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The Bessant Family of Tile Kiln.
6th May 1905 - Preliminary notices appeared in The Hemel Hempstead Gazette  advertising the sale by auction of the brickfields at Woodlane End, and Tile Kiln Farm:

MESSERS ROBINSON & MEAD are instructed by the Proprietors to sell by auction 
all that valuable A
Tile Kiln Farm  SITUATED IN Bennetts End  Hemel Hempstead together with the DETACHED COTTAGE

Thursday 25th May 1905 - An auction was held at the Kings Arms Hotel in Hemel Hempstead  to sell the Leverstock Green brickfields at Woodlane End and  also Tile Kiln Farm together with what is now known as Tile Kiln Cottage.  It is reasonable to assume from the entries in Kelley's Directory for 1908, that the purchaser of Tile Kiln Farm was Mr. W. Bessant.  The following is the advert  which appeared  in the Gazette for May  20th.
Tile Kiln from the front, about the time of purchase by the Bessants.The old part of the house runs left to right as viwed, with the new wing forming an "L".  This can be better unstood by looking at the OS maps to the right.  It is unclear precicely when the outbuildings were demolished and the new wing added, but it would seem likely that this work was done for the Bessants.

1907 : This photo below was taken by Howard (Corrie) Bessant of Tile Kiln, and sent to Washington USA. (See thumbnail, click to enlarge.)
Early OS maps showing Tile Kiln Farm.  Above 1888, below 1925
1908 - The entry for Kelly's Directory for this year: ………… of the main changes shown this year was the increase in the number of principal residents. They were as follows:

Joseph Bailey, Chambersbury             Mrs. Bessant
Rev. Arthur Durrant                       Bonamy Panmure Eykyn
James Hamilton, Jeanettes                 George B. Houghton, Cox Pond

1910 -    Few changes had been made in the basic information given in Kelly's directory for this year, although for the first time it did mention that Hemel Hempstead Station, the terminus of a branch of the Midland Railway ( called locally the Nicky Line ) was 2.5 miles to the N.W.  Arthur Evans was now the principal landowner in place of the Dickinson family, along with the Earl of Verulam.  George Dogget, James Hallett, Constable Huckle and Mr. & Mrs. Ford all still held their places in Leverstock Green Society. Average attendance at the Elementary School  was 116.

Some building had gone on in the village, and this was reflected in the increase in the numbers of principal residents listed, although not all were in new residences:

Joseph Bailey, Chambersbury                 William Beecham, Wood Lane End.
Mrs. Bessant, Tile Kiln House               William Charles Child, Hill Side
Thomas Cox, Hill Farm                  Rev. Arthur Durrant, Vicarage
Bonomy Panmure Eykyn, Orchard Lea         George B. Houghton, Cox Pond
Ivan Jackson,Woodside                   Miss Jackson,The Dells
Percy Webster, Sibleys Orchard          

10th October  1914 : The Gazette carried the following patriotic information:


The men of Leverstock Green have responded well to the call of their King & country. […..In the]  list of those men who are serving:

JA Bessant - artists corp.
LEFT: Howard Cormack Bessant. (Corrie)

6th February 6th 1915- A new list of those men who had joined up appeared n the paper:


The following is a further list of those who are serving their King & Country from Leverstock Green making 33 in all:
(It included)

HC Bessant - London Scottish
B Bessant - anti aircraft

9th July 1916 – These photos below were taken of Right: Brenda & Maisie Bessant. Left: Maisie Bessant

14th October 1916 - Leverstock Green correspondent (? Rev. Durrant) was feeling very pleased with his village:


The Military Cross has been awarded to  Second Lieutenant J Bessant son of Mr & Mrs Bessant of Leverstock Green .  Out of four officers who live in this village, three have been at the front and all three have won the  MC this year.  Leverstock Green is certainly trying to do its bit.  Over 80 our of a population of 750 having joined the colours, voluntarily and 7 have laid down their lives for their country.  They are W Johnson, B Oakley, Sergeant Smith, G de Beggar, H G Biswell, G. Goodenough and T Aldenham.  Several others have been wounded and two have been discharged from ill health contracted  whilst in the army.  We regret to hear that private  J Bisnell whose brother  H G Bisnell was killed in action, has been missing for some weeks…………………….
1917 – LEFT: Brenda Bessant,  taken at Eastbourne.

