I was born on the Isle of Wight on Christmas Day 1951, my family moving to near Weybridge in Surrey in 1956. From a very early age I was always interested in anything associated with the past and pre-history, an interest encouraged by my mother, and nurtured by the Head of History at Sir William Perkins’ Grammar School Chertsey,Surrey where I was a pupil. In the 6th Form we specialised in Roman Britain, & Britain & Europe in the 16th & 17th centuries. I was also strongly drawn to Ancient Egypt, the Tudor and Regency periods and myself and another friend even taught ourselves the card game Piquet which was all the rage in high society during Georgian times. (though I confess I cannot now remember how to play it though I can remember some of the vocabulary!)
I had wanted to be a teacher from about the age of 3, and I undertook my training as a teacher of history & geography at Christ Church College Canterbury, in Kent, where the syllabus was largely focused on earth science (Earthquakes & Volcanoes, Plate Techtonics, weathering and erosion etc.) historical geography, and what today would be called landscape archaeology. It was whilst at college that I learnt many of the research techniques I have been able to use in recent years. Initially a secondary school teacher and ultimately Head of House at Sunbury High School, in more recent years I became a primary supply teacher, teaching in most local primary schools around Hemel Hempstead. I gave up teaching in 2002.
I have been married to Martin for over 35 years now & and we have two grown-up sons and two granddaughters. We moved to Leverstock Green when Owen, our eldest son, was a few months old in 1982. I am very fortunate in my family who have always encouraged my researches and tolerated my “ramblings” about our local history.
Maintaining a strong interest in history throughout my life, it was a comment made by Professor Mick Aston on Channel 4’s Time Team in January 1994, coupled by a remark by the then local Vicar that Leverstock Green didn’t have any history, which prompted me to research the history of the village. I soon realised the area’s history went back to the Iron Age and before. Collecting material from a wide variety of sources which included original research on many hundreds of documents held at HALS, and collecting and recording the memories and photographs of as many of the older residents of the village as possible, I created a document called the LEVERSTOCK GREEN CHRONICLE. – This, together with a great deal of continually growing additional material concerning Leverstock Green’s past and its residents, I first published on the Internet in 2000 – since when it has grown even further.
In addition to the Leverstock Green Chronicle website, I have published 2 books. The first in 1996, “Leverstock Green & Bennetts End” in the Chalford series of Archive Photographs, and the most recent, “Leverstock Green’s Lost Properties” which came out in Easter 2006, and has now been re-published in spiral bound form after initially selling-out. I have also published several individual articles in Dacorum Heritage Trust’s Newsletters and the original Chambersbury News, the parish newsletter for Holy Trinity Church of which we are active members; and a couple of small booklets for Holy Trinity.
Holy Trinity Church Leverstock Green
I was appointed official archivist for Holy Trinity Church in 2005, and in 2015 completed the cataloguing of all the documents still held by the DCC. Or at least that’s what I thought, only the Vicar & Secretary have now found some more! This was not the first major archive I have catalogued, previously having collated and catalogued the documents (subsequently donated to HALS), left by the late Fred Buglass in 1998, concerning Leverstock Green Parish Hall and Village Association.
In addition to my work on Leverstock Green’s History, I was Chairman of the Leverstock Green Village Association for the last 20 years, I am a long-term member of and on the Committee of also a member of the Hemel Hempstead Local History &Museum Society Committee, being responsible for the Society’s website
Following the Buncefield explosion in December 2005, I represented LGVA for 2 years as a member of DBC’s Community Recovery Task Force looking into ways in which the local community was able to help and support following the disaster in December.
Always anxious to share my knowledge and increase the awareness of those living locally to our heritage, I have given both an exhibition (1996) and several illustrated talks to both the HHLH&MS, numerous other local societies and to members of the general public courtesy of Leverstock Green Village Association, covering the following topics to date (Oct 2016):
Uncovering the Leverstock Green Landscape
More than a Century of Learning
Leverstock Green Before New Town Expansion
History of Holy Trinity Church Leverstock Green
Leverstock Green’s Historic Building’s Past & Present
Leverstock Green The Great War 1914-1916
Leverstock Green The Great War 1916-1921 (1921 because that when the War Memorial erected.)
Air Raids, Dad's Army and a Verandah -Leverstock Green During World War II
Early 20th Century Life in Leverstock Green
A Brief History of Sibley’s Orchard
Distinguished and Famous Faces Associated with Leverstock Green (given as two lectures)
50 Years of LGVA - The Highlights. A rolling un-narrated slide-show to accompany Golden Anniversary Receptions for LGVA.
Possible Future Talks Include:
If you think you would like me to give a talk on one of the titles
below, then I need at least 6 months advance warning in order to complete research, scan relevant material and write the Powerpoint presentation.
Curator of My Mother's Memories (Researching, retreaving, recording and archiving the memories of my Mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. Initially to create a reminiscence book to jog her rapidly dissapearing memories, and to aid her carers; but also using both modern computer technology as well as old fashioned printed means of insuring the family archive is not lost to future generations .)
A Year in the Life of Leverstock Green (1965)
Resources for the Local & Family Historian
Click on books to find out about other publications by Barbara Chapman.
Click on books to find out about publications by Barbara Chapman.
Chronic Arthritis, Computer technology and the Internet has meant that I do much of my research from my desk these days, and I have in the last few years downloaded various documents held at HALS and the PRO as well as all the relevant census material for the village from 1841- 1901. Transcribing and analysing the census material is still on-going, though what I have finished is accessible from this site. I am in contact with several hundred people world-wide with an interest in Leverstock Green’s history, and I am indebted to many of them who have enabled me to increase my knowledge of the area and its past inhabitants considerably. After over 20 years of study, it is surprising just how much more can still be learnt.
A strong believer in the fact that we are creating history every day, I have been careful to explore and record Leverstock Green throughout the years since 2004.Today very quickly becomes yesterday, and rapidly becomes the time of a different generation. One has only to look at films, photographs and documentaries taken 25 and 50 years ago to see how radically and quickly things can change. Programmes are frequently made documenting the 1950s and 60s, and they are of course very much depicting history to anyone under the age of 50! To this end I have collected all the LGVA Newsletters, all press-cuttings from the Hemel Hempstead Gazette and other publications concerning Leverstock Green, posters and programmes and other ephemera for things which have happened within our village. A I type (October 2016) plans are being put forward to build a further 2500 homes on the eastern edge of Hemel which includes a large part of land part of and adjacent to Leverstock Green. If this happens it will change the nature of the village completely. It is therefore even more important that I continue to ad to my collection which will eventually go to HHLH&MS and probably thence on toa local museum or HALS.
A small selection of the many files full of items, press cuttings etc. I have collected on Leverstock Green over the past 22 years+.
Below a large A2 Portfolio of Buncefield ephemera collected during and for a few years after the explosion; and The Official report I was involved with together with a Photo-book on the Explosion - published the year or two following the explosion.