Cuffley Brook - Ponsbourne Park

Cuffley Brook
Cuffley Brook rises in this area and flows southwards towards the River Lee

Post to the east Wormley Woods
Post to the south Newgatestreet

Newgate Street
St.Mary’s Primary School. This is a Church of England Voluntary Controlled School, founded in 1847. The original buildings remain plus a new classroom. The schoolhouse is used for offices and library.
The Crown
Catsford Cottage. 17th house in brick
St.Marys Church. Stone church built in 1848 and originally called St Mary's Tolmers and then St Mary's Hatfield. Steeple added 1858. Inside is an elaborate carved pulpit
The Coach and Horses. 18th pub building.
Ponsbourne Manor house. Built 1887 and now flats. Ponsbourne was part of the manor of Hatfield and it is the name of a local medieval family.
Ponsbourne Riding Centre

New Park Road
Newgate Street Village Hall. Built in the 1960s on land bought for the purpose in 1935

Ponsbourne Park
The Warren – area of woodland
Old Ponsbourne House. demolished in 1761 and originally built in the 15th.. / The foundations are said to lie below the present house on what was a football field. In 1539 the owner, Sir Adrian Fortescue, was beheaded on Tower Hill for refusing to recognise Henry VIII as Head of the Church. This is why the Catholics took it over as a school and called him Blessed Adrian Fortescue,
Ponsbourne House, big pale brick mansion built in 1761. After the Second World War it became St Dominic’s Priory School. It later became Tesco’s Management Training Centre. And now is a hotel run by the de Vere Group. Fernery in the basement was built by Pulham in 1858 used as a chapel when the house was a school. The fernery was re-erected at Capel Manor in Enfield. The pools and stream associated with it remain in the grounds of the hotel. The Doric Temple on the side of the house is said to have been built as a dairy
Walled Garden. This also uses some Pulham stone and includes gate posts
Grave yard. Used by the nuns
Golf Course
Lake – was formed by damming the stream which eventually becomes Cuffley Brook
The Lodge –keepers cottage deep in the woods


Anonymous said…
i was at st dominics as a schoolgirl from 1939 to 1946. I also visited the premises in the 90's when it was a Tesco Management Centre - Barbara Stratford
Anonymous said…
I was there, as a boarder, 1951/52, in the boy's school, up the gravel path.

I remember us walking down to the Convent, for Mass, Benediction, and our meals.
Do you recall the Chapel, with the Rockery & Goldfish ?

I also went back there, in 90's, only to find.....
Charlotte said…
My Grandad has lived in Ponsbourne Park all his life and has some great stories about what his life was like growing up there during the war. My mum went to the convent when she very young and tells us stories about the nuns that worked there and i must admit it doesn't sound like it was a great place to go to school. I think they are all quite upset to see what has happened to it now..
Anonymous said…
My grandad was a master joiner for Sir Hildred Carlile and my mother was born in the Home Cottages in 1921 and went to the local school then onto Ware Grammar School my grandad left when the nuns took over the house and returned to his native Scotland In 2003 my daughter was married there so it has great family memories for us please don't destroy this lovely house
Marie said…
Regarding St.Dominics Priory, I happened to be there in 1933 as a boader. I was there from 1933 until 1938. Therefore the original article is incorrect stating that the school was opened after the second world war.
Anonymous said…
I was there as a boarder 51/52 and hated it the nuns were cruel. I was 5 when I started there. One of my overriding memories was going to the village hall to watch A Christmas Carol. I had obviously misheard and thought it was about goats!!
Unknown said…
Please don't pull down this lovely house me and my wife worked there for many years and we had our wedding there we went up to see the house 2 weeks ago and it was veRyanair sad to see it empty it should stay as a house or hotel not knocked down there must be a way to save this house
avril said…
I went there as a boarder, early in the 1940s. I was just a toddler.The nuns were kind but very strict. Four of us slept in a tower with a nun and she got us up during the night to say prayers- kneeling on stone floor. The chapel was beautiful, all glass and plants. One day my mother brought me half a dozen eggs, a rare treat during the war.they were shared out between many. At times they took in, homed, bombed out children.There were huge baths and we were put in 3 or 4 at a time.They had an outbreak of some infectious disease and closed down for a while. I went on to Cuffley Primary school and that was the end of my stay.Avril
Unknown said…
I was looked after by the nuns around 1950. I was only 2 and I kept escaping the garden and finding my way down to the convent, I suppose I was attracted by the sound of the other children playing there. I recall standing up in mass to see a sea of bowed heads as the nuns went about their devotions in the chapel. I am now 73 and would love to be in contact with anyone else from that time.
Does anyone remember my parents, Bill and Elsie Manning?
Unknown said…
I was a boy boarder from 1950 to 1956. It was one of the harshest times of my life. The nuns were cruel and vindictive,you would receive ,the strap for the most minor things. I wet the bed and this was treated badly and received punishment for it. I had to do my own washing (aged5)
I often went to bed with wet sheets ,as I was too terrified to ask for dry ones. Sister Oliver was the biggest culprit of the lot.I remember her distinctly for her bad temper and terrifying presence,hairs grew from her chin. The only ray of sunshine was Fr,Lee.I remember he had a burned and scarred hand, but he was a delight to me.My name is Michael Hilderbrand I am now in my 78th year,the awful memories of those awful Nuns I will never forget or forgive.
Anonymous said…
I was a boarder from 5 years old to 8 years old (1948 to 1951). The nuns were very cruel to me, as I was the only protestant in the school. They told the other children not to let me play on a climbing frame in the playground. They used to lock me in a cupboard and told me there were rats and spiders in it. I was made to stand naked in front of everybody when it was bath time and I was told it was a sin to show my nakedness. The mother superior hit me with the 'cat's tongue', a piece of curved wood covered in leather. In class I was hit with the narrow edge of the ruler on my knuckles. I remember doing an awful lot of praying. In the end I rebelled and put a goldfish from the chapel into the holy water and I let the older girls' pet mice free in the dormitory. I was going to be expelled, but my mother took me out of the school beforehand, as every time she visited she noticed I had several bruises. Not happy memories for me. Mary Boit
Anonymous said…
Most of the Nuns looking after the boys were Dominican Monsters.
If you were Irish you stood a chance,but some of my colleagues and myself who were English were targets for their unfair wrath, terrible treatment and unfairness.
If this happened today they would be locked up .
The Dominican Order should be held responsible for this shabby and cruel treatment.This was supposed to be a good Catholic Education,receiving examples of good behaviour from devout Sisters of God.