1917 - Kelly's Directory for this year was only a little changed from that for 1912. Charles Bessant was stioll listed as resident at  Tile Kiln  
7th November 19172nd Lt. J. A. Bessant MC of the Royal Engineers [TF} was mentioned in despatch from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig for gallant and distinguished services in the field.  He was later after the war to receive a letter fro the Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill informing him of “His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered”.
Saturday 31st May 1919 -  There was a presentation in the village, reported the following week as follows:-

“On Saturday 31st May a presentation was made to Mr.. W.C. Child as an appreciation of his good work in the parish of Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green , as Sunday School teacher, people’s warden, and organist for many years.  The presentation took the form of a gold watch, with inscription, and an illuminated address, with list of subscribers as follows:

The Rev. & Mrs... Durrant, Mr.. & Mrs... Bailey, Miss Bailey, Mr.. J. Bailey,  Mrs... de Beager, Mr.. & Mrs.. Bedford, Mr.. & Mrs.. Bessant,……………………

12th July 1919 - The Gazette reported on the result of the Leverstock Green Pageant:-

In Connection with the Missionary Pageant  recently held in Leverstock Green, a very satisfactory sum will as a result be forwarded by the Rev. A. Durrant to the Universities Mission to Central Africa.  In addition to those mentioned in our report of the proceedings other help was ably  and successfully rendered by Mr.. & Mrs... Ford (display work executed by Leverstock Green school children, which was on sale), Miss Bourne (loan exhibition of foreign curios), Mrs... Grover (management of tea)  Misses Wilkerson and Giles (side-shows), Miss Brentnall and St. Paul’s Troop of  Boy Scouts Life Brigade, Mrs.. Finn, Mrs.. Gambles, Misses Reynolds, Woodman, du Boulay, Gallop, Moore, N. Sanguinetti, Umfreville and Wood, Messrs.. R.E. Groves, E.Tozer, Ellis, Bessant, Breed and Robinson-Harris, the latter of whom took most excellent portraits of the scenes and characters portrayed and sold the photographs in order to swell the pageant funds.
[Gazette 12/7/1919 p.7.]

1922 & 1926 -  Charles Bessant was again listed in Kelley's Directory for these years as a resident of Leversock Green.
1929 – This watercolour painting was made by John Bessant of Tile Kiln.
1929 -Kelly's Directory for this year again showed Charles Bessant as resident at Tile Kiln, Bennets End.

The 1930's as Remembered by Sidney Dollimore.:…………………There were a few well off residing in Tile Kiln Lane, one springing to mind was Mr. Secretan who lived at the Dells.  At the very top of the Lane lived the Bessants, the daughter Annie  a fairly well known sculptor or potter.

20th October 1932 - John Knox Hart, the former owner of  Leverstock Green Farm died.  His obituary in the Gazette  the following week read: DEATH OF MR JOHN KNOX HART

………………………….The funeral was on Monday at St. Mary’s Apsley, the Rev. C.B. Goodwin conducting.  The chief mourners (Included):…….. Mr. & Mrs. Bessant and family [ Gazette 29th October 1932]

15th June 1933: -The records of Horn & Co, Undertakers from Marlowes show the following entry:
Ref 271/ Deceased / gentleman : Bessant, Charles Henry
DATE OF DEATH: 15.6.1933
NOTE: He was 78 years old and the funeral was held on 17.6.1933 at Leverstock Green Church
ADDRESS: Tile Kiln, Bennetts End, Hemel Hempstead
[DCHT Undertaker’s Records, Horn & Co ]

1933 - Kelley's Directory once more shows how life in the village was beginning to come into the twentieth century.   The list of private residents was increasing and this time reverted to inculding:
Mrs. Bessant,Tile Kiln, B.E. 

1937 -  According to Kellys Directory for this year, there was a new Vicar in the village (Rev. Binns ) ………… the number of middle-class private residences was increasing and showed an interesting distinction:
Those residents marked with a + get their mail direct from Hemel Hempstead. (I assume this to mean that other people collected their post from the post office in the village.)

+Eric William Alder,Belsize Lodge,B.E.  +Hugh Gray,Tile Kiln Cott. B.E.
+Joseph Bailey, Chambersbury          +Chs. Lamond Henderson, Ben.End Ho.
Ralph Henry Barbour, Westwick House     Sidney Herbert Lee M.B. Logandene
Captain Charles Moulton-Berrage,Pax     John Arthur Marston, Orchard Lea B.E.
Mrs. Bessant, Tile Kiln, B.E.  

