Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society


By   Ron Dale

STONES ARE GOOD LURKERS: Once again I have dodged being ‘reaped in’ by Old Father Time, which only reminds me that there are still many questions in Stanstead’s history which remain unanswered and others may have to answer them. Some of these concern boundaries, especially the southern boundary of the village. When Henry Teale bought the Rye House pub and its estate in the late 19th century he owned land down to Feilde’s Weir and some distance up the river Stort towards Roydon as his angling club owned the fishing rights to this area, following the boundary of the ancient Isle of Rye. The land on which he used to entertain all his thousands of visitors is today covered by the speedway track of the Rye House Rockets, which was originally the athletic track he built and today there is an entertainment centre there for children. All this is in Stanstead Abbotts as is presumably the northern bank of the Stort up to a certain point. Somehow we do not seem to consider this area part of our village and many people believe it to be in Hoddesdon or Roydon. There is a Victorian report concerning an ancient boundary stone for the extreme northern corner of the Forest of Epping, another area we do not consider connected to our village. This boundary stone was once sited at the side of the river Lea, where the Stort joins it at Feilde’s Weir. Where is this stone now? Is it lurking under a tangle of brambles somewhere? It is possible as stones are good lurkers and tend not to disappear.

LANDS CALLED JOYCES: After discovering the land which was once called ‘Joyces or Joces’ in the 13th and 14th centuries, we now know it to be the land alongside Amwell Lane on which St. Margarets Maltings was once built, next to the old gasworks and later known as Pitansry Field or Meadow, This land was not in St. Margarets and should actually belong to Great Amwell manor, but my report points out that there was a historical reason for it belonging to Stanstead.  However, geographically it is not in Stanstead and there is a mystery here. We know the revenue from the lands was given to charity (the abbey possibly), hence the name Pitansry, but what is the situation today? Is it part of the Baesh Charity? And which manor does it belong to? I do not believe it is still part of Stanstead today. Perhaps Mr. Trower or Mr. Pilkington can help us here with their association with the charity?

ALVEVESHOLM: I am still searching for a house of this name, mentioned two or three times in the 12th century Latin charters I studied from Waltham Abbey. It is unlikely I will find where it used to be, but this never stopped me from trying. I have two Saxon ladies named Alveve or Alveva who were around in the 12th century, but cannot be certain which one owned this house or lived there. Its name ‘holm’ suggests it was on a river island or next to water and the 1840 tithe map shows an island in the Lea just below the bridge in that year which had an acre of grassland. Alvevesholm also had a one-acre meadow. If we consider the course of the river has been altered since 1840, there is still an island there today, part of the marina. What else do we know about this house? We must refer back to the Latin charters. It is always described as being at Hascholm in Stanstede, but as we have no idea where Hascholm was either, this does not help, obviously another place involving water as it ends in -holm. The house is first mentioned in charter no. 379 which dates from 1184 to 1201.  It is described as having a garden AND a kitchen garden which makes it a rather important house for that time in a small village. It was granted to the canons of Waltham by Peter, son of Richard of Stanstede (who were the brother and father of Sir Simon).It was mentioned that the house and land had been reclaimed in court through his father’s inheritance from William of Ayot (presumably Ayot St. Lawrence. It is also described as being between the land of Willelmi Godebold and Ricardus Monacus (in the Latin text). We may never discover the site of this house until we discover where Hascholm was! That is the task. The answer will only be found in ancient documents. The house is also mentioned in charters no. 380 and 381 but with no further useful information.

    The future ancient history can only be discovered by studying old documents obviously and these are usually in Latin, a language which can be difficult to learn, but perseverance will win through as in documents concerning property matters, there is much repetition of words ad you only need to learn the meaning of a word once.