I was a very badly traumatised boarder, 1950-1956

Unknown said…
I was born there in 1948. Perhaps your grandad would remember my family?
Desmond Fowles said…
I was there as a boarder from about 1952 to 1954 with my little brother Paul. I was age 9 to 11 Paul was 5 to 7. I remember Sister Oliver and the kind Fr Lee. He use to let some of us watch TV with him. The nuns were strict. I remember s boy stole a lot of religious pics and stuff. Another punished for bed wetting . Not s happy place. I took the 11 plus exam there and was confirmed name is Desmond now 79.
Dynosauruslex said…
I was at St Dominic’s in the 1
Late 1940’s and into the 1950’s. Although the nuns were strict I do not remember any cruelty. Indeed they would get me ready on some occasions early in the morning before a chauffeur driven car would collect me to be driven to the nearby film studios where I had bit parts in a couple of films including the Hitchcock film “Stagefright” with Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding and Richard Todd. I remember another boy there called Paul, who lived in Hampstead, and a girl, Mary Warmerdam, I think her surname was. I will be 80 in a weeks’ time! I then went to Stonyhurst College and then became a barrister.
Nick Valios K.C.
Michael Hilderbrand said…
Hello Nick Valois.K.C.
I read your comment with interest,I also remember Mary Warmerdam.I have listed a couple of posts on this site
My name is Michael, Michael Hilderbrand,My treatment at the school I have mentioned in a couple of posts above.I was traumatised by my experience at the school.Do you remember any of the following.

Peter Jones, he joined me at St. Michael’s College, Hitchin.Also John Mc Goldrick,Paddy Power, Michael Power, Freddie Brown, I am now 79.
Keep Well Regards.
Anonymous said…
My name is Liam Ruth I went to Ponsbourne Park with my brother Seamus and my sister Brenda from 1958 to 1964.My memories of some the Dominican nuns was not good.Iwas often strapped by sister Anastasia for minor issues on one occasion I was beaten by her with a green cricket stump, for not knowing my times tables.Mu legs and buttocks were bruised for many days after. There were some good nuns Mother Bruno was a favourite she taught me art which I enjoyed. There were 3 houses Donomics Patrick’s and George’s Inwas in Patricks as I was Irish. Looking back on my time at St Dominics I had a bad experience being a boarder I was told by Sister Anistatia on leaving that I was not going to do well , but I got my degree in spite of her negative comments. I would love to hear from other pupils of that time to compare notes. I am now ages 71.
Desmond Fowles said…
This is my second post. I am Desmond Fowles. I remember you Michael Hildebrand.Also remember John McGoldrick and Paddy Power.
Was there from 52 to 54 with my very young bro Paul. He was in infants. I was a senior and I think I was in St Patrick's.
I remember Sister Oliver very strick and
Father Lee a very nice man.
Now reading the book about it The Veritas Years. About 8 years after I left. Interesting reading. Stayed there for a week with another boy at Easter to be alter boy for Easter. We were unsupervised most of the time and roamed all over the whole area. Very mixed feelings about the place.Parents has no idea of what it was like. Glad Paul left when I did.
Desmond Fowles said…
I remember Michael Hildebrand John McGoldrick Paddy Powers
Was there with very young bro Paul from 52 to 54
Remember Sister Oliver FrLee very nice man. Very mixed feelings about the place glad bro Paul left when I did
Reading the book the Veritas Years was 8 years after we left but interesting reading. Brings back lots of memories.

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