Everyone knows Borehamwood as the home of Indiana Jones and Star Wars, but there is much more to Borehamwood and the surrounding area than the film industry, as Ruth Halkon has discovered.
Feeding the Pigs The earliest reference to Borehamwood, or Bosci de Boreham, as it was originally known, is in 1188, when Pope Clement II gave it to the Abbey of St. Albans to feed their swine.
Legendary battles According to chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, Elstree was the site of the 5th Centaury battle of Ailestreu, when legendary British king Vortigern slew Horsa, who is believed to have led the Anglo Saxon invasion of Britan.
Grisly murders William Weare was killed by John Thurtrell outside the Waggon and Horses in Elstree in 1823. He was shot and his brains gouged out with a knife over a £300 gambling debt. His ghost is said to still haunt the pub.
Death-defying feats In April 1978, stuntman Eddie Kidd secured the world record when he leaped over 14 double-decker buses on his motorbike at the derelict Handley Page aircraft factory in Radlett.
A rare prison Thought to date from the early 18th Century, The Cage in Shenley is one of the last remaining roundhouse gaols in England. Prisoners were housed there before being taken to the magistrates’ courts. It was last used to hold an army deserter duriing the First World War.
Scouting for boys Elstree is the home of one of the oldest Scout unit in the country when Sir Percy Winn Everett, a friend of Lord Baden Powell, became scoutmaster of 1st Elstree Scouts in 1908.
Royal scandal King Charles II was a regular visitor to Salisbury Hall north of Shenley. It is said he used the network of tunnels and secret passages to visit his mistress Nell Gwynn.
Nice place for a common law wedding The Mops and Brooms Pub in Borehamwood is said to have been the site of weddings between medieval servants who were “married” by exchanging vows before each took hold of one end of a household mop. The name could also commemorate the weapon used in a fight between villagers and travellers.
Socialism the slow way Founding member of the Fabian Society Frank Podmore was born in Elstree. He suggested the socialist debating group, which still meets today, should be named after the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, who defeated Hannibal by a slow campaign of attrition.
Songs of the dead Georgian singer Martha Ray is buried in Elstree Parish churchyard. The mistress of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, she was murdered by jealous lover James Hackman outside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
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