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Perambulations of Boundaries

From the Hertfordshire Mercury, Saturday, 5 May 1894

The time-honoured custom of ‘beating the bounds’ was observed in Brickendon Parish on Tuesday. The party comprised Messrs R.T. Andrews, W.F. Andrews, G. Camp (overseer), W.J. Morris, W. Pollard, H.J. Cossens, W.E. Pollard, A. Fincham, G.E. Pollard (assistant overseer), several boys from the Cowper and Greencoat Schools, and others. The meeting-place was in Castle-street, near the bottom of Queen’s-road, and precisely at 8.30 a.m. a start was made, in somewhat threatening weather, under the guidance of Mr R.T. Andrews, who had with him the notes and plans made on previous perambulations, and accompanied by men carrying steps and ladders for overcoming the various obstacles to be encountered on the way.

Starting from opposite Messrs Sworder and Longmore’s offices, the party first scaled the high garden wall adjoining Mr W. Webb’s house on the south side of Castle-street, and skirted the gardens at the back belonging to Mr Neale and Mr Andrews, until they got to the rear of the houses on the west side of Queen’s-road.

The boundary line at this point goes through the fence of Mr Stephen Austin’s garden, thence into Dr Woodhouse’s garden adjoining, through the Doctor’s house, across Queen’s-road, over Mr Willis’s garden wall, through the house (Ravenhurst), across the garden at the back, and through the iron railing into the churchyard to the fourteenth tree on the west side of the main avenue, which still bears on its bark the cross-marks made on a former perambulation. Of course the two houses just referred to were not ‘gone through’, and care was taken not to trample down the beds in the gardens, but the other obstacles were successfully overcome.

The line passes from the tree mentioned down the west side of the avenue to the small tree planted a year or two ago at the bottom, then across the corner of the mortuary, and follows the wall along the north and east sides of the churchyard up to the tool-house, then along the wall adjoining the Gulphs at the back of the Grammar School, over the end of the cattle-market and Dr Tasker-Evans’s garden (where the water-course has been taken in) into Rooke’s-alley.

At this point the three parishes of Brickendon, All Saints, and St John converge.

The Brickendon boundary passes up the centre of Rooke’s-alley to the top near Mrs Tween’s house, then makes a detour down Mangrove-road as far as Mr Hawks’s lodge, then goes straight across the lower portion of Balls Park into the London-road, up the centre of the road for about 96 yards, then turns at right-angles over the hedge and up the bank at Balls Park, where a stone marked ‘St John’s’, put down many years ago, is still to be found.

From this point the boundary goes in a diagonal line through the private plantation out into the park proper, across the centre of the pond, and up to the farm buildings. Here long ladders were in readiness, and most of the party mounted the roof of the high buildings and descended in the yard on the other side, then through the private grounds on the right of Mr Faudel Phillips’s mansion as far as the pretty ivy-clad cottage occupied by Mr Wingfield, then over the fence into the park again, along the centre of the cart track and across in a south-easterly direction to a post in Mangrove-lane, then southwards along the lane as far as Blue Close, thence along several hedges on the right-hand side of the cart road from Mangrove-lane to Brickendon Bury.

At this point there was a welcome halt, Mr Pearson, the owner of the mansion, having kindly provided a good supply of sandwiches and other refreshments in a barn which had been nicely decorated with flowers for the occasion.

Before leaving, the health of Mr Pearson and that of his agent, Mr W.H. Norris (who acted as ‘host’ on his behalf) was heartily drunk; and thus invigorated the party resumed their tramp, following the line of several hedges round the fields on the east side of Brickendon Bury, and finally to the fence of the park, which they followed all the way by the side of Lights Wood, passing several marked trees, and into Edwards’-green; then onwards by the back of Sewards-green, and from thence by the west end of the buildings of Bourne Farm, and down the fields as far as Claypit-wood, which was skirted towards the south-west, and through the wood to the ditch which separates the parishes of Brickendon and Broxbourne, and passing by this ditch into the road leading from Brickendon-green to Broxbourne.

Then down the east side of the grounds of Brickendon Grange to the brook in the bottom. Here a halt was called and an adjournment made to the Farmer’s Boy Inn on ‘the Green’, where Mr Harrison, the landlord, had provided a substantial cold luncheon, which, it is needless to say, was thoroughly appreciated after the long appetising walk by the party, numbering some twenty-three or so. After duly refreshing the ‘inner man’ a return was made to the brook, which was followed all the way through Great Groves, Harmond’s Wood, and Sailor’s Grove, then into the fields (passing several boundary stones) in a northerly direction towards Hertford by the side of Long Walk Wood, until nearly reaching Brickendon-lane again.

Turning through the Wood, the party crossed the field and came out into the roadway in front of the Horns public-house, then a short distance up the narrow strip of meadow between the Bayford-road and the river to an oak tree, and then across the Lee in a boat to the small flood-gate on the opposite side. While the river was being crossed one of the party had the misfortune to overbalance himself and fall backwards into the stream, but he quickly clambered into the boat again, and beyond a thorough ‘ducking’ was none the worse for his mishap, which caused considerable amusement to the onlookers.

The walk was continued along the meadows near the back-water towards Hertford, where the parish joins that of Hertingfordbury. The ordnance survey, it may be mentioned, marks the boundary-line as going down the centre of this back-water, but the old parish maps put it at a little distance out in the meadow, and thus some 3 acres 1 rood 24 poles of land and one house (Hertingfordbury Park Lodge) ought to be included in the parish.

Continuing, the branch railway to the Horns Mill was crossed, and the line passes through the garden of the lodge already mentioned, then nearly alongside the main river for a short distance, and across the meadow in a north-westerly direction to the Mimram. Boats were waiting at this point, and the centre of the stream and afterwards the Lee was followed down to Castle Bridges, over which the party climbed, then up Water-lane, and alongside the wall on the north side of Castle-street to the point from whence the start was made in the morning.

Arrived here, a few minutes before six, Mr Morris proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee who had carried out the arrangements for the day, and cheers having been given, the party separated.

Most of those who had started in the morning went the entire distance, but two or three had to break off at different points owing to business engagements and others joined at various stages. The threatened rain held off, and the day proving a most favourable one for the purpose, the country ramble was much enjoyed. The last perambulation took place in 1883, and the distance travelled was about nine or ten miles.

Used by kind permission of the Editor

Note, the original article was printed as a single parargraph; paragraphs have been added to aid reading.