Monday, 18 May 2020

Tolpits Lane


'There is only one street named Tolpits Lane making it unique in Great Britain' so perhaps it is worth writing about.

From an ‘Anonymously Recorded History of Croxley Green’ – Croxley Green History Project:-

The name Tolpits had existed well before Wolsey’s time as ‘Tolpade’ in 1364, evolving to ‘Tolput’ in 1803 and ‘Twopits’ in 1822 (as noted on an 1822 Ordnance Survey Map and still referred to as Twopits in 1862). According to a Watford Rural District Guide, Tolpade seems to come from ‘toll path’ and was an alternative name for Cassio Mill mentioned in 1086.

About 1416, the Manor of the More (later Moor Park) was conveyed to William Flete (Fleet) who, a few years later in 1435, put up a claim to have a right of way for himself and his cattle from the More across the fields to the market place and church of Watford; in other words, along what would become Tolpits Lane. The Abbot of St Albans went to law and William Flete failed to gain his point. The More did not get its road to Watford till a century later when a greater Cardinal, even than Beaufort - Cardinal Wolsey who, after enlarging the house, sought to also enlarge the park by 170 acres. Seizing land to secure the building of Tolpits Lane, he expelled one of his tenants from a messuage (farmhouse or cottage) called Tolpotts and rebuilt it nearby.

Another story of the common rights is associated with this.  The (Little) Tolpits Cottage (built c1640) caught fire and the villagers turned out en masse to extinguish it.  As a mark of gratitude the tenant is said to have granted the use of the Moor to the villagers for all time as common grazing land for cattle and horses.  Unfortunately the date of this particular event is lost in antiquity and it cannot be said whether it was before or after Wolsey’s time (but Tolpits Cottage still exists).  The dictionary definition of “Moor” is “poor, peaty, untilled ground, often covered with heath”, so the “tenants of the manour” are in any case probably grimly standing their last ground!

According to Alan W Ball’s Street and Place Names In Watford, ‘Tolpits appears in 1365 as Tolpade, which had become Tollepathe by 1529 with a mention of Tolpott bridge in 1594. It seems to have been some form of toll path with the ‘pit’ a modern corruption, but all trace of a toll being exacted in this area has long since vanished. There was also a farm in the area and in the eighteenth century provided ‘Tolpulls’ as another variant in the form of the name.’
Tolpits Farm stood on the corner of Tolpits Lane (just up from Little Tolpits Cottage) opposite Olds Approach and is now part of Merchant Taylor’s school.

In Fitzherbert’s “Book of Surveying and Improvement”, published in 1539, he describes the system of communal agriculture then in use.  “To every townshyppe that standeth in tillage in the playne country, there be errable lands to plowe, and sowe, and leyse to tye or tedder theyr horses and mares upon, and common pasture to kepe and pasture their catell beestes, and shepe upon, and also they have meadowe grounds to get theyr hay upon.”  

Thus we find in Croxley ancient reference to “The Common Moor for the Tennants of Croxley Manour”, the Horse Moor, and Lott Mead. Stories persist of the maintenance of common rights in Croxley, and it is notable that in 1886 when Dickinson’s Mill was greatly expanded, land was purchased by the firm from Lord Ebury to be exchanged for Common Moor land adjoining the Mill.

It was noted, even in the early part of the 20th century, that the exercise of Common Rights persisted with dairymen’s cows pastured on the Common Moor by day, and driven home (as required by ancient law) by night. Cattle are still grazed on the Moor from June to October, but they do not have to be driven home again at the end of the day! The “Commoners” of today are the surviving representatives of those tenants with property entitled to Common rights, and as such they have some say in matters concerned with the Green. Although the land lies almost entirely within the parish of Watford, the inhabitants of Watford have no rights with respect to it.

Tolpits Lane becomes Moor Lane just after you cross the River Colne on the way from Watford to Rickmansworth.

