A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Preston’s Cottages: Crunnells Green and School Lane
The junction of Crunnells Green and School Lane
Top left, 1811c; middle,1844; right, 1898
Thus, in 1805, Henry Mardlin owned both cottages. By 1807, he had mortgaged them to William Sheaf of Kings Walden. In 1810, Henry again mortgaged the property to John Hawkins of Hitchin for £110. It was to be held in trust to Joseph Darton who became its new owner. 1821 - occupied by Elizabeth Ward (widow) and Thomas Lawrence, who were still living there in 1827. When Thomas Darton sold the Temple Dinsley estate to the Pryor family in 1873, these cottages were included in the sale. However, it is impossible to pinpoint their occupiers until 1910, but its owner thenwas Ralston de Vin Pryor. There were two cottages - the one to the east, occupying 25 poles, was occupied by Jesse Smith. John Jeeves lived in the cottage to the west which utilised 21 poles. Both were described as being brick and tile cottages with a kitchen, pantry, two bedrooms and a garden. They were demolished by Herbert Fenwick in around 1908. On their plot, in 1918, Crunnells Green House was built for the manager of the Temple Dinsley estate. Although not boasting the typical Lutyens chimney stacks, this impressive detached house is listed as being designed by Lutyens. Indeed, when sold in 1945 as part of the Minsden Estate, the Sale Particulars described it as having been ‘designed by the late Sir Edward Lutyens’. In 1945, the ground floor comprised: a porch with tiled floor; a hall; a dining room (18’ by 14’) with an open grate; a lounge (14’ by 17’ 3’’) with an open grate and double fitted cupboards; a drawing room (18’ x 6’’ by 13’ 9’’) with open brick grate; an office (17’ x 14’ 3’’); a gentleman’s cloakroom; a kitchen with a tiled floor; and a scullery, butler’s pantry and larder. On the first floor were six bedrooms, a bathroom with w.c. and another bathroom with a separate w.c. Attached to the house was a tiled verandah, a wash house and a brick and tiled garage (10’ by 18’ 3’’)
Occupiers of Crunnells Green House since 1918: From 1918 until at least 1930 - Reginald Joseph Wilkinson Dawkins (Temple Dinsley estate manager) and his wife, Annie Anderson Dawkins. 1951 Henry R Townshend and Alethea S Townshend. 1961 Anthony R Thompson and Elizabeth A Thompson. 1965 to 1996 Richard J L Altham and Rowena J Altham.
Cottages along School Lane
Maps. Left, 1811c; above, 1844; below, 1898
A comparison of the maps above and their awards tells the story of these cottages along School Lane, all of which had been constructed by the 1660s. On the 1811/16 map, there were just three holdings (consisting of four cottages which are labelled above) which were occupied by five households - 1 had three households alone. However, in 1825, these same sub-divided cottages housed no less than ten households. By 1898, after some alterations, seven households lived along this lane. Ladies from two different households occupying 1 are shown in the photograph at their front doors. So, how could so many live in so few homes? The answer can be found in the 1911 census and the Inland Revenue Survey of 1910. Cottages 2, 3 and 4 had been sub-divided into two-roomed dwellings with only a kitchen and a bedroom. Yet whole families lived in these homes. At home labelled 3751, farm labourer Leonard Peters existed with his wife and four children aged between 4 and 8 years. Next door, another labourer, Robert Crawley squeezed into another two-roomed property with his wife and five children. That these homes were soon to be demolished speaks volumes as to their dilapidated state - indeed in 1891 three of these cottages were uninhabited
Cottage 1
Tracing the ownership of these cottages was a challenge. The cottage on the corner of School Lane and Preston Green (in the foreground of the above photograph) was probably owned by Thomas Browne in 1664 - being described as ‘a house (named ‘Homehouse’) on Preston Green and orchard’ with the relatively high manorial rent of £1 7s 4d. After the Hearth Tax was introduced, it was taxed as having two chimneys in 1663. Probably the house and orchard occupied a substantial area as the owner of the house that is the Red Lion today paid rent of only 18/-, which included three acres of land. By 1714, ‘Homehouse’ was owned and occupied by the widow, Mary Browne. Then, in the late 1660s,Thomas Browne gave up part of his land and had two properties built on it, one of which which he gave/sold to Robert and Catharine Brown together with 16 poles of land. The other cottage came into the possession of ‘the widow, Browne’. These had evidently been erected before 1670, as both Robert and the Widow Browne were exempted from Hearth Tax in that year. In turn, both of these two cottages were sold to Andrew Bowstred in 1681. He sold the larger property, which had been converted into three homes, to John Austin in around 1697. The smaller cottage was later purchased by Mary Browne before 1714. Thus, the ‘Survey of Temple Dinsley Rents 1714’, shows Mary Brown owning two properties with rents of £1 1/- and 1/6d and John Austin owning a property with a rent of 4/6d - making a combined rent of the three properties of £1 7s 0d - which is 4d short of the rent Thomas Browne was paying for his home and orchard in 1664. (I note Stephen Swain, owner of the adjacent ‘Red Lion’, was paying rent of 4d for property/land in 1714) Incidentally, the three properties were listed consecutively in the 1714 Survey - which perhaps indicates their proximity. Cottage 1 on the corner of School Lane and Preston Green - “Homehouse” 1662 - owned by Dennis Browne 1663 - owned by Thomas Browne. Described as a house on Preston Green and orchard with a manorial rent of £1 17s 4d. Paid Hearth Tax for two chimneys. 1691 - owned by John Browne from father, Thomas. 1692 - owned and occupied by Mary Browne (probably wife of John Browne) 1714 - still owned by ‘widow, Mary Browne’ with rent of £1 1/-. Included an acre of pasture with outhouses, edifices, barns, stables, yards waters and watercourses etc. 1719 - owned by Robert Brown on death of mother, Mary. ? - owned by John Newman 1769 - left to Samuel Newman. 1793 - purchased by Stephen Swain for £46 at an auction at the Sun Hotel, Hitchin.. Occupied ‘previously by Jeremiah Gazeley and Joseph Ward and now by William Ward’ (1793). Rent still £1 1/-. 1795 - Mortgaged (with the Red Lion) to Edward Bruton, Kimpton farmer for £500. Repaid 1811. 1811 - Stephen Swain sold the acre of land associated with the property to Joseph Saunderson. 1835 - Stephen Swain mortgaged the property (which had been divided into three dwellings) to Joseph Morgan Pierson for £100. 1835 - bequeathed to Stephen’s daughter, Priscilla Swain. 1873 - owned by Joseph Darton.
