It’s a feature of the towns, villages and hamlets along the Lea Valley that many have large houses whose names are formed by adding –bury to the place name. It’s been suggested that this may designate a pre-conquest thegnal residence. Some, like Wormleybury and Haileybury, are substantial properties, but Hoddesdonbury, in Cock Lane, is little smaller.
However, Hoddesdonbury is still a notable house, and the manor attached to it is crucial in the history of Hoddesdon.
The Manor of Hoddesdonbury
Hoddesdonbury is thought to have been built on the site of the original manor house of Hoddesdon, and the manor has a rich history. Formed after the Conquest, it was assessed in the Domesday Book as holding two hides and three virgates, totally around 300 acres. Originally held by knight’s fee from the Mandevilles and the Earls of Richmond, it eventually became a Crown possession, since it had been among the lands of Henry V before ascending to the throne.
The manor was held from the late 12th to the late 15th centuries by the Bassingbourne family (sometimes spelt Bassingburn), after which it was sold to Sir William Say. The Say family had a crucial role in Tudor history. Sir William was great-uncle to Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, mother of Edward VI. At the same time, Sir William’s mother Elizabeth was ancestor, through a previous marriage, of Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn, and therefore of Elizabeth I. One of Sir William’s granddaughters also married William Parr, brother of Henry’s last wife Catherine Parr.
The manor of Hoddesdonbury features an earthwork mound, on the opposite side of Cock Lane from the house. Excavated in 1901, this was originally interpreted as Roman, due to pottery finds, but is now more widely believed to be a small Motte castle — perhaps the predecessor to the manor house. The mound is a scheduled monument.
The earliest phase of the present Hoddesdonbury house date to the 16th century, at which time the manor had come to Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burleigh, and continued to be held by his descendants the Earls (later Marquises) of Salisbury.
In 1800, the house was sold to Jacob Bosanquet, who lived at Broxbournebury. A man named William Cozens is recorded as living at Hoddesdonbury at the time of his death in 1894, while the Edwardian actress Lady Maud Tree lived there in her later years, dying in 1937. Maud’s grandson, David Tree, later lived at Baas Manor Farm. From 1948, Admiral Sir Alexander Bingley lived there. Bingley had been involved in the sinking of the Bismarck during the War, and had held a number of senior naval posts, including 5th Sea Lord.
The house was refronted in the early 19th century, with a few other changes made, but the bulk of the property remains as originally built in the 16th-17th centuries. The listing describes it as:
C16 and C17 timber frame, early C19 front. L-plan. Plastered S side, other sides weatherboarded. Old tile roof. C16 red. brick chimney-stack on rear, yellow stock brick on W. 3-window S front has 6/6-pane sashes in moulded architrave frames, and fielded- panel door with simple hood on double scrolls. W side has roof to ground floor and casement dormer. Later lean-to rear extension. Front interior has axial beam, lower ceiling on E, and early C19 recess in centre room.
Also listed are two barns, dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. The barn to the south of the house, which forms a sharp corner in Cock Lane, is described as:
C17 timberframed, tarred-weatherboarded barn on base of red brick. Cedar shingle roof. 5 bays. Modern sliding doors in place of cart entrance on W. Unusual round-headed entrance with double doors on E. Lower extension on N: C18, weatherboarded, old tile roof, ventilator over door.
The barn to the north, further away from the road, which is “included for group value”, is described as:
C17/18 timber frame barn, 5 bays, 3 bays open on W side. Weatherboarding, old tile roof. Curved braces to front posts. C19 lean-to extension on E: yellow stock brick, slate and pan- tile roof.
Presumably, it’s the “unusual round-headed entrance”, more than the slightly earlier date, which makes the south barn considered of greater value.
David Dent, Hoddesdon’s Past in Pictures, The Rockingham Press, 1992
Sue Garside, Hoddesdon: A History, Phillimore & Co. Ltd, 2002
“Parishes: Broxbourne with Hoddesdon”, in A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1912), pp. 430-440. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp430-440
Hoddesdon Bury Cock Lane Mound, Gatehouse, Hoddesdon Bury Cock Lane mound (The Gatehouse Record) (gatehouse-gazetteer.info)