approximately mid-1950s (shown
below). It shows a number of features that still exist and some that no longer do.
Starting at top left is what Mum calls the “staff lodgings”, originally the stables,
staff quarters etc. Top-right are the kitchen gardens and greenhouses with the Dower
House at far right. The photo shows how the gardens were still being used by the
school to supply food for the kitchens. The remnants of this layout can still be
seen in current day aerial views on Google Maps. The gates into the Kitchen Gardens
with the stags (shown on your web page) can be seen at the bottom-left of the gardens,
to the right of the large yew tree. Below this tree at bottom-right is the tennis
courts, of which there were two, although in this picture they are being used as
a basketball court. To the left of this is the swimming pool, which is still there
to this day. At the bottom of the picture are the two rugby pitches, with the boys
clearly visible training on them. Of the house itself, the main house is largely
unchanged, although the picture does show the old conservatory to the right of the
house, which was converted into squash courts and a gymnasium for the boys. This
part of the house has since been extensively added to by the Sue Ryder Foundation.’
‘The Old Boys of the school have planted trees at Stagenhoe in memory of both of
my grandparents, and of George Walker who was head teacher at the school for over
The Sue Ryder Foundation at Stagenhoe
In the summer of 1969, The Sue Ryder Foundation acquired the mansion – purchasing
the house, walled gardens, the lawns and shrubbery. The remainder of the estate was
sold separately to local landowners and farmers. The short-term aim was to provide
a holiday home for survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.
Miss Ryder had married Group Captain Leonard Chesire (well known for his own philanthropic
homes for the disabled) and already held two homes at Cavendish in Suffolk (purchased
in 1951) and Hickleton Hall in Yorkshire. During the Second World War, she had co-ordinated
the activities of Resistance groups in lands occupied by the Germans. Groups of around
thirty came four or five times a year during warm weather.
In 1971, Stagenhoe was home to forty-two Polish former prisoners, most of whom were
women who had been interned at Auschwitz and Ravensbruck (where 92,000 women and
children perished). The longer purpose of the charitable Foundation was to offer
permanent quarters to some of the worse affected victims of Nazi brutality. The Home
was managed by its ‘house father’, ex-Royal Navy officer, Mr Mumford, and his wife.
At first, accommodation at Stagenhoe was somewhat austere – a wardrobe, a chest of
drawers and one carpet. Despite gifts of second-hand furniture, in the early 1970s
jugs, washing materials, casseroles, dishes and large food containers were needed
as well as daily supplies of vegetables, biscuits and fruit. The boiler was on its
last legs and the cost of replacement was estimated at £4,000.
Later, in 1984, there were seventy-two Homes – seventeen in England, many more in
Yugoslavia and Poland, a few in India and Belgium with others planned in the Third
World. Their charitable objective evolved to encompass help for terminal cancer patients,
geriatrics, disabled people and those suffering from multiple sclerosis, brain damage,
Parkinson’s Disease and Huntingdon’s Cholera. No state aid was provided for patients
and the Foundation relied on public subscriptions and donations for improvements.
The general running costs were largely born by the County Councils who sponsored
the patients. More needed income was provided by wine and cheese parties, coffee
mornings and jumble sales.
Today, the Sue Ryder Care Centre at Stagenhoe has forty-two single rooms and four
shared rooms that are home to upwards of fifty residents. In 2010, it had a CQC quality
rating of excellent. (Shown below, the Sue Ryder Care Centre in 2011)
Views of the Stagenhoe mansion circa 1970
Including (above) the lodge gates and (far left) the gates to the kitchen garden.
(Note the stags)
Arthur Cook - under-gardener at Stagenhoe 1950 - 1954
Arthur Cook was the under-gardener/handyman at Stagenhoe from 1950 - 1954. His previous
employer was Miss L Rabaliati at Kings Hill, near Gosmore, Herts.
Arthur and his wife, Ivy, (right) lived at the Lodge (shown above) which was tied
accommodation. This was divided into two homes - hence the two front doors. The other
home was occupied by the head gardener.
One of Arthur’s duties was to clean the shoes of boarders when they put them outside
their doors at bedtime.
Bundled with the type-written History of Stagenhoe is the fascinating correspondence
between Hine and Major Michael Dewar as they agreed details and payment for the research.
