St Mary's Church, Redbourn
Redbourn shown within Hertfordshire
|Area||7.37 sq mi (19.1 km2)|
|– density||725/sq mi (280/km2)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||ST ALBANS|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||Hitchin and Harpenden|
Redbourn is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, lying on Watling Street, three miles from Harpenden, four miles from St Albans and five miles from Hemel Hempstead. It has a population of around 6,000 and is within the City of St Albans local government district.
The village has been settled at least since Saxon times and it is recorded in the Domesday Book. Its parish church, St Mary's, was built in the early 12th century. Around fifty years later a small priory was founded half a mile away on Redbourn Common, after the abbot of St Albans Abbey decided to hallow the ground. Some bones had been found on the spot, reputed to be of Saint Amphibalus the priest who converted St Alban to Christianity.
In the 16th century the manor of Redbourn belonged to the Reade family: Sir Richard Reade, former Lord Chancellor of Ireland, on his death in 1575, left a bequest for the upkeep of the parish.
In 2010, Redbourn's St Mary's Church celebrated its 900th anniversary.
Redbourn was, for a long time, the centre of a farming community and for a time had a successful watercress business on the River Ver's water meadows. Just south of the village, Redbournbury Mill, a recently restored watermill, produces flour.
Silk throwing was carried out at the steam driven Woollam's Mill near Redbourn Common. The mill was taken over by John Mangrove & Son and closed in 1938. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Brooke Bond took over the silk mill. Whilst the factory was still open, a young gentleman in the village fell into a vat of jam and died. After a successful lobbying campaign by several school children in 2003, a memorial bench was unveiled to 'Sticky Joe'. After closing their factory in 1996 the old silk mill manager’s house (the Grade II listed Silk Mill House) was donated as the village museum, which opened in May 2000. The former silk mill site is now a housing estate. Local grocer Russell Harborough set up a jam making factory, which in 1956 was bought by Thomas Mercer Ltd, marine chronometer manufacturer. The site, just off High Street, is now an industrial estate.
During the coaching era, Redbourn was known as the "Street of Inns", with at least 25 pubs and inns at its peak, but in 1838 the opening of the railway from London to Birmingham sounded the death knell of stagecoaches.
A branch railway line—known as the Nickey Line—from Hemel Hempstead to Harpenden passed through Redbourn. The line opened on 16 July 1877 and closed in 1979. The route is now a public footpath and cycle path. The first bus service through the village started in 1908, though buses took some years to become established.
In 1903 Mr Boucher, the local dentist, owned the first private car in the village, (a 6 HP Gladiator). Several motor rallies were centred in Redbourn in the 1900s using the Bull pub. The three garages, Walker's & Harding's in High Street, Byland's on Dunstable Road and Statham's at Church End, have all closed leaving only a filling station next to the Chequers pub on the St Albans Road.
The first mention of a Redbourn by-pass was in 1935 and one was built in 1984; High Street was closed for a day of celebrations and a fun run on part of the bypass before opening to traffic.
Redbourn Cricket Club was formed about 1823, but records show organised cricket was played on Redbourn Common some eighty years earlier. Some Hertfordshire County histories record cricket being played on the common in 1666. This makes the village one of the oldest recorded cricketing locations in England.
Hertfordshire County Show
The Hertfordshire County Show takes place annually in late May at a 70 acre show ground site one mile north of the village.
Redbourn was Hertfordshire Village of the Year, 2002 (Overall & Western Area Winner), and a section winner in 2003. In 2002 Redbourn was also an Eastern & Home Counties Section Winner. 2004 saw Redbourn again winning Hertfordshire Village of the Year, Western Area. 2005 Hertfordshire Village of The Year IT Section Winner and Eastern England Information Communication Technology Winner 2005, also Hertfordshire Village of the year Best Community Project Award. Silver Award Anglia in Bloom 2005.
- Elizabeth Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, 1494–1558, following the breakup of her marriage to Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk, she was sent to Redbourn where she claimed "the duke locked me up in a chamber and took away my jewels and apparels".
- Sir Richard Reade (1511-1575), Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
- Henry Stephens, 1796–1864. Doctor-surgeon, chemist, and businessman. Developed an improved formula for blue-black ink and set up a company marketing the ink.
- Henry Charles Stephens, 1841–1918, Henry Stephens's son who developed the ink business and became a Conservative Party politician and philanthropist.
- Ron Henry, 1934–, a retired footballer who played for Tottenham Hotspur lives in the village.
- Gordon Beningfield, 1936–1998, wildlife artist.
- Michael Christopher "Mick" Luckhurst, 1958–, a retired American football placekicker who played for the Atlanta Falcons was born in Redbourn. He was the face of Channel Four's American Football coverage from 1987 through until 1991.
- "St Mary's Church website".
- Hertfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes
- "1003520 - The National Heritage List for England".
- "Friars Wash, Redbourn, Hertfordshire : Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results".
- "Club Information". Redbourne Cricket Club. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- The Hertfordshire County Show Official website. Accessed April 2012
- Alan Featherstone, Redbourn's History, 1981, ISBN 0-9541948-0-2
- Hertfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes; Ann Roxburgh (Forward) (1986). The Hertfordshire Village Book. Countyside Books. Section on Redbourn ISBN 0-905392-71-X.
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