Historic newspaper reports provide considerable information about Preston and its
In this collection alone, we have a description of the inauguration of Bunyan’s
Chapel in 1877.
Visits of hawkers to Preston in the nineteenth century can be assumed – but here
can be read the only direct reference to a hawker in the village that has been found.
Details of Preston’s farms are given in sale advertisements.
We discover that Reginald Dawson of Crunnells Green House was a Hertfordshire county
And what exactly is a ‘bull’s stare’?
Biggleswade Chronicle 16 November 1906
Harry Kefford, a dealer was fined 10/- including costs for using obscene language
at Preston Fair on 31 October
Biggleswade Chronicle 14 November 1902
Cooper vs Redrup (a Londoner born 1861c living at Water Dell, Ippollitts and landlord
of The Chequers Inn, Preston) In this case the sum claimed was £4 3/- the cost of
repairing a wagonette which was damaged in a collision with a vehicle of the defendants
at Hitchin some time ago. There was no dispute as to the liability the only question
being the amount of compensation. The plaintiff lives at Hitchin and the defendant
is a carpenter at Preston. Evidence as to the repairs that had to be done was given
by Mr Ralph E Sanders, coach builder of Hitchin. Judgement was given with costs for
the amount claimed.
Bucks Herald 11 May 1918
Hertfordshire agricultural circles welcome another new squire who is taking a keen
interest in farm work – Mr Douglas Vickers. He has taken over the whole of the live
stock and the splendidly equipped Home Farm which were to have been sold by auction
last weekend. A Dairy herd of Shorthorn cows, pedigree Jersey cattle and pedigree
Shorthorn bulls were among the live stock.
Bedfordshire Times 7 April 1933
Home Farm, Preston. Sale of live and dead farming stock: 62 head of cattle viz 8
crossbred Shorthorn Cows mostly in calf, pedigree Shorthorn Bull, 13 Aberdeen Angus
Cows with their calves, 12 to 15 months, pedigree Aberdeen Angus Bull, 2 working
horses, 53 white Wyandotte pullets, surplus agricultural implements and machines
together with the dairy utensils.
The farm having been let, JR Eve and Son have received instructions from Mr Douglas
Vickersto sell the above by auction. Catalogues from RJW Dawson Esq, Estate Office
Bedfordshire Times 9 February 1895
Poynders End Farm. A compact freehold estate of 92s 1r 39p with house and spacious
homestead. The estate occupies a very elevated position in the immediate proximity
to the Temple Dinsley Estate...and commands views in several counties. It is absolutely
necessary to effect a sale as the Trust is about to expire.
Luton News 28 October 1954
Large living caravan to let; two berth; all electric, coal fir, reasonable rent on
bus route from Luton. Mrs Pugh, Preston. (Existence of caravan noted in article re:
Preston folk from 1952)
Luton News 21 October 1954
Happy weekend for the Ramblers
Starting from Stopsley the party took footpaths which brought them to Wandon End.
They continued along well defined tracks and pleasant green lanes to Austage End
and on to Preston for lunch pausing only on the way by the windmill to admire the
delightful view and the changing autumn colouring of the trees.
Luton News 18 June 1936
MAJOR JACK HARRISON A COUNTY COUNCILLOR
Major Jack Harrison of Kings Walden Bury was elected as a member of Hertfordshire
County Council at the by-election on Thursday caused by the resignation of Mr RJW
Dawson of Preston.
Luton Times 13 November 1885
Pond Farm Preston
Live and dead farming stock comprising two carthorses, two colts, 2 milking cows,
Alderney Heifer, 1 Steer, two calves, four in-pig sows and a sow and pigs. A quantity
of implements, a rick of wheat straw, a stack of tare and a stack of meadow hay.
To be sold by order of Thomas Marriott (born 1853, at Pond Farm in 1881) who is giving
Luton Times 23 July 1859
Temple Farm, Preston
Growing crops of corn on 68 acres on land occupied by Mr W Pallott, lately held by
TB Hudson: 13 acres of barley with the straw, 30 acres of oats with straw, 17 acres
of wheat with straw, 8 acres of second clover, 30 acres of after-feed on meadow,
3 ricks of clover and a rick of Trefoil Stover.
