A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

A book distilled from this web site, A History of Preston in Hertfordshire, was published on 18 February, 2015. It is an

educational, instructional and non-commercial publication.


The book is hardback and bound with 114 portrait A4 pages on 130 gsm silk paper in full colour and includes more than 300 illustrations. Two hundred copies were ordered from Berforts of Stevenage (who have done an outstanding job) and all were sold by 28 February 2015.


A reprint was ordered and has now sold out











Site contents

Samples of some of the book’s pages:

History of Preston


Preston’s location and topography

Early historical glimpses of Preston

The Domesday Book and Preston

Preston, Hitchin and the de Balliol family

Dinsley/Preston Castle

The Knights Templar and Temple Dinsley

The treasure of the Templars and how they fell from     grace

The Manor of Missenden aka Minsden

The Knights Hospitaller

The occupants of Temple Dinsley from 1312

The Manor of Maidencroft

Preston and the plague of 1349

Owners of Temple Dinsley from the middle of the    fourteenth century (including the Sadleirs)

Minsden Chapel and the rebellion of Preston villagers

The recent history of Minsden Chapel

John Bunyan and Non-conformity at Preston

Views of Temple Dinsley circa 1700

Benedict Ithell purchases Temple Dinsley

Thomas Harwood inherits temple Dinsley

Robert Hinde at Preston Castle

The Darton family at Temple Dinsley

New owners of Temple Dinsley from 1873,- the Pryors

Fire at Temple Dinsley






























For further information, please contact me.at p.wray@hotmail.co.uk or use this link: Contact page

In addition, the following unsolicited testimonial has been kindly posted on the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site by its web master, Chris Reynolds:

The building of St Martin’s Church

James Barrington-White and the Fenwicks at Temple     Dinsley

The Seebohms at Poynders End

The architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and his work at Preston

New owners of Temple Dinsley - Douglas Vickers and      Almina Countess of Cararvon

Princess Helen College moves to Temple Dinsley

Education at Preston

The Red Lion at Preston Green

Preston Village buys the Red Lion

The Chequers Inn

Straw plaiting

Crime at Preston

Morality and mobility in the village

Lanes and highways about Preston

Preston’s pound

Beating the parish boundaries

Preston’s allotments

Preston’s Benefit Clubs

Cricket at Preston

Preston - best-kept smaller Herts village 1959

Preston Green

The well at Preston and wind pumps

Discovering a lost village near Preston

The historic cottages of Preston


(Fourteen pages of photographs, maps and commentary)


Selected events and people of Preston


Forty pages of the most popular pages from this web site, including Preston men who fought in The Great War; Preston in World War Two and the Preston Hill “Murder” and robbery case of 1864, Mary Woodhams and Preston School, The Wallers - builders of Preston, the Armstrongs and the Newells, Alfred and Emily Wray, Flossie Sugden; Mary Woodhams and Preston School, Nina Freebody - historian of Preston; Dick Middleditch - cricket umpire and gamekeeper; the reminiscences of Robert Sunderland; Samuel Hall and his family; the Scott family of Church Road; a dedication to my parents, Sam and Grace Wray; acknowledgements and references and a two page index.

Site map

Book launch day

The following article appeared in the Hitchin Comet on 22 January 2015:


What readers have said about A History of Preston in Hertfordshire:


“...the book looks great and is very interesting, worth all the hard work” PB


“Many thanks for your excellent book, which I have just received. Well done, it is a fascinating and beautiful production” NM


I’m delighted to have sight of your new book of Preston and am fascinated by your findings.” BU


“The book was safely received and has been much enjoyed and admired.  What a great work!”  CH


My copy arrived today and I am very pleased with it.   Thank you.” MR


“Congratulations Philip on a wonderful achievement, not only does it make interesting reading for us now but will be invaluable to those that follow with an interest in one small Hertfordshire Village and of course I know my Family will enjoy it. I know you have put a huge amount into the project, it is very well produced and I am sure you will be delighted with the result.” BF


“I have received the book this morning. Thank you very much, I am delighted with it.” MD


“I am a little cross, on opening the book I intended just to make sure all was in order and then write to you - yes I am still doing that but it is now over an hour since the book arrived and instead of getting on with my chores I have been turning the pages of the book and enjoying it so much I did not want to put it down!! Time for lunch in a minute and then I have a friend coming this afternoon - damn I will have to wait until she has gone before I can get back to the book!! Philip, you have done a great piece of work and I am delighted with it.” WD


“Just a message to thank you very much for inviting us to Preston on Saturday. It was a very great pleasure to meet you  and to see your efforts  received so well by your friends in the village.” RP


An excellent production.  I found it very moving to read. Captures the spirit of Preston and its inhabitants through the ages.” RS


“Just a quick email of congratulation on your excellent book and an appreciation of the amount of time and effort you put into its creation. You can be proud of your achievement!” NM


“Have just finished reading "The History of Preston in Hertfordshire", a most interesting and informative volume. The amount of information contained therein is amazing. From the content it contains it is fairly obvious that there is a lot more history still to be found in and around Preston.

You are to be complimented on the effort and detail put into book.” PD


“We’ve had some new local books in the last few weeks which I wanted to share with you.

A History of Preston in Hertfordshire by Philip J Wray
This very handsome book grew out of the author’s adventures into his family history. He discovered that not only has he had family in Preston since 1751, he is also related by blood to almost half the villagers in 1881 and still has a relative who lives in the village. But this book is not just a personal history there is a vast amount of information about Preston itself.” Eric T Moore’s Bookshop, Hitchin

Book contents

Hertfordshire Life: April 2015

A new article about Preston history was the lead article in the April 2015 edition of The Villager magazine:


“Philip has done an excellent job in bringing together different aspects of the history of Preston, a tiny village near Hitchin. He first became interested when researching his ancestors and as his family tree grew he discovered he was a blood relative to almost half the villagers listed in the 1881 census. For this reason he expanded his interests to cover the whole village, and in 2007 he launched the History of Preston in Hertfordshire web site. He then ventured into on-paper publishing and has now ended up writing this book.


As an outsider - who has little direct knowledge of the village - I have learnt a lot about the place by looking at the book, especially relating to the involvement of the Knights Templers and Temple Dinsley. Where I have first hand knowledge - such as the section on straw plaiting in Hertfordshire - I am impressed by the care and thoroughness of the way the subject is treated. I also liked the biographies of Preston men who fought and sometimes died in the First World War. Philip has put a significant amount of hard work into the research and if your ancestors came from Preston you will find much to interest you.


In addition the general presentation of the book is excellent - with plenty of pictures - in colour where possible - and an easy layout which helps you to find your way around - helped by a useful index, with many personal names. The technology for amateur desktop publishing has moved on enormously since I produced my The London Gunners come to Town in 1995 and Philip's book is an excellent example of what can be done with the latest technology. The fact that the book is backed by a very good web site - is a great advantage as I am sure Philip will find that once you a book has been printed new information will turn up - and where appropriate this can be made available online.”


Link: Review

A review of ‘A History of Preston in Hertfordshire’ by Chris Reynolds, webmaster of Genealogy in Hertfordshire

Preston History Book

Reprint available