Relative Values
Living with Inflation
from 1600 to 2001
with thanks to
John J. McCusker, "Comparing the Purchasing Power of Money in Great Britain from 1600 to Any Other Year Including the Present" Economic History Services, 2001, URL:
When watching any edition of the Antiques Road Show on BBC, it is common for the owner of an object to say that he purchased such and such a piece of furniture/jewellery etc. in say 1945 and it cost him say £125.  He is then overjoyed to discover that the experts now put a value such as  £3,500 on the item.  But should he be?  In fact £125 in 1945 has the same purchasing power today of £3332.61 , so although this hyperthetical piece of furniture has appreciated in real terms, it is only by relatively little.

In my researches into our local history I am always coming across sales of one kind and another with values given, most often in £ s d, or if since decimalisation in 1971 in £ (and p), and it is difficult to know precisely what that is worth in the present climate.  We have all become used to the idea of inflation over the past 30 years, particularly when it comes to purchasing a home.  I have however, noticed (as indeed anyone looking at house prices will have noticed) that purchasing property does not necessarily have the same relative value as general expenses. e.g. £72,000 spent on a house in Leverstock Green in 1984 would have the same purchasing power in general terms today of £139,927.94, but the same house could currently be put on the market for £250,000+

The EHnet website (see acknowledgement above) is a very useful tool in working out the relative values over the last 400 years.  You will see from the table below that £100 in the year 1600 would have the same purchasing power as over £13,000+ in the year 2001; similarly something costing £100 in 2001 would have cost £38.56 in 1980, and a mere £0.15s 1d (75p) in 1600. All the alternative values given in this article are arrived at using  the above EHnet website.

20th January 1603 - the copyhold of Stoneshall, the property immediately opposite Hill End, was sold for £160, in today's money that is £2,830.59

28th March 1631 - Robert Laseby sold for £78 to Richard Hannell, a blacksmith from Bedmond Pond, 2 tenements under one roof and 3 acres of land at Westwick. (Either Westwick Cottage or Dell Cottage). In 2001 that's worth £10,642.41

1637 Hill End Farm's freehold was sold to Sir Elias Hickes for £1120. This is the equivalent to  £110,546.38  today.

24th February 1637/38 - One hundred and seventeen acres of land,  which was later to become associated with Westwick Hall, was leased to Richard Feild of Westwick for 21 years from the following Michaelmas (i.e. September 29 1638) for £62 per annum (Now £5,326.26)

13 October 1641 - John Feild raised a mortgage of £60 on his Manor of Market Oak (otherwise known as Leverstock Green).  It was to be fully repaid within a year and 8% interest was charged. £60 then is equivalent to £6185.33  now.

April 1644 -  Hill End was granted to George Took for £800 as part of the marriage settlement of Margery Coningsbye, Tooke's wife. (£88,361.90)

1653 - Hillend was conveyed to Harbottle Grimston for £1,080, and from then on became part of the Gorhambury Estate. It is interesting to note the fall in property prices since 1637, possibly due to the Civil War. (£113,866.36)

March 1655 "one Measuage or tenement known by the name of Wards & all Barnes Stables Orchards garden and yards to ye same belonginge...", along with considerable acreage for which he had to pay an annual due of £1 8s 0d. (£162.36 ) Joseph Ewer also had a considerable holding, totalling an annual due £1 18s 4d (£222.29 ) plus another shilling (1/-, 5p = £5.80 today)  for the land he had acquired as part of his wife's dower.

14th September 1657 -  A bill for repairs at Hillend Farm, presumably for thatching, (given as thing, theing and thatng in the document) gave this date as the first of three dates when work  was carried out by John Dorvell at the farm.  The total bill for work done between 14th September 1657 & 16th November 1658 was £3 6s 11d. (£330.24  today) The daily rate for thatching was apparently 2s 6d. (£12.34 today)

2nd April 1668 - Contracts were also drawn up on that date between, Sir Harbottle Grimston, and two local craftsmen - Thomas Evens, a bricklayer from St. Albans, and Joseph Carter, a carpenter from the parish of St. Michael's. These contracts were to repair the house, barns and well at Wards (Kettlewells). It would appear that the farmhouse had suffered severe subsidence, and required new foundations and underpinning at one end. A considerable amount of work was to be done on the house, including structural work, redecoration, the installation of a new oven, new cellar windows, renew floors, and weather board the property. In addition to this considerable work was to be done on the barns, involving relocating one barn and rebuilding stabling.  The well house was also to be seen to, with new foundations to the well house, a new curb for the well and a new well wheel. Carter was to receive £46 and Evens £44. i.e. £4,639.0 & £4,437.30    today).They were to provide all their own materials, and I presume labour!!

