We have parts of a long listing of the shops and workshops in Puckeridge High Street in the 1920’s prepared by Gordon Child. Gordon, sadly, is no longer with us and the list needs to be brought up to date. This is where you can help. Can you remember the shops – and pubs and workshops and businesses – in the High Street when you were young, and can you recall when they closed? Any information you can give would help our researchers establish one more bit of our Village History. Gordon’s original list will be posted here soon.
Mr Clayton speaking with Frank Ryan.
“Well, of course, this house is in the parish of Braughing; all this side of the High Street from the Crown & Falcon up to the White Hart is in Braughing. There should be a triangular stone on the corner near the Crown & Falcon Inn denoting the boundary. [This has gone and the boundary changed in 1921.] My father lived in this house from 1870 onwards – and father occupied it as a shop for the first time as a watchmaker. Previously it was an Inn – the White Lion.
Opposite was Taylor’s – now The Old George and on Fordham’s corner was the Rising Sun. The shop next to Thorpe house was the Post Office and grocers from 1870 onwards.
The pavements were cobbled stones and Mr Thorpe senior used to buy old railway sleepers to make a curb in front of his shop. I can remember the Rising Sun being burnt down – the oak beams glowed red hot like long pieces of coal; also the place where Brycetons is there was an old cottage with some sheds which was burnt and I remember playing as a lad on the building site of the present three storey house.
The fire engine was housed in a shed alongside Arthey’s the baker. It was hand pumped by men of the village. In the barn of Thorpe House was stored paper from the Paper Mill at Standon and I have the original Star insurance plaque which was fixed on the wall outside. Paper Mill closed 1851-1861 as a paper mill. The premises were occupied by Mr Gauldie who did engineering work there afterwards. The old wheel has now fallen to decay – but it was still working in 1903. The mill pond was full of fish – especially ‘jacks’ – the local name for pike.
1910 – Mr Clayton formed a drum and fife band for the young men of the village. They practised once a week and played across the village at Christmas time and for celebrations –e.g coronations. These events in the open air took place on a field belonging to New Street Farm at Standon. They used to play at Hammonds Park, occupied by Mr Sheppard-Cross, for which they were given £3.
When I was a little boy I spent hours turning a big wheel in a shed in Taylor’s yard. He was a rope maker and the rope used to come right across the road through our front door out through our house to the bottom of our garden. The rope maker used to signal to me to stop winding and used to offer me a penny – always tomorrow! This yard was at the Old George opposite our house and his name was Bob Messinger.” [He was landlord of the Old George in 1882.]
December 1st, 1961. Mr Clayton continues…
“Talking about the Puckeridge Fair – the last time it was held was in 1894 and my sister took me as a little lad. There was one stall on that occasion an old woman called Mrs Tant and she sold coloured rock (sweetmeat); before then lots of coconut stalls and booths. It was always held in the Blue Anchor yard opposite. This pub was owned by a man called Joselyn and he had a coal business, a hearse and one or two broughams which he used to hire out for functions. He had two men working for him and quite a few horses. He closed down the pub in 1919 and the Barbers, the present owners, who sell milk to the village, took it over. The walls were blue and there was a huge lantern projecting over the front door and the pavement on a bracket.
There were two iron foundries, one was at the back of Chequers Inn [Mrs Nunn’s house.] kept by ACF Day, he made and cast plough shares. Then his cousin set up down Park Lane.
My father used to tell us how he and the other village lads of Buntingford went to meet the first railway train when the railway was first opened. It was a terrific event and the boys laid bets with each other as to who could run faster than the train. Needless to say no-one was the winner.
Standon Fair was always held on April 25-26th. There were many stalls with kerosene lights and a fun fair and great drinking in all the pubs, it was held in the main street and on the meadow opposite the butchers. My father and I have wound the church clock at Standon for 90 years.
We used to have Sunday School week on the Park in Puckeridge – lovely horse chestnut trees and it was a favourite walk for all the village. My mother used to refer to it as going up Ashcoates. There was a pond at the bottom of the lane near the Hoppitts where the waggoners used to wash their carts.
Near to Cannons garage was the Bull Inn in Wigfield’s garden and a house was on the site of Cannons – it was pulled down even when in good condition.”
