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Cox Pond Farm - One of Leverstock Green's Lost Properties
Cox Pond Farm was a large and important Farmstead situated on the Leverstock Green Road (i.e. ON Leverstock Green proper) at the corner of what today is Vauxhall Road and Leverstock Green Road. There was a large pond opposite, which during WW2 was used to test amphibious vehicles, but which has since dried up with the drop in the water table.
There were actually TWO Cox Pond Farms, Great Cox Pond and Little Cox Pond. For much of their history they were part of the same estate, making separating out the two difficult. The latter is still standing today (see photo) and is a listed building (a few yards further down the road towards the village and on the opposite side of the road.) Rumour has it that the farmhouse of Great Cox Pond was dismantled and removed bodily to somewhere in the Harpenden region. I have not been able to confirm this, and if anyone can give me any information concerning this building I would be glad if you could contact me. I would like to think it was saved, as the only good photograph we have of the farm (above) shows it to have been a magnificent half-timbered Tudor edifice surrounded by equally impressive outbuildings.
Little Cox Pond Farm, a Grade II Listed Building
The earliest record we have of Little Cox Pond is 1567, and it is difficult to say with certainty that the references to Cox Pond in St. Mary’s registers refer to Great Cox Pond and not Little Cox Pond. However often where 2 references in documents were made, they were just Cox Pond & Little Cox Pond, and we know from 19th century maps and documents that the two farms formed part of the same estate.
From April 1582 until 1706, the parish records of St. Mary’s show numerous entries for members of the Long or Longe family of Cox Pond. Many of the first-born sons were called William, and more than one William Longe held important positions in the local community. For example in 1612 William Longe of Coxpond was one of the Guardians of the parish of Hemel Hempstead, along with William How; in 1613 William Longe also appeared to be a Church Warden. On 26th April 1659 both William Longe, & William Longe the Younger of Coc Pond; were appointed–Feoffes by Indenture to the Boxmoor Trust; and in 1679 William Long the Younger of Cox Pond was Bailiff of Hemel Hempstead, later returning to the same office in 1706.
In May 1748 Ann Neville purchased the copyhold of Coxpond (probably both Great & Little Coxpond) from Richard Marks, and Sarah his wife, William Crow and Sarah his wife and Thomas Rolph and Ann his wife. Richard Marks was said to dwell in the farmhouse at the time. [HALS AH165] However in February 1766 Paul Vaillant, (a London merchant or business man living in the Strand) bought the copyhold of Coxpond from John Neville, the son and heir of the previous owner. The yearly quit-rent for Coxpond was set at £3 15s 3d, and Vaillant had to pay a fine of £1 17s 7½d to be legally accepted as the copyholder. At the time of this transaction Joseph Baldwin was said to "inhabit and dwell" the property, and we can therefore assume he held the farm-let. (I have made a full transcript of the document recording the Court proceedings [AH165] and this can be seen on the following webpage http://bacchronicle.homestead.com/1760to1775.html
This document is particularly useful as it lists all the fields, woods etc. which were part and parcel of the farm, together with their approximate acreage, which I shall summarise in the table below. From the catalogue at the record office, and from elimination when compared to AH166, the farmhouse would appear to be Great Coxpond Farmhouse. However when comparing field names to later map and the tithe record, some of the fields would more naturally go with Little Cox pond Farmhouse, and vice versa. In both cases, the previous owner of the land etc. was John Neville who had inherited it from his mother Ann Neville.
Land Tax levied on Paul Vaillant as Copyholder of Great and Little Cox Pond Farms in March 1799, showed that George Bennett and George Chennells occupied the farms. The farms were to pass down three generations of the Vaillant family until it was put up for auction (together with other estates belonging to Phillip Vaillant) on Thursday 27th September 1827 at Garraway’s Coffee House, Change Alley Cornhill.
As the Duchess of Bridgewater who then held the estate commissioned the map that was drawn up the following year, it can be presumed that Cox Pond Farms were added to the Bridgewater Estate (Ashridge) following the auction. [HALS AH683, AH 682] The 1882 map is charmingly executed shows the land belonging to the farms (shaded in green), and the names of all the neighbouring land owners. The farms themselves were owned by the Countess of Bridgewater and farm-let. A larger scale map of Cox Pond Farm is also held at the County Record Office. It is of a slightly later date, (possibly 1832) but in all probability preceded the Tithe map, although it has no date on it. The field numbers on this second map correspond with numbers superimposed on the previous map in faded brown ink. I conclude therefore that the original map was used to help draw up the later one.
The 1840-tithe survey showed the land to still belong to the Countess of Bridgewater, to be occupied by John George, and to encompass both farms covering just over 297 acres. John George, or possibly his son, held the farm until between 1870 and 1878, but by 1878 Kelly’s show Mrs Sarah George to be the farmer at Coxpond.
By the 1882, the copyhold of Cox Pond had once again been taken by an important local character, namely Matthew Leno, who was to turn the farm into a centre for poultry & pheasant breeding. Between 1886-1887 Matthew Leno Senior, of Cox Pond Farm, was High Bailiff of Hemel Hempstead. Matthew Leno’s story will be told elsewhere at another time. He was to die at the end of 1904, having previously moved to Westwick Row Farm Leverstock Green, selling the copyhold in May of that year.
1840 - Hemel; Hempstead Tithe Map showing Cox Pond Farm - little had changed from the earlier map ( above.)
Note that the outbuildings directly facing the road in these two maps was gone by the time of the photo above.
COX POND FARM Leverstock Green
Friday May 27th at 12.30 o’clock
MESSERS WOODMAN & SONS will
Sell by auction the LIVE & DEAD
FARM STOCK as follows
FIVE STRONG CART HORSES &
VALUABLE IN FOAL MARE
3 STIRKS & 6 MILKING COWS
THE USUAL FARM IMPLEMENTS
STACK WHEAT STRAW,
STACK BARLEY STRAW
--also at the same time ---
105 ACRES GROWONG GRASS FOR HAY
24 Acres Beats, 16 acres Mixture,
15 acres Sainfoin,
50 acres Meadow grass
The growing crops of Corn will be sold
Edge of Harvest.
In November 1922 an advert for Cox Pond Farm in the Gazette. stated:
“Farm comprising a total area of about 67a 3r 14p with frontages on two important roads; comfortable farmhouse, excellent farm buildings and good quality land makes this a most attractive holding. The farm is let to Mr. WH Howe on a lease expiring Michaelmas 1927 @ £136 pa - to be sold by auction at The Peahen St. Albans on Wednesday 8th November 5pm” [Gazette 4.11.1922]
Various other sales of goods etc. took place at Cox Pond until in the early 1930’s it was purchased by Arthur Brock, the firework manufacturer. He was moving his firework factory to Hemel Hempstead (Woodhall Farm) and purchased Cox Pond in order to build houses for his workers and to establish a sports club for them. (Greenhills Club) The old farm buildings were then demolished at this time with houses built along the Leverstock Green Road. The pond opposite the farm has slowly dried up as the water-table has fallen. (See photo LEFT) Since the photo was taken in 1994, road calming measures including a mini-roundabout have been installed, and the original railings are no longer there. If you can tell me any more about the Farm please let me know.