A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

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For returning visitors, the latest articles that have been added to this site are listed below - beginning with those most recently posted.

This web site will be up-dated irregularly. Please check the dates below.



February 2014

The pages featuring my Wray family have been updated. To view, browse from Wray Family box on Site Map.

January 2014

The history of Spindle Cottage on the Hitchin road is recounted. Link: Spindle Cottage

December 2013

New items this month are:

The events leading up to the building of the present Preston School Link: School 1966

The history of the waste of Crunnells Green. Link: Waste

November 2013

The history of Offley Holes Farm is examined. Link: Offley Holes Farm

October 2013

Unique visitors passed the 16,000 mark in September.

There is an article about Offley Holes House which stood for less than thirty years. Link: Offley Holes House

My great uncles and aunts - the children of Charles and Elizabeth Wray of Austage End - are researched. Link: Charles Wray’s children

Finally, Arthur Cook, the under-gardener at Stagenhoe (1950 - 1954) is featured. Link: Arthur Cook

September 2013                                                                         Site hits in August 2013:       1,205

Another mixed-bag of information:

The eugenics movement is explained and its stirrings at Preston are described: Eugenics  

Further information (shown in a blue font) about Preston’s wells  has come to light, which includes a detailed description of a horrific death at Temple Dinsley: Wells update

Details of the bombs etc that fell in the Preston area are listed (also shown in a blue font): WW2 bombs

August 2013                                                                                 Site hits in July 2013:               987

This month there is a hotch-potch of details.

The occupants of Stagenhoe between 1943 and 1969 can be identified thanks to three informative e-mails received. Link: Stagenhoe 1943-69.

The Hill End page has been updated; more photographs being added. Link: Hill End

Penny Causer has kindly sent a postcard dated 1907 which has a previously unseen view of Temple Dinsley dated 1907. Link: TD1907

July  2013                                                                                     Site hits in June 2013:             930

The folk who lived at Preston from 1929 until 1950 are identified. Link: 1929-50                            

June 2013                                                                                    Site hits in May 2013:             1178

The history of The Old Forge, Church Lane is recounted. Link: The Old Forge.

Also, Preston circa 1970 is seen through the eyes of a boy who spent three years in the village. Link: S Soto.

This month, a landmark of 15,000 unique visitors has been reached. Two thousand new web-surfers have visited this site in the last nine months alone. Site hits over this period were 9,853 - which indicates that many have come back to view the information presented.

May 2013                                                                                      Site hits in April 2013:            1185

Two Preston families from the twentieth century are featured: Mr and Mrs RJW Dawson - Temple Dinsley Estate Manager (Link: Dawson) and Leonard and Eileen (nee Armstrong) Newell of Elm Cottage, 6 Chequers Cottages (Link: Newell)

April 2013                                                                                     Site hits in March 2013:         1087

Preston’s Benefit Clubs are researched and described. Link: Benefit Clubs.

March 2013                                                                                  Site hits in February 2013:    1048

Snippets of Currell family history which have been amassed over several months are presented - many of which have to do with Preston. The Currells in Preston in the twentieth century are featured and details of a Currell murderer - the grandson of a man born in Preston - are recorded. Link:: Currell cuttings


















November 2014

The fifty -year history of Preston Football Club is researched. Link: Football

A husband and wife who were born at Preston in the early 1900s are featured. Link: Cecil and Maggie Jenkins

Thirty-six new newspaper stories about Preston and its people have been added. Link: News Nov 2014

October 2014

Preston’s fair is researched and together with its impact on village life. Link: Preston fair

Events which led to a sad suicide at Preston in 1933 are explained. Link: 1933

1 September 2014

Hitchin historian, Reginald Hine’s work is examined, particularly his writings about Preston. Link: Hine

The newly-found methodology of Preston historian, Nina Freebody, is featured. Link: Nina

Finally, the lives of the Fox twins of Stevenage are described - and their connection with Preston is established. Link: Fox twins

12 August 2014

Twenty-four evocative photographs of Preston and its people mainly from the 1960s have been uploaded as part of a page devoted to the reminiscences of Robert Sunderland. Link: R Sunderland

More memories and photographs of Preston are welcomed. Please use the Contact Page - Link: Contact

4 August 2014

Appropriately on this day, the centennial anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War, a further twenty-three men who fought in WW1 with Preston connections are listed. Link: WW1

23 July 2014

For those interested in the village but who live away, an update is given of the present-day Affordable Housing Project at Templars Lane. Link: AFP

Also, a newsworthy case from 1887 that involved two Preston people and that was widely reported in England and Scotland is recounted. Link: News 1887

More information and photographs have been found concerning Chequers Cottages along Chequers Lane. These are are incorporated in a new page. Link: Chequers Cottages

28 June 2014

The twentieth-century occupants of Rose Cottage and The Wilderness at Chequers Lane/Butchers Lane are described. Link: Wilderness; further memories of Stagenhoe are recorded . Link: Stagenhoe and more information about John Curling of Offley Holes is included. Link: Curling

10 June 2014.

The people and new homes of Preston between 1952 and 1985 are described. Link: 1952-1985

April 2014

The reader may be surprised to learn that in the seventeenth century, the most populated lane at Preston was Back Lane and its private road extension which ran towards Preston Hill Farm. There were no fewer than sixteen tumbledown cottages along this short stretch of byway. The position, history, owners and tenants of the Preston Hill Farm Lane cottages are researched and recounted: Link: Preston Hill Farm Lane Cottages

March 2014

In 2010, an article about straw plaiting was commissioned by Practical Family History. The magazine ceased publication in December 2010. By this time, new material and photographs had been researched and they have been included in a new article on straw plaiting for this web site which is thrice the length of the original piece. If the reader has any ancestors who were straw plaiters at Preston, the item may help to understand their lives.

