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A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Houses at the junction of Crunnells Green and Back Lane
Maps from 1766 and the early nineteenth century show one house at the junction of Crunnells Green and Back Lane. Nowadays, its replacement is known as 3 Crunnells Green.
This article focuses on the historical homes at the junction of Crunnells Green and Back Lane, together with their occupants. In the eighteenth century there was one building at the corner - today there are three. The early cottage was demolished and replaced in 1913.
3 Crunnells Green
The paper trail in the Temple Dinsley manorial roll reveals that John Elms bequeathed the cottage at the junction of Crunnells Green and Back Lane to his son-in-law, the carpenter Daniel Joyner, in April 1729. By 1761, Daniel had transferred it to his ‘kinsman’, Henry Pedder (also a carpenter). Henry, in turn, left the property to his son, Joseph Pedder, in 1771. In 1799, it was occupied by Richard Osbourne. Two years later, the widow, Mary Andrew was also a resident in the dwelling, which may have been divided into two homes. The following year, 1802, its occupants were the families of Joseph Osbourn(e) and Joseph Sharp. Also in that year, Joseph Pedder bequeathed the property to Sarah Andrew. By around 1811 (when the map shown above right was drawn) the ownership of the cottage had passed to John Jeeves. William Taylor was living there. Sometime between 1811 and 1844, the Lord of the Manor, Joseph Darton, purchased the property as part of his family’s policy of acquiring the houses of Preston. When the Darton’s sold the Temple Dinsley estate to Henry Pryor in 1873, Police Constable D Farr was living in the cottage. Apart from this, it is impossible to pinpoint residents here during this period. The first electoral register of Preston residents in 1897 shows Henry Powell living in the property. Next, the 1901 census recorded the farm worker, William Boston (born 1846), and his family living there. He was still in residence when the Inland Revenue surveyed the village in 1910 - its ownership having passed from Henry Pryor to his son, Ralston de Vins Pryor. We now have the first description of the cottage as it then was: a brick and tiled cottage, with a living room, scullery and kitchen - in good repair. It also had a barn. In 1911, the building foreman William Kenward Miles was living in the cottage, together with his wife, a bricklayer and an electrician
William was the son of a blacksmith and was to live at Crunnells Green for around thirty years. He married Emma Pratt at Burgess Hill on 12 April 1884:
The 1901 census showed the couple (who had no children) at Clayton Sussex - William was a foreman/bricklayer.
Emma, William Miles’ wife, died and was buried at St Martins, Preston on 6 February 1924. William continued living at 3 Crunnells Green until at least 1929 (where his housekeeper was Betty Palmer’s mother, Evelyn Mary Davis) as this cutting from that year establishes:
In 1913, the cottage was demolished. The owners of Temple Dinsley, the Fenwicks, had a new house designed by Edwin Lutyens for their estate bricklayer, Mr Miles, who likely helped with its building. In 2008, North Hertfordshire DC included 3 Crunnells Green in its catalogue of listed buildings, from which the details listed above have been extracted. There is a lengthy description of the house. It had narrow dark-red bricks in English-bond, with lighter red angles to corners and window jambs. Its ‘tile infill’ was described as similar to the detail on Chequers Cottages. The large rectangular central chimney was “typical of Lutyens’ buildings in Preston” (note the inset comparison photograph below). Also in 2008, Dr Mervyn Miller (architectural advisor to the Lutyens’ Trust) wrote, ‘the cottage on the inner corner of Crunnells Green as it approaches the school is certainly by Lutyens’. Today, in 2024, the house is not included with the other listed buildings in Preston. After making enquiries, Meta Reeves kindly informed me that it was de-listed at the time extensive alterations to the property were made. When it was recently on the market, it was noted as being a ‘Lutyens-style house’ - ie not designed by him.
Chequers Cottages, Chequers Lane, Preston
By 1939, William had moved to Kenward Cottage at Preston Green, where Evelyn continued as his housekeeper. He died here in 1948. It would appear that this cottage was named after him.
After William left 3 Crunnells Green in 1939, its occupants were Arthur Wilson and Mary Lucy White together with their daughter and husband, Harold and Nora Tomlin (Harold was a school enquiry officer). Arthur died there and was buried at St Martins, Preston on 20 July 1956.
Mary White was also buried in the village graveyard on 19 January 1970. Harold Tomlin passed away at 3 Crunnells Green and was buried at St Martins on 22 January 1975, as was Norah (who was still living in the house in 1981) on 2 February 2006. Meanwhile, Clifford Tomlin had moved to Dungarvan, Back Lane, Preston. By 1991, Patrick J and Susan Boyle were at No 3.
Crunnells Green Cottage aka Nos 1 & 2 Crunnells Green
In 1905, the owner of Temple Dinsley, James Barrington-White, ordered the building of two semi- detached estate houses on the south side of Crunnells Green. It is these which bear the inscription ‘JBW 1905’. Their details were being picked out in black paint when I passed in April 2010:
Perhaps reflecting his earlier judicial appointments, one of the houses (nearest Temple Dinsley) was for the village constable and had a lock-up in an attached outhouse. This was useful local feature as in many towns and villages, there was no facility to remand prisoners and miscreants and, as a consequence, sometimes arrests had to be deferred and the offenders later taken to a nearby lock-up. An entry in the Preston School log book described a home here once as ‘Police Station’. The houses were built with red bricks in a stretcher bond and rough-cast above, together with a dark weather-boarded triangle at the front gable. Each house had a sitting room, kitchen, scullery, two bedrooms and a barn. Both cottages are listed buildings. Among the police constables who lived there were John George Hart (1909), Frederick W Cumberland (1910), Albert and Lilian Shambrook (1911) and John Dale (1938). In the adjoining cottage lived Ernest and Ethel Payne (1915). Later, the two cottages (known as No1 and No 2, see below) were amalgamated and the resulting home is known today as Crunnells Green Cottage. Other residents before WW1 included George Jenkins (1905) and George Westwood (1907).
In 1921, Robert Corbett was eking out a living here as a poultry farmer, assisted by sixteen-year-old Frank Jenkins, son of Herbie and Phyllis Jenkins of Castle Farm.
By 1930, the two cottages were occupied by the families of William Arthur with Harriet Chalkley (at No 1) and Jesse with Emma Smith (at No 2). Nine years later, the Chalkleys and Emma Smith were still in residence, Emma being joined by Rosa Ayres. In 1934, John Wilson was also living here.
After WW2, in 1953, two families of Dartons were living in the two cottages, Reginald H and Joan Alice (nee Stone) together with Charlie and Gladys Darton. Reg was breeding budgerigars for sale - whitewings, lutinos and blues. Both Reg and Charlie were farm labourers and, together with Clifford Tomlin, played cricket for Preston - Charlie (shown right) was its first life member and as opening batsman at one time had scored more runs than any other Preston batsman.
In 1965, Alan G and Doris A Boxall, together with George and Grace E Christmas were at Cottage No 1, and Alan and June K Ball were at No 2. The Balls remained there until after 1991. In the early 1990s, Beryl Korman was at Crunnells Green Cottage, as it was now called. Korman International Management had a clientele of opera singers including the tenor, Howard Milner, and the soprano, Bolton Andrea. Beryl was elected Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1998 and has appeared in French & Saunders on BBC TV and played Principal Girl and Principal Boy in pantomime.
In 2005, Henry A and Brenda Reintjes were residents in the cottage.