A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

Preston News Stories

Posted November 2014

Historic newspaper reports provide considerable information about Preston and its people.

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 councillor.

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 Vickers to sell the above by auction. Catalogues from RJW Dawson Esq, Estate Office Preston.


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 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 up farming.


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


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 not guilty.

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 character witness.

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 12/-.


Hertfordshire Mercury 9 January 1875

Mr Brown of 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. Dismissed.


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 imprisonment.


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 scholars.


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 dismissed.


Herts Guardian 30 April 1861

Preston Farm

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 brewing implements.











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