Watercress in Hertfordshire


Watercress in Hertfordshire

by John Lea

Short extract, relating to the Sansom family of Watercress growers

Hertfordshire Countryside Winter 1947-8

Planting watercress cuttings at Croxley Hall Farm, Rickmansworth. In the background inspecting the cuttings is Charles H Sansom,
It is only for a little over one hundred years that serious attention has been given to the commercial cultivation of water­cress in this country, and in the movement Hertford shire occupied a pioneer position. To mention watercress in Hertfordshire is to be immediately reminded of the name of Sansom, for the family has been cultivating the plant for five generations. William Sansom came from Oxfordshire and started growing watercress at Two Waters, Boxmoor, probably in the: year 1837. His younger son Charles succeeded him there, but John, the elder, branched out in a bigger way at Redbourn, and four of John's sons became cultivators of cress at Watford (Cassiobury), Rickmansworth, Whitwell, Hitchin, St. Albans. Welwyn and other place. One surviving son of this third generation, Arthur, continues at Whitwell and Hitchin. The family occupation is being carried on by the fourth generation, and a fifth has become active in it. The Payne family was also among the early growers, and from time to time other growers have become established in the county, some of them having received their training while on the staff of the Sansoms.


Significant References to Watercress

Watercress Beds in the Lemsford area  (1847, 1854 and modern nature reserve)

Tar Damage to Watercress Beds at Hemel Hempstead - in 1914


The Watercress beds at Rye House being tended by the Welch family in the 1930s.

Amwell & Stanstead's Past in Pictures

Joseph Clarke

Joseph Harton

Earl Cowper

Mr Newman

Joseph Parker







water cress


watching stream




House of Correction

hard labour


Herts Mercury

27th April 1844

Some Passing References to Watercress

Cases in St Albans County Court (1871 - Watercress in St Michaels, St Albans)

Hoddesdon's Past In Pictures (Watercress beds at Hoddesdon)

A Redbourn Commoner (Watercress in Redbourn)

Hertfordshire Industry in 1903

Berkhamstead Castle (Watercress in Moat)

Castle, Causewell or Cresswell Farm, Wheathampstead (Medieval "Cress Well")

Croxley Green (Watercress growers of Chess Valley)

Whitwell (Sansom family of Watercress Growers)

DORROFIELD, Hemel Hempstead, etc., 19th/20th century

GINGER, Kings Langley, circa 1800

 WILKINSON, Hoddesdon, circa 1840


The Watercress Beds by the River Gade, Cassiobury Park, Watford

Published by Photochrome


April 2007 Page created - as extract from Herts Countryside
January 2013 Page greatly extended to be Watercress subject page