Burford House, Hoddesdon
Hoddesdon High Street forks at the Clock Tower, with its two branches being Amwell Street (formerly Ware Valley) to the west and Burford Street (formerly Stanstead Valley). Originally, these ran north unbroken from the junction, but both were cut in two by the building of the Dinant Link Road.
Many old buildings were lost in the process, but one that’s survived unscathed is Burford House, at the northerly end of Burford Street, just before it changes into Stanstead Road.
History of Burford House
Burford House dates to the late 18th or early 19th centuries. The listing describes it as “early C19”, but records indicate it being occupied at least by 1792, when it was bought by brewery owner William Whittingstall — although its name isn’t recorded until later. After the death of his widow in 1830, it was bought by E. Waller of Broxbourne Mill, who died in 1840.
After Waller’s death, Burford House became a school and remained so until late in the century. Initially run by Warner Tuck, by 1845 it had become the Agricultural and Scientific School (later the Agricultural, General, Practical and Scientific School), run by W. Haselwood. The Haselwood Primary School was named in his honour, until it changed its name in 2003 to St Catherine’s School.
Initially, this was an agricultural college targeted mainly at adults. The Lea Valley, from Cheshunt up to Ware, was described in 1804 by Arthur Young, Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, as the best land in Hertfordshire, describing it as “a noble vein of land”. The school taught subjects such as agricultural techniques and geology — a skill put to profitable use by ex-pupil Edward Hargraves to identify likely gold fields in Australia.
By 1850, however, it began to expand into a more general education for boys, eventually becoming the Grammar School and claiming status as the successor to the 16th century Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. However, by 1886 the school had no teachers and appears to have been replaced by St Catherine’s School on the new St Catherine’s estate in the south of Hoddesdon.
Burford House was subsequently acquired by Thomas Murray Gardiner, who manufactured cricket bats and tennis rackets there. It is now divided into flats, with a modern extension added on the south side.
In the Historic England listing, Burford House is described as:
Early C19, parapeted front, timber frame core. Yellow stock brick, slate hipped roof. Gauged, yellow brick segmental window arches. Red brick to rear. 5 windows, 3 storeys. Slightly projecting middle bay with open-pedimental Tuscan doorcase having semi-circular leaded fan; single sash window. Triple-hung sash windows to sides on all 3 floors. Stucco band. 3-window rear range on S with full-height canted window bay. Interior has early C17 staircase in centre with fluted balusters, and good early C19 detail in rooms of S range.
Garside, Sue, Hoddesdon: A History, Phillimore & Co, 2002
Dent, David, Hoddesdon’s Past in Pictures, The Rockingham Press, 1992
Dent, David, Garside, Sue, Jeffery-Poulter, Stephen, Hoddesdon & Broxbourne Through Time, Amberley Publishing, 2010
Paddick, E.W, Hoddesdon: Tales of a Hertfordshire Town, Hoddesdon Urban District Council, 1971