1942 - Four gilded carved mahogany angels were fitted to the riddel posts of the High Altar in Holy Trinity Church.  This was done in memory of the Rev. Arthur Durrant. [ S2 p.6 ] These angels had been commissioned by the congregation as a memorial to the  Rev. Durrant, and had been carved by local sculptress Miss Brenda Bessant out of Mahogany. Regretfully, according to a letter sent to the family,  it would seem that the new incumbent was not satisfied with the work done on them! [S403]

The pictures (below) shows one of the angels today (2004),  the rest are also in the chancel.  The inscription is on the screen and the final photo – a postcard of the church taken in the 1940’s showing the high altar as it was then with the 4 angels on the ridell posts.    
The following is a photo of some members of the family, post WW2.  The lady in between the Bessant girls is identified as “Gwennie silver-pot” by Denis Bessant, however, I feel certain this was Lorna Durrant, the vicar’s eldest daughter. (See picture of Lorna and her father at this site.)
1946: RIGHT: The British Red Cross Medal awarded to Frances Maria ( Maisie) in 1946 in recognition of 3 years service.
January 16th 1954: Anne Bessant (seen in the picture above seated in the  centre of the picture), died.  She was buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard  along with her husband Charles.  They had had six children, only the eldest of whom was to marry and have a child of his own. They were: Howard Cormack (known as Corrie), John Archibald ( who won the MC), Richard Bernard, Brenda Louise (the sculptress), Frances Mary (known as Maisie) and Charles Lance.  Lance was to  invent a special spring loaded crutch. [Patent Office registration number GB880960, published in 1961.]

The remaining members of the family living at Tile Kiln were eventually to moved from Leverstock Green to live in St. Albans.  Two new houses: High Beeches and Kiln Lodge were built in part of the grounds.  The house itself still showed on the 25" OS plan of 1968 but (despite its great age - it apparantly had been overlooked in the listing process), was eventually demolished some time later, and with its remaining grounds, redeveloped into Kinderscout, a new cul-de-sac built off Crofts Path.
I am greatly indebted to Denis Bessant for his help in compiling the information on this page. Barbara Chapman
On Thursday 25th May 1905 the auction of the Leverstock Green Brickfield and Tile Kiln Farm took place, resulting in the farmland being purchased by Leverstock Green Farmer John Knox Hart.  The following is part of the write-up from the Gazette of the following Saturday:

IMPORTANT PROPERTY SALE AT HEMEL HEMPSTEAD ~~~~FARMS & BRICKFIELDS ~~~~ There was a large and interested company at the Kings Arms Hemel Hempstead on Thursday on the occasion of an important sale by Messers Robinson & Mead. In a few introductory remarks the auctioneer (Mr. I.G.Mead) who was selling in conjunction with Messers Spain & Sons observed that the property had been in the occupation of the Leverstock Green  & Acorn Red Brick Co. whose lease was expiring.  He felt certain that the premises could be quickly let, the situation being so near to the town of Hemel Hempstead and just the sort of property to suit a man who wanted small holding.  The first lot introduced was the land foreman's house and building known as the Leverstock Green Brickfields and Potteries situated in Wood Lane End Hemel Hempstead…………….Mr. Mead then submitted the very desirable accommodation farm known as Tile Kiln Farm situated in Bennetts End and containing an area of 52a. 3r. 37p together with the homestead.  Bidding commenced at £1000 and increased to £1400 by bids of £100.  Then smaller sums took the price to £1500 when the auctioneer decided to add the next lot with it.  This consisted of a detached cottage adjoining lot one with large productive garden.  The whole was then started at £1525 and then rose to £1750. Mr. J.K. Hart of Leverstock Green becoming the purchaser at this figure.  [Gazette 27th May 1905]

By 1907 John Knox Hart had sold on the house and some land  to Mr W. Bessant, and Kelley’s Directory in subsequent years, listed Mrs Bessant as a Private Resident at Tile Kiln.  The Bessant family were the last owners of Tile Kiln, and I was very fortunate to make contact with Dennis Bessant who has kindly provided me with all the photos and memorabilia seen on this page.
Tile Kiln Farm
Click to link to principle LG Chronicle web pages.

Leverstock Green ChronicleMaplinks page (for large scale and old maps of the area.)

20th Century Leverstock GreenGlossary