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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 II𨂻3

14. The Red House. John Cook describes it as "Another fine pre-Victorian house with a Venetian window and impressive porch doorway. Nearly all the houses facing St Peter's church are old although some have new fronts to them." He goes on to inform us that a prominent local citizen and benefactor, John Tawell, lived here and was publicly hanged for murder in 1845.

Some of those houses appear here, looking from the Red House towards the centre of town looking north with St Peter's church on the opposite side of the road.

Graham Greene's Aunt Maud's House.

15. Dean Incent's House. Dating from 1500, this is the home of John Incent, Dean of St. Paul's cathedral (15401545) and founder of Berkhamsted School in 1541. See 16 below for more references.


16. St. John's, Chesham Road. The birthplace of Graham Greene, where his father as Housemaster before becoming Headmaster of Berkhamsted School. Photographs of the house and other sites in Berkhamsted related to Graham Greene, either in his life here or as he used Berkhamsted in his writings are to be found in the Graham Greene Trail series.

17. The Swan. Originally a sixteenth century coaching it is now run by a charity providing sheltered accommodation for young people and provides a nonalcoholic meeting place for young people generally. It is one of three centuries-old coaching inns. The Crown, next-door but one, is of a similar period. For photographs of both buildings see The Graham Greene Trail.

18. The King's Arms is an eighteenth century inn and became the principal inn of the town. Itss capacity to stable up to forty horses was of great economic significance when it was customary to change one horse of a team of four every ten miles [Scott Hastie]. Berkhamsted's medi鎣al High Street is part of the Roman Akeman Street linking Veralum (St. Albans) with Akemancester (Bath). As such, it was a major staging post for travellers westwards (Windsor) as well as north and south, the town's importance emphasised by the presence of the castle.

James Snooks, a highwayman, was an ostler at the King's Arms and is believed to be the last person to be hanged in England at the scene of his crime. His crime being to hold up the post boy along Westbrook Hay. His memorial stone can still be seen in the close-by field on Boxmoor Trust land.

Being the King's Arms one would expect the arms to be those of the exiled King Louis XVIII of France who was a frequent caller and known to have been fond of the landlord's daughter, Polly Page. Instead, the arms on the sign are those of Queen Anne. For pictures of the King's Arms refer to the Graham Greene Trail where there are links to inside and outside pictures.

19. 179 High Street. Now a Centre for Further Education, John Cook highlights this because "[it is] an early and daring example of a shop with large plate glass windows." Dating c. 1920 it includes fine art nouveau wood carving.

20. The Police Station does not have any architectural merit, save the facility to widen the pedestrian area at the traffic-light controlled cross-roads, by cutting into the ground floor and supporting the floors above on a corner pillar. However, there has been a police station on this site since 1764.

21. The Sayer Almshouses speak for themselves in the proclamation on the front 'The Gift of John Sayer 1684'. Chief Cook to King Charles II he was a very wealthy man and a great benefactor to the town. His tomb chest is one of the more prominent monuments in St Peter's church.

22. Caf Rouge occupies the sixteenth century 'Monks House'. Until the first half of the twentieth century this area of the town was still orchards and watercress beds and renowned for the 'Lane Prince Albert' apple. The 1950s post office and St John's Well Lane car park (near the site of the medieval leper hospital of St John, whose spring was believed to have healing qualities) now dominate this site. Scott Hastie advises that Lanes also grew vines which were exported to France and Germany. An interesting comparison with one vine-growing allotment enthusiast at Sunnyside in 2003 Berkhamsted in Autumn.

Scott Hastie also advises that one "James Wood was raised at Marlin Chapel Farm in Northchurch, before coming to Berkhamsted to live with his family in Monks House." Woods Garden Centre now occupies the site of the iron foundry he founded in 1826.

Part IV

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