History of Northaw and Cuffley
Northaw is believed to be one of the original Manors granted to the monks of St. Albans in 793. Northaw Woods, part of the forest of Enfield Chase, was leased to the Valoignes family about 1086. About 100 years later the Abbot of St. Albans wished to cancel the lease and a lawsuit ended in his favour.
Because of the remoteness from the Abbey the area was favoured by hermit monks, notably Sigar, whose tomb can be found in St. Albans Abbey. A chapelry was founded at Northaw in 948.
In 1215 a church is mentioned. 1348 is the date of the earliest Court Roll in existence, which means that full administration for a Manor was in operation. Land in the north east of the Parish was probably enclosed in the fifteenth century for the use of the Almoner of the Abbey. This developed into Hanyards Farm at a later date.
At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Northaw was granted to Sir William Cavendish(1539), who is known to have lived here. By 1560 the Manor is in the hands of the Crown and Queen Elizabeth is known to have stayed here on a number of occasions during 1563 and 1564. Eventually in 1576 she granted Northaw to the Earl of Warwick and he built Nyn Palace. By 1632 it came into the hands of the Leman family, whose various descendants held it until 1811.
They built Northaw Place in 1690, Northaw House in 1698 and Nyn Palace was demolished in 1774.
Five charities were founded in the 17th century (now grouped together as one).They are (1) King James I Fund (1618) formed with money paid by James for purchase of part of the Parish which he absorbed into Theobalds Park, (2) Richard Coulter (1620) who probably farmed at Hanyards Farm (3) Mrs. Rachel Bradgate (1671), (4) Babington Staveley (1686), both wealthy persons living in Northaw for the benefit of taking the waters, (5) Countess of Warwick (1604), widow of the builder of Nyn Palace. These charities signify extremes of wealth and poverty at that time in the Parish, which were created by two factors – the Kingswell and the Common.
The wealthy would never have come to Northaw if James 1 and his grandson Charles 11, had not popularised the Kingswell. Apart from notabilities, such as Dr. Johnson and George 11, who came in later years, many wealthy gout sufferers built themselves mansions in Coopers Lane and elsewhere. By 1850 the well had long since fallen into disuse and today its site is speculative, but it was certainly in the valley between Northaw and Cuffley that is in the Common.
The Common was the result of the Abbots of St. Albans lust for the hunt and their short-sighted administration. Originally the forest land of the Manor was used for hunting but over the years the trees were felled and probably by 1600 the Parish was denuded of woodland. Also over the years the peasantry had been restricted in their holdings of land, which slowly forced them into poverty and the vast amount of 2,061 acres (65% of the Parish) in the centre lay waste for common use.
By 1800 the principal development was the village of Northaw. The Two Brewers and the Sun were both in existence by 1707, together with a third inn called the Hand in Glove.
A blacksmith had been thriving for many years in his forge where Middleton Motors now stands. In the south-east of the parish lay the 211 acres of Soapers Farm; the much smaller Cattlegate and Williams Farm all three at Crews Hill in Theobalds Park. In the northeast by 1753 Hanyards Farm had been joined by Brickwall Farm, The Cabin, now Maynard Place, was a relict.
Hill Farm (now replaced by Kingsmead) and Lower Cuffley Farm (now Tolmers Gardens) together with about 6 cottages next to Hill farm, the whole comprising Cuffley. Where the Kingswell had flourished a farm known as the Warren now existed. To the south of it lay a brick field and to the north a lime kiln. In the south of the Parish stood Upper Barvin, Hook and Park Farms, together with Lower Barvin Farm which has now disappeared. To the west of Coopers Lane was Whites Farm.
In 1806 the Common was enclosed and all the surrounding farms enlarged from this land. The Brick field fell into disuse and later Colesdale Farm was built nearby. New farms Brick-kiln (later Thorntons) and Castle Farm (now Cuffley Hills) were formed. The Warren fell derelict and was absorbed into Colesdale.
During the nineteenth century a small but slow increase in the population took place, mainly farm labourers. Cottages were built in Northaw and Cuffley. Northaw Church was demolished and rebuilt in 1808, only to be burnt down and rebuilt again in 1882. The Plough, Cuffley, was first licensed in 1842 and a school/church opened in Cuffley in 1871.
The population of the hamlet was then about 90 people.
1910 saw an event which was to alter the face of Northaw Parish, the railway line and station at Cuffley were opened. After the First World War the residential area started to develop, but during this war an event took place which was to make Cuffley famous. In September 1916, the first German Airship to fall on British soil was brought down in flames behind the Plough, by Lt. W. Leefe Robinson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. The huge blaze brought many people to Cuffley to gloat over the remains. It is certain that some decided to settle here after the War.
The quick access by train to London saw the population leap from 694 to 2300 prior to the Second World War. Until recent years the development in Northaw has been practically static. Northaw House was famous for the breeding of racehorses. Since 1900 three farms made way for housing, Brickwall Hill farm and Lower Cuffley, while Castle Farm became Cuffley Hills.
In the Second World War this parish suffered more bombing than any other in Hertfordshire, although damage to life and property, though sad enough, was comparatively light. Slowly after the war, development recommenced. From 1958 the old Hanyards Farm land and land elsewhere were built over and the population doubled. This was followed by enlargement of the shopping area, building of the three churches, replacement of the old Brickwall farm barn, known as the Cabin, by the Cuffley Hall, Library and Health Centre and the enlargement of Cuffley School.
Northaw village has also had much new and redevelopment of housing. A careful blending has assured that much of its old-world charm remains.