The Manor & House of Chambersbury

The history of the parish of Abbots Langley and the various manors within it (Hyde, Chambersbury, Langleybury and Abbots Langley) has sometimes led to confusion as the names Abbots Langley, Langleybury and Lees Langley could, and frequently were applied to all of them, and given almost always to the manor of Chambersbury in addition to its other name of Rectory Manor.  

To confuse matters even more, the various parts of the parish which go together with each manor are not necessarily altogether in a block.  For example, we know that Carpenters Farm (Leverstock Green Farm) owed allegiance to the manor of Abbots Langley whose Lords of the Manor after 1644  were Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge, & Trinity College Oxford.  That is the manor and lands that was based around the old manor house at Kitters green, with the Greenhill family acting for the colleges, and sometimes on their own behalf!.  Yet nearby land owned allegiance to Langleybury. 

Chambersbury on the other hand, was a manor with its own lordship, which on it's sale to Thomas and John Childe in 1624, became merged with the manor of Abbots Langley known as Langleybury. In the many old documents relating to all the various manors within Abbots Langley, the property concerned is often referred to as being ........ alias Abbots Langley alias Lees Langley. I have come to the conclusion when reading many of these old documents, coupled with the fact that one particular dictionary I referred to whilst staying with my in-laws suggested a wider definition for the word alias, that alias didn't just mean another name for the place, but could mean "in other respects"; and therefore in the context of parish names would suggest a location rather than a  synonymous name for the property. Viz, Chambersbury alias Abbots Langley, doesn't mean that Abbots Langley was another name for Chambersbury or vice versa, but that Chambersbury was in other respects part of Abbots Langley, i.e. within the parish.

It is also worth noting at this point that extracts from the court rolls of Chambersbury (of various dates within the 17th century [HRO 71529]), and also some of the documents related to the transfer of the manor, show that some of the land associated with the manor of Chambersbury, although still within the parish of Abbots Langley, did not strictly fall within the limits of study for  The Leverstock Green Chronicle; this included Nash Mills, some property in Bedmond, and Leavesden Green and Woods nearer to Watford.  The particular  court rolls previously mentioned are partly in Latin and partly in English and of limited value as the various fines levied, homages paid etc.. are generally noted according to individual persons rather than giving specific details as to the exact geographical location of the property in question.

Further confusion is added to the issue of sorting out what is relevant and what is not with regard to the various manors within Abbots Langley, by the entries within the Victoria County History. If you compare the history as given by the VCH on the various manors, with that given in "Abbots Langley, a Hertfordshire Village" by Scott Hastie and David Spain, you will see there are several discrepancies. Remembering that the VCH was compiled at the beginning of the century when some of the documents we now have access to were not available, and bearing in mind the original documents I have managed to read for myself, I feel certain that the recent accounts given appear to be the more accurate. 

It does, however, all lead to confusion when trying to document the history of Leverstock Green, when part of the area concerned used to belong to the parish of Abbots Langley, and indeed to various of its manors.  For any errors I have made as a result of this confusion, I apologise. [VCH, Vol. 2, pp 324-328; HRO 71532]  

Although details of the history of the Manor of Chambersbury, and Chambersbury House itself appear through The Chronicle, I think it is worth printing a brief overall account of its history in order to put the individual entries in context. Our parish now takes its name from this old manor, but with only the road name still existing to remind us of its location. (Chambersbury parish includes the previous parishes of Holy Trinity Leverstock Green, and St. Mary's Apsley End, as well as the relatively new church of St. Benedict at Bennetts End. Originally the Rector of Chambersbury was also the Vicar of Leverstock Green, though this has now changed. See Vicars of Leverstock Green) 

The small manor of Chambersbury probably took its name originally from the fourteenth century Chaumbre family. Robert de la Chaumbre was known to have lived in the area in 1370, and William atte Chaumbre in 1394.  Chambersbury was a small manor in its own right, originally part of the possessions of the Abbey at St. Albans, and from which was derived the income for the incumbent of St. Lawrence's Church Abbots Langley.  This sometimes gave rise to it being known as The Rectory Manor.

Upon the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII sold the manor to his embroider William Ibgrave.  The receipt for this sale being found in the 1940's among some old papers of Mrs. Reynolds Solly of Abbots Langley. (See  )   and entry for Sept. 28th 1540.)

In 1605/06 the manor of Chambersbury once more reverted to the Crown on the death of William Ibgrave, grandson of the  first William who was the King's embroiderer. James I then granted Chambersbury to Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss, and Master of the Rolls.

