Friday, May 30, 2014

Economy in the First World War (School Poem)

by I Farmborough

All thro' those awful Huns,
We can't get sugared buns,
We're not allowed to take
Our usual" dose" of cake.

And then again there's bread,
I daresay we've all read
How much we are allowed
To eat, no more we've vowed.

Then meat is just the same,
No matter what its name;
We're just allowed so much,
And more we must'nt touch.

The scarcity in eggs
(Our fowls won't bend their legs)
Requires us to forego
What wounded want, we know.

It all amounts to this:
Make not mere eating bliss;
Eat just enough to live,
The rest for England give.

  • Published in the Autumn 1917 issues of The Mortonia (a Dunstable girl's school magazine) in a section headed "A Little Budget of Poems from the Fourth"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

André & Sleigh of Bushey --> Printing Industry at Watford

Under the Baa Lamb Trees, Harpenden, by Ernest Hensman
While investigating some post cards of Harpenden painted by Ernest Heasman (Stained Glass Artist, 1874-1927) I discovered the firm of André & Sleigh, of Bushey, who started high quality photo engravers as top quality photoengravers in the late 19th century. In the 20th century the business expanded and became Sun Engraving Co. Ltd., of Whippendale Road, Watford, - and a cornerstone of the Watford printing industry.

Short Weights in the Tring & Hemel Areas

Old News
Was your ancestor caught overcharging customers by using defective weights or scales. In 1860 many traders in West Hertfordshire were fined. For instance William Collins, of The Crown at Long Marston had an unjust weighting machine, William Latchford, a beer retailer & fishmonger of Hemel Hempstead has 9 light weights, and James Austin of Boxmoor was a grocer &coal dealer who gave short measure. You now have an additional reason for buying beer from the suspiciously named Peter Evilthrift.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rural Relaxation at Drayton Beachamp

It is nice to get away from the computer on occasions and enjoy the countryside within a mile of where I live. This moorhen and chick were spotted on the Wendover Arm of the Canal which has been closed for over 100 years and which is not (yet) polluted by canal boats churning up the (currently) crystal clear water!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Berkhamsted pages upgrades - 9 New post card views

High Street, Berkhamsted (by Hartmann)
The Berkhamsted pages have been "under construction" for some time, and there is a large backlog of views to be added. As a result I have upgraded the Berkhamsted Home Page - with better links to subject pages - which will make it easier to add further cards. I have already added four new/improved views from postcards by the published Hartmann and 4 by "LN" in the "Castle Series." In addition I have added another view of Berkhamsted Place.
High Street, Berkhamsted - from the Castle Series
As can be seen by the above example the "Castle Series" cards are very distinctive and the firm that produced them "LN" has not yet been properly identified, but may have been based in Northamptonshire. Let me know if you know of other cards with this distinctive border.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Researching a 19th Century St Albans Fishmonger

St Albans

Help Desk
In sorting out this family of 
for Lilian one of the key issues was in understanding the way relatives are sometime (mis)described in census returns.

Doughnuts originated in Hertfordshire!

Dow Nuts (Mrs Fordham)

Receipt Book  (c1800)
A quarter of a Peek of Flower, a pound of moist Sugar, 10 Eggs {Yolks & Whites} one Nutmeg grated, 3/4 of a pound of fresh Butter, a quarter of a pint of Yeast. First melt the Butter over the fire in Milk; skim the Butter off. Mix the Sugar and Nutmeg with the Flour, making a hole in it at Top. Strain the Eggs and Yeast mixed together through a Sieve into the Flour; then put the Butter skimmed off the Milk into it also, with as much of the Milk as is necessary to make it into a paste. Let it stand by the fire half an hour to rise, throwing a Cloth over it. Then roll it out thick or thin as you like, cutting it into Nuts with a jagging Iron. Throw them into some Hogs-lard almost boiling hot; if quite boiling they are likely to be black, and if it does not near boil, they will be greasy. Stir them about with a skimmer with holes. Take them out with it, put them in a Cullender but do not put the hot ones to the cold, or they will be then heavy.

The thinner the Paste is rolled, the lighter and more cri[s]p it will be.
A little Sugar should be first put to the yeast and a little Milk, and set it by the Fire an hour to rise.

