Ayot Green

Ayot Green around 1905, looking north west towards Ayot St Peter Road. The smithy can be seen in the background of this picture

Ayot Green is the main green of the parish and has presumably existed in more or less its present form at least since the current Brocket Hall was built by Sir Matthew Lamb in the 18th century. The Hall and much of the park lie in the neighbouring parish of Lemsford (until 1858-59, Lemsford was included in Hatfield parish) but part of the park to the north of the Hall lies inside the southern boundary of Ayot St Peter parish. Ayot Green was sometimes called Ayot Great Green to distinguish it from Ayot Little Green.

Most of the houses facing the Green were in the ownership of the trustees of the Brocket Estate (successors of Lords Melbourne, Cowper and Brocket) until they began to make sales of the freeholds following the death of the 2nd Lord Brocket on 24 March 1967.

Before their sale, many of the cottages were occupied by Brocket estate staff and there was a fair amount of movement between Ayot Green and Lemsford as workers were allocated different cottages.

These early photographs show that Ayot Green was not mown at all frequently prior to World War II, and there were far fewer trees than there are today. In particular there appear to have been no chestnut trees; these were planted in the 1930s to mark either the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 or the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.

Ayot Green is a conservation area and many of the cottages are listed Grade II. Both Greens were registered as common land in 1971.

This is a gallery of old pictures around the Green – if anyone has any additonal images we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Another view of Ayot Green around 1905, looking north west towards Ayot St Peter Road. The cottages on the left were demolished for Haven House to be built in 1913. The building on the right was Draper’s post office and shop.
A similar view from about 1905 – the building on the right was Draper’s shop and post office, and beyond that it is just possible to see the smithy
William Wardill (near the door) outside his cottage on Ayot Green, that was demolised to build Haven House for his nephew George.
Draper’s shop and post office, with George and Sarah Draper and some of their family posed outside. The sign over the door reads “Post Office”. This picture was probably taken in the 1890s. George Draper was a blacksmith who ran the smithy next door, and also the post office. George and Sarah had nine children – two sons were killed in WW1 and are remembered on the war memorial – George and Samuel. Two daughters are buried in the old churchyard – Grace who died in 1899 and Mercy who died in 1920. A seperate page shows a gallery of pictures of the Draper family .
Another view from about 1905 with Draper’s post office and the smithy clearly visible in the background. The men are thought to be George Draper and Fred Burgess
The Smithy in 1909. The business was owned by George Draper who is shown on the left. Behind him is his son Samuel, and the small boy is his son John. Astride the shaft, wearing an apron is son William, and behind him is son George. The man to the rear of the horse is Fred Burgess. The man holding the horse’s head is unknown.
A view of Ayot Green from around 1910
Another early picture of the north side of the Green
A postcard published in the 1920s showing the village pump. In the background, on the far right hand side, is the old village hall (reading room) which was demolished to make way for the A1(M) in the 1970s
A similar view of Ayot Green after 1913, when Haven House was constructed to replace the two cottages on the corner. Looking north west towards Ayot St Peter Road
Another view of Haven House, which was built in 1913. More pictures of Haven House and the story of the Wardill family, can be seen here Haven House
A later picture of the Green – probably 1930s
Harriett Emma Wardill (c. 1877 to 1954) on the left, with two friends, photographed from the upstairs of her home Haven House on Ayot Green. Late 1920s. Harriett is buried in the new churchyard at Ayot St Peter along with her husband George Jackson Wardill (who died in 1939).
A view of the Green around 1904
The Post Office around 1911. This is now number 6 Ayot Green
A view across the Green to the Post Office
The Horse & Jockey pub from across the Green. This is now a private house – 5 Ayot Green
The Waggoners public house (which still exists on the Brickwall Close cul-de-sac) in the days when it stood on the Great North Road from London to the north. The reading room can just be seen in the background.
Another view of the Waggoners, showing the pond on the west side of the Great North Road. See also the page of this website that covers the Great North Road
“The Old Man of Ayot Green” an original photo by Thomas Curtis – 2010
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