Hertfordshire Mercury 3 March 1888
The Game Laws
At Hitchin Petty Sessions, James Freeman (bn 1841, living at School Lane), Robert
Crawley (bn 1872, living at Church Lane) and Henry Jeeves (bn 1839, living at Back
Lane), labourers of Preston were charged with trespassing in search of game in a
field of Mr Richard Marsh on 18 February at Kings Walden. Edward Hagger, a gamekeeper
in service of Mrs Hinds of Kings Walden said he saw the defendants beating a hedge
in the field having two dogs with them. They had no sticks. The defendants said they
merely walked along the field; they only went a few yards out of the footpath and
were not in search of game. Each was fined 5/-
Hertfordshire Mercury 21 June 1879
Sale of brick and slated dwelling house, Blacksmiths shop, outbuildings and several
small enclosures of old pasture containing about 5a 0r 34p at Preston Green. (To
be sold by the proprietor who also had 12 a of land at Langley)
Hertfordshire Mercury 1 June 1878
27 ult at Preston Priscilla Swain aged 83.
Hertfordshire Mercury 5 January 1878
STEALING FROM A CAB AT HITCHIN
George Reid, 23, (living on the north side of Chequers Lane) a groom from Preston
(who can neither read or write) was charged with having on 9 November stolen three
coats, one shirt and other articles the property of John Freeman at Hitchin. A second
count charged him with receiving the articles knowing them to be stolen. He pleaded
John Freeman who lives at Peterborough said that on the 9 November he arrived by
train at Hitchin station about half past eight o’clock. He had a carpet bag and bundle
with him containing clothing of the value of £7. At the station he met some friends
among them Arthur Monk. He engaged Robert Wilson’s cab to take his luggage to Telegraph
Terrace and Mr Monk and his wife got in the cab and drove there. He got to Telegraph
Terrace about 9.15 and found the bundle was not there. He did not see it again until
it was in the hands of the police.
Cross-examined: I got to Hitchin about 8.30. I saw the bundle fastened to the top
of the cab which had a check rail around the top. The bag and bundle were tied together
with the string produced which was part of a clothes line. The piece of string was
the only piece produced before the magistrates. I could not see how the string was
cut. The things that were stolen are not here. I gave ‘satisfaction’ respecting them
and got the clothes away to wear so that they are not all here today. The shawl produced
is mine and it was found in the prisoner’s house.
Robert Wilson of Hitchin, cab driver, said that Freeman engaged his cab upon which
witness placed his carpet bag and bundle. On going to Telegraph Terrace, he passed
the Railway Inn. He had known the prisoner Reid about three years. He saw him that
night at the Railway Inn where he held up his hand and cried ‘Bob’ twice. On getting
to Telegraph Terrace he missed the bundle. The bag was safe. The string produced
looked as if cut. On looking at the rail on the cab he saw mud as if someone had
stood on it.
Cross-examined: There could be no doubt that the prisoner knew me as well as I know
him. When I got to Telegraph Terrace I found the bundle had gone and I was very much
surprised. When the bundle was missed I said I saw Reid at the Railway Inn. I went
to the police station and made a communication. It was about twenty minutes to nine
when I passed the Railway Inn, but I did not see the prisoner again until the next
day. I know Reid. I did not pass him on the road; he walked behind and I did not
see him again until about ten o’clock that night. The Railway Inn is about 150 yards
from the station.
Arthur Monk said he met Freeman at the Hitchin station on the night in question with
Mrs Monk. He got into Wilson’s cab and drove to Telegraph Terrace. When at the Railway
Inn he saw the prisoner and after leaving it he saw him running after the cab. When
at the top of the Hermitage Road he again looked out and saw an overcoat apparently
of a man standing at the back of the cab.
Cross-examined: I do not know that \I ever saw the prisoner in my life before. I
did not look out at the Railway Inn. I did not say I heard a man call out ‘Bob’.
I said I saw a man making motions. Curiosity caused me to look out. I saw part of
an overcoat behind the cab, I would not swear to the overcoat from seeing it that
night. I have seen it since and might know it again. I did not call ‘Whip behind’
because I had seen people ride behind cabs on other occasions. I am sure that the
prisoner is the man I saw running after the cab. I went to the police station on
the night the bag was stolen. I gave my evidence on the Tuesday week after the bag
was stolen but I did not go any time previous to identify the prisoner. I did not
tell anyone Reid ‘must’ have taken the bag. I did not need to say ‘must’, I said
it ‘was’ him. I mean to tell the jury I can swear the prisoner was the man I saw
running. I had a good opportunity of seeing him and of knowing him. I heard on the
following day that Reid had been taken into custody.
