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North Mymms - Parish and People
by Dorothy Colville

Chapter 16 - Hawkshead House and Abdale

Hawkshead House, now part of the Royal Veterinary Society College, is not as old as its neighbour, Hawkshead Farm. The farm is probably the older by at least 200 years and may possibly be the property that was already in existence in 1520.

Hawkshead House was the home of Lord and Lady Clauson from early 1900 until their deaths within six weeks of each other in the spring of 1946. They were always closely involved in parish affairs.

Lord Clauson was educated at Merchant Taylors and Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1891 and took silk in 1910. He had a distinguished career and was made a C.B.E. for his services to the Admiralty. He became Lord Justice of Appeal in 1938 and retired in 1942, when he was created a baron. Of him the Dictionary of National Biography says "He had a clear logical mind finding felicitous expression in apt and lucid language." Lady Clauson was a charming and gracious lady, interested in the local Women’s Institute and the girls of Water End school, while be "by a kindliness of heart imperfectly concealed by a somewhat austere manner won the affection of a large circle of friends." (D.N,B.) Their memorial in church bears the words "They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths were not divided."


Abdale at Water End is a pleasant late-eighteenth-/early-nineteenth-century house. During the time the Rev. Horace Meyer was vicar of North Mymms Abdale was occupied by a retired business man, Archibald Paris, who had lived in Hadley Wood for about forty years. In 1850 he had come with his wife and daughters to live at Water End, leaving his son, Thomas, to continue opposing the coming of the railway through Hadley. A slight accident to Mr. Paris – "he had actually had his leg pass through the floor of his pew into the vault below" wrote the vicar - had strengthened the vicar’s desire to see the restoration of the church. The restoration took place during 1859.

One Christmas season during the 1939-45 war Abdale sheltered a very important young man. A party of the Young People’s Fellowship touring the parish singing carols in aid of the Red Cross called at Abdale, although the house was thought to be empty. They were greeted by a young woman, who exclaimed

"English carol-singers." Interviewed by an interpreter, the little group was eventually ushered in and invited to sing to the company of staid men assembled in the hall. Soon the young people and the obvious foreigners were singing each in their own language the carols of their own countries. The young woman, dressed in an unfamiliar costume, produced a tray on which were tiny glasses of " sweet water" and a dish of unusual biscuits. A car was heard and in came a slim young man. It was noticed that the older men treated him with great deference. Hosts and visitors toasted each other in the sweet water, the collecting box received a gift and the bemused young people left, speculating upon the strangers.

During January a national picture magazine had a four-page spread showing King Peter "of Yugoslavia and members of his Cabinet. There was his Minister for Defence, there his Education Minister—they had mimed the Christmas story so short a time before. The strangers at Abdale were identified.

Dorothy Colville, 1971

Chapter 17 - Moffatts House and Muffets Farm
Index - North Mymms Parish and People

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