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The History of Wheathampstead

Personal and family history
Memories of Yvonne de Mornay Penny
Memories of Tony Penny
Memories of Barbara de Mornay Penny
Memories of Deborah de Mornay Penny
Memories of Claire Ashmore
Memories of Joyce Edwards
Before the 1950's by Jack Hyde
Memories of Hazel Wright 
Bert Cobb and Serenaders
Michael Ventris (Cryptographer)
Memories in Wartime (Rita Cobb)
Memories in Wartime (Patrick Bicknell)
Evacuation by John HInkley
Memories by D McPherson
Master Blacksmith (Harry Westwood)
Memories of Ena Spearing
1937-46 by Ron Hewson
Over 100 Early Families
Lady Grierson interviews 
Whst'd Memories 1941-76
Malcolm Saville (author) 
Looking Back to 1953
R Cobb - Scout
GJW Titmuss
Brockett
Earl of Cavan
Early surnames
Ellen Terry (actress)
A Baker's Boy in 1939

Local businesses

Cunnington’s/Walnut Tree   Stuart's coming to Whstd Collins Antiques Pub Landlords  Early shops & photo's
Helmet's factory - video The Postman - video      
Places
Castle Farm
Mid Herts Golf Club History
The Old Bakery
Cricket and Puddingstones
Mackerye End gardens
High Street (East side & West)
Lamer Cottages
Mackerye End Gardens
St. Helen's Church
Video Sandridge to Wh'std.
The Mill
Folly Fields
Map of businesses etc 1880-1950
Nurses house
Houses with history
A walk around Nomansland
History of Wheathampstead Railway
United Church 

In the News

Publications

Whst'd in 1876 
Whst'd in 1877 
Whst'd in 1879 
Whst'd in 1881  
Whst'd in 1901
Whst'd in 1919/20
Whst'd in 1944
Whst'd in films 
Plane crashes at Wheathampstead, 1939
WW1 & WW2 Memorial List
Roman find 2002

Local History publications
ManorA/c Roll 1405/6 
St Peter's church, 1910-2010

Pictures

(1) , (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) , (7)(8) , (9) , (10) , (11) , (12) , (13) , (14) , (15) , (16) , (17) , (18) , (19) , (20) , (21) , (22) . (23) , (24) , (25)(26)(27) , (28) , (29) , (30) , (31) , (32), St Helens school 1928
More historic pictures at  www.wheathampstead.org  - from a collection by the late Sam Collins

Miscellaneous
Pre Roman           Roman           Post Roman           Devils Dyke           Skeleton


Updated 28 Dec 2013


BEFORE THE ROMANS

The first permanent settlements in this area were made about 50 BC by Belgae invaders. They moved up the rivers Thames and Lea, from what is now Belgium. Evidence for them was found in Devil's Dyke, at the eastern side of Wheathampstead, by the archaeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930s. Devil's Dyke was 130 ft wide at the top and had a depth of 40 ft, and is still very impressive. See map

Devils Dyke >>

 

A display in the St. Albans Roman museum states, "For at least 100 years before the Roman Conquest in AD 43 this part of Hertfordshire was the heartland of a powerful and aggressive tribe known as Catuvellauni, Celtic for 'expert warrior'..... The earliest capital of the Catuvellauni is likely to have been at Wheathampstead. ..... Here are massive earthworks known as Devil's Dyke. ......... This was attacked by Julius Caesar in 54 BC. "

 In 1974 and 1977 excavations were carried out along the line of the new By-pass (Cory-Wright Way). These revealed 72 sherds of pre-Belgic pottery, over 2,000 sherds of Belgic pottery, 42 sherds of Roman pottery, 11 sherds of Medieval pottery (13th - 14th century), and 57 worked flints. As recently as July 1998 the bones of a woman and a child were found near to the town centre. View the skeleton. They were discovered by accident some 5 feet below the surface. The pottery with them was dated between AD 10 and 30. A coin, dated c. 20 BC, of King Tasciovanus was also found. Further analysis is underway by the St Albans Museums Service.

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ROMAN TIMES

Four coins in the late fourth century were found in a gravel pit south of the Wheathampstead- Codicote road very near Roman road 221. 400 years of Roman rule opened up the area with roads.

A good description of the Landings of Caesar in Britain, 54 and 54 BC can be seen. Please look here (the last section refers to Wheathampstead!)

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AFTER THE ROMANS

Wheathampstead today does not stand exactly on sites chosen by the Belgae and the Romans. The start of the modern community is due to Anglo-Saxon invaders, the English as they became. In 1886 interesting remains of an Anglo-Saxon burial were found in Wheathampstead to which the probable date of 628-34 has been attributed. An Anglo-Saxon glass bowl and a Frankish bronze pot of late sixth or early seventh century work were found near the Wheathampstead railway station.

 'whaethamstede', as it was then spelt, is first mentioned in a surviving document which describes in great detail its boundary. In this deed (dated 1060) Edward the Confessor granted the estate to the Abbey of Westminster. Westminster Abbey divided their estate into two manors, one being Wheathampstead. 

 The first continuous settlement in the area was around St. Helen's church and the ford by the Bull Hotel and the mill. The Anglo-Saxon farmers expanded by clearing of woodland. The Domesday Book recorded that Wheathampstead Mill existed by 1086.

Translation of section of Domesday Book which refers to Wheathampstead (1086). - The abbot of St. Peter of Westminster holds Watamestede (Wheathampstead). It is assessed at 10 hides. There is land for 10 ploughs. In the demesne are 5 hides. There are 3 ploughs on it, and there could be 2 more. A priest and 15 villeins have 5 ploughs between them; and there are 12 bordars, and 9 Cottars, and 4 mills worth 40 shillings. Meadow is there sufficient for 4 plough teams, pasture sufficient for the live stock, woodland to feed 400 swine. Its total value is and was 16 pounds; T.R.E. (in the time of King Edward the Confessor, i.e. just before the Norman Conquest in 1066) 30 pounds. This manor was and is part of the demesne of the Church of St. Peter. 

 If there was a substantial manor house, it was probably in the neighbourhood of the old Bury Farm, west of the Church. The Abbey's demesne land was farmed from Bury Farm - in the 15th century the tenant of Bury Farm had to provide food and drink for visiting abbey officials. There is a house here which appears to have been a medieval guildhall. 

 The name of Wheathampstead probably comes from, 'wet homestead'. This fits the nature of the early settlement by the river with its water meadows, and also the traditional local pronunciation of the name as Whet rather than Wheat.

 More comprehensive information, particularly on the settlement at Verulamaium, is available at the St Albans Roman Museum.

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 Map of Devil's Dyke >>

 

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The Moat


 

Iron Age Bones found in 

Wheathampstead

In 1998

 

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