Alfred Kitchener, an engineer working with Mr Perkins said: on the night in question
he was walking from the station. He knew Mr Gainsford’s house which was about half
a mile from the station. He saw the cab pass and he saw George Reid the prisoner
standing on the rail at the back of it. Saw the street light fall upon his face quite
distinctly. He told the police about it.
Cross-examined: I have not spoken to Wilson about this but I have to Freeman. I could
see his face quite distinctly and have no doubt whatever the prisoner was the man.
I pointed to the wrong man at the magistrates’ court but I had not a fair chance.
The people all stand in a row at the Hitchin court: there is no dock for prisoners.
I picked out Panton that day. Inspector Young asked me to attend at the court as
he had got the man; but I was a little confused at the time and picked out the wrong
man. I was at the station when the 8.30 pm train came in. I was at the railway station
as Hitchin is such a dull place (laughter). I heard the next day that a bundle had
been taken away or stolen off the top of the cab. I left my work at half past five
on the night in question but I do not think you have anything to do with my time
afterwards. I might have had a glass of beer that night, but washing and shifting
occupies a long time. I never saw a man standing on spikes upon a cab riding before
and was rather surprised to see it done. I am sure it was not half past seven instead
of half past eight. I had the glass of beer at the Angel and I went from there to
the station talking to different people as I went. I knew the prisoner when I saw
him. At the police court the prisoner was standing sideways to me and I pointed out
Panton but I corrected myself in two minutes as soon as I saw his full face.
George Young, inspector of police said that he received information of the robbery
and went that night to Preston where the prisoner lives. That is about three miles
from Hitchin. Police-constable Day knocked at the door and the prisoner let us in.
When we entered the room, the constable turned his bull’s eye on and I said ‘We want
the bundle’. The prisoner said ‘There it is. I picked it up near the Radcliffe Arms’
which is in the Station Road near Telegraph Terrace. I charged him with stealing
it and said the string was cut. He said he had no knife – never had a knife. He then
put his hand into the pocket of an overcoat and as he was withdrawing it I seized
it and took from him the knife produced. I the pocket I found another knife – a smaller
one. I said ‘You stood on the fly’ and he replied that he never saw any fly. He said
he had been to Baldock and on his return at eight o’clock he went into the Railway
Inn and had a pint of beer and on coming out he kicked against a bundle which he
picked up and took home. Afterwards he said it was near the Early Bird where he found
it, and again that it was near the Radcliffe Arms. The Railway Inn is about 200 yards;
from there to the’ Early Bird is about 200 yards and from there to the Radcliffe
Inn is about 200 yards further. He dressed and I pointed out that his trousers were
dirty and he said he had fallen on the road over the bundle. On the dirt on his coat
being pointed out, he said that was caused in the same way.
Cross-examined: I have been connected with police for eighteen years. It is not the
usual practice for a prisoner to be identified at the police station before the magistrates.
In this instance the witnesses agreed as to the man and therefore that practice was
not necessary. When I took the prisoner into custody I told him that he rode behind
and also that the string had not been cut. The prisoner was not frightened when we
went to his house. When he said he had not a knife and put his hand in his pocket,
I suspected something. I produce the shawl which the prosecutor identified amongst
the other articles stolen as his property.
Mr Fulton addressed the jury: a prisoner could not be found guilty of larceny for
picking up a bundle on the highway and not taking it to the police station at nine
o’clock at night. He urged that it was essentially a weak case. He then called a
Thomas Harwood Darton, a retired officer of artillery, who said he had the prisoner
in the service of himself and his sisters for close on three years and he gave him
a very good character when he left. This was in Midsummer 1872. He did not know what
he had been doing since.
A certificate from a clergyman could not be introduced as he was dead.
Verdict: Guilty. Sentence: three months imprisonment with hard labour.
