Lunardi Court was named after a pioneering balloonist.
Vincenzo Lunardi, born in Lucca, Italy, ended his first balloon flight in Standon Green End on 15th September, 1784.
John Carrington, chief constable and diarist, recorded “15th of Septr 1784 Lunderday assended in a Boolone at the attilery ground London to a great hithe over Barnat, North Hall, then went for St Albans, then took his Course east over Codicote, Wellwin, Tewin, Bengeo and Landed himself in a Little Meadow at Standon Green End.”
Hertfordshire Mercury – September 14th, 1984
Christopher Perowne, Vicar of Standon, included Vincenti Lunardi in his book The History of the Parish of Standon. He says that “The first aeronaut over English soil, who was a young Neapolitan, came down at Standon Green End. John Carrington in his diary tells us that ‘…he throwed his line out and was pulled Down by a young woman in the meadow, who was fritned at first and runaway, thought it was the Devil, till he made her sencable and gave her five guineas, it was a very fine hot day, I saw his plane as he came over Bacons he was at a great Hight for his Boloon was thirty feet round but appeared no bigger than a boys Kite, maney people followed him on horse back and foot and was up soon after he fell, and W M Baker Esqr. of Bayford Bury took him home in his Carriage to the Bury and his Boloon and was there some time, a weak or more, and Baker had a great pipble (pebble – not cut) stone which had lane in Bengeo street as no one knows how long removed to the place he fell and a Brassplate put thereon with the Account, I suppose the stone to way 3 Hund. people used to sit on it in the street as it was by the path side.’
Another account of the incident tells us that a number of men were present, but refused their help, as they were certain that it must be the devil his self. Also that Lunardi had his cat in the balloon with him.
Another account mentions that the stone used for the Memorial was at one time outside the Inn at the top of Bengeo Hill.”
The History of the Parish of Standon
Tollsworth Way reminds us that there was a time when the variety of transport passing through Puckeridge would have been subject to the payment of a toll.
For over two hundred years the Toll Gate, situated near the White Hart, controlled the Puckeridge to Cambridge branch of the Wadesmill Turnpike. Established in 1663 the Wadesmill Turnpike was the first in the country.
Branch Johnson suggests “It may be said that the malting industry of Ware was in a sense responsible for the creation of that (turnpike) system. By the mid-seventeenth century, when travelling was steadily becoming more common, Ermine Street, south of Huntingdonshire, neglected for centuries, had become so decayed as to be virtually unusable by reason of the heavily laden wagons and long trains of pack horses bringing barley to Ware maltsters from all over the eastern counties. So loud grew the outcry that in 1663 Parliament broke through the ancient policy of leaving road maintenance to parish supervision by passing an Act putting a long section of Ermine Street into the hands of the justices of Hertfordshire.”.
The Toll Gate was removed in 1872 and the former post master Charles Smith celebrated the demise of “the ugly old scarecrow” with a poem.
See History – Articles – The Puckeridge Gate by Alistair Kennedy.
The Toll Gate may be viewed at Hertford Museum by appointment.
Huntsman Close & The Chase
The Puckeridge Hunt was established in the 1720s with the onset of fox hunting. From 1814-1844 the hounds were housed in kennels behind the Old George, the home of the huntsman John Monck. (A portrait of John Monck may be viewed at Hertford Museum).
The first reference to the Puckeridge Hunt appeared in 1941 with the naming of HMS Puckeridge a Hunt (Type II) escort destroyer. HMS Puckeridge was launched on 6 March, 1941 and lost on 6 September, 1943 with the loss of 62 lives.
In 1995 when land behind the High Street was developed the name Huntsman Close was adopted for one of the new roads.
In 2005 a further reference appeared when The Chase, off Huntsman Close, was created to provide access to two newly built private dwellings behind The George.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Alistair Kennedy
With the coming of the railways the inevitable Station Road appeared.
Christopher Perowne, the Vicar of Standon, explained in The History of the Parish of Standon published in 1967 that “…the main part of Station Road is only about 100 years old and when it was being constructed it caused a great deal of bother down the Standon end, owing to the springs and marsh land that then existed. It is said that hundreds of sheep skins were used as a foundation upon which to build the road. Before that the road went down what is now called South Road turning left: what for many hundreds of years has been called New Street, and only comparatively recently was named Kent Lane, after a farmer who lived that way.”
The 1901 Census records the name of the road as Standon Road and a postcard, dated 1906, confirms the same.(Gallery image 3) By 1917 the name had changed to Puckeridge Road (Gallery image 9) and it wasn’t until 1926, sixty three years after the railway came to the parish, the name Station Road was adopted.
In 1964 the branch line closed. “A gallant little train, full of cheering passengers, steamed out of Buntingford Station for the last time just after 10pm on Saturday. It plodded down to St Margarets amid shattering bangs of fog signals, fireworks and the noise of ringing bells, bugles, cheers and singing.” The Way It Was published by Standon & Puckeridge Amenities Society.
In 2007 the name Station Road lives on to inform this and future generations that there was once a railway and station here on “the little country line, claimed to be one of the prettiest in East Anglia” with a “gallant little train” steaming through. The Way It Was published by Standon & Puckeridge Amenities Society.