Chipperfield’s 16th Century Treasure Trove
An article published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette on 5 October 2011 fired my imagination and inspired me to look back at the notes I had made some years ago about how Chipperfield came to be. The article told how a hoard of 16 silver medieval coins had been found on Chipperfield Common in 2009. They were identified as being one Henry
VI groat 1422— 60, 13 groats from Henry VII’s reign 1485-1509 and a Henry VIII groat dated 1509-26. Who buried them and why? What was the area like around 1530?
It was not until later in the 16th century that there were known to be 14 houses in Chipperfield, which were grouped around The Street, two large farms namely Woodmans and Bulstrode and two smaller farms, Tuffs and Frenches. Pinglesgate House or the Manor House as it was later named had not been built, so it was not exactly a thriving
The Old English form of the name Chipperfield was Chippervillewode, which meant open land for traders,indicating that some form of trading took place on the Common. About a
quarter of a mile away at Penmans Green was the old track along which drovers slowly moved their sheep and cattle on their way to London markets. Did someone do a good deal on Chipperfield Common and, knowing that London was a den of thieves and pickpockets, then decide to bury the money with the intention of collecting it on the
way back north? Sadly perhaps he met his destiny and the money bag lay undiscovered for nearly 500 years!
Kings Langley was where most people in the area lived at that time. The increase in population there began after 1275 when Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I, built a splendid palace at the top of Langley Hill, then called Le Corte Hill, where the Rudolf Steiner School stands today. Within 35 years a Dominican Friary which accommodated 100 friars had been built alongside the palace. This was when opportunists like the Carter family worked hard and earned the money which enabled them
to eventually buy land and move to Chipperfield after the demise of the palace.
In the boom time, when the palace was in its heyday, there would have been great demand for commodities and food for the retinue of the courtiers who stayed there for
several months a year and Chipperfield Common could well have been the place where much of the trading took place.
An extensive park stocked with white deer was established round the palace and it was surrounded by a 4 mile fence or pale with only 5 gatehouses allowing access to the estate. One of these was at Chipperfield and the friars were permitted to use it when they came to their fishpond on the Common or to collect firewood. Did the secret hoard of coins belong to one of the friars, because it was in 1535 that the friary was closed by Henry VIII when hebroke away from the Roman Catholic Church? It was known that some of the friars did sell timber illegally, so what else?
King’s Langley Palace was partially damaged by fire in 1431, but that did not prevent Henry VIII (1509-1547) from offering it to three of his wives, who all declined the offer. However his daughter Princess Elizabeth and future queen, born 1533, did stay there as a child. She would have been accompanied by many bodyguards
and servants, so trading possibilities still existed. From then on the palace fell
into disrepair. It was Elizabeth who ordered the removal of the park fence or pale, thus enabling Chipperfield to develop as a farming community. By 1535 many of the friars had become itinerant craftsmen; some stone from the fire-damaged palace was being re-used to build other houses and the drovers were still taking their animals to London markets. Who, I wonder, came to Chipperfield at that time and buried a hoard of silver coins?