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  Grovehill, Piccotts End, Woodhall Farm and Phoenix

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 Pubs and the Grand Union Canal

An old map pre 1877 has the words Rosemary Branch somewhere around Cupid Green. A rosemary branch was hung up to identify a local public house. Possibly this house later obtained a licence and became The Cupid.


Coming from Redbourn the road joins Agnells Road (as it was called) at Cupid Green, by Corner Farm, now the Barn there were two pubs, The True Blue Inn and The Cupid. In 1912 the True Blue Inn was subject of a compensation order and closed. This could have been due to insufficient trade or not being maintained to a suitable standard. In the 60s it had become a private house called The True Blue. Some of us can remember The True Blue house, conspicuous because it was painted blue. Did the owner just get a job lot of paint at B & Q? Did the Blue refer to the Tory party or the Liberals? If Liberal maybe they had to meet outside Hemel, away from the Tory dominated High Street and so chose Cupid Green. Was it bought with the winnings from the 1839 Grand National winner True Blue. There is a Blue House Hill in St Albans I wonder if there is any connection.


 Did the True Blue refer to the Tory Party or the Liberal Party or just the colour blue?  Was it bought with the winnings from the 1839 Grand National winner True Blue. No one seems to know!


When looking for the Cupid Pub all I had to go on initially was the words 'Rosemary Branch' on old maps where a branch of the herb rosemary was hung out to indicate that there was a house in the area where ale or beer might be bought. On later maps the letters PH, public house and later still 'The Cupid' which used to be just along the Redbourn Road on the left. It was probably closed when the road was made up and widened. The new pub at Henry Wells Square was initially called The Cupid.


I have a picture dated 1935 was given to me by a man who spent his childhood in Cupid Green. the Cupid was then owned by the Benskins Brewery. It was very small. The public bar on the right had wooden benches and could seat about twelve men, women never entered there. To the left the small saloon bar could seat four people with three standing. In the summer a couple of benches were put out with the tables that can be seen under the bay windows in the photo.


Someone told me about the pub at a later date: 'Happy days! It was a very friendly pub, it had to be it was so small. The public bar was separated from the posh bar by a bead curtain. At the end of the night you had to be careful as the road was only a couple of feet from the pub door.'


The new pub at Henry Wells Square was initially called the Cupid. In the regal presence of Alf Garnett, 'Till Death Do Us Part, an archer ceremonially opened the new Cupid by firing an arrow at the latch to release the shutter. The pub is now called Greenacres II after the brewery.


Straw plaits on their way to Luton and completed hats and other products from Luton came through Cupid Green on the way to the Grand Union Canal for transport to London by narrow boat. Horse dung from the streets filled the boats on the return journey, contributing to the fertility of the heavy clay fields. The Nickey Line made this journey easier.


I was told that there was a 'penny hang' in a barn at one of the buildings at the junction, most probably The Cupid. This was a rope stretched across the barn at shoulder height where one could pay a penny and hang one arm over to sleep in preference to mucky, wet or freezing ground, depending of course on whether one was sufficiently tired.


The Boars Head pub in Piccotts End was built in 1736


From 1792 until 1805 the Grand Union Canal was dug and this opened up the London market taking corn and straw hats to London and bringing back dung, road sweepings and night soil which further added to the fertility of the soil.


Artisans and craftsmen were in demand. Affluent individuals become prominent, such people as Cranston and Sir Astley Paston Cooper.


By 1841 Dickinson's Paper Mills were the main employers outside agriculture and less people were employed in straw plaiting.  



























































Grand Union Canal