FLAMSTEAD - A BRIEF HISTORY
 
Flamstead is a very ancient community with a documented history going back nearly a thousand years.
There was no doubt a settlement here in Roman times and before, but the first record of the village does not appear until the year 1006 when it is mentioned in a Charter granted by King Ethelred to the Abbot of St Albans. The Domesday Book record appearing eighty years later shows it as being held by Ralph de Todeni having been granted to his father, Roger, for services rendered to William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. The de Todeni family were Lords of the Manor for a total of 244 years.
 
In 1298, the last of the line, Robert, was granted permission to hold a market in Flamstead every Thursday and a fair for five days annually at the Feast of St Leonard which shows that at that time it was considered to be a place of some importance. The Church of St Leonard is the focal point of the village and considered by many to be a very a beautiful old building. Precise dating is impossible because it developed in stages, but in general terms it can be said that there was a place of worship on the site in Saxon times, that the earliest part of the present structure, the tower, dates from 1140 and that there can be found in the Church a list of parish priests dating back to 1223.
 
There is a lot to see and admire both inside and outside St Leonardís and visitors are particularly recommended to note the Medieval wall paintings and the Saunders Memorial of 1670. There are many other buildings of importance within the parish, chief of which must be the mansion at Beechwood. Today it is a preparatory school, but the first recorded building on the site was the little nunnery of St Giles-in-the-Wood, founded about 1120 and dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537. Also of considerable interest are the Almshouses opposite the Three Blackbirds, which are dated 1669 and the Three Blackbirds pub itself, the western wing of which is sixteenth century.
 
The best guide to the history of the village is 'A New History of Flamstead' by Eric Edwards, recently reprinted (Oct 2001).
 
 
 

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