Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Berkhamsted Heritage Walk
A Glimpse of Our History
a web initiative of Peter Such
based on the Berkhamsted Heritage Walk leaflet
compiled by John Cook and published by Berkhamsted Town Council
with assistance from Dacorum Borough Council Heritage Service

This page last updated Friday, 30 April 2004

This initiative links with several other web initiatives of Peter Such promoting Berkhamsted:
The Canal Trail, The Graham Greene Trail and 'Seasonal Berkhamsted'

Part I—Nos. 1—7

8. The Dower House. John Cook describes this as "Early 1800s with a lovely porch and doorcase, characteristic of the architectural elegance of the pre-Victorian age." The pictures below show the front of the house and the view from the back.

 The new building to the left of the picture was built in the garden of The Dower House. The view looks across to White Hill and Berkhamsted Common. The roof in the right middle ground belongs to house at the bottom of Manor Street. Immediately to the photographer's right is the view below, which is opposite the Rex cinema.

The picture below is looking down Manor Street from the corner at the left of the picture above. 'The Rex' cinema is across the road on the right.

The cottage on the immediate right has been retained but the larger buildings behind formed some of the intermediary manufacturing sites for Cooper's arsenic-based sheep dip as the company progressed from its initial site in Raven's Lane. They later housed Cooper's printing works, the Clunbury Press before they were demolished and replaced with a pseudo-impression, gated enclave.

Named after the home town in Shropshire of the founding veterinarian of Cooper's, William Cooper, the printing works were the major print provider to the town and surrounding area. It was one of the early users of the new lithographic printing process and typeset and printed the first and many subsequent editions of Percy Birtchnell's A Short History of Berkhamsted. Trained as a compositor and one of the fastest Monotype keyboard operators in the country, Percy Birtchnell went into Men's Outfitting on inheriting his father's business. As official outfitter to Berkhamsted School, it was his shop, near the traffic lights that was used in the film of Graham Greene's The Human Factor.

9. The Poplars. John Cook tells us "One of a number of substantial nineteenth century middle-class houses along the High Street, only a few of which have remained as residencies. It takes its name from tall Lombardy poplars which used to line this part of the High Street. The actor Sir Michael Horden was born here in 1911." Scott Hastie (Berkhamsted: An Illustrated History) tells us that it was also the home of William Cooper at the time of his death in 1885.

10. The Goat. John Cook describes it as a nineteenth century public house on the site of an old thatched inn. "Here, drovers used to stay while their cattle were pounded in the three 'closes' that gave their name to the lane by the side of the Rex.

11. The Rex. Still trying to be saved because of its listed interior—fine art-deco features by the architect David Nye and one of only two remaining in the country.

Percy Birtchnell's book advises that the Elizabethan mansion that was demolished to make way for the cinema was called Egerton House. He surmises that the name might have had something to do with the family of Thomas Egerton of Ashridge. He was the father of the first Earl of Bridgewater. Despite an outcry because of its literary associations, the house was demolished as it was in such a bad state of repair. The literary associations being the period when it was owned by the Llewellyn Davies family whom J M Barrie regularly visited. It was their children, especially the son Peter upon whom Barrie based his Peter Pan.

12. Clementine Hosier, who became the wife of Sir Winston Churchill, lived here as a child and attended Berkhamsted School for Girls. The building is part of an elegant, early nineteenth century terrace.

13. Rectory Lane. The original building on this site, some one hundred yards up the lane to the right, was the birthplace in 1731 of the poet and hymnist, William Cowper. While he always remembered Berkhamsted and the town features in many of his poems and letters, he is also renowned for the Olney Poems in Northamptonshire, where he made his later home and where there is an excellent Cowper museum, while his birthplace has only the memorial window in St. Peter's church. It is often forgotten that his mother Anne was a descendant of the poet John Donne and that it was his father, the rector, John Cowper,  incensed at the mismanagement of the Grammar (Berkhamsted) School, who started the litigation in Chancery that was to last for almost a century.


Part III—Nos. 14–22

The photographs on this site are copyright Peter Such 2004.
The text, John Cook (original material, as cited) and Peter Such (additional material) ©2004..