Mr Clayton showed me two photos of cottages pulled down :
1. Rose Cottages: – pulled down 1904 replaced by terrace of several cottages on left hand side going towards Ware.
2. Brycetons & Reddings now – old house pulled down 1900 was Dunhams the plumbers.
“There were two forges in the village in a yard alongside the Blue Anchor next to the small sweet shop. It was kept by Henry Barron who always struck his anvil at 6am; every morning but Sunday. On Sunday he was a smart man dressed in a bowler hat and gold watch chain, but he was very fond of beer and after his wife died he went to pieces and became like a tramp. He lived in the little cottage up the Blue Anchor yard and he always made a two stroke beat on his anvil and when that was started it was time to get up.”
Reproduced with the kind permission of Frank Ryan.
During WWII the village was privileged to share its name with HMS Puckeridge, a Hunt Class, Type 2, Destroyer; built by J S White at Cowes, and launched in 1941. Sadly, she was sunk by two torpedoes from an enemy submarine, U617, in the western Mediterranean, about 40 miles west of Gibralter, on 6 September 1943 with a loss of 62 lives. The U Boat was itself sunk by RAF action 6 days later.
The villagers raised £800,000 to provide another 4 destroyers to the war effort.
Reproduced by kind permission of Phillip Vanderwarker from Puckeridge – A Potted Collection of Historical Whimsy
On 8 September, 2003 a 60th Anniversary Commemoration Service was held to honour members of the ship’s company who lost their lives when the ship was sunk.
North East Herts MP Oliver Heald read the lesson during the service which was attended by five survivors. Members of the Royal Naval Association, British Legion and members of the Puckeridge and Standon community also attended the service conducted by Reverend David Humphrey.
The following extract is taken from A History of the Parish of Standon by Christopher Perowne Vicar of Standon 1934 to 1947 – later Canon Perowne. Printed June 1967 by Stephen Austin & Sons Ltd, Hertford
Puckeridge, Pockkridge, Pokeriche, Pokkerigge
“The public are more familiar with the name Puckeridge than they are of Standon for two reasons. One is that the village lies on the Cambridge London road and secondly there is a well known Hunt which takes its name from the place where used to be the original kennels. The site of the kennels is to be found marked on most of the old maps (such as the tithe map) up behind the George Inn, but today there is nothing left of any buildings.
Puckeridge was at one time a good deal larger place than it is today and in the 17th century was a place of some note in the County. There was a weekly market attended by all the local farmers; this market had received its Charter from King Edward I; a Fair once a month was granted at the same time. There were also numerous inns, some of which remain today, but alas some of the best known of the old ones were burnt down or fell into ruin and decay through neglect. Puckeridge was a great coach station, twenty-four coaches going through in the day and nearly all would stop at one of the inns for the horses to be changed; relays always being kept in the stables. You can imagine the stir and bustle of commercials, huntsmen, sportsmen of all sorts, grooms, chambermaids, ostlers, boots, drovers, coach passengers and many others who would be gathered in one of the inns, the Old Bell, the Rising Sun, the George, the Falcon, the White Hart, or one of the many others which existed, the good lunches, reasonable charges, the tables groaning with sirloins and rounds of beef, tankards of ale and such like old English fare. The Old Bell, for instance, which stood just opposite where the George Inn is today, was well known to nearly all those who travelled by coach. Wilkins, the driver of the famous Beehive coach, would stop here for his passengers to refresh themselves. At that period the inn was kept for successive generations by the Carter family, and was celebrated for the best ale between London and York. The inn at one time acted as post office, and an amusing tale is told that ‘Suky Burnett gave the mail guard, one night by mistake, her pockets out of the window instead of the mail bags’! The George which is still in existence, was largely rebuilt some years ago, but for some time it was used as a private house by John Monck, the celebrated huntsman; an oil painting of him hangs in the Hertford Museum. The Rising Sun was another well known inn; this was at the corner of the Standon-Bishops Stortford Road where now stands Fordham’s shop; it was burnt down in 1891. An interesting account of the fire is given in a newspaper of the “Times”, a cutting of which I have. It mentions the old fire engine which was useless, and stresses the need for the purchase of another. The engine used to be kept in the shed which is next to Arthy’s baker’s shop and was only sold about forty years ago for a few pounds as old brass and copper.
