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Hemel's Little Treasure

 

 

At the top RH corner of Hemel Hempstead there is an intriguing collection of lanes, Gaddesden Row1 and Cupid Green Lane being the most promising from a droving angle. 

 

GR was Roman, is straight as a die, and would have led to the centre of St Albans (Verulamium).  Three quarters of the way down it we had spotted a tiny gore (triangular field) marked on the Explorer 182 at 063119 opposite an old smithy.  (The smith would have needed somewhere to park a herd while he shod the beasts and a triangle was the best shape.)  However, the smithy has been modernised beyond recognition.  More disappointingly, the gore has been incorporated into a garden.  Nil points.  Minus points, actually: we walked it during Friday rush hour, little knowing it was a rat-run.

 

#1 shows GR as is, but Paul Hindle’s picture of it in the 50’s is much better (#2).

 

The other one going south is Cupid Green Lane, which goes in and out like the battlements of a castle.  It must have been an unofficial route if farmers could insist that it went around, not through, their fields. (#3)  We were told it wasn't adopted till "recently", but the elderly farmer who told us was the sort whose idea of "recently" could be any time in the last 100 years.

 

So, disappointment…?  No, far from it.  CGL would have led, in its drunken fashion, south to Frogs Island in Leverstock Green at the bottom RH corner of Hemel - and there, in the back garden of a modern house, for Heaven’s sake, is the most perfect little drovers’ annexe. (#4,5)  It is C17/18, says Historic England, & was originally the property of the Red Lion, a field away, which used it, according to Barbara Chapman, as “accommodation for ostlers”.  Well, maybe the odd ostler slept there, but WE know who it was for, don’t we?2  
And I bet the owners of the houses on that field separating the Red Lion from the annexe have gardens with rich soil...

 

Isn’t it smashing?

 

1 Thanks to Julian Mann for bringing it to our attention.
2 I was taken there, and to many other spots of local interest, by Roger Miles of St Albans, without whose help - and that of other members of SAHAAS - I would have got nowhere with this article.  Thanks, Roger.

Hemel's Little Treasure image 1
40mph? Hah!
Hemel's Little Treasure image 2
GR in the 50's
Hemel's Little Treasure image 3
Twists & Turns
Hemel's Little Treasure image 4
On Frogs Island...
Hemel's Little Treasure image 5
...is The Drovers' Rest.