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. The civil parish had a population of 5113 according to the 2011 Census and an estimated population of 5188 in 2014. It lies within the City of St Albans local government district.
The village has been continuously settled at least since Saxon times and is recorded in the Domesday Book. Its parish church, St Mary's, was built in the early 12th century. Some fifty years later, a small priory was founded half a mile away on Redbourn Common, after the abbot of St Albans Abbey decided to consecrate the ground. Some bones had been found on the spot, reputed to be of St Amphibalus, the priest who had converted St Alban to Christianity.
In the 16th century the manor of Redbourn belonged to the Reade family: Sir Richard Reade, formerly Lord Chancellor of Ireland, bought the manor when he came back to England from Ireland; he died in 1575 and was buried at the parish church. Reade left legacies to Winchester College and for the upkeep of the parish of Redbourn. The manor of Redbourn itself was inherited by his eldest son Innocent, who also inherited the older family estate at Nether Wallop.
In 2010, Redbourn's St Mary's Church celebrated its 900th anniversary.
Economy and transport
Redbourn was for a long time the centre of a farming community and for a time had a successful watercress business on the water meadows of the River Ver. Just south of the village, flour was ground at Redbournbury Mill, a recently restored watermill.
Silk throwing was carried out at the steam-driven Woollam's Mill near Redbourn Common. The mill was taken over by John Mangrove & Son, but closed in 1938. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Brooke Bond took over the silk mill as a food factory. Whilst it was still open, a young man in the village fell into a vat of jam and died. After a successful lobbying campaign by schoolchildren in 2003, a memorial bench was unveiled to Sticky Joe, as he had come to be known. After the closure of the factory in 1996 the old silk mill manager's house (the Grade II-listed Silk Mill House) was donated as Redbourn Village Museum, which opened in May 2000. The former silk mill site is now a housing estate.
Local grocer Russell Harborough also 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.
Old industries in the village included making straw plait and hat making – Redbourn Village Hall in the centre of the village High Street was formerly a straw hat factory, which has been extensively renovated, thanks mainly to money from the National Lottery and Redbourn Parish Council.
During the coaching era, Redbourn was known as the "Street of Inns", with at least 25 pubs and inns at its peak, but the expansion of the railways in the 1840s sounded the death knell of stagecoaches. A branch railway line known as the Nickey Line, from Hemel Hempstead to Harpenden, passed through Redbourn. It 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 a Mr Boucher, the local dentist, owned the first private car in the village, a 6 hp Gladiator. Several motor rallies were held in Redbourn in the 1900s using The Bull pub as a base. Three garages, in High Street, Dunstable Road and at Church End, have closed, leaving only a filling station next to The Chequers pub in the St Albans Road.
The first idea for a Redbourn by-pass came 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 took place before it opened 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 there in 1666, which would make the village one of the oldest recorded cricketing locations in England.
Redbourn Golf Club is well known for its two golf courses and driving range. The Kinsbourne Course is considered one of the best short courses in Hertfordshire.
County show and awards
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 and Western Area Winner), and a section winner in 2003. In 2002 Redbourn was also an Eastern and Home Counties Section Winner. The year 2004 saw Redbourn again winning Hertfordshire Village of the Year, Western Area, and in 2005 it was the Hertfordshire Village of The Year IT Section Winner and Eastern England Information Communication Technology Winner 2005, also winner of the Hertfordshire Village of the Year Best Community Project Award, and the Silver Award Anglia in Bloom 2005.
- Saint Amphibalus (died 25 June 304 AD), who converted Saint Alban, was martyred at Redbourn.
- Elizabeth Howard, Duchess of Norfolk (1494–1558), following the break-up of her marriage to Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk, 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, invented an improved formula for blue-black ink and set up a company to market it.
- Emma Tatham (1829–1855), English poet, died while on a visit to the minister of the Independent Chapel and was buried its graveyard.
- Henry Charles Stephens (1841–1918), Henry Stephens's son, developed the ink business and became a Conservative Party politician and philanthropist.
- Ron Henry (1934–2014), a professional footballer who played for Tottenham Hotspur, lived in the village.
- Gordon Beningfield (1936–1998), wildlife artist
- Michael Christopher "Mick" Luckhurst (born 1958), an 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 until 1991.
- Zena Skinner (born 1927), chef, writer and cookery expert on television and radio
- City Population Retrieved 26 August 2016.
- "1003520 – The National Heritage List for England".
- "Friars Wash, Redbourn, Hertfordshire : Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results".
- "St Mary's Church website".
- Hertfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes[full citation needed]
- Ball, F. Elrington. The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921. London: John Murray, 1926
- "Club Information". Redbourne Cricket Club. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- "Redbourn Golf Club". Redbourn Golf Club. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- 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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