The White Hart is one of the oldest still in existence, it consisted of not only the present building but across the road, including all the houses up to Mently Lane, and some of the old stables are still to be seen behind one of the houses (Long’s)
Another interesting relic of the past, at present in Standon Church tower, is the Toll board of the Wadesmill Turnpike Trust, which mentions the names of the vehicles, phaeton, calash, cabriolet, curricle, chaise, coach, cart, chair and so on, and the charges for the same. Pepys the diarist stayed a number of times at various inns at Puckeridge, the White Hart, the old Bell, the George and the Crown and Falcon … Some few years ago a visitor to the White Hart asked one of the inn staff which was the room which used to be occupied by Pepys the diarist, and was answered that as they had so many visitors to stay he could not remember Mr.Pepys!
The roads of the 17th century cannot have been too safe, for there is a strong legend that the landlord of one of the inns in Puckeridge (whose relatives still live in the neighbourhood) was a friend and helper of Dick Turpin, the famous highwayman who made himself well known to travellers on the road! Not only then were travellers in danger of being robbed, but nearly two hundred years earlier we read of messengers being waylaid. In 1599 in a Hist. M.S.S. at Hatfield House, part 9, page 298, we read in the following letter from Thomas Sadeir and John Brograve to Sir Robert Cecil, dated from Stondon, August 14th, 1599: ‘We have according to the directions given to others and to us, charged watches in the towns within our limits to be straitly kept both day and night, and in a watch at Puckeridge, a hamlet of Stondon and Braughing, there was a man attacked and brought before us, having many letters directed as by the superscriptions thereof may appear to you with a box covered with crimson velvet where in is contained the passion of Christ engraved. Whether there be just cause why we should trouble you we certainly know not, because we thought not good to open the letters some being directed to honourable personages; but lest any imputation of negligence in this dangerous time might be taxed upon us, we thought it not amiss, for the better discharge of our duty, to trouble you with the person, his letters, and token.’
There is an interesting mention of Puckeridge in a “Black Letter” of 1581, and in the same paper of even an earlier date, 1400 A.D.: ‘The Doome warning all men to the Judgemente : Wherein are contained for the most part all the strainge Prodigies hapned in the worlde, with divers secrete figures of Revelations tending to mannes stayed converstion towards God; in manner of a generall Chronicle gathered out of sundrie approved authors by ST BATMAN professor in Dianinitie. “Imprinted by Ralphe Nubery assigned by Henry Bynneman. Cumpriailegio Regali.
“A good example against wecked Blasphemers, of what estate soeuver they be.
“At Stondon a little village 20 miles from London, not far from ye highway to Cambridge, where for a time the writer her of did abide, avoiding the great plague that then was in London and also in Cambridge, a Gentleman that was named mayster Barington, whose wife was afterwards maryed in Cambridge to one maister Carington, and of her also he (the author of this prodigie) hearde the same: the sayd Gentleman Barington, was a greate swearer, and did customablye use great othes, specially by the blood of oure Lorde, and upon a Sonday or else a festival Holyday, he went forth on huting and hauking, and nothing speeding after his mind, he came unto an alehouse, at a thorow faire called Puckrych, 8 miles from Ware, in the highway to Cambridge, the one side of which thorow faire was in the said parrish of Stondon where the Gentleman was, and called for drinke, and anon he began to sweare after his unhappy custome, saying, by Gods blood this day is unhappy and within a while after in swearing so he bled at the nose and therewith more and more vexed, he began to raile and blaspheme the name of God in swearing passion, woundes, flesh, nayles, blood and body till at the last he fell farther to bleede at the eares, at the eyes, at his wrests, the ioyntes of his hands, and of all his body, at the Nauil and foundament, in marvailous great quantine and streames of blood, loathsomelye blearing out his tongue in fearfull manner as black as pitche, so that no person durst come near him: this continued till the Duiell and death had made an ende of him. On the morrow they layde the body on a carte, carrying it to Stondon, the body bleeding after a strange sort, was buryed in the highway (by the North Gate on the way to Stortford). A manifest token of God’s displeasure against swearers and abusers of the Saboth”. It is an interesting fact that in 1936, when the local Council were laying on water and sewage in the village of Standon, that at the corner herein just mentioned, the workman in digging found a skeleton of a man, and I like to think that it was that blasphemer who died at Puckeridge on that Sunday morning so long ago.
