Page08 - Tudor History and Chorleywood


Tudors' more than one hundred years.

After the storm the calm. Richard III, tyrant or not, died at Bosworth Heath. And the end of the 15th century, which saw Henry VII (1485-1509) ascend the throne, opened an entirely new era, beginning 118 years of Tudor rule.

Change was slow at first, but accumulated wealth was used by rich magnates to invest in industry and agriculture. Thus people grew powerful by more constructive means than slaying each other to seek power, as typified by the Wars of the Roses.

Rebellions and executions still occurred, but the mass slaughter of the past became less.There was still a medieval character, which it would take many decades to change. Legislation partly helped and law making would affect everyone in the land. The influence of the period can still be seen. 

Several buildings of Tudor origin remain in Chorleywood. Among them are King John's Farm (King's End Farm) and the Retreat. The first was a large house, added to and divided. Bullsland Farm is also possibly late 16th century in the time of Elizabeth and there are three houses in Chorleywood Bottom originally about 1600. The Retreat in the Bottom is likely to be late 16th century, but partly rebuilt in the 20th. Typically it is timber-framed core with brick nogging.

The Old Cottage and Pond Cottage on the northwest side of Chorlevwood Common are of 16th century origin with 17th century additions, extended in the 19th and 20th. The Manor House, on Rickmansworth Road. is 17th century or earlier, with later additions. The "White Horse" is believed to be 16th century in its origins, but rebuilt in the 17th.

No doubt there were other houses which did not survive, but to dismiss Chorleywood as an out of the way hamlet is not realistic. Remember there were still remnants of royal rule here. Edward I (1272-1307) liked it so much that he sited his country residence in the manor of Isenhampstead (Cheyne) Chenies. Edward lll (1327-77) followed on and later gave it to the Cheyne family. The family and distant relatives kept it until 1958, the  Bedfords being the owners until then. So the hamlet now growing was certainly not unknown within the royal court of Westminster. Not all was settled in the Tudor period. Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of
Edward IV, thus uniting the houses of Lancaster and York. Pretenders to the throne who appeared, namely Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, created a stir, but such adventures hardly touched Chorleywood.  

Nonetheless it still figured large with a growing population and Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) stayed for a few nights at Chenies and held meetings of her Privy Council there. Many problems troubled most neighbourhoods, Chorleywood being no exception. One was the sturdy rogue or beggar: some were work-shy, others gypsies, soldiers home from the wars, or simply criminals. In 1572, Elizabeth's reign, severe laws were passed and for a second offence they faced the gallows.

Property owners locally may have been affected when the law of entail was abolished. An entail fixed an estate to a particular line of heirs who could neither sell nor bequeath it. Henry's object was to give an opportunity to barons to ignore the entail and sell, thus lessening their power.

However, the greatest impact of this Tudor century on Chorleywood was the dissolution of the monasteries and farewell to the Abbot, the lord of the village's manor, over many reigns. From l536-l540, Henry VIII (1509-47) and his henchman, Thomas Cromwell, put England through what has been described as one of the most dramatic events of our history. The abbey was an unhappy place and Robert Catton, the current lord of the manor, unpopular. Yet he fought to save the abbey until replaced. Most of the monastic property was gifted by the King to a Sir Richard Lee. Other chances took place, but the abbey became a parish church and grammar school, restored in Victorian and modern times.

Undoubtedly, Chorleywood was not against losing its lord of the manor. The properties under his surveillance became independently owned and the day of the lord abbot and his tussle with tenants over numerous issues forgotten. The replacement abbot accepted a huge pension and so did other monks, but whether local people had strong feelings about it all, apart from those deeply religious, is unknown.

Chorleywood was a thriving community and profited from its wool  production. Enclosure of land became a feature of the period, mainly to improve food production. but also to aid the landowners, who saw the progress that could come from sheep farming. Tudor government did not agree. Eleven enclosure acts were passed to check harmful enclosures. Although one devised by Cardinal Wolsey in 1536 restricted a farm to no more than 2,000 sheep, enclosures went on and continued through the 16th and 17th centuries.

There is little to report in our area. At the end of Elizabeth's reign the first regular poor law was passed. Chorleywood might or might not have found this useful. Justices of the Peace were able to appoint overseers of the poor in each parish, giving them powers to raise money by taxation for the housing and feeding of the indigent and deserving poor. Thus something of
a partnership between central and local government came into being,  entirely different from the old lord-of-the-manor system, which had been a bone of contention in villages throughout the country and certainly in Chorleywood. Readers will recall earlier articles which recorded disputes over mills and the abbot's monopoly and disputes over many matters.

We have touched on a few domestic affairs during the hundred years or more of the Tudors. The great explorations and the wide legislation must not be forgotten and more will be said later, leading to the turbulence of the 17th century.

© L.E. Questor