Chenies. Countess of Warwick

Colin Wilson

Chenies is on the border of Herts and Beds. While this institution is just over the border in Bedfordshire – just going to the other side of the road crosses the county boundary – it has been included as some Hertfordshire residents were accommodated and one incident revealed an issue about relocating people.

Anne, Countess of Warwick had them built in 1603 – 1605 (sources vary), just after the accession of James I. Anne herself died in Feb 1604 age about 55. The provision was for 10 residents. Two men and two women came from Chenies. The remaining 6 residents came from her estates in Gloucestershire and Northaw (in Herts). They were to be godly poor, single and aged over 50. They were prohibited from wandering around to beg or tippling.

Almost all almshouses were for local folk, hence they would have been near their roots and maybe family and friends. In the case of guild institutions (such as Brewers or Leathersellers) they would at least have had something in common. In this case the residents from Gloucestershire and Northaw were away from their roots, and not too happy. By about 1830 the Chenies people were still occupying the building as before. The others were subletting to the extent that 68 people were ‘occupying’ rooms meant for just 6.

A document held at HALS is an auction listing with a deed of indemnity dated 24 March 1817. Lot 45 William Bush Against a 20 rentcharge by deed of 10th October 1603 for almshouses at Cheyneys in Herts & Bucks.

The almshouses kept going till the cost of maintenance exceeded their value. The dates are uncertain. They were purchased by the Duke of Bedford in 1887. He wanted to convert them into cottages but abusive letters made him change his mind and he had them demolished. Demolition dates have been cited as 1887, 1895 and early 20th century.

The buildings were two storeys, built in the Tudor style and formed three sides of a square. Each residence had two rooms. The location is now on Little Greenstreet Farm, but the site has no public access. They are annotated on the OS map Buckinghamshire XLIII.8 pub1877 but not Hertfordshire XXXVIII.14 (pub 1898).

Location

Littlegreen Farm, Amersham Road
Georef:       502290 197650
Grid Ref:    51o 40′ 06″N    00o 31′ 20″W

References

The Book of Chorleywood and Chenies by G E Ray,
Pages 53,  59, 66 (includes a photo) and 95
pub Barracuda Books Ltd 1983 ISBN 0 86023 184 4. Copy held at HALS

Chorleywood, Chenies, Loudwater and Heronsgate; a Social History, by Ian Foster
Page 39, 40 (includes a photo) and 49
Pub Manticore Books Ltd 2007 ISBN 978-1-900887-10-6.

Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Abstract of Deed of Indemnity
24 Mar 1817. ref 29010

Buckingham Council Heritage Portal https://ubp.buckscc.gov.uk/SingleResult.aspx?uid=’MBC11527

This page was added on 14/02/2021.

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