The Receipt Book of Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale, c1800

An item in The Herts Record Society Newsletter (Spring 2014) relates to the history of the doughnut. Baroness Dimsdale collected a number of recipes over the years (some almost certainly in the late 18th century), including this one from a Hertfordshire friend. It appears to be the oldest known recipe for doughnuts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hertfordshire Fairs in 1854

Craven's 1854 Directory
List of Fairs in Craven's Directory, 1854
ALBAN's ST. - March 20 and 26, Oct. 10 and 11, for servants, horses, cows, and sheep
ALBURY, PATMORE HEATH. - July 18, for toys.
BALDOCK. - March 7, last Thursday in May, August 5, Oct. 3, Dec. 12, large fair for cheese, household goods, and cattle.
BARKWAY.- July 20, for pedlery ware.
BARNET. - April 8, 9, and 11, linen drapery, mercery, toys, etc. September 5, 6, and 7, sheep, Welsh cattle, horses, pigs, mercery, etc.
BENNINGTON. - July 11, pedlery ware.
BERKHAMSTEAD. - Shrove-Monday, Whit-Monday, a small fair for cattle. August 5, cheese. September 29, statute fair. October 11, statute.

An Early 19th Century Route Map through Hertfordshire

Laurie & Whittle Route Map 1806
Laurie and Whittle's LaNew Travellers Companion, 
Exhibiting a complete and correct Survey of all the Direct and principal Cross Roads in England, Wales, and Scotland as far North as Edinburgh, and Glasgow:
was published by Nathl: Coltman in 1806

Commencement of the Roads to GLASGOW and EDINBURGH as far as Stamford with Roads to Uppingham and Market Deeping
In Hertfordshire the turnpike roads passes through Barnet, Hatfield and Welwyn, with one branch to Hitchin, and the other through Stevenage to Baldock. A branch to St. Albans also shown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lord Kitchener inspecting troops at St Albans

Detail showing Lord Kitchener at Gorhambury
When I was writing the book The London Gunners come to Town I was unable to find any good quality pictures of Lord Kitchener inspecting the 2nd London Division (Territorial Force) at Gorhambury on 29th September, 1914. A few days ago I succeeded in purchasing a very damaged (but digitally repairable) picture and have posted it - and the relevant text from the London Gunners, HERE.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Photographs of Patients at Napsbury Military Hospital 1916-1918

Post Cards
For a period of about two years Ricardo Studios of St Albans regularly visited the wartime Military Hospital at Napsbury Asylum at London Colney and took posed photographs of groups of patients in the wards, or in the grounds. These would have been purchased by patients to send off to family and friends. Virtually all the pictures were numbered and I have now collected together a large number of images, many of which can be enlarged to allow easy identification of the faces. Sufficient of the cards are dated and this allows approximate dates to be given to the other cards. If you can identify any of the many hundreds of faces - or have other examples of Ricardo cards (especially if they are dated) let me know and help make the dating more accurate.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Second Battle of St Albans - 2014 style

In camp before the fighting
This afternoon the 2nd Battle of St Albans was re-enacted on Bernards Heath, which is where most of the fighting took place in 1461.  The re-enactment was by the Medieval Siege Society and the day was organised by Sandridge900 - as Bernards Heath was part of the parish of Sandridge until about 100 years ago. My wife and I really enjoyed the event which is of special interest as the part of Bernards Heath used was surrounded by my great grandfather Jacob Reynolds' farm before St Albans houses sprawled all over it.  An earlier re-enactment, in 1907, was not held on the Heath.

I was interested to see that my booklet,  A Short History of Bernards Heath, had been reprinted by the Friends of Bernards Heath and was selling like hot cakes.

Read on for photographs of the fighting...

I'm "Under attack" from the Ukraine - Are they also attacking your blog?

