On November 9, 1690 near South Mimms, several highwaymen stopped a London-bound convoy and robbed it of the £15,000 in taxes it was carrying from the Midlands. During the holdup the highwaymen waylaid other passing travelers, plundered them and tied the victims to nearby trees.
Despite some arrests and the threat of execution by hanging, bands of highwaymen continued to target travellers in the area. One of the most famous of these highway crimes occurred on the summer evening of August 23, 1692. John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, veteran of the battles of Sedgemoor and Walcourt, was riding in his coach attended by an escort of dragoons along the St Albans Road (he had an estate in St Albans). The coach carried a treasure chest packed with gold and silver coins. A band of perhaps 40 highwaymen ambushed Marlborough and his retinue. In the ensuing melee with the dragoons, as many as 10 highwaymen were killed. The bandits nevertheless managed to relieve the duke of 500 guineas. The ringleader of this and other escapades in the area was ‘Captain’ James Whitney.
Whitney was born into a poor family in Stevenage in about 1660. He started work as a butcher’s apprentice in Hitchin, and later became the landlord of the George Inn at Cheshunt (some sources report the name of the establishment as the White Bear or the Bell). His position as a publican put Whitney in contact with a stream of colourful characters, and highwaymen were among his patrons.
The business however proved unprofitable, and some of his criminal friends tried to convince Whitney to join their ranks and ‘take to the road.’ Tempted by visions of adventure and riches, the landlord ultimately agreed. Whitney’s cleverness, and perhaps his penchant for fancy clothes and manners, soon had him promoted to leader of his own gang, and he came to be referred to as ‘Captain’.
The size of the band varied, and Whitney periodically broke up the group and operated alone – the latter a tactic intended to confuse the authorities. The number of Whitney’s gang is reported to have been anywhere between 30 and 80 men. He is thought to have had 50 by 1690 when he targeted the coach at Wash Lane in South Mimms carrying £15,000 of tax money.
James Whitney was arrested and sent to Newgate prison. He was eventually caught and hanged at Tyburn for his crimes in 1693.
you may already be aware, Hertsmere Borough Council is preparing a new Local
Plan which will include the long-term plan for growth across the Borough,
including housing and infrastructure.
that in mind, the Parish Council have been working with Hertsmere planning
officers to look at local options for development, which would best suit the
needs of the village over the next fifteen years.
We were due to hold a public engagement event on Friday 3rd April
2020, but due to the Coronavirus outbreak, all non-essential public
meetings have been postponed until further notice. This includes our monthly Parish Council public
meeting on the first Thursday of the month.
In the interim period, SMPC will continue to liaise with
Hertsmere planning officers to explore options for South Mimms and more
information on these approaches will be provided in due course.
Clearly this is not an appropriate time for a public engagement
event on the future of our village, but please be assured your opinion
matters and we will be looking to re-arrange the event for a suitable time in
the future. The exact
specifics of how this event will run are yet to be established but we look
forward to sharing details with you as soon as we are able to.
South Mimms Parish Council will be commencing a period of public consultation in April, to gather the villagers’ views on what the future shape and feel of South Mimms should be. Only AFTER this exercise will the Councilors be available to meet developers of any potential sites for new homes, to discuss matters.
South Mimms Parish Council, working with the charity Defibrillators in Public Places (DiPPs) has now installed a fully automated defibrillator in a cabinet outside The White Hart pub. The cabinet is locked with a pin code which can be obtained from the emergency services when dialing 999 for the victim. Training sessions (paid for by the Parish Council for residents) are going to be arranged for February and dates will go on our notice boards and in the Church newsletter.
South Mimms Parish Council has secured funding for two speed data points to be set up by Hertfordshire Highways. These will monitor speeding traffic, over a seven day period, at two of the main entry / exit points in the village. Once the data has been obtain and analysis has taken place, we hope that the evidence will mean further measures to reduce speeding can be introduced.
As many of you may know, South Mimms contains the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle. Historic England’s listing on the castle states ” South Mimms motte and bailey castle is situated on an east-facing slope overlooking the Mimmshall Brook, about 1.25km north-west of South Mimms village. It includes a motte, c.9m in height and 35m in diameter at the base, in the north-west corner of a kidney-shaped bailey which measures 125m north-south by 110m east-west and is surrounded by a bank and ditch. The entrance to the inner bailey was on the south-west side where there is now a causeway across a ditch and a break in the rampart. There are traces of an outer bailey to the south. The castle is thought to have been built by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1141 with a licence from Matilda and was probably destroyed in 1143. Excavations carried out by J Kent in 1961-5 revealed that a timbered tower had been built on the ground with an entrance on the south and that the motte had then been constructed around the tower with spoil from the defensive ditches. Pottery from the 13th and 14th centuries was uncovered during the excavation and suggests that occupation of the site continued after the destruction of the castle.”
Following a dig at the site some years ago, London & Middlesex Archaeological Society published a paper on the castle, which included a fantastic painting by the artist Faith Vardy, which is reproduced under copy -write with the Society’s kind permission.
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While the Local Plan seeks to identify sites across Hertsmere for future housing and employment opportunites, please bear in mind that at present there is no agreement nor a definite proposal for mass development in or near South Mimms. It is however true that three sites, primarily to the west/north west of the village, have been submitted to Hertsmere Borough Council by landowners and developers for consideration for housing/employment under the Local Plan procedure. There are also a more widely dispersed number of other sites, some quite sizeable, included in the potential sites document. You can see the sites under consideration here – South Mimms is covered in section 9 from page 137.
Not all sites submitted will need to be allocated and in the current phase Hertsmere are looking at which are the most appropriate locations across the whole Borough that could be developed. Hertsmere should publish their draft Local Plan proposals in 2020 but no more specific date has been set yet.
The Parish Council is taking a keen interest in all stages of the Local Plan and will represent the views of the local residents at every consultation opportunity
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