When in 1611 Lord Bruce of Kinloss died, the manor had previously been settled on his wife for the remainder of her life, after which it was entailed to his 2nd son Thomas. (Entailed property passes down through the  male heirs from one generation to the next.)                    See:  and

In May 1624, with the agreement of Thomas Bruce, his mother and her new husband Sir James Fullerton, the Manor of Chambersbury, (along with the Manor of Sarrett)  was sold to Thomas and John Child, who were already the owners of the  Langleybury estate. The tenant of the manor at that time, by which it can be assumed is meant the Copyholder, was a Raphe Elsby, who paid the Childs a quit rent of  "vi  shillings of lawful Englishe money". In September 1624 William Knolton, an  attorney concerned with the conveyance of Chambersbury, took possession of Chambersbury manor house. This was presumably  a device whereby the lawyer took legal possession of the estate on behalf of his clients, Thomas and John Child. 

Now part of the Langleybury estate, Chambersbury remained with the Childe family until 1713 when it was sold to Sir Robert Raymond, eventually passing to the Filmer family in 1756. Particulars of the sale in 1713 suggest that the manor house of Chambersbury brought with it 180 acres of arable lands as well as woods, and the Rectory of Abbots Langley and the advowson of the parish. (That is the right to appoint the incumbent of the parish.)

On 6 August 1766  we know that James Radwell was appointed as gamekeeper to the Manor  of Chambersbury.  The Lord of the Manor was given as John Filmore (The family name was spelt in a variety of ways in different documents.)  He was also Lord of the Manor of Langleybury. Again we know that from the mid eighteenth century  to at least 1821, the Filmer family were known to own both Chambersbury and Langleybury, and were the most important family in the parish of Abbots Langley for that period of time. One John Filmer being Vicar of the parish until he left when succeeding to the baronetcy in 1810.  He died in 1834, and in 1836 much of the Langleybury estate was split up.

After the Filmers sold their interest in the manor, the lands connected with the estate appear to have been divided, as by the Tithe Survey of 1839 both Samuel Reynolds Solly and John Dickinson both had an interest in part of Chambersbury.  

Probably Samuel Reynolds retained the lordship of the manor, as it was in papers belonging to his family that the original 16th century receipt for the sale of the manor was found. (The Law of Property Act, 1922 abolished copyhold tenure [ie. tenure from the lord of the manor], so that after that date being Lord of the Manor, held no financial advantage.) Certainly the tithe apportionment shows Samuel Reynolds Solly to hold the tithes for all the lands connected with Northend Farm, Bunkers Farm, Well Farm and Highwoodhall Farm, as well as part of Chambersbury.  In fact most of the lands held by William Ibgrave in his manors of Chambersbury and Hythe in the 16th century.

The Tithe survey in 1840 shows us in addition that John Dickinson also held part of Chambersbury, in this instance the lands nearer to Nash Mills.  However at some point during the next ten years, Dickinson acquired at least the copyhold of much of this property, and Chambersbury was added to his Abbots Hill Estate.  The manor house was generally either let or lent to friends and relatives. Dickinson's daughter Harriot liked the property, and after her marriage to John Evans in September 1850, they lived at Chambersbury for a while.

Unfortunately both before their marriage and shortly afterwards, Chambersbury was the target for dissatisfied Mill workers, especially as a recent Act of Parliament had restricted the working hours of women and children, and many saw this as a means of depriving their families of an income, while the employers such as Dickinson made a fortune. Heriot's sister Fanny recorded in her diary for 10 April 1850:

"Heard from Mama there has been an incendiary fire at Chambersbury which providently did little damage, but it is a bad beginning and a sad example in that country."

On New Year's Eve 1850 a further incendiary fire:

".....made Papa very unhappy, poor dear; he is so sensitive as to his popularity and the attachment of the poor around him!"

During the latter part of the nineteenth century Chambersbury was perhaps considered to be the most important dwelling in the village of Leverstock Green.  It was THE BIG HOUSE. It housed minor gentry, and the chatelaine and daughters of the house played an important role in village society.  This is made plain by the many references in the school log book to the visits made by Mrs Key and her daughters. 

From 1870 until 1949 Chambersbury and its farming land was owned by the Bailey family, founders of the Boxmoor Ironworks. During this time, the Chambersbury Orchards along the Bedmond Road were famous for their cherries, and were also, tragically the scene of a fatal accidental shooting in the 1920's. 

After Joseph Bailey's death, the house and its immediate grounds were sold to Mr. & Mrs. Luby, who eventually sold it after moving out in the 1960's. The house was then demolished and modern houses built on the site.

The photographs of Chambersbury below were taken by the Luby family in 1950 ( snow scenes) and in the mid 1960's.  The picture of Chambersbury's famous Cherry Orchards was taken in the 1920's.
ABOVE LEFT: O.S. 25": 1 mile Map extract showing Chambersbury, 1898; 
ABOVE RIGHT Photographs of Chambersbury taken in the 1960's.
This page was last updated on: April 21, 2018
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