The default statistics with this blog are somewhat limited - giving the top ten activities for the last couple of hours, the last day, week and month and for all time. Typically about 20% of the recorded visits appear to be from countries where I would expect little interest in the history of Hertfordshire or the people that lived there such as Russia and China I I take it for granted they are not genuine visits. Over the last few weeks a new country has appeared in the recent top 10. Last week Ukraine almost overtook the United Kingdom in top spot!. In a typical visit 8 pages are viewed in a minute (surely not a human visitor) then nothing for an hour or more, and then another 8 views in a minute, and another long pause. Yesterday I had 56 Ukraine views (= 8*7)

So what is going on. My statistics also includes a list of referring URL - and they are trying to get the URL of their criminal site onto the top 10 list in my blog statistics. They hope that if I see a URL I don't recognize I will be stupid enough to visit it and they can then download their malware onto my web site. So beware - if you have a blog or web site and get unexpected visitors - be on your guard and never never never visit URLs listed in your statistics just to see what is at the other end.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

St Albans Museum to move to Town Hall - questionaire

St Albans Town Hall
St Albans
The St Albans Museum in Hatfield Road is to move to the central position of the Town Hall and if you are interested there is currently a questionnaire seeking your views.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Behind the Scenes Activity (Early May 2014)

In addition to the changes announced in the Newsletter there is always a lot going on behind the scenes. The following refer to the first two weeks in May.

Post Cards
New or improved images
unless otherwise stated a high resolution image is provided
Minor Place Page updates

New Publisher Link Pages:

Help Desk

Minor Queries and other emails

  • Advised Carol about the start of civil registration and suggested she would find details of the 1837 birth/baptism on
  • Advised Julie about a possible home for some old school magazines and a family bible
  • The census (especially if mis-transcribed) can cause problems and I suggested reasons why Kathy was confused.
  • Ev, a distant cousin, contacted me about an exchange of information about common ancestors. Unfortunately I did the research over 30 years ago on a computer which no longer exists. Part of the information is somewhere in boxes of computer listings buried in boxes at the back of the garage. ... ...
  • I don't have time to give a full answer to every enquiry and where appropriate I give preference to people who live a long way from Hertfordshire. As Lesley lived only a few miles from an excellent Hertfordshire Library with more relevant resources than I have, I suggested that a visit to the library would be more appropriate.
  • Contacted Dianne about the exhibition 'Bushey during the Great War' in August [Full details will be posted later]
  • Ian has provided a new link to the online account The Railway comes to Tring
A number of the above involve new or updated links to/from related pages. In addition there are some other "draft updates" already online which will be notified later this month.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Free Sample of Eau de Cologne (in 1904)

Post Cards

St Albans
Sales promotion through your letter box is nothing new. 100 years ago it could come in the shape of an interesting post card for your collection. This card was sent from Coln, Germany, by a firm making Eau de Cologne, telling Mrs Hodding of St Albans than she can collect a sample from St Albans' major department store, J. Fisk & Son.

I have started to set up a page bringing together interesting examples of early advertising post cards. Have you any examples I could use?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

I've posted my First World War life

The Lives of the First World War web site is now up and running - and I decided to test it out by posting information on Lt. Col. Adrian Charles Gordon. who was billeted in my mother's house, and who is described in my book "The London Gunners come to Town". If people use it it could be a useful archive - but at present most records have little more than the name.  Why not see if your ancestors or other relatives who fought in the war are there and fill in details - and add pictures. 

Access to the site is free - but there is an associated subscription service that lets you search various relevant data sets if you need them. In addition you may be frustrated that the software puts a limit of 1000 characters on a story - but if you cut and paste (as I do) the systems doesn't tell you of the limit in advance, and does not tell you how far over the limit you are. However adding images is very easy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What a silly place to build a row of posh semi-detached villas in about 1835?

Help Desk
At Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, there are a row of early 19th century semi-detached Georgian style villas in what was originally open countryside, although they are now surrounded by a 20th century housing estate. One might expect such a row in a town area - but not in such a rural situation. A row of modest cottages built by a farmer for his labourers might be expected but surely if anyone was building a house with perhaps a dozen rooms in open countryside it would be a detached house on its own plot.