The outline of the property and its gardens is shown on the 1898 map (right). There was also a well in one garden. In 1910, each property (which was owned by RDV Pryor) was described thus: 3755 - brick and tiled cottage with kitchen, pantry and two bedrooms occupied by Mary Ann Palmer and five others. 3756 - brick and tiled cottage with kitchen and bedroom occupied by George Turner. 3757 - brick and tiled cottage with kitchen and bedroom, formerly occupied by William Boston, his son and grandson, now by Osbourne. All were in poor condition.
Cottages 2/3
Middle Cottage 2 Built in the late 1660s, probably by Thomas Browne, on the site of an orchard. 1670 - owned by Robert and Catharine Browne who were exempted from Hearth Tax on the property. 1673 - it and the house next door were described as two tenements and 16 poles in Preston 1681 - owned by Andrew Bowstred 1685 - described as cottage and 15 poles of land 1697 - owned by John Austin as three cottages ‘at Preston’. 1714 - in Survey of Rents as ‘John Austin, late Bowstred: Rent 4/6d 1727 - owned by Henry Wheeler, labourer, the late John Austin’s son-in-law. Now, two cottages. 1754 - left to Henry’s daughter, Ann Coe, wife of John Coe of Hatfield in will dated 24 November 1754. 1797 - left to Thomas Coe, 15, Ann Coe’s grandson on death of Ann and John Coe. 1801 - occupied by two households: William Ward (four occupants) and Samuel Morgan (seven occupants) 1811 - sold to Joseph Darton by Thomas Coe, labourer of Essendon, Herts. Still occupied by William Ward and Samuel Morgan. Middle Cottages (with ivy) 3 Built in the late 1660s, probably by Thomas Browne, on the site of an orchard. 1670 - occupied by the widow Browne, who was exempted from Hearth Tax on the property. 1673 - owned by Robert and Catharine Browne. 1681 - owned by Andrew Bowstred. 1695 - owned by Ralph Bowstred 1704 - owned by Mary Browne as ‘a cottage and 6½ rods of land near Preston Green’. 1714 - in ‘Survey of Rents’ as Widow Browne, late Bowstred: Rent 1/6d 1717 - left to Dennis Browne, Mary’s son and a brickmaker, who was living in the cottage ‘near Preston Green’. 1730 - left to Ann Brown, Dennis’ wife, a ‘copyhold cottage and 6 poles of land adjoining. Dennis had also ‘lately purchased 10 poles of land from Benedit Ithell’ of Temple Dinsley. ? - owned by James Belsham, gentleman of Bedford. 1754 - owned by Peter Poulter snr, labourer of Preston’ who immediately mortgaged the property to Daniel Joyner for £12. 1785 - left to Peter Poulter, jnr, labourer of Preston (his father had previously moved to Barnet, Middlesex) 1801 - occupied by two households: Widow Poulter (one occupant) and William George (3 occupants) 1805 - owned by William Poulter, Peter jnr’s son. 1811 - sold by William Poulter to Joseph Darton.
In 1898, the sub-division of these cottages was clearly shown (right). The 1910 Inland Revenue survey noted this: 3753 - brick and tiled cottage with kitchen and bedroom. In poor repair. Occupied by J Nash. 3754 - brick and tiled cottage with kitchen and bedroom. In poor repair. Occupied by Palmer (William Jenkins has been crossed out which probably indicates that he was a previous occupier) Both properties were owned by RDV Pryor.
