Back in 1950 under the auspices of the National Register of Archives, our Society was instrumental in determining to trace the location and quantity of archive information in the local area. Once the impact the New Town plans were going to make, the working group changed their emphasis to being that of a local history society. Hence our Society, as we know it today, was born and continues to flourish. 

When as "The Hemel Hempstead Local History & Records Society" was formed in 1956 under the Chairmanship of Mr William Crook, who would become President in 1969, when the Chairman was one Mr V. J. Wingley MA the Honorary Secretary was Mr Clifford Owen.

It was around this time that members of the Society such as Gwennah Robinson BA, Arthur L. Wood and others compiled and prepared the book "History of Hemel Hempstead", which, following the sad death of Arthur Wood, was eventually edited by Sue Yaxley, and published in 1973. The book remains today, lauded as the foremost reference book on the history of our town.


Clifford Owen became Chairman in 1973, and then President in 1981.  He was succeeded as President by Mr Peter Ward, who remains in the position to this day. The position of Chairman was taken up by Mr Michael Stanyon, who also remains today an active member and Vice President of the Society. Other Vice Presidents in the early days were the late Councillor Mrs A.M.Barling, Mr P.A. Clayton FLS, FSA, FRNS, Mr N. Halsey TD, FRICS, the late Alderman Mrs M. King and, prior to his Chairmanship, Mr Peter Ward and, just into her eighteenth year, Mrs Elizabeth Buteux MA, AISTD. 

Mike Stanyon (R) makes a presentation to Peter Ward (L) at the 2015 AGM

The Position of Honorary Secretary was held by Mrs Eve Davis from 1991 until her resignation in 1999. The position was then held by Mrs Margaret Stanyon until 2001, when it was filled by Mr John Buteux, Mayor of Dacorum in 1992, until his very untimely passing in 2002, when the current Honorary Secretary Roy Wood accepted the position.

Another shining light in the history of our Society has been Mrs Vera Dormer, who recently retired after 28 loyal years both as Treasurer and Committee Member. We also lost two invaluable members in David and Jean Stevens (David was Vice Chairman) due to ill health.

Sadly both Joan Hands and Elizabeth Buteux passed away in 2015, both worked tirelessly for The Society and will be greatly missed. Mike Stanyon assumed the role of Chairman for a second time until poor health saw him stand down and serve on the Committee continuing with the ‘Society News’ our society newsletter which he introduced and which is proving very popular with the membership. Mr Roy Wood was unanimously elected to become a Vice President of the Society which he was delighted to accept. Derek Tarling agreed to take on the mantle of Chairman at this point, and Mike Atkins the Vice Chairmanship.

Elizabeth Buteux & Joan Hands, seen here together early in 2015.

Today, the Society continues to flourish with the Committee as shown on the OFFICIALS & COMMITTEE page (tab above).

You are currently on the Society's Website. Our URL is http://www.historysochemel.bravesites.com

The Society meets every fourth Wednesday at The Carey Baptist Church, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead – Members £1.00, non-members £2.00. Everyone welcome.

The Society currently enjoys ten meetings a year, including the AGM. Derek Tarling continues to provide excellent yearly programmes of varied and interesting talks.

Trips out are always on the agenda, and we have visited such places previously as Waddesdon Manor, Ashridge House, Abbot's Hill School, Lockers Park School, The Church of St John the Baptist in Little Gaddesden,Holy Trinity Church Leverstock Green,The Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr, Abbots Langley, Redbournbury Mill, Chenies Manor House, The De Havilland Aircraft Museum and The Leighton Buzzard Railway.

Our Society is also blessed with a substantial Library (almost 200 items) run by Mr Richard Ford, where members have a huge choice of books for information, reference or just reading enjoyment. 

The Committee noticed at one stage that the average age of our membership was rising quite quickly. Therefore we put in place our ‘Through the eyes of youth’ initiative, which was co-ordinated by Joan Hands. This initially involved The Hemel Hempstead School, who undertook to look at various aspects of World War II, the results of which are to be seen on their stunning website at

www.hemelatwar.org/. We have also wrote to every other school in the town, introducing ourselves, The Dacorum Heritage Trust, and what we can do for them it terms of talks, literature etc. By doing this we hope to be get Local History back into their everyday lives, and encourage interest which will prove beneficial in large membership later on.

Of course there are always other challenges, and we took up the challenge to have the Cranstone Lamp Post / Water Fountain outside St Johns Church in the Boxmoor area of the town to be returned to its original glory. This all arose as one of the schools we contacted above came back to us to see if we could work together. The result was a working party from The South Hill School, Ourselves, The Local Church and Boxmoor Hall who worked hard to achieve this, and it is very pleasing to say that we were very successful. The work has now been completed and the Lamppost / Water Fountain looks splendid. 

As is the case with most Societies, we have a number of people who are willing to give talks on their own specialised subjects, these include:

Mr Roy Wood:

  1. The Inns and Public Houses of Hemel Hempstead
  2. Mr Edwin Trowell – A most unusual local man

Roy and Margaret Wood:

  1. The Road and Street Names of Hemel Hempstead

Mrs Barbara Chapman:

  1. Leverstock Green – a subject on which she is an expert  (see her website www.lgchronicle.net/ ) and has given many talks to the society, Leverstock Green Village Association and other societies. (See http://www.lgchronicle.net/Barbara.html)

Mr Michael Stanyon and Mr Peter Clayton FLA, FSA, FRNS:

Two of the Societies Vice Presidents who are both happy to give any of their diverse and interesting talks when their diaries allow.

If interested in taking up any of the above, please contact Roy Wood (Honorary Secretary) on 01442 398285, who will then pass on contact details for the above.

The Society is also exceptionally proud of its record of publications by members, which are listed, and some of which are shown below



Mrs Susan Yaxley (Society Project)

  • The History of Hemel Hempstead


Mrs Elizabeth Buteux MA, AISTD:

  • Times Highway
  • Lefevre James Cranstone – A Victorian Quaker Artist
  • Hemel Hempstead – A History & Celebration
  • So you think you know about Hemel Hempstead (Quiz & Miscellany)
  • A Walk along the High Street

Roy & Margaret Wood:

  • The Street and road names of Hemel Hempstead – A look at their derivations


Mr Peter Ward:

  • The Early History of Paper Making
  • Hemel Hempstead’s Volunteer Army

Mr Michael Stanyon:

  • Railways – The John Dickinson Connection
  • The Poetry of Paper

Mrs Eve Davis:

  • Hertfordshire within living memory
  • Hemel Hempstead through time
  • Hemel Hempstead in Camera
  • Around Hemel Hempstead in Camera
  • Hemel Hempstead – A Second Selection

Mrs Barbara Chapman:

  • Leverstock Green and Bennetts End
  • Leverstock Green’s Lost Properties

Joan & Roger Hands:

  • ABC of the History of Schools in Dacorum
  • ABC of the Canal in Dacorum
  • ABC of the Railways in Dacorum
  • ABC of the Road Names of Dacorum
  • Royalty to Commoners (The story of the Boxmoor Trust)
  • Bourne End and Boxmoor Old and New
  • Men of Iron
  • Paper Pioneers
  • A _ Z of Paper and Paper Making