Hertfordshire Mercury 9 October 1875
Preston School. Average attendance 41 Grant £24 14/-
Hertfordshire Mercury 13 February 1875
Ellis vs Chalkley
The plaintiff resides in Stevenage and the defendant is a publican at Preston. From
the plaintiff’s evidence it appeared that he sold a dog to the defendant for 8/-
on agreement that he would fetch it away by the Saturday after 9 December. Defendant
did not fetch the dog for a month. He claimed 4/- for the keep of a dog for a month.
His Honour after hearing the details said it was a case of conflicting evidence and
if there was any doubt about it he should give it to the plaintiff. Order made for
Hertfordshire Mercury 9 January 1875
Mr Brownof Preston attended at the request of the Hertford Board of Guardians to
give explanation in reference to a complaint by Louisa Ward of bad treatment while
in his service. After hearing his explanation, the Board felt he had not intentionally
dealt harshly with the girl.
Hertfordshire Mercury 15 July 1871
Edward Woodman of Dunstable was charged with hawking stays at Preston without a license.
Hertfordshire Mercury 24 June 1871
Alfred Fairey (born 1849, son of Samuel and Elizabeth), a labourer of Preston was
charged on the evidence of Police constable Farr with wilfully damaging some growing
trees at Kings Walden, the property of CC Hale Esq. Defendant did not appear and
was fined in his absence with 17/6 including costs.
Hertfordshire Mercury 14 May 1970
Alfred Fairey a labourer of Preston was charged with stealing a quantity of turnip
tops value 6d the property of Benjamin Hill of Preston. Sentenced to three weeks
Hertfordshire Mercury 23 April 1870
Alfred Fairey a labourer of Preston was brought up on a remand charge of setting
fire to the farm buildings of Mr Benjamin Hill of Preston on the night of 9 April.
The evidence not being conclusive, prisoner was discharged.
Bedfordshire Times 27 April 1923
Wain Wood was the property of Douglas Vickers and permission should be obtained before
entering the wood
Bedfordshire Times 26 September 1913
The Funeral of Mrs HE Seebohm
(This event has already been featured, but this report adds some details of interest)
At the time of her death she was endeavouring to revive Morris and old country dancing
and had defrayed the expenses of two of the school teachers for a month at Stratford
on Avon so that they might study dancing. On the day before her death, she visited
Preston School to make arrangements for the purchase of dancing shoes etc for the
Bedfordshire Times 1 August 1913
The Stotfold (Beds) Frauds
Reginald Joseph Brown (26, son of Frank and Hannah Brown of Sadleirs End) dealer
was accused of obtaining five tons of mangold wurtzel and also five tons of carrots
from two dealers. A catalogue of non-payment and bounced cheque was read out.
A witness said that he had known Brown for five or six years and thought he was
a man who found other men deals rather than being a dealer himself. He believed he
had been living at Preston.
Brown said that as well as assisting his late father, for the last eight years he
had been dealing for himself and had capital of his own when his father died, but
not enough. He had lost several horses and had got into financial difficulties.
He was found guilty after the jury deliberated for six minutes and sentenced to three
months imprisonment with hard labour.
Bedfordshire Times 21 July 1905
Young lady desires engagement as companion to a lady going to sea for the summer
months or holiday governess. M Brown, Home Farm, Preston (Marguerite Brown, daughter
of Frank and Hannah Brown born 1886c)
Luton Times 24 November 1899
Charge of Arson
At Hitchin Petty Sessions last Tuesday, George Rowley, a Luton labourer was charged
with maliciously setting fire to a stack at Preston, the property of Alfred George
Pigott, farmer, doing damage to the extent of £80. Police constable Warboys said
that on Tuesday 7 November the prisoner came to him at the police station at Hitchin
and made a statement after being cautioned. He said, ‘I was at Preston last night
and went into the public house on the Green at 8 o’clock. I stopped there til 9 then
went out. I then went along the road into a field and down by the side of some stacks.
I lay down beside a wheat stack. After a while I struck a match and lit my pipe.
I threw the match down and soon after I saw the stack was on fire. I tried to put
it out, but could not, so I went away. I did not do it on purpose; it was an accident’.
On being searched, four matches, two pipes and some tobacco were found in his possession.
