Hertfordshire A Fascinating County. Codicote

One of the places featured in the book Hertfordshire A Fascinating County is Codicote.

Codicote is a village with a number of interesting people from its past including, a lady farrier who worked into her nineties, a Lord of the Manor who was Surgeon to Henry VIII, a man who was buried twice, and Christina the subject of a television documentary.  

Two miles north of Welwyn on the road to Hitchin it has a triangular centre, the site of the oldest documented licensed premises in the county, and an ancient wood carving known as “The Old Dog”.

In 1267 the Abbot received a grant from King Henry III for a market to be held on Fridays, and the grant of an annual fair was made in 1271 to be held on the Feast of St James on July 25th, the Eve, and the two days following.

The market and fair were held on the area known as “The Hill” where the road from St Albans joined the main road from London, Hatfield and Welwyn to Hitchin.

Christina was born around 1285. Her parents were smallholders who leased a stall in the market, as well as brewing and selling ale and working the fields. Her father gave her shops and property.

In 1319 Christina survived an epidemic which resulted in the death of her husband and brother.

Christina married her second husband who died in 1345. When Christina diedshe left two children who had survived the Black Death which came to Codicote in 1348.

The Peasants Revolt took place in 1381 and Stephen Truebody, a Codicote man, was hanged drawn and quartered by Order of the King. The Abbots mill was set on fire in revenge for his death.

“The Hill” is the triangular area which was once the market place and where the annual fairs were held. The stocks can still be seen on the green in front of “The Noggins” which is now a private house, but it was once The Red Lion Inn. At one time it was run by William Curtis who had the slogan of “The Three C’s, Curtis’s Courtesy Catering”.

The Village sign also standing on the green depicts St Giles Church, the Arms of John Penne, The Old Dog, and The George & Dragon Inn.

The gabled, half timbered building with an overhanging upper storey, which was once the George & Dragon Inn, stands across the road facing the market place. Rebuilt in the sixteenth century it is on the site of the oldest recorded licensed premises in the county, being mentioned in 1279. At one time it was called The Greyhound.

The Church of St Giles has A bookstand has a remarkable medieval wood carving. It has the head of a baboon, ears of a bat, a mane of a horse, the tail of a lion, legs of a goat, and a collar and chain around its neck. Known as “Old Dog” children love to pat its head. It was once lost but found in the lumber room of The Old Curiosity Shop in Drury Lane, London, and returned to the church.

The churchyard has a grave board in memory of John Gootheridge, a farmer and churchwarden, who died on October 30th 1824 at 79 years of age. He was buried here but as a result of a failed attempt by body snatchers, who were disturbed and left his remains lying on the ground, he was reburied a week later. These so called “Resurrection Men” could make today’s equivalent of hundreds of pounds for stolen bodies.