Hine had just finished his History of Hitchin when he wrote on 2 January, 1935, ‘I
am glad you feel disposed to have some research done into the history of Stagenhoe.....it
is a work that should have been undertaken years ago...’
He continued, ‘But of course the main labour and cost of research would lie in examining
the stacks of manuscript material relating to this county and sifting them again
for Stagenhoe: Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Domestic State Papers, Assize Rolls and
Papers, Pipe Rolls, Inquisitions, Charter Rolls, Quarter Session Rolls, Manor and
Court Rolls, Wills, Feoffments and Title Deeds, Household Account Books, Diaries,
letters etc. It means turning over some thousands of documents, but I am inclined
to think it would be worth while and you would at any rate know that every possible
avenue of information had been explored. A mere casual or surface browsing over the
obvious sources would hardly be worth undertaking.’
The following Sunday, Hine travelled to London to meet Major Dewar at Mayflair Place
to discuss the details. Following this, he wrote on 15 February, ‘As a writer I have
always declined to handle any subject unless it appealed to me, for without that
personal interest there can be no heart, no keeness in any kind of work. I must say
I have taken a liking to Stagenhoe and its present owner at first sight.....And perhaps
(who knows?) you have a secret passage that may lead on to the discovery of treasure,
buried in haste by the Knights Templar centuries ago! I am sceptical about that,
but let us rest in hope’.
With this letter, Hine enclosed an agreement that he would produce his history of
not less than 100 foolscap pages for £250 plus expenses not later than twelve months
after the agreement was signed. The contract was to be signed over a 6d stamp. He
also mentioned that he had contacted the curators of Hertford, St Albans, Welwyn
and Letchworth Museums asking them to list their holdings about Stagenhoe according
to their card indexes..
On 26 November 1935, Hine wrote, ’The good work on Stagenhoe goes forward and I get
so interested in it, I cannot keep it as short as I intended. He reported, ‘120 pages
When the history was completed, a cheque for £256 11s was sent to Hine on 13 July
Reginald Hine - The History of Stagenhoe
Dave Driver writes from Australia: ‘I was born there on the 11 of Aug 1941, my family
lived in East London E17. Evidently the bombing had been bad, and they were sending
Mums to country areas. I remember my Mum and Dad taking me to look atwhere I was
born in the early 50s, but have never seen it since. Bit posher than E17.
I have been in Western Australia since 1972.’
Further memories of Stagenhoe
Oliver Britton writes: ‘I have just visited your site having Googled Stagenhoe. I
was a pupil at the school 1956 to 1960. Whilst I have not kept up with any of my
fellow pupils I remember the school with affection. It provided me with four very
happy years with an enormous amount of outdoor life:in the woods, using the sporting
facilities which were simple and a certain amount of forced labour as we were sent
out with boy-sized mattocks to weed the gardens, the bunkers for the pitch and putt
golf course laid out in the grounds and various other places. The enormous St Bernard
in the picture was Mr Griffith's dog called Buffer. he accompanied the head into
Maths lessons where he always took the blame for any foul odours.
What is described on your site as a tennis court was used as a basketball court (and,
in various games that we played, as a prisoner of war camp on account of the wire-netting
all round it) and was not in fact a tennis court but a cinder, fenced playground.
The grass tennis court was immediately to the right of the house by the large cedar
tree, A hard court was out of picture by the cricket ground, mostly out of picture.
The cricket ground used to have a picture postcard pavilion with thatch and verandah.
I can smell the linseed bat oil even now.
Before it moved to Stagenhoe the school had a number of what we called White Russian
pupils among whom were the famous Prince Obolenski who later played for England and
died during WWII in the air force. he was one of 12 alumni who were killed during
the war and who were commemorated by shield of their respective regiments or squadrons
in the wood panelled dining room. There were still a number of highly anglicised
White Russian boys in my time.
Apart from cricket, rugby ('rugger' in those days), football, golf and tennis we
were lucky to have a squash court. Croquet in the summer was available and year round
there was table tennis and billiards and snooker (on a full size table) and a half-size
table. The swimming pool was used extensively and one year, with an Indian summer,
I recall it being re-opened in September.There was an annual meet of foxhound on
the drive outside the front door which the older boys were able to follow, rather
unsuccessfully, on foot. Hare hounds also met with the huntsmen in a smart green
livery: we also followed them - but with equal lack of success. I could ramble on
but hope some of this might be of interest...