Mr Pigott said that on 6 November, he had four stacks – two of wheat and two of oats
– standing in an 8-acre field adjoining the road from Preston to Hitchin. About half
past three on the morning of 7 November he was called out of bed by Police constable
Noble and found one of the wheat stacks well alight. It seemed to have been burning
about three-quarters of an hour. The wind was blowing away from the other stacks
and they did not catch fire. The stack he found on fire was completely destroyed.
It was insured. He did not see the prisoner who was a stranger. The stack was very
wet, there having been a lot of rain. The prisoner was discharged being insufficient
evidence to charge him.
Luton Times 14 September 1861
Quick postal communication.
Speed is an essential element of success. Two days are required for the transmission
of a letter by post to Luton from a village within a radius of eight miles. Considerations
of a merely pecuniary nature should not deprive the inhabitants of a village from
the participation in the advantages enjoyed by the majority of their neighbours.
Cambridge Independent Press 21 April 1877
Bunyan Chapel, Preston
(From The Baptist)
Readers of the Baptist may remember that more than two years ago a project was set
on foot to erect in the village of Preston a substantial chapel to be called ‘Bunyan
Chapel’ in memory of Bunyan’s labours in the neighbourhood where he often preached
at night to large congregations in a secluded dell in a a wood to avoid the persecutors
and where he was entertained by the ancestors of the well-known Foster family who
occupied a farm hard by.
The first pastor, Wm Wilson one of the editors of the first folio edition of Bunyan’s
works was dismissed from his church and suffered much for his conscience’ sake. His
successors have preached in Preston occasionally and for many years services have
been regularly conducted by preachers connected with Tilehouse Church in a shed converted
into a rude chapel for which a yearly rent is paid. The establishment of a Sunday
School made more manifest the need of a permanent chapel. A piece of ground was generously
offered for the purpose but on careful consideration was found to be too remote from
the population. The scheme had therefore to be postponed until after many unsuccessful
efforts a cottage with a garden on which a cottage could be built was obtained for
£100 in the very heart of the village. It was a happy thought of the well-known and
much esteemed Michael Foster of Huntingdon to raise the fund from the members of
the Foster family towards this object as an expression of their gratitude to god
for his goodness to them and as a memorial of the connection of their ancestors with
Bunyan. It was a matter of general regret that feeble health prevented him from taking
part in the services now to be noticed although it is hoped he may be enabled to
be present at the opening services during the coming summer.
On Thursday April 5 the memorial stones were laid at three o’clock. A goodly company
gathered around the building. After singing an the reading from the scriptures and
prayer by the Rev SB Driver, Independent Minister of Hitchin, the pastor introduced
to the company the gentlemen who were to lay the stones viz Messrs Edmond and J foster
of Cambridge and handed them the trowels. After a few appropriate words they duly
laid the stones which bore the following inscriptions: ‘This stone was laid by Edmond
Foster Esq of Cambridge April 5, 1877’ and ‘An Ebeneezer of the Foster family whose
ancestors were associated with Preston and Bunyan’. The Rev JH Millard offered prayer
and the Rev J Brown Minister of Bunyan Meeting, Bedford, spoke.
After offerings had been laid on the stones, the company dispersed. At Tilehouse
Street Schoolroom details of the project were given. The total cost was estimated
at £450 towards which the Foster Fund contributed £120; friends from a distance collected
by the pastor £74; friends in Hitchin not connected with the congregation, £45; proceeds
from the day, about £20. These amounts leave little more than £100 to be subscribed.
At the end the Chairman said that if the Chapel could be opened debt-free, he would
give another £20. Donations were to be sent to the treasurer, Mr M H Foster of Wymondly.
Herts Guardian 21 July 1866
William Pedder was charged with leaving the service of Mr Brown of Preston. Case
Herts Guardian 30 April 1861
For sale by the executors of Mr George Lake: live and dead farming stock including
10 cart horses and colts, grey nag horse 6 years old, quiet to ride and drive, seven
head of cow stock, 8 store hogs, 50 head of poultry, ducks and agricultural implements:
6 iron-armed narrow wheel carts, iron armed wagon with hoops and tilt, land roll,
iron and wood ploughs and burrows, iron scuttle, two-row turnip drill, horse hoe,
turnip cutter, sheep troughs, 20 dozen hurdles and stake, dressing machine, barn
tackle, cart and plough harness, a half-horse-power, a two wheel chaise, dairy and