sealWelcome to The Hadhams' History Society


Purpose of the Website

The purpose of this website is to aid the ongoing business of the Hadhams History Society (HHS) and to build an ongoing archive of the history of the parishes of Much and Little Hadham.

The rural Parishes of Much and Little Hadham lie in the valley of the river Ash in East Hertfordshire. The village centres are linear in character and lined with many historic buildings from the Tudor to the Victorian periods. The parish boundaries include several outlying hamlets and settlements such as Perry Green, Green Tye, Bury Green, Wellpond Green and Westland Green. Both parishes have rich historic backgrounds.

A detailed history of the two parishes was published in 1914 in “The Victoria History of the County of Hertford” vol IV ed William Page, London, Constable & Company, available in most major libraries and on line at Since that publication local historians and others have covered more recent times and included many personal anecdotes.

In 1954, the Much Hadham Women's Institute (MHWI) created a Scrap Book of the parish. This is a fascinating snap shot of village life, written by parishioners reflecting their personal views and experiences, embellished with many photographs, drawings and music. In 1999, Jean Page published "Much Hadham - A Millenium Scrapbook" at the request of Much Hadham Parish Council to celebrate the Millenium. This well illustrated work, was compiled from her own notes and was again aided by many contributions from parishioners. Sadly Jean died on 11 Dec 1999 shortly before her scrapbook was published. Stephen Ruff who was like Jean born and bred in Much Hadham, has written and published two well illustrated booklets, these were: "A Walk through Much Hadham" privately published 19xx and "Another Walk through Much Hadham" privately published in 2004. Bryan Smalley privately published a book in 1995 entitled “A Short History of Much Hadham” which again is well illustrated. Richard Maddams recently published "Hadham Headlines during the 1800’s" which features press articles about the parish from the Victorian Period. Sandra McAdam and Bill Bird wrote a “Short History of St Thomas’ Mission Hall, Green Tye 1909-2009". "A definitive history of St Andrew, Much Hadham" was written by Richard Haslam in 1986 at the behest of Much Hadham Parish Council.

Little Hadham has perhaps, been less well covered but there is a good summary account of the Hall and the Caley family on A fuller account on The Hall, Gardens and Capel family has been written by Jenny Milledge “Hadham Hall and the Capel Family, Hertfordshire Garden History” Vol II ed Deborah Spring, University for Hertfordshire Press, 2012.  Stephen Ruff published a booklet "A Walk Through Little Hadham in 2004 and in 2014 The  Little Hadham Parish Plan Group published a booklet entitled  "Little Hadham - 1900-1914" - History of its People, The Ways of Living in those Days, Houses and People in Them. 

Archaeological finds in the Hadhams have been published by The Braughing Local History society and one of their most recent works gives much detail on roman pottery finds in the Much Hadham/Little Hadham border area entitled “Bromley Hall and Caley Wood Fieldwork 2009” by Mark Landon.

The Much Hadham Forge Museum gives focus to much of the local history. Many of the publications mentioned above are available there. Anyone with an interest in the history of the two parishes should visit the museum and also read some of the publications mentioned above. Click here to visit The Forge Museum website.

The Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies Centre in Hertford is also a tremendous source of original material and documents

For more information on the above and any other historical enquiries please contact the Hadhams' History Society and we will be happy to try and help.

Resume of the Talk given by Helen Gibson at our February Meeting on "The New River"


Helen Gibson returned to Much Hadham to give an account of Hugh Myddleton and the New River. In Elizabethan times London obtained much of its water from the Thames or local wells such as Clerkenwell. The river was highly contaminated and Londoners mostly drank beer. Edmund Colthurst in about 1600, planned to bring clean spring water from Ware, where there was an abundant supply. Elizabeth I was in favour, but it fell to James 1st to grant Colthurst a Charter to proceed. By 1604 his canal had progressed abou 3 miles when an Act of Parliament granted the Mayor and Citizens of the City to bring water from the Springs of Chadwell and Amwell and to make terms with landowners to permit a water course through their lands. The Act gave the City greater powers than Colthurst’s Charter. Then, in 1609 an offer to improve and complete the work, by Hugh Myddleton MP, a member of the Goldsmith’s Company and long term supporter of the venture, was accepted. Hugh, an excellent organiser, was brought up in Denbigh by his influencial family and had learned the Goldsmith’s trade in Antwerp.

Remarkably the water course, the New River, was formally opened in 1613. At a slope of only 3inches per mile it had many bends to maintain this constant incline and many sluices and cisterns were built along it to equalise the flow. In times of poor rainfall, additional water was diverted from the River Lea at Ware. At the terminus near Saddler’s Wells “The New River Head”, water was stored in a large round reservoir to even out the flow and provide a head of pressure. A cistern below below directed the water into distribution pipes, which were made from bored out elm trunks. To achieve this 400 years ago and still supply about 10% of London’s water, is an amazing tribute to the Jacobean engineers, surveyors and men. Helen's presentation was well illustrated with much contemporary and recent material and was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.