All the talks take place on a Wednesday in the Mead Hall in East Lane, Wheathampstead

       (behind The Bull, next to the free car park, starting at 7.30 pm).

         Admission is £1.00 for members and £3.00 for non-members and guests.



Refreshments will be available. Talks will start at 7.45.

Note: Members of the Society are reciprocal members of the Welwyn Archaeological Society with free access

to their meetings. Click here for the WAS programme.


18 January


  Mike Smith "The Manor of Wheathampstead"


More than 50 people came to this talk and learned an enormous amount, not only about the vast 11,000 acre extent of Wheathampstead manor, but about field names then and now, medieval ploughs and ploughing, and how geology and landscape affected the shape and size of fields. MORE

15 February


  Paul Jiggens "The Welwyn Brewery: Beer in Welwyn in Days Gone By"

  In this excellent talk, Paul told the story of The Welwyn Brewery, set in the wider context of the history of brewing in Hertfordshire. Despite Welwyn being an important settlement in the 19th century, the brewery was always relatively small and changed hands several times before eventually being sold to McMullen, the last brewers in the county, and being closed down. Paul showed us a number of fascinating photographs of the Brewery and its owners in the 19th and early 20th century.

15 March


  John Cox "Field Marshal Frederic Rudolph Lambart, 10th Earl of Cavan, 1865-1946"   

The 10th Earl of Cavan was one of Wheathampstead's most distinguished residents, having lived at Wheathampstead House for many years. John told the story of Lord Cavan's remarkable life, covering his background, family history and military career, particularly during World War I. John explored Cavan's connections with his contemporaries in Wheathampstead: Lord Northcliffe, proprietor of the Daily Mail, and William Beach Thomas,     war correspondent of the Daily Mail. 

19 April


  Annual General Meeting

 "Wheathampstead's inns, pubs and beer houses, 1830 - 1914"

 Jon Mein opened this session by describing the rise and fall of the Victorian pub in Wheathampstead. The   1830 Beerhouse Act resulted in a total of six such establishments in Wheathampstead in 1830 becoming 27   in 1872. Jon showed us maps of the locations of all these, distinguishing between beerhouses and alehouses.

 Peter Jeffreys then explained the context and the impact of the 1904 Licensing Act which resulted in many  beerhouses being closed, including The Two Brewers and The Bricklayers' Arms in the High Street.

 Patrick McNeill told us the story of The Bricklayers' Arms (aka The Boot), a classic example of a beerhouse  that opened in the 1830s, limped through the 19th century with a change of licensee every few years, and was  closed in 1908.



In contrast, Ruth Jeavons showed how The Swan, established long before 1830 and still flourishing today,  was a highly respectable business, managed by the same family for 50 years and hosting auctions,  meetings  and dinners with accommodation for lodgers and their horses.

17 May


  Kate Harwood "The History of Allotments"

 In this comprehensive and well-illustrated presentation on the history of allotments, Kate Harwood  took us   from medieval herb gardens to war-time allotments in London. The 19th century Enclosure Acts gave  the   initial impetus to ensure cottagers' rights to a plot of land to sustain themselves, later championed by the  Chartists and Ruskin's Guild of St George. Allotments saved us from starvation during the two world wars.  Today, allotments are threatened as councils come under pressure to take the land for housing. About  200,000 allotments have disappeared from across the UK in the last 25 years.  


 3 June



  Medieval Field Walk, led by Mike Smith

 Fourteen members of the Society took part in this walk, which was a follow-up to Mike's very successful talk  on 18 January. On a beautiful sunny afternoon, Mike led us round a three-mile route that  covered five of the  main medieval fields surrounding the village. He also gave each of us  a map showing the locations of the  twelve fields that are named in medieval documents.  While emphasising that some of his findings are  provisional rather than  conclusive, Mike  demonstrated his extensive knowledge of this period of the history of  Wheathampstead.    

 21 June


  Alistair Hodgson "Salisbury Hall and Sir Geoffrey de Havilland" 

 On one of the hottest evenings of the year, Alistair Hodgson gave a most fascinating talk. He started  with a  short history of Salisbury Hall and then told us about Sir Geoffrey de Havilland and his achievements,  and  those of his son, as they developed and manufactured some of the most important aircraft of the 20th century, in particular the Mosquito, the Tiger Moth and the Comet passenger jet. He explained, in laypersons'  language, some of the technical challenges and the imaginative ways in which they were solved, including  how the problem of loading shells into the breech of a gun while in the air was solved by a company that  made slot machines for cigarettes. The talk was interspersed with some amusing anecdotes and Alistair  concluded  by encouraging us to visit the de Havilland Aircraft Museum at Salisbury Hall of which he is  curator.  

