Welcome to the Local History of Henham, Little Henham and Pledgdon

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Henham is a parish of about 1,500 people settled long before the Domesday Book of 1085. It is situated about five miles north-east of Bishops Stortford in the English county of Essex. Expansion of the village, development of Stansted Airport and proposed building of a nearby new town (aka 'Dumpton') would change Henham immeasurably. Here we try to record the village as it was, as it is now, unless or before it is lost. Formerly known as Henham on the Hill and Henham on the Mount, the parish also includes the two hamlets of Little Henham and Pledgdon (or Prison Green).

If you are interested in history talks and publications from nearby villages, there is now a page.

WHAT's NOT SO NEW - as of the 6th. December 2016. A December reminder of a poor Henham family 123 years ago.


An Awful Case. At the Saffron Walden County Session. Margaret Ricketts, a single woman, and George Baker, a labourer, who lived together at Berden, were charged with having the custody of four children aged 2, 5, 10, and 14 and neglecting and exposing them, to the injury of their health. Inspector Hayes stated that he visited the defendants' house on the 13th Nov., at Berden. He saw the woman and the four children. She called the male defendant down from upstairs, and witness then went upstairs. The stench was abominable. There was not a vestige of furniture in the whole house, and sacks were used for beds. There was not even a stool to sit upon. The children were ragged and filthy, and their hair was matted together; they had not a shoe to their feet. Arthur Seabrook, farmer, said he found the family in a deplorable state, and a very bad smell arose from the filthiness. P.C. Mules deposed that he had known the woman for five years, and knew her to be of the worst description. He took her and the children to the Workhouse on the 8th May. On the 24th they all came out again. He found them under a hedge. The children were then in a wretched condition, filthy, and covered with excrement, and also full of skin disease. He conveyed them to the Workhouse again on the 29 May, but they had since left it. Witness visited the cottage on the 6th of this month, and found the children in a filthy state. They were so black that you could not see the colour of their skin. There were only three hard crusts, a screw of tea, and about half an ounce of margarine in the house. The man had been living on the beggings of the children. Witness had seen the man and woman dragging the children to Stansted and Stortford. Sunday, the 12th., was the last time he saw them together. He had heard the woman use awful threats towards the children, and say she would jam their insides up into their throats. Sergeant Kemp proved ejecting the family from a house in Henham, twelve months ago, which was in a filthy condition. Mrs. Hammond said she had known the family seven weeks. She knew the house was very dirty and had seen the children begging. She never heard such fearful language as the woman used towards her children. The bench committed both defendants to prison for two months, with hard labour. The children were ordered to be removed to the Workhouse, pending the decision of the Society (National Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Children) as to their future keep.