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Essendon and Little Berkhamsted

The early Dearmans are from Hertfordshire it seems - just north of their later stomping ground of Enfield, Middlesex.  At the moment the only definite location in Hertfordshire that I have is Essendon a small village just south west of the county town of Hertford and east of Hatfield where Elizabeth I was confined for several years by her sister.  Little Berkhamsted is the next village to Essendon and may have been where William - the earliest known Dearman was born.  He, however, married in Essendon and raised his family there.

Brief aside as a Melbourne inhabitant.  Yes Essendon - home of the Bombers Aussie Rules club and Melbourne’s second airport, is named after this tiny village in Hertfordshire.  I assume that one of the first settlers there must have been from Essendon.

There is not a lot to say about the two villages.  They are quiet little backwaters in the Lea Valley.  This is England’s rural heartland.  Prosperous then and now - it must be part of what is now known as the stockbroker belt - within reach of London for the well-heeled who can afford desirable country residences in picturesque little villages.

Typically for the English countryside there are several large houses in the area which would have employed most of the villagers, including our Dearmans in their time.  In Essendon the largest is Bedwell Park, now a golf club, and owned by various wealthy families in the past, including the brewer Samuel Whitbread who owned it and sold it in William Dearman’s lifetime.  


Hertfordshire Genealogy - In spite of the official sounding title, this appears to be a personal site - however, it has lots of information, pictures and links.  The best site for history and pictures and links really.

Family Search - This page on the Mormons site, lists the available sources for Essendon records.  A very useful page for genealogists

British History Online - Taken from William Page’s 1912 History of the County of Hertford, this is probably the most detailed history of Essendon on the web.

A Vision of Britain - the usual statistics, etc.  But not a lot to say about the place.

Circular walk from Essendon to Bayford -If you’re in the area you might like to take this pretty walk - from Walking Britain

Essendon Society of Change Ringers - maps, statistics, links, gazeteer entries ...

As you can see from the picture above it was a sizeable, though not very beautiful place - apparently enlarged at various points in its history.  the photograph of what is now part of the golf course, gives an impression of how lovely the grounds must have been though.  It would seem that both William Dearman and some of his wife’s family lived in cottages on the property.

Another notable property in the area is Camfield Place, shown on the old plan below.  Barbara Cartland lived here for many years.  The beautiful old map of 1791 shows Essendon (Esindon), Bedwell Park, Little Berkhamsted and the adjacent towns of Hertford (Hartford) and Hatfield.

Also typical of the English countryside there were a couple of pubs, a church and a mill.  The church is pretty and dedicated to St. Mary (I’m not sure which one), and apparently has a Wedgewood font.  The bell ringers seem to be a dedicated group still - I believe the bells are noteworthy - and they have their own website.  Their site has quite a lot of information about the bells.  The pubs are called The Salisbury Crest (formerly the King’s Head) and The Rose and Crown (formerly The Crown), both of which I now realise are very royalist kind of names.  The excellent Hertfordshire Genealogy site has much more information about the buildings in and around Essendon.  I have included below some pictures from their site.  I hope they will forgive me for ‘stealing’ them.  (If not let me know.)

The contemporary painting of Essendon, at left, is by Juliet Walshe

Little Berkhamsted is an even tinier village adjacent to Essendon.  It too has a pretty church, a pub and also a memorial tower.

The British History Online site has the best history of the villages.  I must visit them next time I am there.