My name is Michael Hodgetts and I was born in Brookdene Avenue in Oxhey in 1936. In recent years I have been studying various subjects at Summer School at Oxford. On a course called the geography of Saxon Place names the tutor passed me the Saxon Parishes for Hertfordshire.
With mounting excitement I found the details of the boundaries of Oxan-gehaege, one of three pieces of extensive land granted by Offa to St Albans. You may be familiar with the following which was repeated in the Book of Watford in 1951, a copy of which was given to me by my grandfather.
For generations we were an Oxhey Family, closely linked to St Matthews Church. My grandfather’s great-grandfather was Wm Hodgetts, Schoolmaster of Pinner. His son was Henry Hodgetts, Bootmaker of Pinner, the next grandfather 44 years with the railway, lived in one of the new houses built for railway people.
The names of Bushey and Oxhey seem a little flexible. But here is the genesis:
The manor of Cashio was given by King Offa in the 33rd year of his reign to St Albans. And by the great quantity of land contained in Cashio it seems that Watford was comprehended within it. (In fact as you might know the concept of Watford itself was a much later creation)
The Anglo-Saxon Parish of Oxhey:
In the history of the country side nearly all identification was by topographical feature. Every field had a name. The field above Wiggen Hall in Oxhey is believed to have been called the Kings Field after King Offa. At this stage I will not go into further general detail about key places in SW Hertfordshire and their origin except to explain one key name: A Saxon farmer called Caege owned land in the Gade River Valley (probably near the Grammar School). The term ‘ ho ‘ is land encircled by water and that owned by Caege became known as Caege’s-ho or Caisho or Cashio.
The Limit of the Franchises of St Albans:
The three adjacent parishes well known to us are Batchworth, Oxhey and Bushey. The southern boundary of these three became successive markers and were probably identified in the first place because of their closeness to the Earthwork called Grimes Dyke, not a Saxon build as some say, because of Offa’s Dyke in the England Wales border. Certainly maintained at the time of Cassivellaunus and therefore pre-dating the Romans. My guess is that it extended from the Colne near Ruislip, at least to Harrow Weald (Grimsdyke). Similar earthworks are found around St Albans and of course in the north of the country near Wheathamsted where Cassivellaunus was defeated. It gives me some pleasure to find that the boundary of Three Rivers is significantly the same. Further when King Edward was building Hertford and Berkamsted castles in his war against the Danes, he created Hertfordshire out of Middlesex using once again our honoured boundary mentioned above. Bysc-gehaege (Bushey hedges), Oxan-Gehaege (Oxen hedges) and Baecces-wyrth (Baecce’s farm).
Parish of Oxhey
Here is the Saxon boundary of the Parish of Oxhey complete with translations:
- From (the river to) Wuderwyroe (Pudawyrth) and Mapyuldor-geat; (near Oxhey Lane):
- From there to East Hele (East Hook) at boundaries of three districts (thrym gemaerum):
- Thence to the Cross (Crystelmael) or crucifix:
- The Small Oak: the Boundary Thorn (Hawthorn)
- And so to the Defe (also called thaere defe or defence)
- To the Beorclege (birch woods = Oxhey Woods)
- To Cudhelming bean (barn) = Hampermill:
- Over the old style; to the well (Brightwells); along the river to Colne Bridge
Wuder wyroe OE: wudu or wuder = wood, therefore ‘wood row
Puda wyrth OE: Saxon personal name, OE Puda or Peoda’s worth or enclosure/homestead
Mapyuldorgeat OE mapulderr = maple, goet or geat =gate
Thrym gemaerum – three measures, Oxhey, Bushey and Harrow
Crystel mael – moel = cross, therefore Christ’s Cross
Beorclege OE bi(e)rche= birches, but also bearu, grove of limited size
Bean OE bern or barn, name taken from storage of barley
Cudhelming Saxon personal name(Godalming), followers of Cudhelm
Hampermill Hanne pole mulle, being hens pool and mill
The southern boundary of the Manor of Watford in 1605 compares interestingly with the early Saxon