Known occupiers of School Lane cottages from 1800 to 1919
It is impossible to state exactly in which of the cottages the following villagers lived, but here is a list of who lived in them with an approximate date of their occupancy:
Thomas Horton - 1800 William Gentle - 1800 Thomas Woodley - 1800 William Joyner - 1800 - 1807 Richard Osbourne (a tailor) - 1800 - 1814 William Ward and Mrs snr - 1800 - 1807 Peter Poulter - 1785 - 1814 Mary Andrews - 1801 - 1814 Joseph Sharp -1801 - 1814 Samuel Morgan - 1801 William Ward jnr and wife - 1801 - 1837 (corner cottage) Thomas Caines - 1801 - 1814 Samuel Morley - 1806 John Sharpe - 1807 William George - 1807 - 1841 (middle cottage/s) J Godfrey - 1807 Daniel Pratt - 1825 - 1841 (in corner cottage) James Fitzjohn - 1825 - 1841 (corner cottage) John Mead - 1825 - 1837 (middle cottage/s) William Palmer - 1825 - 1841 (middle cottage/s) James Buckingham - 1825 - 1837 (cottage 4) William Crawley and wife - 1825 - 1841 (cottage 4) Robert Thrussell - 1825 - 1841 (cottage 4) Melton - 1825 - 1837 (cottage 4) Daniel Ward - 1827 James Hornett - 1827 Thomas Palmer - 1827
George Freeman - 1841 William Mead -1841 George Cranfield - 1841 Joseph Sharpe - 1841 George and Mary Freeman - 1873 - 1881 (corner cottage) James Freeman - 1886 James Jenkins - 1873 - 1901 (corner cottage) William Saunders 1873 - 1881 (cottage 2) Mary Palmer - 1873 (cottage 3) John Palmer - 1873 (cottage 3) Thomas Sharpe - 1873 - 1881 (cottage 3) Charles and Hannah Crewe - 1881 - 1891 Rebecca and Robert Crawley - 1881 - 1910/11 (cottage 4) Samuel Peters - 1881- 1891 Elijah Peters - 1886 George Andrews - 1886 William Thrussell - 1891 William Jenkins - 1901 - 1911 (cottage 3) Elizabeth and John Nash - 1901 - 1910 Mary Ann Palmer - 1910/11 (corner cottage) George Turner - 1910/11 (corner cottage) William Boston - 1908c - 1911 (corner cottage) Frederick Nash - 1910/11 (cottage 2) ? Palmer - 1910 (cottage 3) Leonard Peters - 1910/11 (cottage 4)
Demolition and re-building along School Lane
The tumble-down cottages along School Lane were demolished in 1919 and were partly replaced by four bungalows in 1920 which were built by Douglas Vickers of Temple Dinsley. The first building was a gift from Mr Vickers to his wife of a Woman’s Institute Hall. When Preston School was also flattened in 1977, new houses were built on the vacant land.
Occupants of School Lane bungalows 1928 - 2001
1928 Fanny Louisa Deed Thomas and Eliza Tuley Frank and Margaret Wray 1951 Emilie M Gardner (The Bungalow) William A and Helen Alexandra Moffoot Kathleen Myers Herbert and Eileen G Wilson (School Bungalow) 1961 James C Ashworth Philip A Jacobs William A and Helen Alexandra Moffoot FA and Joan E Douglas (School Bungalow) Alan F Petrie John R Vince 1971 Gwladys E Harris (Bungalow 2) Patrick R Lamond Malcom and Margaret Newell (School Bungalow) 1981 Hugh B Davies (The Bungalow) Gwladys E Harris (now ‘Juniper’) John G and Doreen M Sansom (Old School Bungalow)
1987 Huw G and Celia M Thomas (The Bungalow) Mary A Tear (No 2) John G and Doreen M Sansom (Old School Bungalow) 1991 Edwin F and Karen LA Thomas (The Bungalow) Robert J and Ruth Grierson (‘Juniper’) John G and Doreen M Sansom (Old School Bungalow) 1996 Anna M Morley (The Bungalow) Christopher P Mennie and Suzanne P Currie (‘Juniper’) John G and Doreen M Sansom (Old School Bungalow) 2001 Christina E Needs and John H Nurthen (The Bungalow) Jean M Davies (‘Juniper’) John G and Doreen M Sansom (Old School Bungalow)
‘Dinsley Field’
‘Dinsley Field’ was built between 1961 and 1971 on land previously taken up by allotments. It was demolished a few decades later and the existing home was built in 2000
Occupants: 1971 - Richard J and Elizabeth Bizzey 1981 - 1996c John C and Rosalind M Cook 2001 - Brian and Vivienne Hayhurst
‘School House’ and ‘Tilehouse’
School House’ (below, left) and ‘Tilehouse’ were built on the site of Preston School between 1981 and 1987
This is a study of Preston by Hitchin artist, Samuel Lucas (1805 - 1870). I believe it depicts School Lane, looking from just short of the junction with Preston Green It was painted in the mid-nineteenth century. On the left is the low fencing of Temple Dinsley, which pre-dates the present high brick wall built in the early twentieth century. On the right is the cottage numbered 3 in the earlier photograph. It’s neighbour (2) is clearly set back a little from the road, while beyond is the lower cottage which is not of brick construction, but clap-board.