Castle, Causewell or Cresswell Farm, Wheathampstead


Also information on Dolphin Smith and Mackrey End Farm

July 2002

David Baker (davidjmbaker @t owns the above picture of Castle Farm, Wheathampstead, which was painted by E. A. Phipson (q.v.) in 1901. In addition to providing information on the artist he said: About 20+ years ago, when we were living in Harpenden, I found a watercolour for sale in Petersfield inscribed on the reverse in pencil "Castle (Cresswell?) Farm occupied by Mr. Jabez Nash".  It is signed "Evacustes A. Phipson Wheathamstead 1901".  I think this farm was (or maybe still is) on the River Lea.  Checking my copy of the 1881 census I see that 20 years earlier a Jabez Nash, born about 1849 was a labourer living with his wife and 5 children in the Folly Wheathamstead - so I assume this is the same man.

Castle Farm is on the road between Wheathampstead and Harpenden villages, on the bank of the River Lea.  The following description comes from "About Wheathampstead":

Over a short rise one sees the farm buildings and doll's house shape of CASTLE FARM. Castle Farm was probably built about 1620, and is a substantial example of a two room house with a central chimney, of the early seventeenth century. It is, however, not typical of its period as Little Cutts is. The features that make it unusual are its central chimney stack—usually the stack is off centre—; its depth from front to back—22 feet—. and its third storey, which is made possible by the depth and its high gables. These features, together with its substantial timber construction, suggest that it was the house of a wealthy farmer. The two room house plan, with a kitchen heated from one side of the central stack and a parlour on the other, was at this time restricted to the better off. The present kitchen and laundry on the south side are later additions; the windows have been altered to give a symmetrical facade. and the timbers visible on the outside arc sham. We know that John Brocket went to live at Castle Farm after he had sold Mackerye End in 1628; if he had had it built for himself this would explain the unusual quality of the house. Inside, on the mantel piece in one of the bedrooms, is scratched what looks like J. Becket. Possibly this was the work of Jeremy Becket who was buried from the farm about 1690. Two Bartholomew Humphreys, in succession, farmed here between 1753 and 1783. The name, Castle Farm, is a modern corruption of the medieval name Creswell, a spring that fed water cress beds; and some old cress beds can be seen between the farm and a mound to the west. These cress beds were in use at least until the 1939-45 war. The Cherry-Garrards, incidentally, used to have cray fishing parties in the river by the farm.

It is shown on Oliver's 1695 map of Hertfordshire as Causewel , Dury & Andrew's 1766 map as Causewell and Bryant's 1822 map as Causwell Farm. A housing development is shown on the area on modern road maps. It is not explicitly listed on the 1851 census (possibly one of the properties simply described as on the Luton Road, and it is possible that the fields were already being farmed with those of Mackery End Farm. It is not listed by name in the 1881 census - but all the households in the area, including the one occupied by Jabez Nash, are listed under "The Folly" so he could have been living in the house then.

The 1912 Hertfordshire Directory (reproduced by Archive CD Books within the last month) has two relevant entries under Wheathampstead:

Nash, Jabez, farm bailiff to Dolphin Smith esq., Castle Farm, Luton Road
Smith, Dolphin, farmer, Mackrey End & Castle Farms

The Wheathampstead entry in the 1922 Directory gives:

Nash, David, farm bailiff to Dolphin Smith, Castle Farm, Luton Road
Smith, Dolphin, farmer, Mackrey End & Castle Farms

Now the Dolphin Smith to which these entries refer was grandson of Dolphin Smith (1805-1885) of Ramsbury, Wiltshire and Water End Farm in the River Lea (then Sandridge, now Wheathampstead) and son of Dolphin Smith (1838-1902) of Mackrey End Farm, Wheathamptead. Dolphin Smith (1879-1956) was also at Mackrey End Farm, while the last in the line, William Dolphin Smith (1915-1945) was killed in action during the war. The only other reference I have linking a Dolphin Smith to Castle Farm was an undated mention in an article "Recollections of Wheathampstead fifty years and more ago" in the Hertfordshire Countryside of July 1975 which simply reads:

... Grandfather Alfred [Matthews] was shepherd to Mr Dolphin Smith, of Castle Farm, in the Lea Valley, after whom the cottages [The Dolphins] were subsequently named. ...

