From the Middle Ages to the present day there have always been a few people who were either distinguished and famous before they made their homes in the Leverstock Green area, or who became famous or had distinguished careers, but already lived here in our village. In addition there have been a few who, though not actually living in Leverstock Green as we consider it today, have been very heavily associated with the village (Sir Nicholas & Francis Bacon for example) and I have therefore included them in the list itself. I have also included one institution - Sidney Sussex College.
With the current (2003) population of the area being over 7000, it is not surprising that there are a handful of present day residents who would fall into the above category. However, in order to preserve their privacy I shall not include them on this website. Nevertheless their names will be included in my private Chronicle documents for posterity, or to be added once the persons in question have either left Leverstock Green, their details are already within the public domain (e.g.mentioned in Wikipedia or elsewhere on the Internet) or are no longer living.
The list of famous and distinguished names is a long one, some dating from the middle ages to the 1899, others from the 20th century. The list, shown on the left, enables you to click on their names to be taken to their individual section of this webpage, where if appropriate there will be links to individual webpages and relevant sites.
Abbot Geoffrey de Goreham
Geoffrey de Goreham was Abbot of St. Albans from 1119 - 1146. The Manor of Westwick, which covered the area now known as Leverstock Green, (see Westwick) had been given to St. Albans Abbey in the 10th century, but Abbot Geoffrey was to give the manor to a member of his family (see here for more details) and the Leverstock Green area was to remain under the authority of the de Goreham family for about a century until it passed to the de Ver family. It is extremely probable that the hall Geoffrey had caused to be built at Westwick was somewhere along Westwick Row, possibly on the same site as the later manor house built at Westwick Cottage. It was his family name which was to be given to the manor from the 17th century onwards i.e. Gorehambury, Westwick & Pre. See also Christina of Markyate below. Geoffrey is buried in St. Albans Abbey - see photos above and below.
Christina of Markyate
Christina of Markyate is associated with Leverstock Green because of her friendship with Abbot Geoffrey de Goreham,(see page on the de Gorehams) who granted lands at Westwick to the Priory of Markyate where Christina was Prioress. The small sub-manor created out of Westwick for Christina's priory came to be known as Markate Oake, alias Leverstock Green. (Click here for more details on the manor)
The life of Christina of Markyate is a remarkable one, and one which, if time is taken to surf the Internet, can be seen to the centre of much intelectual thaught and discussion as her life forms the basis for many University courses troughout the English speaking world. What gives 21st century scholars considerable insight into her life is the fact that a biography was written about her by a monk who knew not only her, but her associates, and gives inside information of a very personal nature about Christina and her friends. An excellent edition and translation of this biography is available from the Oxford University Press by C. H. Talbot and was published in 1959, and was reissued in 1987. See http://www.oup-usa.org/isbn/0198212747.html ; another site: http://www.umilta.net/cell.html
The St Albans Psalter, is also associated with Christina of Markyate. This Psalter has recently been studied and photographed for inclusion on the Internet and can be accessed at: www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter This site also contains links to various essays concerning Christina and Abbot Geoffrey. It is also thought that one of the medieval wall paintings in the Abbey depicts Christina of Markyate.
Dame Cecelia de Sanford
In 1230 Sir William de Gorham died, holder of the manor of Westwick. His widow was Cecilia de Sanford who had been governess to Princess Eleanor, sister of Henry III. (Princess Eleanor, on the advice of Cecelia de Sanford took a vow of chastity after she became a widow at the age of 15. Later following a papal dispensation, Eleanor married Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester in 1238) Cecilia & William's son, another William de Gorham, inherited Westwick. Cecilia, William’s widow, also took a vow of chastity at her husband’s death. She was a very pious woman and was eventually buried in St. Albans Abbey in 1251. (see entry for 1251.) If as seems now highly likely, Sir William and his wife Cecilia lived when not at court at their manor of Westwick, this would have been along Westwick Row, In all probability at the Hall which became the present Westwick Cottage. Given that Celia died locally and was buried in St. Albans Abbey it also seems likely that she continued to use Westwick as her home after her husband's death. There was also a connection between the Sanford family and the de Vere's ( see below) [ VCH Vol 2. p.393; S329 ] All together,the connections between the Manor of Westwick,the de Gorham's, the de Veres, the Abbey of St. Albans and members of the Royal Household, architectural similarities (see survey published by Alan Greening of Westwick Cottage, 1997), and connections to the Royal Court, show Westwick (Manor House/Cottage) to have been not only of high status locally but also nationally at this time.
John de Vere, Seventh Earl of Oxford.
