By Ron Dale


The payment of 10% tithe to the church by farmers, being a percentage of their produce, either for livestock or crops of all kinds, had always presented the problem of working out 10% of a cow or a pig, for example. Also, each church needed a tithe barn in which to store the produce and this could also create problems. The Commutation of Tithes Act of 1837 simplified these problems by charging a cash amount for each plot of land, depending on its acreage and usage. This Act necessitated every town and village to create a Tithe Map of its area showing every field, wood, farm and cottage, listing its tenant, its owner and the acreage of land.  The Tithe Map for Stanstead Abbotts was created in 1840 and is invaluable for research purposes. The Tithe Barn for St. James church, now long demolished, was off Roydon Road, near the Old Vicarage (now The Old Rectory apartments).  The 1977 Finance Act finally abolished all tithe payments.

    On the Tithe Map each field, wood or dwelling was given a number and listed separately in an index recording the acreage, the owner’s name and the occupier. Although the details are listed separately from the map, using the numbers, it is possible to co-relate these, although the locations are not strictly accurate and some numbers are missing from the map. Nevertheless, in spite of minor errors in such a complex task, it does provide us with a picture of what the village was like 177 years ago.


(Co-op side): Unfortunately only the name of the owner and tenant are recorded, so apart from the blacksmith’s shops and corn shops at the corn mill, the types of shops in the High Street are not recorded. On the river bridge was a small toll house on the southern and Stanstead Abbotts side, next to the Rose & Crown pub. The building was owned by the Marquis of Salisbury and occupied by a Mr. Everett who collected the tolls which were due to be handed on to Hertford Castle. Along the riverside here was a long malting building with its own wharf owned by Edward Lawrence, maltster and bargee. Behind the pub was a garden and an orchard (hence Orchard Close). An archway in the public house building gave access to the stables and the malting at the rear. The landlord in 1840 was Samuel Brazier. Working away from the river towards the Pied Bull, there was a cottage next to the Rose & Crown occupied by Thomas Matthews and others. Four more cottages followed along the south side of the High Street, all with gardens, and occupied respectively by William Johnson, Thomas Salmon, Thomas Woodhouse (and others). One other cottage was set back from the High Street, inside the area of the malting, occupied by William Mason. There was then a wide gap with no buildings, long before South Street, Glenmire Terrace and Millers Lane were built. There were three streams flowing under the High Street from north to south which probably flooded at times and there were also three others flowing nearby. Next was a house occupied by a William Miller, roughly where Millers Lane is today. Could this be the origin of its name? Away from the High Street, alongside the malting was a house divided into two apartments occupied by Miss Venables and William Barker. Another house in the malting area (Glenmire Terrace now) was occupied by Joseph Blackaby. Next alongside the wharf of the Mill Stream was a malting owned by Edward Lawrence. Here also at the entrance to the malting in Roydon Road was a corn mill owned by Messrs. Allin, together with a house and water mill. One of these houses alongside the Mill Stream in the malting had a corn shop and was occupied by William Reeve and others. Messrs Allin, the millers, also had a corn shop here. There was also a house and malting occupied by John Cooper. There was in the malting a blacksmith’s shop run by a Henry Suckling (a name well-known in Ware). Finally, in the corner opposite the Red Lion pub was the Pied Bull Inn, occupied by Thomas Philips, but in all places where it was mentioned this was always referred to as the Red Bull!


At this time named Vicarage Road, here was also a cluster of cottages opposite this malting entrance and opposite the mill and some of the occupants were William Wright, Henry Reeve and Sarah Salmon.  Along Roydon Road towards Harlow we pass a few cottages on both sides of the road and then on the left we arrive at Thele Farm and Thele House. There were two stone posts with its name engraved in it, but only the one marked ‘Thele’ remains today.  Its land stretched uphill with field-names such as Wood Croft and Trotters Gap, it also extended over the road with farm land adjacent to the malting. Thele Farm was the property of Daniel Hankin, who was one of the largest landowners in the village. Thele Avenue, Woodcroft Avenue and Trotters Gap are today on land once part of Thele Farm. Within the grounds of the farm a cottage was occupied by a Miss Llewellyn. Still on the left-hand side came the Vicarage fior St. James church (today the Old Rectory apartments) with its acre of garden, owned by the Rev. Thomas Feilde (lord of the manor and vicar of Eastwick) and occupied by the Rev. J. W. Thomas. The ancient cottages (still there) next to the vicarage were occupied by Joseph Bowyer and others. One was a wheelwright’s shop under Richard Perkins.