References:

‘Anonymously Recorded History of Croxley Green’ – Croxley Green History Project

British History Online - Parishes, Rickmansworth 

Various Maps of the area





Sunday, 3 May 2020

The sad and tragic case of the Taynton Murder in West Watford

The following developed from an original post by Brenda Ambrosone on The Original Watford Memories and History Group page in April 2020. The post garnered a lot of interest and the following accounts are from various contributors, a large amount of information being from a Mr Rob Cassidy who submitted the following:

From a newspaper article posted by Mr Rob Cassidy from:
 https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3786214/3786220


MURDER AT WATFORD. A man and woman named Taynton, residing at South-terrace, Vicarage-road, Watford, went out about eight o'clock on Monday night, leaving in the house a son, Walter Joseph, aged 15, and a daughter, Jessie Maria, aged ten. When the mother returned at half- past ten she could not get admission to-the house, the doors being locked. She prevailed upon a neighbour named Williams to force an entrance by the back window, and he found the daughter lying on the floor of the living room in a pool of blood, the brains being scattered about her. A hammer was lying by her side, covered with blood and hair. The poor girl was still alive, but she expired immediately after the arrival of Dr. Stradling's assistant. The boy was returning home, apparently unconcerned, about half-past eleven, and was arrested in the road by the deputy chief constable of the county, who was waiting for him. On the boy's clothes were found stains of blood; blood was also found on the thumb of his right hand. The inquest was held on Tuesday evening at the Police-station, Watford, before Mr. R. W. Brabant, Deputy Coroner. Joseph Taynton, the father, said he left home at twenty minutes to nine. The deceased and her brother Walter Joseph were then in the kitchen, Walter reading and the deceased knitting. They appeared quite happy. When witness returned, about ten minutes to eleven, he was told what had occurred by the. police. He had left his tools in the kitchen. Caroline Taynton, the mother, said she left home at a quarter to eight, and returned just after ten. She knocked at the door, but got no answer. She heard a moaning inside. She called Mr. Williams, a neighbour, then went into the house by the scullery window, and opened the front door for her. The deceased was lying on her back in the kitchen, covered with blood. She had in her hands the knitting needles and piece of stocking she was knitting. Walter could not be found. Superintendent Hammerstone produced a shoemaker's hammer, which he found in the kitchen, covered with blood. He apprehended the prisoner at half-past eleven, and found stains of blood on his right hand and clothes. He cautioned him. The boy said nothing. Dr. Cox said the deceased died a few minutes after his arrival. There were three puncture wounds above and a little in the front of the right ear, and a large depressed fracture of the skull on the whole of the right side of the head, about five inches long and four inches wide. The wounds were such as would be caused by both the flat and the sharp ends of the hammer. They could not have been caused by a fall, or self-inflicted. The jury returned a verdict that there was not sufficient evidence to show by whom the injuries were inflicted.


Mr Cassidy then provided a link to the Journal of Mental Science, Vol 35, p385 - 389

(copy and paste the link into your search bar if you wish to see actual pages, but it is reproduced below in full)

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K9RLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=walter%20taynton&source=bl&ots=HiYebabVCo&sig=ACfU3U3c2RLlGAgDS__I2mJPKHo8zQ6IBg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwisgKzfztnoAhVOY8AKHfZmAxMQ6AEwEHoECAcQAQ&fbclid=IwAR1ti6-MRihQpc32IclA-W0tBf2plYlT7wq4isikiIERfSVWsZXkJUbAo5g#v=onepage&q=walter%20taynton&f=false


'Case of Walter Taynton, Charged with killing his Sister, by Geo. H. Savage, M.D.'