1329 -1330 - Free warren in his manor of Westwick was granted to John, the seventh Earl of Oxford. His father, Alphonsus, had been willed the estate by John de Goreham. (See Westwick) A friend of The Black Prince, the seventh earl had fought bravely at Cressy and Poietiers, and was later made 8th Great Chamberlain of England. (see ttp://homepages.rootsweb.com/~pmcbride/james/f042.htm )
Thomas de Vere, Eighth Earl of Oxford (1337-1371)
Thomas de Vere, 8th Earl of Oxford, served with King Edward III in battle. He was married to Maud, daughter and heir of Sir Ralph de Ufford, Chief Justice of Ireland. After Thomas’s death his wife involved herself in a conspiracy against King Henry IV, she was sent to the Tower but later pardoned. Thomas was succeeded by his son Robert. When Thomas died, he settled the manor of Westwick on his wife Maud. Maud held the manor of Westwick for life, with reversion to the crown on her death. The countess was unable to will the manor to her son Robert, as he was convicted as a traitor, after which all his lands became forfeit. [ VCH Vol.2 p.394.] However, in 1395 - Abbot Thomas of St. Albans bought the reversion of the manor of Westwick, from Maude, Dowager Countess of Oxford, for a sum in excess of 800 marks. (A mark was 13s 8d.) [http://www.oxfords.btinternet.co.uk/ancestry2.html] From then on until the dissolution of the monastries, Westwick was once again part of the estate lands of the Abbey of St.Albans.
Robert de Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford, at the age of 15 acted as Chamberlain of England at the coronation of Richard II. Richard II created him Marquess of Dublin in 1385 and in 1386 Duke of Ireland. Robert lost the so-called battle of Radcot Bridge, against the Lords Appellant (headed by Gloucester and Henry of Bolingbroke) in December 1387 and in the proceedings of the Merciless Parliament of 1388 was attainted for treason and sentenced to death, although by that time he had fled into self-imposed exile in France (and later Brabant). He died childless in 1392 and was succeeded by his uncle Aubrey. In 1395 he was re-buried in England in a funeral arranged and attended by Richard II. That same year Abbot Thomas of St. Albans bought the reversion of the manor of Westwick, from Maude, Dowager Countess of Oxford, for a sum in excess of 800 marks. (A mark was 13s 8d.) The Manor was therefore returned to the Abbey until the disolution. [ttp://www.oxfords.btinternet.co.uk/ancestry2.html]
The lands of the priory of St. Mary de Pre - which included various scattered parcels of land around the Leverstock Green area- (see 1248 and 1278), were granted to Cardinal Wolsey, who gave them to his foundation called Cardinals College at Oxford. [VCH p.400 ] They had previously been annexed by the Abbey of St. Albans by Papal bull, but Wolsey obtained another bull to give them to his college.[ VCH Vol. 2, p.401 ] In 1529 - Cardinals College Oxford was dissolved upon Wolsey's disgrace. Henry VIII refounded the college in 1532 as "King Henry VIII's College and then renamed it Christ Church being re-founded as Christ Church College Oxford. The manor of Pre and all its holdings, was leased for 30 years to Richard Raynshawe, a yeoman of the guard. (This included lands and woods at Westwick - see entry for 1527 ) [ VCH Vol. 2, p.400 ]
Sidney Sussex College
According to the E.P.N.S. (English Place Name Society).the first recorded evidence for the name Leverstock Green (Leveleystocke grene) is in a document dated 1551 belonging to Sidney Sussex College. Although not founded till the 17th century, the manor of Abbots Langley was given to Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, and Trinity College Oxford jointly by Francis Combe, and the college holds numerous documents related to the manor from the previous century. The archivist at the college is hoping to locate the relevant document for reference.
William Ibgrave, King Henry VIII's embroiderer.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII sold the manor of Abbots Langley to Richard Lee, a military engineer, but sold the patronage and the remaining revenues of the living of St. Lawrence's church (Abbots Langley's parish church), along with the manor of Chambersbury, to William Ibgrave on September 28th 1540. William was a member of the Hertfordshire Commission of the Peace and the King's embroiderer. Henry VIII relied on William Ibgrave's exquisite craftsmanship which adorned most of Henry's clothes and also occasional hangings around the various palaces. Look at any of the great portraits of Henry and it is easy to see how William's work played its part in "proving" the consequence of his King.
Thereafter the Chambersbury Estate in Leverstock Green came into the Ibgrave family for 65 years, finally reverting to the Crown on 24th January 1605/06 . See Chambersbury.