I suspect that Dolphin Smith (1838-1902) acquired Castle Farm in the 1890s, employing Jabez Nash as his Bailiff, and this was the situation at the time Evacustes Phipson painted Castle Farm in 1901. Dolphin Smith (1879-1956) continued with both Mackrey and Castle Farms after his father's death. It would be very interesting to know if he also painted a picture of Mackrey End Farm.

December 2003

Chris & Ruth Coles (colescf @t write: We were very interested to come across your page on Castle Farm as we bought it from Bernard Wombwell (a local farmer and farm manager to the Werhners at Luton Hoo) in early 1967 and have been here ever since. We have been contacted at various times by previous occupants including the Nash family who still live in the Aldenham area.

Also we have had lengthy correspondence with a Margaret Vidall now living in the Lake District who was brought up here pre WW2 and whose family operated the watercress beds and made wicker baskets to send the produce to London from Wheathampstead Station. She also kindly sent us copies of various photographs she had of the farm.

We have also found reference to the Farm in The Victorian History of England / History of Hertfordshire page 296 !

February-April 2010

Including more information on Dolphin Smith and Mackrey End

Mary Plackett (mplackett @t of St Albans points out that Causewell Farm is identified by name in the 1841 census. She says the farmer, Richard Gulston, was the third son of Richard Gulston who farmed at King's Langley.

Causewell Farm is also named in the 1851 census where it is listed between Batford Mills and The Folly. The occupier is William A Grigg born in Newbury, Berks who is described as "Farmer of 150 acres employing 7 labourers"..

She later added: I think the tenant previous to Richard Gulston in 1841 may have been his second eldest brother William Gulston who died aged 31 from "water on the brain" in 1840.  His death certificate only says farmer, Wheathampstead, so I've no proof. William had fairly recently married Charlotte Smith, who went back to live with her father in Kings Langley.  It's tempting to think there may have been a link between the Smiths - but it's such a common name it's probably highly unlikely!

Very interesting - as I had missed that one - as it is in my family research files from about 1981 - and below I extend the information I had using present day online tools.. William Alsup Grigg married Ellen Atherton in the Hungerford registration district Oct-Dec 1844. He died on 9th February 1860, aged 45, and  was buried at Wheathampstead Parish Church.

In 1861 his widow Ellen was visiting Thomas Austin, his wife - and her sister - Ann and their family in Speen, Berkshire. Twenty years later. in 1881 she was visiting Jason Austin (probably brother of Thomas Austin), who farmed Manor Farm, West Shefford, Wiltshire. By 1891 Ellen Grigg was living with her nephew Edward Austin (51, born Speen, Berkshire) and his family at 53 St David's Road. Portsea. Portsmouth. Edward was the son of Ellen's sister, Ann Atherton (born circa 1814) and Thomas Austin.

Things start getting more interesting when one realises that Ellen had another sister - Maria Atherton (my great great grandmother) who married Dolphin Smith and who moved to Water End Farm from Ramsbury, Wiltshire, in about 1845 - probably about the same time that William and Ellen Grigg moved to Causewell Farm from Wiltshire. Water End Farm is a few miles East of Causewell/Castle  Farm on the River Lee. By the time of the 1861 census Ellen's 22 year old nephew, Dolphin Smith junior had moved to Mackray End Farm while William Minall (born Ramsbury, Wiltshire) is described as Foreman living at Castle Farm. William Minall was still at Castle Farm in the 1871 census (recorded as Minelehall).

What appears to have happened is that when William Grigg died Dolphin Smith junior (just 21) took on the running of Mackrey End and Castle Farms - with a faithful farm worker from Ramsbury acting as Foreman. Dolphin Smith junior remained at Mackrey End Farm until his death in 1902 - when he was succeeded by his son, yet another Dolphin Smith - who was still there in 1937. He had left the farm by 1949 and died in 1956. His own son William Dolphin Smith died in the Second World War.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.