F. A. Casquet in his “Parish Life in Medieval England” mentions on page 22 7 – ‘So also, the parish priest of Standon, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, was ordered to publish an excommunication under the following circumstances: ‘Margaret Basun, a parishioner, was charged by some people with having stolen a silver ring belonging to Alice Brayner and with having sold it to Anne Boghley. Margaret Basun denied the truth and was called to make canonical purgation before the Bishop: she did so: and the Bishop having heard the case, declared her innocent of the charge, and ordered her innocence to be proclaimed, and an excommunication to be pronounced against those who had defamed her. Adrian the fourth an Englishman, called Nicholas Breakespeare thesonne of one Dan Robert a monke of San Albons, and at one time of Pockeridge, going to Agnania to denounce the excommunication against the Emporer Fredericke, after he had tarryed there a few days, walking forth with some of his companye to coole him, drinking of a certaine spring of water forthwith a flye did enter into his moathe, and sticke so fast to his throate, that he was choaked.”
There is no church in Puckeridge these days nor has there been one for many years, and no trace can be found of one, but several authorities tell us that there was one. Tanner says, “There was a free chapel with a chantry in it in the time of King Edward the second. Vide pat. 13. ed. 2 M. 16 pro cantania facienda in capelia Omnium Sanctorum de Pokkerigge, et de tennis et redditibus ibidem…… Pat. 11 Hen.4.P.2.m.4 de fundatione et dotatione liberae capellae Omnium Sanctoum ibidem et de Eadem in Regis protectionem sucepta. Pat.2. Hen 5. p.a.m.3g. de Custodia liberae capellae de Pokeriche commissa abbati de Waltham. In Cambdens Brittania we are told that the village was called ‘Pulcher (beautiful) Church.’
Although there is no Church there is a Congregational Chapel which has been there since 1832, prior to which services were held in a farmer Weir’s barn. In the Hertfordshire Mercury of December 20th, 1905, an interesting account is given of the family of one of Puckeridge residents: ‘Among the tradesmen who lived in Puckeridge about the year 1656 was a certain George Rogers who we can imagine carried on the business of a grocer and general shopkeeper, and was altogether in tolerably thriving circumstances. He appeared to have been a churchwarden of the church which has long since disappeared and which was dedicated to All Saints or else he may have held a similar appointment at the adjoining village of Standon. During the reign of Charles II and Commonwealth, tradesmen were allowed to issue copper tokens of small value to assist the currency and for the convenience of themselves and others. This worthy shopkeeper found some difficulty in providing sufficient small change for the customers who patronized his establishment to obtain the various commodities with which he supplied them. He therefore had a considerable number of small coins or tokens of the value of one farthing made of copper or brass. These tokens originally circulated far and wide between the years of 1648 and 1673 and bore various inscriptions. Those which George Rogers used were inscribed with his name on one side in two lines between four small roses and another rose between his initials G. R. The other side had the word ‘Puckridg’ across it, with two long stemmed tobacco pipes known as ‘churchwardens’ arranged as a St Andrew’s Cross, and having a clove between them at each end.
One of these tokens was lately unearthed at the Hertford “old” Grammar School during the excavations for the new buildings, and it is only natural that some conjectures should be made as to how it arrived at the spot where it was found. It may, therefore, be tolerably correctly surmised that the said George Rogers, being a grocer as shown by the cloves on his tokens, was the father of a family which consisted of boys and girls, and he considered it his duty to bring them up respectably and give them as good an education as he could afford. His thrifty wife attended to the girls and instructed them in the rudiments of learning and also in household duties and taught them the use of the distaff and other 17th century accomplishments necessary for them in after life. But his two boys, who were as unruly and uncouth as the boys of his neighbours, were under his personal supervision and required to be controlled accordingly. As these boys would have to make their way in the world, he decided that they should be instructed in Latin in addition to their other studies, this language being much taught and writted at the time. The nearest town at which this privilege could be obtained was Hertford for the Free School was flourishing there having been founded by the late Sir Richard Hale, of Kingswalden, in the year 1616 for the ‘instruction and bringing up of children and youth in the Latin tongue and other polite learning’. He therefore drove his nimble steed to that ancient borough on a certain market day, and put up at the sign of the Chequers which adjoined the Grammar School Master’s house in Fore-Street. He had a long interview with the Headmaster, Mr. Ralph Mynors, and ascertained the terms and conditions upon which he would undertake to instil into the minds of his two prospective pupils ‘Latin as she is spoke’ and other useful and necessary items of a classical education. The interview was considered satisfactory and the terms were arranged, for the master was always willing to receive any number of boys, refractory or docile, and he knew exactly how to bring them to obedience. As Puckeridge was nine miles from the county town it was too far for daily travelling, and bicycles had not then engaged the thoughts of man, so it was decided that the two boys should attend the school of boarders.
