Harold House, Waltham Cross

Nicholas Blatchley

Harold House - Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

Standing on the west side of Waltham Cross High Street is a fine brown-brick Georgian building called Harold House. The front bears a cartouche stating that it was built in 1757, and the door is approached from the street by three steps up to a wrought-iron gate in a fence of iron railings, followed by a further four steps up to the door, which is flanked by ionic columns and surmounted by a pediment. 

The building itself has two storeys, plus basement and attic, the latter with a parapet in front of its dormer windows. The interior is largely original, including a dog-leg staircase and rococo-carved wooden fireplace surrounds. A gate at the side leads to a rear walled garden.  

The building bears the fire mark of the Royal Union Fire Insurance Company, a crown surmounting joined hands. Fire marks were used before municipal fire services were formed. Instead, each insurance company had its own fire brigade, and could identify by the fire mark which properties they should protect – although they did frequently extinguish fires at other properties, for a fee. 

Occupancy details are sketchy before the late 19th century, but by the 1881 census the house was occupied by William Gardener, a builder employing “25 men and 1 boy”. William and his wife had nine children and several servants, but by 1901 he was a 70-year-old widower living with his three youngest daughters, Florence, Marguerite and May, and a 1906 trade directory shows the house occupied by the Misses Gardener. None of them appear to have married, but they’re strangely absent from the 1911 census. Florence is recorded as having travelled to Canada in 1920, perhaps permanently, while May lived till 1974. 

By 1911, Harold House was the home of “grocer, baker, producer and shop keeper” Oliver Sidney Clark, his wife, three children and one servant. Clark is recorded as living there till at least 1926, but by 1933 by resident was one J. J. Cornelius de Haan. He’s also recorded there in 1937, and a J. de Haan (either him or his son, perhaps) is recorded there in 1970. 

Protected by its grade II* status, Harold House is one of the few survivors of modernisation at the southern end of the High Street, and is now occupied as offices by several companies.

 

This page was added on 15/06/2016.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Terri. I’ve had a search through all the books I can find about Cheshunt and Waltham Cross, and none of them mention what used to be beside Harold House – there are now modern shops on either side. I’ll keep digging to see if I can find any names.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (13/11/2019)
  • Please can anyone tell me the names of the houses either side of Harold house as I cannot find any information about them anywhere! Many thanks

    By Terri hanley (06/11/2019)
  • I found this page very interesting – my grandfather bought the panelling in Harold House to go into the house he had bought, Joyce House. It was used in the dining room and I remember it well. Behind the panelling were 4 pictures, which my grandfather also bought, which could be dutch ? Joyce House was demolished in the sixties/seventies and I don’t know what happened to the panelling. Joyce Court now stands on the site. My family still own the pictures.

    By jane gray (23/04/2018)
  • Many thanks for that information, Peter, it fills in several gaps. I wonder if Florence might have travelled to Japan via Canada. It’s not the most obvious route, but a possible one.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (26/10/2016)
  • William Gardener is my Great Grandfather. He died in 1903. He is commemorated on a plaque in Waltham Abbey Church, as is one of his sons, Ernest Henry Gardener, at the back of the church on the War Memorial. William Gardener and his wife Julia had thirteen children, but not all of them survived. William was a Master Builder and for a while had his offices at Romeland, a large Tudor house in Waltham Abbey. He built a lot of properties in and around Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross. Margurite Gardener is my paternal Grandmother and married Rev. Henry Dewhurst who came from Walton le Dale, Lancashire. Margurite died in 1930 when Rev. Henry Dewhurst was Rector of Orsett, Essex. Florence Gardener as far as I am aware did not go to Canada, however she did go to Japan as a Church of England Missionary and came back to England before the Second World War. Both Florence and May Gardener never married.

    By Peter Dewhurst (24/10/2016)
  • That’s interesting. I haven’t found anything specific – it isn’t easy to track down people since 1911, as the censuses aren’t available yet. A search shows that the company J. De Haan & Son Ltd, based at Harold House, has been dissolved, but I can’t find out where. I’ve found a reference to a Natalie De Haan living in Waltham Cross within the past 15 years, but no details about her.

    If I find any specific information, I’ll post it here.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (27/07/2016)
  • I would like to know what happened to the De Haan family, J De Haan (1970) had 2 grandchildren who myself and my sister used to play with when they visited, up till we left the area in 1966.
    Paul

    By Paul Hood (22/07/2016)

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