19 July


  Jon Mein "The Reverend Henry Small of St Albans and the missing £20,000"

 In a totally absorbing talk, Jon described how the Reverend Henry Small, appointed rector of St  Albans abbey parish in 1817, found himself dealing with a decrepit building, declining congregation and low  income. In 1826, he took up the post of Headmaster of Dixie Grammar School in Market Bosworth and tried to  combine  this with his duties as rector. This was not a success; he was sacked after 18 months. When the St  Albans  Savings Bank was established in 1828, Small took charge and, over the next few years, he     embezzled  some  £20,000 of the money deposited in the bank by the local ‘labouring classes'. He   absconded to  Boulogne in 1835 from where he could not be extradited. Largely through the good offices of   several wealthy local men, including Lord Verulam, all the depositors got their money back. Astonishingly,   Small reappeared in St Albans in 1845, requesting money from the Guardians of the Poor.




20 September 


  Kris Lockyear "The History of Lamer"

 In one of the best-attended meetings of the year to date, Kris described the history of the Lamer estate and the families who have lived at Lamer House from the 16th century to the present day. The earliest recorded  reference to the manor of Lamer dates from 1396. The first Lamer House of which there is a record was built by Sir William Garrard in about 1555 and was occupied by his descendants, the six Garrard baronets of  Lamer, until it was demolished in 1763 to be replaced with a Georgian-style house that was, in  its turn,  demolished and replaced in the 1950s. Meanwhile, as the result of inheritance, the family name had  become Drake Garrard and, later still, Cherry Garrard. Using a series of maps dating from Speed (1611) to  Archer (1860) and later, Kris showed how the estate, the largest in the Wheathampstead area in the 18th  century, was designed by Nathaniel Richmond and Humhrey Repton at that time, then modified and  developed over the years and finally broken up in the 1940s. By pointing out the traces of the buildings and  landscape features that exist today, Kris made future walks through the Lamer estate even more enjoyable. 

18 October


  Julie Moore "The Home Front during World War One"

 Dr Julie Moore's talk told us a lot we didn't know and was illustrated with images from the Imperial War Museum of women at work in Hertfordshire during the Great War. With the men abroad at war it fell to the women to take on the work at home. They made shells in munitions factories and helmets at Day's in St Albans (later to become Helmets in Wheathampstead). They came to Radlett from the East End to train as land girls, working the land and bringing in the harvest. They delivered milk by horse and cart and learned to drive and repair motor vehicles. In towns they became bus conductors. Big houses, such as Lamer and Delaport, suffered servant problems with the departure of their butlers and coachmen, numbers dropping by more than half. Julie told us about files at HALS on Wheathampstead farms during World War I. These offer an interesting research opportunity for someone to visit HALS and find out more. Any volunteers?

15 November


  Members' Evening: a chance to share your history research

  A very successful evening gave members the opportunity to hear a varied selection of 10-minute talks. Jon   Mein unravelled the history of the Lattimore brewery and set it in its wider context; Stuart Lawson gave a   witty account of some distinguished past residents of Ayot St Lawrence other than George Bernard Shaw;   Dianne Payne told the sad story of Reuben Dunham, who was born at The Folly but, after a life of petty   crime, was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude for stabbing his daughter and son-in-law; Patrick   McNeill recounted the life of Jesse Chennells, farmer  at Town Farm in the latter part of the 19th century and   a devout Congregationalist who played an important part in village life; Mike Smith updated us on the latest   research about the workhouse and also about the recent discovery of a seventh century cemetery at Batford.   Finally, Sandra Wood described the progress made and future plans for the research project into   Wheathampstead in the Great War, due to be ready in time for the commemoration of the end of that war.    

20 December


  Christmas party

  This is our annual fish-and-chip supper where members are invited to bring along an object of historical   interest and tell us all about it. Please let us know that you would like to come so we can plan the catering   etc.   email


Click here for links to our neighbouring History Societies, all of which have their own programmes of events.