St Lawrence the Martyr Church
|Post town:||Abbots Langley|
Abbots Langley is a large village in Hertfordshire. It is an old settlement and is mentioned (under the name of Langelai) in the Domesday Book. Economically the village is closely linked to Watford with which its outskirts are growing partially contiguous.
Abbots Langley lies just within the ring of the M25, its High Street at the top of the hill, the residential developments spilling off it. The village stands above the valley of the River Gade which valley has been taken into servive to provide a route not only for the river but for the railway line, the Grand Union Canal, the A41 and the M25 motorway. Roads escape the village to the valley only beneath two narrow railway bridges, in the very north, where Gallows Hill heads out to Kings Langley, and in the south at Hunton Bridge.
In the south, the Leavesden Studios provide a welcome green space between Abbots Langley and North Watford.
The parish church of St Lawrence the Martyr was built in 1150.
This village has had a long history of successful human habitation: the first traces of human habitation in the area were recorded by renowned archaeologist Sir John Evans (1823 – 1908). The village sits on a saucer of clay covered by a layer of gravel, and as a result water supply has never been a problem; records show that in earlier times water could be drawn from a well just 20 feet deep.
In 1045 the thegn Æthelwine 'the black' granted the upper part of Langley to St Albans Abbey as Langlai Abbatis (Latin for "Abbot's Langley"), the remainder being the king's Langley. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 the village was inhabited by 19 families.
The area was split into four manors, Abbots Langley, Langleybury, Chambersbury, and Hyde. In 1539, Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey of St Albans and sold the manor of Abbots Langley to his military engineer Sir Richard Lee. The Manor of Abbots Langley was bequeathed by Francis Combe in his will of 1641 jointly to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and Trinity College, Oxford.
The manors of Langleybury and Chambersbury passed through the Ibgrave and Child families, and in 1711 were conveyed to Sir Robert Raymond then Solicitor General later Attorney General and Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. On the death of his son without issue in 1756 the manors passed to the Filmer family.
The Manor of Hyde passed to Edward Strong in 1714, through his daughter to Sir John Strange, who left the manor to be shared between his children and their descendents (including Admiral Sir George Strong Nares) and then to the possession of F.M. Nares & Co which sold the estate to the British Land Company in 1858.
Kitters Green developed as a separate hamlet by Manor House. The land between Kitters Green and Abbots Langley was bought from the estate of Sarah Smith by the British Land Company in 1866. It laid out plots for development along Adrian, Breakspear, Garden and Popes roads. The development of these plots led to the merger of the two settlements and the loss of Kitters Green's separate identity.
The recent Katherine Place development has brought in some high class retailers to the centre and was sold for £2.93 million in December 2005. To the south of the village are Leavesden Film Studios, on the former Rolls-Royce airfield.
Nicholas Breakspear, born as in Abbots Langley around the year 1100, was the only Englishman ever to have become Bishop of Rome, taking the name Pope Adrian IV. Abbots Langley has a number of roads named after him with such names as ("Adrian", "Breakspear", "Pope"). At one time there was even a Brakspear Brewery.
- Hastie, Scott. Abbots Langley—A Hertfordshire Village.. Abbots Langley: Abbots Langley Parish Council. ISBN 0-9520929-0-5.
- Clark, Clive W.. Abbots Langley Then 1760–1960. 143 Sussex Way, Cockfosters, Herts, EN4 0BG: Clive W. Clark. ISBN 0-9531473-0-4.
- William Page, ed (1908). "Abbots Langley". A History of the County of Hertford. Victoria County History. 2. pp. 323–328. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43287. Retrieved 2009-03-11.