6th October 1669 - A small estate, much of which was to become known later in the century as Carpenters Farm, and by the late 19th century as Leverstock Green Farm, was sold for £1060. (£111,863.16 today) The estate was approximately 100 acres in extent

27th March 1673 - Thomas Carpenter again took out a short-term mortgage on The Heath (part of Leverstock Green Farm) for a further £35. (£3,608.11) The total amount Thomas Carpenter had to pay to redeem the mortgage by 28th March 1674 (a year later) was £37 2s.  (£3,824.60 )This interest of two guineas being exactly 6%, which makes an interesting comparison with the base rate of 6.5% in July 1995.

3rd October 1718  Carpenters Farm (Leverstock Green Farm) was sold for, for £870  (£91725.68)

20 June 1743 - The will of William Finch left a considerable bequest to his cousin Samuel Nicholls on condition that he paid various people £5 p.a. for life.  (£527.16 ) Samuel was also to give William son of Mary Partridge of High Street Green  £200  (£21086.36 ) on reaching 21 years of age.

February 1st 1766  with the admission of a new the yearly quit-rent for Coxpond was set at £3 15s 3d, (£1120.07) and Vaillant had to pay a fine of £1 17s 7½d (£198.12) to be legally accepted as the copyholder.

7th February 1769 - Thomas Sibley of Kimpton in Herts leased Megdells from Viscount Grimston for an annual sum of £95. (£8012.82) This represented an increase of 50% from 1730

1771 - 14s 7d (£57.33) was charged to the parish of St. Mary's Hemel as part of the cost for beating the bounds, at Ascension time.  The total cost to the parish of beating the bounds was £9. 6s.4d. The entry on the bill was "Paid for Leverstock Green.....14s 7d." Apart for a sum of 4s 5d  (£17.36) paid at Corner Hall all the other items refer to costings of food and drink.

1779 - A valuation undertaken at this time raised the annual rent of Leverstock Green Farm from £44 to rise to £50. (£3519.24 to £3999.14)

11th September 1789 - An auction was held at the Leather Bottle for the sale of two cottages near to the Leather Bottle.  The cottages were sold for £29 (£2069.71 )  the only cottage to have survived along that stretch of road, and of the right age, is "Old Leverstock" which may well have been two cottages when built.  This interestingly was put on the market in March 1994 for £160,000. In May 2002 it was on the market for  £259.950. A substantial increase from £29! (£2069.71)

1795 - Sir Francis Eden (the founder of the Globe Insurance Co.), who investigated the state of the poor for his own interest, recorded how much agricultural workers in Hertfordshire were paid The present day equivalents actually make interesting comparison with the actual present day costs  e.g. bread cost twice as much, but wages and ale were cosiderably less:

Agricultural labourers wages.

7/- a week plus a meal in winter (£19.56)                                   
8/- in summer £22.35)
9/- p.w. during the hay harvest (£25.15)
40/- a month for the corn harvest  (£111.78)

Basic food prices:

Beef......5d - 5d halfpenny per pound  (£1.16)
Mutton....6d per pound (£1.40)
Veal......7d per pound  (£1.63)
Bacon.....10d per pound  (£2.33)
Butter....1/- per pound (£2.79
Mild ale..2d per quart (2 pints) (£0.47)
Bread.....11d three-farthings per quartern loaf
(i.e. a large loaf, 800g. aprox.) (£2.56)
Coals.....1/10 per bushel (£5.12)

N.B. 4 x farthings = one penny;  12d (pence, or old pennies) = 1/- (one shilling);
and there were 20/-'s to the £1.

A rent of £80 pa in 1796 for 88-acre Bennetts End Farm would have the same purchasing power as £4,639.00 today.

Early 18th Century - Eighteen barrowfulls make a load, and the usual price for chalking is 7d per load, all expenses included; therefore the expense of chalking at 60 loads per acre, is £1 15s; and at 100 ditto, £2.18s 4d;" Today, liming these fields would cost £63.92 per acre and £106.54 pre acre.

4th December 1813 Following the death of the owner, Kettlewells, the total estate was valued at £4,191 19s 3d (£173,629.59) and duty of £41 18s 4d  paid on March 25th 1815. Offset against the total value of the estate were various charges: the charges for the letters of administration levied by the solicitor - £74 4s 6d; funeral expenses - £66 11s 8d; the executor's expenses of £21; various debts including rents due etc. at £185 6s 5d and commission paid on the sale of the property £1 16s 6d.

