Rural Heritage Society


In 2002 the Rural Heritage Society published "A Century Remembered" as our celebration of the millennium in Little Gaddesden. A bit late - some said and we have to agree with that, but what started as a simple slim volume of reminiscences of the twentieth century from the residents slowly grew out of all proportion into a huge tome which made significant demands on the production team (pictured below) of John Leonhardt (Editor), Peter Grainger (Designer and Production Controller) and Anne Wooster (Project Manager) ably assisted throughout by Lyn Hyde, all of whom had lives to live and jobs to do in the meagre spare time that the book allowed.

336 pages, hard back, cloth bound, now available for only 10

You can buy a copy from any member of the committee (see the contact page), from the Village Shop, or, if you would like copies delivered just click the button below, tell us how many you want, send your name, address and telephone number and one of us will call.

order book

The book is available at such a ridiculously low price thanks, in the main, to the tenacity of another committee member - Gerald Humphreys, who realised that the growth rate of the publication, from our original estimate of 144 pages, far exceeded the cost estimates for its production, thus we needed to attract funds to subsidise our efforts.

Gerald was like a dog with a rabbit and, eventually, his perseverance paid off and he achieved a most generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund coupled with a grant from Dacorum Borough Council's Millenium Fund which broke the back of the production costs. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of Ashridge Management College who kindly offered to sell the book on our behalf and last but by no means least, we thank Nash at the Village Shop who is selling the book without making any charge at all.

Information about the Heritage Lottery Fund is available from their website at

Press reviews on the book were published in the Chiltern Society newsletter book review (see below) and the Gazette. (The Chiltern Society web site is at


"A Century Remembered" - a celebration of the millennium in Little Gaddesden

"When I spoke at this Heritage Society's AGM last year, news of the book was given: it was late, it was large, and it was proving to be an all consuming occupation for its editor and his band of helpers. Now I have seen why; this is a real book, a hard-back A4, superbly produced, thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Dacorum Borough Council, and even I, who know nothing much about the Little Gaddesden area, was fascinated with my dip into the wealth of events and people in this area, which includes Ringshall, Hudnall and Ashridge.

John Leonhardt, the editor, has covered a century in the area, including a chronological history, topics about the church, the National Trust, Ashridge College and many more places and events. Both notable and ordinary folks have a place, and there are some really excellent photos, both black and white and colour, and land use comparison maps. I think I would want this book, if only for the named map of field and wood names, so often assumed to be common knowledge, and, most unusually, of public footpaths and bridleways, and conservation areas.

Perhaps of greatest interest to us campaigners is the story of the saving of the Ashridge Estate in 1925, and its subsequent acquisition by the National Trust. The family trees are also of great interest, in this connection particularly - and not just the beech trees in Ashridge, saved, literally for the nation. You will treasure this one"


Hertfordshire Genealogy also reviewed the book recently:

Hertfordshire Genealogy: Book 0157: A Century Remembered (Little Gaddesden)

Books on Hertfordshire

A century remembered

The Village Millennium Book for Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Ashridge

Edited by John Leonhardt

Rural Heritage Society, 2000

A4 hardback, 319 pages, many photographs

This book is a wonderful collection of articles and rememberances of the area, with much useful reference material, well structured by the editor. For anyone who wants to know about the village's recent history, and about how it is now, the book is an essential read, and many of the articles are real gems. The village is very lucky to have such a well-produced record.

There are two main sections. There is a chronological history from 1891 to the 1990s and this is followed by a "Topics" section which covers About the parish, The Churches, Ashridge College, Educational Establishments, Shops trades and businesses, The National Trust, Farms and Smallholdings, Sport and Outdoor pursuits. Other social organisations, Buildings in the village and The natural world.

As the title suggests, there is only limited information on the village and the nearby hamlets before about 1900, and the articles on John O'Gaddesden's House (links back to the 14th century) and the Manor House (v/hich has a stone tablet dating it from 1576) concentrate very much on the buildings' 20th century history. Having said this there are several features that will attract the genealogist.

The chief is a section of "Families in residence for the whole of the 20th century." This contains accounts of a number of families, often with family trees firmly routed in the 19th century, including the following surnames: Andrews, Fountain, Forester, Janes, Jones, Liberty, Mogg, Oakins, Orange, Page, Purton, Rogers, Saunders, Stanbridge, and Talbot. There is a residents list from the 1891 census (and a list of the inhabitants in 1999). There is also a Roll of Honour which gives short biographies or the men of Little Gaddesden who died in the First World War. The following is a typical example:

177585 Sapper Samuel George OAKINS of the Depot, Royal Engineers was killed in action on 11.11.1917 aged 33 and is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery Belgium.

Born on 2.12.1883, he entered school on 18.4.1887 and lived at [36] Little Gaddesden. He was awarded a certificate, having distinguished himself in Religious Knowledge examinations as noted in the school log of 22.2.1895. He left school inl895 with a certificate of of proficiency and enlisted in Berkhamsted.

[Note - the "house number" is presumably the 1891 census enumeration number.]

The review above was updated in August 2005

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