As my mom prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday this year, many in my family comment on how much she has started to look like over time as HRH Queen Elizabeth II. With her bleached hair, petite stature, ever-present smile and determined but hesitant stride, she gets along in British fashion. This is only suitable as mum has ruled with care, compassion and majesty over our family for about 63 years now and like the queen, has shown the same amount of dignity, grace and decorum when my dad passed away after the end of their 47 years of marriage. his untimely death.
It looked at me as I thought of all the stories I have heard about how many times a member of a royal family, at any given time, had come to visit or live in this corner of the woods.
Let’s start with the Moor Park mansion in Rickmansworth known as the ‘Mansion of the Plus’ which was granted to St Albans Abbey around AD 700 and restored by Henry VIII in 1515. Later the tenancy passed. to Cardinal Wolsey whose meteoric rise to glory and power was matched only by the remarkable rate of his demise. Wolsey frequently entertained his king here and it is believed that it was during one of these visits that Henry first declared his love for Anne Boleyn. It was also the first place where Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was exiled when Henry decided to replace her with his new love. Andrews Lane Farm, along Harefield Road in Rickmansworth, is believed to have been the hunting lodge of many royalty and nobility, the Earl of Ebury for one, who visited Moor Park Manor and where I lived for a year after arriving in the UK. in 2006 thanks to the hospitality of my cousin.
Kings Langley also provided a retreat for members of the royal family who wanted to get away from it all and had their own 13th century royal palace located to the west of the village in the Middle Ages. The origins of Kings Langley Palace are not known, but it is believed that the grounds of the estate were originally owned by the Manor of Chilterne Langley or Langley Chenduit. The estate is believed to have been part of a large dense forest stretching from London to Berkhamsted which was abundant in deer, and a hunting lodge (possibly the Kings Lodge Hotel at Hunton Bridge) is known to have existed on the estate under the reign of Henry III.
Many royal figures have visited other places in the region, such as Leavesden Hospital in Abbots Langley. Even members of entertainment royalty, such as Bob Holness from the Block Busters TV show, have visited him.
Leavesden Hospital had started taking in younger patients (up to 19 years old with learning disabilities) in 1952 and teaching them at the former St Pancras Workhouse / School site. On April 19, 1966, HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent arrived to open the new bespoke facility known at the time as Leavesden’s School. In 1972 the school was incorporated into the Hertfordshire Educational Authority and renamed Springfield School.
Mum-to-be Sarah the Duchess of York went to the hospital on March 25, 1988 and received a pair of hand-knitted baby booties decorated with blue and pink ribbons to cover any eventuality by a chatterbox 62 years old. patient named Betty Newman.
On February 22, 1946, the Canadian University of Khaki, located south of the main hospital and across what was still known as Asylum Road, received a special visit from Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who were no doubt delighted to reconnect. friendship with Canada dating back to 1939.
Many of the roughly 500 Canadian RAF Airmen (and women) attending the university at the time, as well as many local sympathizers, formed a human chain across the road as they gathered to see the royal visitors. The visit was informal and they toured the student living quarters, inspected the common room, the chemistry lab and the main kitchen.
As I remember the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and how the royals put aside their personal and very common family feuds to pay him the tribute he deserved, I realize what ‘family’ really means and why we are all very royal in them.