Hemel Hempste
Jeff wanted to know why - and the answer is linked with the London to Birmingham Railway, that opened in 1837.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ten Little Zeppelins - First World War Poem by Winifred Cook

Ten Little Zeppelins
Ten little Zeppelins
    Flying in a line,
One got far out to sea,
    Then there were nine.
Five little Zeppelin
    Making such a roar,
One exploded with a bang,
    Then there were four.
Nine little Zeppelins
    Flying rather late,
One had a dreadful end,
    Then there were eight.
Four little Zeppelins
    Buzzing like a bee,
The R.F.C. caused one to squirm,
    Then there were three.
Eight little Zeppelins
    Flying up to Heaven,
One pilot had a smash,
    Then there were seven
Three little Zeppelin
    Bombing Sister Sue.
She stuck a pin in one,
   Then there were two.
Seven little Zeppelins
    Admiring English ricks,
One got hay-fever bad,
    Then there were six.
Two little Zeppelins
    Frightened by the gun,
One made off for Germany,
    Then there was one.
Six little Zeppelins
     Made a swanky dive,
One took it much too low,
    Then there ware five.
One little Zeppelin
    Feeling very lonesome,
English gun shot high and sure
    Gave it back its ownsome.

Following the interest in my earlier post Sing a Song of Zeppelins I have decided to publish further First World War School Poetry.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Landed Families of Hertfordshire (and elsewhere)

Ayot House in 1905
(Later became a silk mill)

I have just discovered the excellent Landed Families of Britain and Ireland blog run by Nick Kingsley. 

Current posts with detailed references of pictures and information of houses in the Hertfordshire are:

In addition there is extensive genealogical information on the selected family that lived there for a time. In addition many families which were mainly based elsewhere have links to Hertfordshire. For instance I found this engraving of Pishobury House in the information on the Alston of Odell Castle page.
Pishiobury House from Neale's Views of Seats, 1821

Where to get a drink in Bishops Stortford in 1854

I have added a list of about 70 beer houses, inns, maltings, etc., that were trading in Bishops Stortford in 1854 to the page Inns & Brewing, Bishops Stortford. It would be interesting to know how many are still trading in the same premises under the same name today. And perhaps some of you are related to the 1854 publicans!
Anchor Maltings, Bishops Stortford, after the 1907 fire

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An 18th Century Mausoleum at Watford carries a hidden message

Post Cards

The postman can easily see what you have written on a postcard, and lovers often found ways of coding a message. Some wrote in shorthand, while others used special codes. The sender of this card, showing an interesting mausoleum which doubled as an ice house, uses a very simple device to obscure the quite innocent message it carried.

For more information on the card see
and for more on how messages were concealed see Hidden Messages

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Graham Greene - His Birthplace at Berkhamsted School

St John's House, Berkhamsted School
Graham Greene, (1904-1991), the writer, playwright and literary critic, was born in this house at Berkhamsted school. At the time his father was a teacher at the school, but later became headmaster. When Graham became thirteen he returned to St John's house as a boarder, living in a part of the building he had not known as a child.  He describes the horrors of the area reserved for the pupils in his biography A Sort of Life

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Gower Brothers from Tring in the First World War

Could the children be "German Mascots"?
Grace recently provided five post card images relating to the Gower Brothers of Tring in the First World War. This picture from 1919, which almost certainly includes Benjamin Gower, intrigues me as the message on the back reads "Just a photo of the section with a few German Mascots" Are the "mascots" the children and could the section have been in Germany???

Click here to see all five post cards. Can you help identify any of the cap badges?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goodbye April, Welcome a relaxing May

I have had asthma all my life - and during April caught a cold which went to my chest. Not too serious except that it has left me exhausted - and relaxing watching the snooker on TV instead of updating the web site! The incompetent changes on FindMyPast (which hosts the Hertfordshire Parish registers) has also left me very frustrated. Despite the low number of posts the visitor activity on the web site and newsletter (both up on April last year) is very satisfactory. This may be because I am now notifying updates on twittter (@HertsGenealogy) and about half the tweets have been retweeted to a much wider audience.

As for May I have decided to take it easy, including catching up on a somewhat neglected garden.  I will be happy to answer suitable questions - and welcome new information and digital images which add to the usefulness of the site, such as the recent picture of Thomas Wright outside the Swan Inn in 1904/5. There could be a "Rural Relaxation" or two. Anything else will be a bonus.