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North Mymms Park
A short history

Chapter 1

Four miles from Hatfield and six from St. Albans, close to the borders of Middlesex, is North Mymms Park. The house is a beautiful example of "Jacobean" work, dating from the close of the sixteenth century. Its interior has, however, been re-modelled and altered at various times and it now houses a collection of exquisite tapestries collected by the Burns family and probably unrivalled in this part of England.

It is the original Manor of North Mymms from which the smaller Manors of Brookmans, Gobions, Potterells and possibly Parsonage became separated in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries.

Simon Swanlond, a wealthy London merchant, became the owner of this original portion and two of the sub-divided manors, by purchase in the year 1316 and a few years later he added the North or Chantry Chapel to the Church of the Manor and it was either he or his son who, about the year 1340, built the Church (except the tower) which exists today. The last of the Swanlonds to hold the property sold out in 1428 to Sir Thomas Knolles, a Lord Mayor and citizen of London, and it was a descendant of his, Elizabeth Frowyck, who, by marrying John Coningsby of Lincolnshire about the year 1530, brought the property to this family and they retained it until 1658.

We now come to the close of the sixteenth century; the threat of invasion had passed, thanks to the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the increased prosperity of England under Queen Elizabeth was responsible for the era of building palatial houses and mansions on the part of the nobility and owners of manors.

By the year 1590, Elizabeth Coningsby’s grandson, Sir Ralph, had succeeded in the ownership of the Manor. No doubt his position as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire and the contemporary prosperity caused him about the year 1599 to pull down the house of his ancestors which probably stood near the Church, somewhere near where the present vicarage is, and build the house known today as North Mymms.

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 found Sir Thomas Coningsby, second son of Sir Ralph, not only in possession of the house and Manor but also in office as the High Sheriff of the County, a position fraught with danger to the holder because Parliament, by decree, had declared the office abolished and threatened heavy penalties for any Sheriff contravening the decree. These threats did not frighten Thomas Coningsby, staunch cavalier as he was, so when King Charles wrote from his Court, then at Reading, instructing him to rally the County of Hertfordshire to the royal cause, Coningsby proceeded to St. Albans with a party of the King’s men to read the King’s writ at the Eleanor Cross. At this moment Cromwell, who had recently been appointed Lieutenant-General of the Parliamentary forces in East Anglia, arrived with a troop of horses; after a short skirmish Coningsby was arrested and Cromwell came over to North Mymms and ransacked the house.

Sir Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower of London and the Manor was sequestered. About 1650 he was released, no doubt after a heavy fine had been paid. Coningsby died soon afterwards, leaving a family of eighteen children, six sons, and twelve daughters, of whom only one died in infancy.

A few years later (1658), his widow Martha and the eldest son, Harry, sold the property to Sir Nicholas Hyde; Martha went to Potterells and Harry Coningsby -he was knighted at the Restoration in 1660 - retired to The Weld, Shenley and so ended the long period of 128 years that this family had possessed the Manor.

Sir Nicholas Hyde, the new owner, had a grand-daughter Bridget, her father’s heiress. She married the eldest son of Earl Danby - the well known minister of Charles the Second who was later created Duke of Leeds. In 1685 Bridget succeeded to the estate and a few years later her husband, Peregrine Osborne, became the second Duke of Leeds and it was with this family that the ownership remained until the year 1799 when the sixth Duke disposed of the property to Henry Browne.

Chronological History Of The Manor And House North Mymms Park

? -1066 Robert, Bishop of Chester
1066- Sir Hugh de Mandeville
1135-1144 Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex
1144-1316 De Someries
1316-1428 Swanlond
1428-1530 Knolles
1440 - 1450 Tower added to the Church
1530-1658 Coningsby
1599 circa Present house built
1642 Cromwell raided house
1658-1685 Hyde
1685 - 1799 Dukes of Leeds
1799-1823 Henry Browne
1823 - 1825 Sir William Heygate
1825-1869 Baron Greville
1846-1847 Turrets and corridors added to house
1870-1889 Coningsby Sibthorp
1889-1893 Bruce
1893-1979 Burns
1894 - 1904 Additions made to house
1979 - 1987 Two overseas owners
1987- 1992 Elders IXL
1992 Glaxo

Chapter 2 - Tapestries
Index North Mymms Park - A short history

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