"Case of Walter Taynton, Charged with Killing his Sister. By Geo. H. Savage, M.D. From time to time it is worth while recording trials in which persons have been tried for crimes which might have been com mitted while the criminal was of unsound mind, and it seems to me that the case of "Walter Taynton is one of such cases, for though there was some conflict in medical evidence, it was of small moment when compared with the ruling of the judge and the verdict of the jury. In this case a boy of 15 was charged with killing his little sister, aged 10, without sufficient, if any, cause, and the real question was whether he was to be considered insane and detained at her Majesty's pleasure or if he should be treated as having committed murder or man slaughter and punished accordingly. If he were insane, it seems to me to illogical to send him to prison simply for the reason that in the one case the incarceration would be for a limited time, and in the other it would be indefinite and, as the judge suggested, it would be for life. I had always understood that the consequences were not to be treated of by expert witnesses, that, in fact, they had to give an opinion on the facts irrespective of the result of the evidence. If this be not the aspect which we should assume in these cases, one would be inclined to say that as soon as one is called in, if opposed on principle to capital punishment, one ought to stretch every point to avoid the consequences. I have not done this hitherto, and I do not think the case under consideration will alter my action in such cases. I shall now give some details of the case, adding the notes as supplied to me concerning the crime itself. To begin with, the boy is a very small, ugly-looking lad, with a low forehead, narrow palate, and heavy, sullen aspect. His father is a shoe maker, a steady, sober man, whose paternal uncle died in Wandsworth Asylum, and whose maternal aunt committed suicide. The mother, a delicate-looking woman, is said to be healthy in mind and body. She has heart-disease and curiously coloured pink eyes, without being a true albino. Her father is said to have died of "paralysis and damaged brain," but it must be remembered that he was 77 at the time of his death The boy had convulsions when only 18 months old. He was not noticed as in any way very peculiar, though very back ward in walking and also in learning to speak; he could never dress himself, and up to 12 years old his mother actually had to be present when he was dressing. When old enough to go to school he was found to be very dull, especially in anything to do with figures, so that he could not be made to do the simplest sums of addition. This defect was never overcome, so that as time went on he failed at all the standards for arithmetic, and the school inspector made a special report on him, excusing him from his examinations at school as "obviously dull." He was solitary, not given to playing with his fellows; he was sullen, at times easily roused so as to strike his companions. He seemed all this time to be greatly given to reading books, but both his parents and the schoolmaster said he seemed to carry away nothing from his reading. The books selected were quite natural ones for a boy—books of travel and adventure, and they were not markedly sensational, or what are generally known as bad books. He had no special aptitude, and when he left school his father wished him to take up his trade, but found him hopelessly dull, so that he could not be taught even the most elementary parts of his trade. His father did not think this was due to any special distaste to the work.* He would get away and read his books, but never entered into home-life and pleasures like the rest. He was not a bad or untruthful boy; he went to chapel and to Sunday school; he was not emotionally religious. It should be remembered that he was ugly, and that, with a big, fat nose and slight strabismus, it is not surprising that he accused the boys of making fun of him, and he is said also to have complained, rightly or wrongly, of his little sister doing the same. This was not substantiated; but I am quite willing to admit that this may have been the case for a time, and that later he passed into a state of morbid self-consciousness, in which he imagined others made these remarks.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Holywell Farm

Some photos of Holywell Farm


From the Sale Catalogue 1887


Britain From Above photograph 1921, Holywell Farm bottom centre


Holywell Farm, 1958




Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The River Colne

From History of Watford - Trade Directory, 1884 by Henry Williams


The river Colne rises in two streams, one at Colney Heath, near Hatfield, and the other between Elstree and Barnet; it flows south­west in a winding course through Herts to Rickmansworth, and leaves a few miles south of that place. The area of its basin in Herts is 200 square miles. Looking at that part of the valley of the Colne in the parish of Watford, one is led to the conclusion that in the olden times this valley was one marsh or swamp, and that the artificial banks, which now hold the stream and direct its course through the centre of the valley, were made to concentrate the water for the use of the neighbouring mills.

