Charlton, Hertfordshire

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Charlton is a hamlet in Hertfordshire, England, close to the town of Hitchin but retaining its separate identity. It has a population of less than fifty. It is in the ward of Hitchin Priory.

The manor of Charlton is mentioned in the Domesday Book as belonging to Ilbert of Hitchin. It later came into the possession of the Knights Templars, and then by the Knights Hospitallers with the manor of Temple Dinsley until the suppression of the latter order. The manor subsequently came to Edward Pulter, who sold it in 1582 to Ralph Radcliffe from which time it was part of the property of Hitchin Priory.[1]

Charlton House is the birthplace of inventor Henry Bessemer in 1813.[2] At the time his father, Anthony Bessemer, operated a type foundry in the village.[3][4] The mill-wheel was adapted by his grandfather to power a small foundry. The water-mill was therefore converted to a foundry during the occupancy of the Bessemer family and back to a mill again afterwards.[5] There are remains of a windmill less than half a mile from the Windmill Pub from which it may have taken its name. There was, until the 1970s, also a water-wheel in the mill-race in the yard of Wellhead Farm.

According to an article by Peter Harkness in Vol 1, No 1 of "Old Hitchin Life" the Harkness family's now world-famous rose-nursery was, in the late 19th century, based in Charlton as well as Bedale, in Yorkshire, with Robert Harkness moving into Charlton House (Bessemer's birthplace) in 1895.


  1. ^ 'Hitchin: Introduction and manors', A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 (1912), pp. 3-12. URL:
  2. ^ "Charlton House, Hitchin". Daily Telegraph.
  3. ^ Talbot Baines Reed (1887). A History of the Old English Letter Foundries: With Notes, Historical and Bibliographical, on the Rise and Progress of English Typography. E. Stock. pp. 359–360.
  4. ^ "A. Bessemer's Specimen of Printing Types, 1830". Journal of the Printing Historical Society. 5.
  5. ^ Sir Henry Bessemer Inventor & Engineer Archived 2013-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed 18 May 2012

Coordinates: 51°56′N 0°17′W / 51.933°N 0.283°W / 51.933; -0.283

External links[edit]

Media related to Charlton, Hertfordshire at Wikimedia Commons