Sir Nicholas Bacon 1509-79
Nichola Bacon was a prominant Tudor lawyer. Called to the bar in 1533, he was made attorney of the court of wards and liveries in 1546 and, despite being a staunch Protestant, held this office through the reign of Mary I. On the accession (1558) of Elizabeth I, he was appointed Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, possibly through the influence of William Cecil, later Lord Burghley (whose wife's sister Bacon married). In 1559 he was authorized to exercise the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor. In 1561 Nicholas Bacon acquired the manors of Gorhambury,Westwick & Pre, thus becoming Lord of the Manor for much of the area of Leverstock Green. From this time on there is a great deal of documentation concerning the farms, properties and land in the area. It was also dating from this time that consolidation of the estate proper began, and the gradual acquisition of Copyhold properties by the Lord of the manor took place, so that by the eighteenth century the Lord of the manor was also the principle landowner of the district.
Sir Nicholas had actually purchased Gorhambury from his brother-in-law Ralph Rowlatt in 1561, and had known manor with its medieval manor house well. Deciding to build a new house, Sir Nicholas demolished the old manor house (the precise location of which at this time is debatable, but which was almost certainly not near present day Gorhambury, but still along Westwick Row, either at Westwick Cottage, Westwick Row Farm or the Old House near today's Westwick Warren (for details of the arguments and theories (see link to The Manor of Westwick below) and built a new one. Work started in 1563 and finished in 1568. Bacon's house remained in use until the late 18th century when the present day Palladian Gorehambury was constructed.
Sir Nicholas Bacon's Gorehambury - as depicted in an 18th century watercolour.
All that can be seen of Bacon's Gorehambury today.
Sir Francis Bacon.
Sir Francis Bacon was Sir Nicholas Bacon’s youngest son – though there is a theory that he was in fact the adopted son of the Bacon’s being in reality the son of Queen Elizabeth I & Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. (See the various links below) There is also another theory that Fracis Bacon was in fact the real writer of the works of William Shakespeare. Whatever the truth, he was certainly a very distinguished and important person in his day, as well as one of the foremost philosophers this country has ever had.
Francis eventually came in for the Gorehambury estates in 1601 after the death of his elder brother Anthony, and was therefore Lord of the Manor which included the area of Leverstock Green until his death in 1626. During this time Bacon attained high ofice. In 1613 he bacame Attorney General; in 1617 he was made Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal ( the same office his father had held); 1618 made him Lord Chancellor and he was given the title of Lord Verulum; in 1621 he was Created Viscount St. Albans. He was later charged with bribery and found guilty upon his own admission. He was fined forty thousand pounds, sentenced to the Tower of London, prohibited from holding office for the state, and prohibited from sitting on parliament. The sentence was reduced and no fine was paid and only four days were spent in the Tower but he never again held office or sat for parliament. He died in March 1626 having decided to experiment with the effect of cold on the decay of meat, purchasing a fowl and stuffing it with snow. He caught cold and developed bronchitis, dying on April 9th.
After Sir Francis Bacon's death in 1626, the estate was eventually acquired by his long-time friend and Secretary Sir Thomas Meautys. Sir Thomas's widow Anne (who incidently was the daughter of Sir Nathaniel Bacon of Culford, and a great grand-daughter of Sir Nicholas Bacon), married Sir Harbottle Grimston, who purchased the reversion of the manors of Gorhambury, Westwick, Kingsbury and Prey for £10,000 from Henry Meautys, Sir Thomas' brother and heir. Sir Thomas was also Clerk to the Privy Council under two kings.
Gorhambury had been left to Anne Meautys for life with the reversion to their daughter Jane. Having met, fell in love with and married the recently widowed 49 year old Harbottle Grimston. With the death of little Jane Meautys in 1652, the estate reverted to Sir Thomas's elder brother and heir, from whom Anne's husband baught the reversion. Gorhambury thus became the property of the Grimston family, with whom it has remained ever since. The present 7th Earl of Verulam being John Duncan Grimston. It is through the association with the Bacon family on one side, and the Grimstons on the other that we are fortunated enough to day to still have all the records left by the Bacons concerning the Gorehambury estate and hence Leverstock Green. Like his Bacon predecessors at Gorhambury, Sir Harbottle Grimston played a major part in national politics and was a distinguished statesman, being made Speaker of the House of Commons and later he too was to hold the position of Master of the Rolls until his death, aged 81, in 1685.