Some time ago, when excavating at the 'Watford Gas Works, the workmen found a number of bones, which were submitted to Dr. Brett for examination, who pronounced some to be human, and others those of a horse and red deer; they were afterwards seen by a professor of anatomy, who fully confirmed Dr. Brett's opinion thereon. The theory this circumstance introduces is, that the ford once at the bottom of the town was much wider than the present stream, and that some unfortunate man on horseback attempted to cross it and both were lost in the swamp; and that the other bones were those of one of the wild deer with which the woods of this county abounded centuries ago.

Fifty years ago the Colne at Watford abounded with fish, including fine trout, pike, and perch, and for many years no restriction existed as to fishing, and this sporwas indulged in so extensively that the river was nearly bereft of its finny occupants. 

Some years ago, however, Mr. Jonathan King and others concerned stopped the angling to a great extent, and the quantity of fish increased. At various times Mr. King put a quantity of Neuch√Ętel trout in the stream, and some fine ones have been occasionally caught - one in April, 1883, by Mr. C. H. Thomas, of Colnebrook, weighing nine pounds and three-quarters. In 1856, when there were plenty of fish in the Colne, Mr. King netted, at Wiggen Hall, fifty-four pounds of trout in one day. At one time the canal in Cassiobury Park was dragged periodically with a net, and a large quantity of fine fish caught, the best of which were sent as presents to some of the inhabitants of Watford. Mr. Mead has stated that the largest quantity of eels caught on any one day at Watford Mills was about three hundredweight. Fish hatching was carried on at one time by Mr. Hibbert, Lord Essex, and Mr. J King.

About thirty-five years ago there was a public-house at the bottom of Water Lane, close to the river, which when closed was turned into the two cottages now there. The sign was the "Fighting Cocks," a very apropos sign, as the brutal pastime of cock-fighting was carried on there at one time. During the time of the last occupant, Mrs. Lucy Deacon, it was a pleasure-boat station, where one could hire a boat and enjoy a row up the river as far as Bushey Mill Bridge; the charge was one shilling per hour, and the person or party hiring the boat was required to leave half-a-crown with the landlady as a security against any loss she might sustain by damage done to her boat. The house and premises were generally crowded on Sunday afternoons and evenings, and not infrequently a spill into the water occurred when the boat was occupied by youth who had indulged freely in drinking before they had started on their voyage up the Colne. The bridge over the river, and also that over the ditch beyond, were widened by the late Mr. Majoribanks; he also desired to widen the bridge over the Rickmansworth Railway in Water Lane, but the company's terms were not acceptable to him, and consequently an improvement so desirable was not carried out.


Picturesque Hertfordshire - On the Colne - Raphael Tuck "Oilette"



From 'The Making of Oxhey Park'  (original research by Jean and Keith Alexander - edited by Lynda Bullock) 


Boats and Bathing

In January 1926 Mr Andrew-Artha was given permission to provide and hire out boats on the new Corporation’s water at Wiggenhall. This was initially for 3 years and he would pay £30 a year if Sunday boating was allowed, otherwise £20 a year. The number of boats was limited to 12 and the type and construction had to be approved. Permission was also given to erect a boathouse. Boats were hired out at 3d and 6d a session and by 1929 the boating licence was being shared with a Mr Lock. Mr Andrew-Artha also had to insure against accidents and exercise proper supervision. But in June 1926 the Corporation Engineer was instructed to put up notices warning boaters about straying onto stretches of the river owned by the Gas Company and again in May 1927 there were further complaints of persons using boats beyond the Corporation’s bounds. 


Also during this time, there was an on-going battle between those who wanted strict Sunday observance and those who did not. The Estates Committee did recommend that boating be allowed seven days a week, but at a later meeting two aldermen proposed boating only be allowed on weekdays and the amendment was carried. In May 1927 Mr Greenfield asked again for Sunday boating, but the matter was deferred ‘until the current licence expires’.  A year later the Estates Committee turned down another request, this time to sell minerals and confectionery on Sundays and a few weeks later the lessees of the boathouse had to write a letter of apology to the Town Clerk for doing just that -  selling minerals on a Sunday.

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