500th Anniversary

Lease granted to John Halsey in 1520 (held in the Archives at Hertfordshire County Council (www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/hals)  Ref: 14697)

2020 marks 500 years since John Halsey alias Chamber obtained the lease for the Golden Parsonage and Home Farm from Elizabeth, Prioress of Dartford in 1520, setting in motion half a millennium of continuous custodianship. 

The COVID-19 virus has indefinitely postponed several events we had planned to celebrate this milestone, including, in April and May respectively, a special family church service and a farm open day. (We are still hoping to be able to run our 'Gaddesden 500 Park & Ride' event on Sunday 13th September; further details on our Park & Ride page)


Several projects are still in train, however, including an oral history series being undertaken by Imperial War Museum historian Jonathan Kempster, who we are extremely fortunate to have living on the doorstep. The first instalment of his recordings, with members of the farm workforce from the 1970s onwards, can be found below. We are also in the process of collating previously-unseen photos and archive material, and hope to develop a series of slideshows which will also be included on this page.  A substantial tree-planting initiative is planned for later this year or early 2021.

Finally, we still hope to set up a 'Gaddesden 500 Fund', the main beneficiary of which will be the historic church at Great Gaddesden, which provides an irreplaceable service to the local community after nearly a thousand years of continuity, but which has never been in need of more support. If you would like to help us in this venture please email [email protected]. Celebrating our quincentenary has been both an exciting and humbling experience. It has also presented a chance to look forward as well as back. While our plans for the future may have radically shifted in only a few months, knowing that previous generations have faced adversity and survived is no unsmall source of comfort.

Gaddesden 500 Oral History Project

In February 2020 we were fortunate to have a visit from oral historian Jonathan Kempster. Taking a break from his work for the Imperial War Museum and the BBC, he spent a morning reminiscing with Reg and Jackie Cornthwaite, Mick Matthews and Michael Frewin - all former members of the home farm team or house team - plus Avril Burns and Nicholas and Guy Halsey.  Below are the first in a series of clips which resulted from this meeting. The whole collection can be found on our SoundCloud page 

Gaddesden Estate · Education
Gaddesden Estate · Slurry
Gaddesden Estate · Old and New Ways
Gaddesden Estate · 'Farming Spirit' (listen to the end!)
Gaddesden Estate · Remembering Guy Marsden Halsey, Father to Nicholas and Grandfather to Guy
Gaddesden Estate · 'A Two Thousand Acre Playground'
Gaddesden Estate · Women in Farming: on Being as Good as, or Better, than the Men

Gaddesden 500 Archive Project

More coming soon