A few Saturdays afterwards George Rogers conveyed his two ‘hopefuls’, Richard and James, to the imposing buildings in Fore-street, Hertford, where he deposited them with the accompanying box containing clothing and comestibles, and consigned them to the tender mercies of Dominie Mynors and his good wife… The fond parents of these two boys, familiarly known by this time as Dick and Jamie, supplied the youths with a certain amount of pocket money, amongst which were some of the small tokens which father used in his business. Very naturally as boys did in those and other days they bartered some of them for marbles and sweets, and other articles of that period, and, as often happened these coins were mysteriously dropped and lost sight of, one of them being recovered nearly three centuries afterwards. Hence we may account for the finding of a copper token of the seventeenth century on the school premises in 1905, above referred to.
During the past few years many new houses have been built in Puckeridge, and no doubt when the “by-pass” has been created Puckeridge will blossom forth as a useful shopping centre for the parish. A much needed set of flats has been started for the old people, and this is to be enlarged. At the present moment the main street, owing to its narrowness and ever increasing traffic, has become most dangerous and makes shopping not only dangerous but almost impossible.”
Reverend Christopher Perowne, Vicar of Standon from 1934-1947, author of A History of the Parish of Standon included the following old written account in his book.
“In 1810 a union of the Congregational and Baptist Churches was formed for the evangelization of the villages, and Puckeridge was one of the preaching stations. Prior to the erection of the Chapel in 1832, services were held in a barn at the farm now occupied by Mr. A Weir. The building was due to Mr Simpson of London, son of Daniel Simpson, M.A., author of the “Plea for Religion”. He gave the site, the pulpit and the communion service. The following year a Church was formed and the card of resolutions adopted at the formation is referred to and some of the resolutions are quoted. The names appended recall familiar surnames, except one, that of Diana Darwin. The cause has had its difficult times as an old Methodist preacher still living can testify. He recalls being told when coming to preach, that his congregation would not number more than five, so with commendable zeal called at the houses upon the street as he passed to tell the inhabitants that a boy was going to preach at the Chapel that day, and he gave them a hearty invitation to come and hear him. Needless to say he had a good congregation. The writer concludes by noting with joy the growing numbers that gather each Sunday at the Chapel to attend the quiet services with holy memory of the past.”
The following extracts are taken from the Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S Secretary to the Admiralty in the reigns of Charles II and James II.
Sixth Edition – in four volumes Published in 1858 by H G Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden.
23rd February, 1659-60
I rose very early, and taking horse at Scotland Yard, at Mr Garthway’s stable, I rode to Mr Pierce’s: we both mounted, and so set forth about seven of the clock; at Puckridge we baited, the way exceeding bad from Ware thither.
Volume i – p.27
18th September, 1661
Up early, and begun our march: the way about Puckridge very bad, and my wife, in the very last dirty place of all, got a fall, but no hurt, though some dirt. At last, she begun, poor wretch, to be tired, and I to be angry at it, but I was to blame; for she is a very good companion as long as she is well.
Volume i – p. 218
9th October, 1662
We got to Ware before night: and so I resolved to ride on to Puckeridge, which we did, though the way was bad, and the evening dark before we got thither; by help of company riding before us ; among others, a gentleman that took up at the same inn, his name Mr Brian, with whom I supped, and was very good company, and a scholar. He tells me, that it is believed the Queen is with child, for that the coaches are ordered to ride very easily through the streets.
10th October, 1662
Up, and between eight and nine mounted again; but my feet so swelled with yesterday’s pain, that I could not get on my boots, which vexed me to the blood, but was forced to pay 4s. for a pair of old shoes of my landlord’s* and so rid in shoes to Cambridge
Volume i – p 332
* The landlord at the Crown & Falcon
The Diary opens at yesterday’s date.
Phil Gyford who manages Pepysdiary.com explains –
“Pepys wrote in his diary at the end of each day about the day’s events. Each diary entry is posted to the site at the end of the day – 11pm.”