Rye House

A historic Hoddesdon house

By Nicholas Blatchley

Rye House was one of the first brick buildings in the country. Built in 1443 by Sir Andrew Ogard, a Danish knight, it stands on land inhabited at least since Saxon times and originally called “atter eye” (at the island).  

The Rye House Plot

In 1683, it became the centre of a notorious plot to assassinate King Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York (later James II). The plotters were Protestant members of the Whig party, many of whom had republican sympathies from the time of the Commonwealth, who were alarmed at Charles’s support for France and other Catholic monarchies, as well as James’s recent conversion to Catholicism.  

One of the plotters, Richard Rumbold, was then the owner of Rye House. The brothers were due to return past the house on their way back from the horse racing at Newmarket, and the plan was to ambush the party at Rye House. Plans were foiled when a major fire at Newmarket forced the King to return early.  

The plot was discovered and many suspects were arrested and executed. The Earl of Essex committed suicide in the Tower of London, while the Duke of Monmouth, Charles’s illegitimate son, fled the country. Nevertheless, some historians believe that the plot was actually a fiction, designed to discredit the Whigs, as the fictional Popish Plot of 1681 had been intended to discredit the Tories.  

Tourist destination

The subsequent history of Rye House has been considerably less dramatic. In 1870, the current owner, William Henry Teale, opened a pleasure garden, displaying the Great Bed of Ware, which he’d recently acquired. It was such a popular destination for excursions from London that an extra station was built on the Liverpool Street to Hertford East line to serve it.  

By the early 20th century, however, the tourist trade had fallen off, and Rye House was demolished, apart from the Gatehouse, the Great Bed ending up in the Victoria & AlbertMuseum.  

The Gatehouse

The Gatehouse is now a grade 1 listed building, featuring high-quality diaper brickwork and a “barley sugar twist” chimney. It’s open to the public at weekends and bank holidays during the summer, featuring displays about the Plot and the early history of brick-building. The rest of the grass-covered site has the floor-plan of the house marked out.

This page was added on 03/08/2010.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Sheila. It seems likely it would be from Rye House. I haven’t actually come across references to souvenirs being sold, but there’s no reason why they wouldn’t have been. If your grandmother was born around 1895, she could have visited as a child, or she could have inherited the plate from her parents. Nick

    By Nicholas Blatchley (20/02/2019)
  • I have a decorative plate with roses on it and enscribed ‘A present from Rye House’ which my mother used to have hanging on her wall. Just wondering if this would have been from this Rye House and if so how late it might have been acquired. Just curious as to whether it actually belonged to my grandmother who was born c1895. Thanks.

    By Sheila (13/02/2019)
  • I’m sorry I made a mistake in my last comment
    I said my great grandmother was married to Richard Teale his name was Robert John Teale

    By Rosalind MIchelle Rand (06/01/2019)
  • My great grand mother Lewisa was married to Williams son RIchard I have her will and have been trying to find out more about them they were married at the little church at the end of the road they ran the tea gardens and did a lot for charaity
    I found a photo of William he had a long white beard I would love to find a photo of my great grand mother the family are all berried in the little church but Lewisa is berried in London

    By Rosalind Rand (06/01/2019)
  • I recall roller skating here in the early 60s after returning briefly from Australia. I remember the timber floored rink and the hire skates also had wooden wheels. I also recall that around the raised perimeter there were a few slot machines or “one armed bandits” My family returned to Australia where I still live (age 69).

    By Paul Taylor (14/11/2017)
  • When was the roller skating rink closed ? We had a neighbour when when I lived in Broxbourne in 1940 whose maiden name was Tye Vince. Her parents managed the Rye House Tavern in its heyday. Even a menagerie and gardens and was a big attraction in many aspects.

    By Peter B, (02/11/2017)
  • I used to skate there in the mid to late forties .You could rent or bring your own skates.

    By Peter B, (29/10/2017)
  • William Henry Teal was my Great Great Great grandad.. I’ve just seen ‘The Great Bed of Ware’ at the V&A
    Fascinating stuff.

    By Titania May (30/08/2017)
  • That’s fascinating, Rachel. Is there any chance your your mum might allow some of the posters to be put on the site, along with any memories she has of the rink? I’m sure HALS could help with any practicalities of getting them posted.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (28/01/2014)
  • My granddad Arthur Stratton ran the skating rink at Rye House. My mum has a stack of old posters he had made. Adult skate every Monday, Friday and Saturday evening from 7-10pm. Children’s session every Saturday afternoon from 2-5pm

    By Rachel Muston (20/01/2014)
  • Hi Graham, my information is that Samuel Kirkby moved there with his family in the 1760’s and had the lease of Rye Farm. His youngest son Joseph was born at Stanstead Abbotts and inherited the lease on Samuels death. His eldest son George migrated to Australia in 1853 so I assume the lease had expired by that time. cheers Brian

    By Brian Kirkby (29/09/2013)
  • In the 1960’s this was a skating rink.I was taken there by my grandmother.

    By Heather (12/08/2013)
  • Re Graham Kirkby’s query about Rye House. I have done much research on this and may be able to help if he wishes to get in touch. Rye House was used as Stanstead Abbotts Workhouse from about 1760 to 1843.

    By Ron Dale (05/07/2013)
  • Hi, Graham, that’s interesting that you have a family connection. I have a little information beyond what’s in the article. The Ogard family owned the property till about 1560, when George Ogard sold it. It was subsequently owned by the Saxey family, but I don’t know for how long. After Richard Rumbold, I’ve no information until Teale acquired it in 1849. His family owned it till 1904, when it was bought by the brewers Christie. Beyond this, the best documents to check would be censuses (though they only start in the mid-19th century), electoral registers (since it seems likely that any owner of Rye House would have always been eligible to vote) and Land Tax Registers. If you get any information, I’d be interested to hear about it, as well as anything you know about your family’s role.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (23/01/2013)
  • our ancestors lived in this house, any idea how we could find past owners please

    By Graham Kirkby (21/01/2013)

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