Link: Straw plait


1 July 2017 News of the Church Commissioners’ plans to sell Minsden Chapel is posted, together with comments from Liz Hunter. Link: CC plans Also, a new article commissioned by Family Tree magazine for its July 2017 issue is reproduced. Link: FT July 2017

1 April 2017 A complete article about Ralston de Vins Pryor has been up-loaded which includes the personal memories of “Squire” Pryor of David Peters. Link: RdeV Pryor

1 February 2017 A collection of new news stories including: how Preston School had a lucky escape and the earliest Preston Cricket Club team/result found so far. Link News Feb 2017

3 January 2017 The story of Mary Turl (Preston’s postwoman between 1965 and 1980) is told, giving a special insight into her work. It is accompanied by several photographs of her family and village people. Link: Mary Turl

1 December 2016 It is ironic that just when I was going to comment that Preston is rarely mentioned in today’s local press, The Comet carries a front-page story about Princess Helena College. Forty new news stories about Preston are up-loaded. Link: Dec 2016 News

3 November 2016 An up-load chronicles Preston’s involvement with film, tv and radio productions. Link: Film, tv and radio Also article about Preston’s first midwife is published which also examines the circumstances of child birth and care in Hertfordshire villages in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Link: Preston’s midwife.

1 June 2016 A new collection of eleven photographs of Preston people from the 1950s/1960s. (Link: A Preston generation) Many are identified. Many are not. Is there anything more frustrating that a photo of folk, with no caption? Can you help? If so, please contact me - Contact

1 April 2016. A new collection of news reports  featuring Preston in the nineteenth century. (Link: News April 2016) These are an invaluable source for understanding village life in the nineteenth century.

8 March 2016 The recollections of David Peters who was born in Preston in 1931 and Peters family photographs (including a charming study of Ralston de Vins Pryor) are included. Link: David Peters

16 January 2016 The history of Hill Cottage and Minsden Cottage - its owners and occupants - at Jacks Hill, Poynders End is chronicled.  Link: Jacks Hill

2 November 2015 Important detailed information about Preston people from 1939 recorded in the Wartime Domesday Register are included after its internet release today. Link: 1939 Register

1 November 2015

The lives of Herbie and Phyll Jenkins at Castle Farm are celebrated. Link: Herbie

The criminal career of William Pedder who escaped from Dartmoor Prison is examined. Link: W Pedder

A serious house fire at Offley Holes Farm Cottages on 18 October 2015 is reported. Link: OHFC fire

1 October 2015

The life and achievements of Chris Sansom (teacher, historian and archaeologist) who lived for a time with his parents at School Lane Preston are featured. Link: Chris Sansom

Seven new New drawings of Temple Dinsley between 1894 and 1898 are included that demonstrate how the mansion and its gardens developed around this time.Link: New drawings

2 September 2015

An in-depth article and photographs about Samuel Gunning, resident of Langley End Cottage has been

up-loaded. Link: Gunning

Frederick and Eva Blanchard of Rose Cottage, Chequers Lane are featured in an illustrated piece.

Link: Blanchards

The story of Cecil and Maggie Jenkins has been expanded and features a local homicide. Link: Jenkins

21 July 2015

The homes at the new affordable development off Chequers Lane have now been completed and three views are included. Link: Castlefield

17 July 2015

There is a report (with newspaper articles and photographs) of Preston village at Hitchin History Day, 11 July 2015. Link: HHD

The flagship periodical, Family Tree magazine carried a two-page spread in its August 2015 issue featuring how the Preston History book came to be published. It is readable in full at this link: FT

1 May 2015  The gardens of Temple Dinsley c. 1909 are explored in depth and Gertrude Jekyll’s involvement is discussed. Link: Gardens

8 April 2015  

A new article about Preston’s history from The Villager, April 2015, is pasted. Link: Villager

Two delightful poems by Rebecca Cook (nee Brown) relating changes in Preston in the second half of the twentieth century and living in the village during WW2 are included. Link: Rebecca’s poems

27 February 2015  

Details and photographs of the Preston History book launch are included: Link: Book Launch

1 August 2017 Twenty- seven new photographs of:

                        Poynders End (1911)  Derrick Seebohm’s invention of Portapylons (1949) and Hill End (c1913)

                         Also: new poem re: Minsden from The Gentleman’s Magazine

1 September 2017 More new news stories featuring Preston from the late 1860s: Link: News 9/17

1 March 2018 The Althams of Crunnells Green House, Preston are featured. Link: Althams

5 March 2018 The recently discovered story of my aunt Flossie Sugden’s husband who committed bigamy is told. Link: Florence Wray/Sugden of 5 Chequers Cottages


1 May 2018 More new news stories featuring Preston and its folk. Link: News May 2018

1 September 2018 Thirty-seven new news stories featuring Preston and its folk. Link: News September 2018

1 October 2018 Rodney and Judith Wray of Hitchin Arcade are featured together with a note re: Val Rivenall of Chequers Lane, Preston. Link: Wray Shoe Repairers Hitchin

1 November 2018 A list of Preston adult residents between 1928 and 1930 is provided. Link: Residents 1928-30

To contact me, please use my email: p.wray@hotmail.co.uk