29th June 1824 - John Groom, corndealer, acquired a seven-year lease on Leverstock Green Farm. The annual rent was to be £64, (£3,262.59 )i.e. £1 per acre - this rent having remained the same since 1797.

21st October 1826 Three cottages in Westwick Row were sold for £275 (£12,630.94)

1839 - It would appear from the renewal of Henry and Joseph Smith's lease of Leverstock Green Farm, that either inflation had started to take a hold, or else land values had risen considerably.  This was because the annual rent of the 64-acre farm was increased from £64 to £77 10s.0d. (£3,745.03)

1846 The National School for both boys and girls was built in the village in Bedmond Road solely at the expense of the Rev. Edward Oswell, the curate of Abbots Langley, and cost about £200. (£10915.29 ) Education was not free, parents had to pay 2d (£0.45 [1846] to £0.39 [1875]) a week for each child until 1876 when it was then reduced to 1d.(£0.19)

August 1847   - The contract was signed with a Mr. Lilley of Measham, to build the church in Leverstock Green. The cost was £1,591,10s 6d. (£76,907.13 ) "The Mason will be expected to make his own arrangements as to the supply and cost of flints.  He being allowed to use those already collected - about 250 loads - at the price of 4/6 per load." (£10.87)

Monday 9th October 1848 - an auction was held at Kettlewells: "Of the Valuable Live & Dead Stock, farm and barn implements" Altogether the sale fetched £1002 14s (£55,375.30)

August 1849 - Holy Trinity was finally completed after a great many problems and delays. The oak pulpit was donated by John Dickinson and cost £30, (£1761.65)the font, also a gift from John Dickinson cost £10. (£587.22 )  The original High Altar in Oak cost £16. (£939.54)

1870  According to Kelly's Directory the Living of Holy Trinity was worth £95 a year. (£4,688.35)

Friday 12th June 1874 - an auction at Kettlewells fetched £13 (£558.40 ) for as steam Threshing Machine, that the farm's work horses raised considerably more:
Grey Mare "Depper"£32   0s 6d (£1375.59)
Brown Mare "Brown"£24 13s 6d (£1059.88)
Roan Mare "Smiler"£16 16s 0d (£749.38)
Black Horse "Jolly" (4 yrs old)£67   4s 0d (£2886.49)
Brown Mare "Bonny" (5 yrs old)£53 11s 0d (£2300.17)
Bay Mare "Ball" (6 yrs old)
With horse colt at side£71   8s 0d (£3066.89)
Bay Mare "Star" (6 yrs old)£50   8s 0d (£2164.87)

The other horses up for sale fetched between £18 7s 6d (£789.27)and £37 16s 0d. (£1623.65)   The total amount raised of live and dead stock being £714 2s 6d (£30674.31) with additional monies being raised by the sale of the clover and meadow grass which fetched between £1 10s and £6 10s an acre, covering a total of over 85 acres and fetching a grand total of £228 17s 0d.  Altogether the two auctions raised a grand total of £998 0 2d (£30,674.31) The growing crops of corn were advertised as to be sold at the edge of harvest.

CROCKFORD'S DIRECTORY, 1890  noted te following about the income of Holy Trinity's vicar George Finch, Trustees; TRC £42,av £34, Fees £5, Eccles Comm. £195, other sources £30; Gross Income £264 (£17,009.67) Net £252 3 a of Gl.;

February 25th, 1900  - Nathaniel Wishart Robinson bequeathed  £500 to Holy Trinity Church. (£30,519.74)

2nd May 1903-Thomas Doult of Bennetts End sued  John Ing for £4 18s 6d for goods supplied. (£303.85)

Thursday 25th May 1905 - The auction of the Leverstock Green Brickfield and Tile Kiln Farm, which were eventually sold to. Mr. J.K. Hart of Leverstock Green Farm  for £17,500 (£1,082,43.33)

Wednesday 6 July 1910 -  Coronation & Mafeking Cottages were sold by auction, fetching £450 0s (£27,467.76)

18 February 1915:  John Knox Hart sold the land on the corner of Pancake Lane to the Trustees for the Parish Room for the sum of £100. (£4,639.00)

4th September 1920 Leverstock Green's war memorial was now nearing completion at a cost of £206. (£4,850.93)

There are many more examples I could quote during the 20th century, which I may come back to at a future date.  Meanwhile, if you wish to check the relative value of a specific historical cost, use the EH website quoted.

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This page was last updated on: April 4, 2011