LEFT: The Grimston coat of Arms
RIGHT: Sir Harbottle Grimston
Dr.Richard Field ~ 1561 ~ 1616
Dr. Richard Field was to become chaplain to Queen Elizabeth and James 1, & "born in 1561 about 6 miles from St.Albans" , is I beleive a member of the Field (or Feilde or sometimes even Felde) family who for many years owned land in and around Leverstock Green, and during the 17th century became Lords of the Manor of the small manor named Markate Oak, alias Leverstock Green. William Hatche sold the Manor to John Feild in 1619. (John was possibly Richard's brother, as Richard was known to be the eldest of his siblings(*). All the members of the Field family holding land in and around Leverstock Green were named John, Richard or Benjamin.The Field family had already held various parcels of land in the Leverstock Green area from the 16th century, and in 1581 had obtained the Copyhold on Blackwater Pond House, together with 50 acres of land. Blackwater Pond House (later Blackwater Farm), was part of the Manor of Gorhambury and Westwick, but some of its lands were part of the Manor of Market Oak. Dr. Richard Field is known from one source to have been born in the parish of Hemel Hempstead and to have attended Berkhamsted School.(*) It should be remembered that approximatly one third of the area of Leverstock Green came within the parish of Hemel Hempstead.
As well as a well known University preacher and later becoming Royal chaplain, Fielde also became reknowned for various theological publications, the greatest of which "Of The Church Five Books" was piblished in 1606.
* Field Genealogy, by Frederick Clifton Pierce, published by the Hammond Press Chicago 1901.
Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss, was another distinguished personage owning land and possibly residing for some time in Leverstock Green (at Chambersbury) and who also held the high office of Master of the Rolls.
Sir Edward Bruce was made commendator of Kinloss Abbey and appointed judge in 1597. In 1601 he was appointed a Lord of Parliament with the title of "Lord Kinloss". He accompanied James VI to claim his english throne in 1603 and was subsequently appointed to English judicial office as Master of the Rolls. In May 1608 he was granted a barony as Lord Bruce of Kinloss. For further information see: http://www.thepeerage.com/p1100.htm#i10994 His son, Thomas, was created first earl of Elgin in 1633. [http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/legends/clan.htm]
Lord Bruce of Kinloss, owner of Chambersbury died in 14th January 1610/1611.
The manor of Chambersbury (Chambersbury) had previously been settled to Magdalen, wife of Edward Lord Bruce for the remainder of her life, and entailed to his youngest son Thomas, later the Earl of Elgin. It is reasonable to assume that Dame Magdalen Bruce resided at Chambersbury at least from the time of her first husband's death, as she was married in St. Lawrence’s Church in 1616 to Sir James Fullerton (See entry for 9th April 1616.) [VCH vol.2 p.326; S299 ] In May 1624, with the agreement of Thomas Bruce, his mother and her new husband Sir James Fullerton, the Manor of Chambersbury, (along with the Manor of Sarrett) was sold to Thomas and John Child, who were already the owners of the Langleybury estate.
John Dickinson, the founder of the papermills at Apsley & Nash Mills, (buying Apsley Mill Nash Mill in 1810) had a great impact on Leverstock Green, as he not only did he purchased the Chambersbury Estate but was also one of the principle patrons and moving forces behind the building of Holy Trinity Church.
As John Dickinson owned Chambersbury and Bunkers Farm by 1850 when his daughter and son-in-law moved in it seems likely he purchased the Leverstock Green end of the estate following the death of John Field in 1844. Dickinson had already been in possession of the Nash Mills end of the estate by the Tithe Survey of 1840. [S262, S366]
In 1846 a meeting was held at Abbots Hill (the home of John Dickinson) which decided that a new church should be built in Leverstock Green, as it then formed the junction of St. Mary's, Hemel; St. Michael's (St.Albans); and Abbots Langley, each being at least 2 miles distant. The minutes of the meeting began:
"In consequence of an opinion having prevailed generally among landowners, clergy and gentry residing in the neighbourhood of St. Albans, Abbots Langley and Hemel Hempstead, that the district in and about Leverstock Green was insufficiently provided with Church Accommodation...."
In August 1849 Holy Trinity was completed. As well as having contributed a considerable sum to the building fund for the church, John Dickinson also donated the oak pulpit at a cost of £30, and the font, at a cost of £10.
This is a page of a book held at The British Library referring to Geoffrey de Gorham. Click on image to go to Zoomify/British library page to see it properly.
Suggestion: Search for the person you are interested in down the list on the left hand side, then once you are at the start of the section on this individual, slide the text area to the left so that it fills, or nearly fills the screen.
Thought to be Christina of Markyate from the St. Albans Psalter.
St Cecilia in a stained glass window by Burn-Jones (R)
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