The Red Lion pub was occupied by Michael Woodhouse, also a man with considerable holdings of land in the village. We find strips of his land at Easneye and at Rye Meads. The beer industry was more profitable in those days than it is today. Next door to the pub is a house of about the same age (still there as no.3) with outbuildings and a yard which was then occupied by Susannah Walters. Along this side of the High Street were also several gaps and a few houses were set back some distance from the main road. One of these, near Stanstead Hall was a cottage divided into two apartments and occupied by Miss Crabb and Charles Curtis, which may have been the residence of the retired staff. Stanstead Hall was occupied by miller Nathaniel Allin, one of the two brothers running the corn mill. Here follows a wide gap and then a house with stables, occupied by George Soole. Next were two cottages occupied by Edward Tween and Robert Hampton, then a house with garden occupied by Wiliam Flack. Next door was Joseph Calem and H. Garnary sharing a house and the blacksmith’s shop of Benjamin Smith, the appropriately named village smith. This was roughly opposite to Burton’s newsagents, which had not been built at this date. Two more cottages followed, respectively occupied by James Wilborne and Henry Townson. Now approaching the bridge north side, we have a malting with a cottage, occupied by William Clark and others. Finally, at the bridge were two cottages on the riverside, occupied by Richard Waller and Thomas Rogers and others in the position we normally see the Champion Vinegar malting on Edwardian postcards.

    The only public houses mentioned by name were the Red Lion, the Rose & Crown, the King’s Arms (at Rye House) and the Pied Bull (as the Red Bull). It must be remembered that the map was simply to work out how much tithe duty was payable, and was not a directory of the village, although why some inns were named and others were not is difficult to understand.


The Grammar School, owned by the parish council and run by John Miller, the master, is on the corner (today the Clock House). Behind this, but not on the main road were two cottages which were corn shops, owned by the New River Company and rented my Messrs. Wm. Allin. There were cottages and houses with gardens down Cappell Lane, a few just beyond the Grammar School, below today’s Chapelfields and here lived the school-teacher John Miller. Further down was Hill House on the right hand side and cottages and houses with gardens mainly on the left-hand side. Tenants here were James Blackaby, Mr. Cockman, Widow Clear and Charles Gren. At the end of Cappell Lane (near entrance to Easneye today) on the right was a house set back from the road (still there) occupied by John Burgess plus two nearby cottages on the roadside (right-hand side), one with stables, occupied by Aaron Trump. On the opposite side of the road a little nearer the village, roughly where Halving Cottages are today, were two cottages with gardens occupied by James Ellis, James Ward and James Springham.


Here was William Godfrey occupying a house and garden (Gatehouse possibly) as it was just vacated by workhouse residents. I believe he was running a business from there. Opposite at the Kings Arms pub was tenant William Cook. At Rye Farm (now the Sewage farm) was farmer William Webb.


Various farm cottages were scattered around the hilltops with no major house built there yet. The Warren and Halving Farms were occupied and worked by James Bigg, with much land owned by Felix Calvert of Bonningtons. Other major landowners were Henry Wilikinson and the Hankin family. At Netherfield Charles Booth owned much of the land in that corner of the village. However, at Rye Meads, very much subject to flooding and at the Innings (Marsh Lane) was operated a field strip system with long narrow strips of land owned by dozens of people from all parts of the village.

(The Tithe Map 1840 is available on disk from HALS in Hertford. My copy cost £35 in 2015, well worth this to serious researchers. Due to copyright restrictions we cannot reproduce any part of this map, but have attempted this written overall picture for readers’ interest.)

Ron Dale, May, 2017