Abbots Langley Local History Society

Winter Programme 2023-2024



Talks are free for ALLHS members; visitors  are welcome for a suggested donation of £2.

Manor House Sports & Social Centre Gallows Hill Lane, Abbots Langley WD5 0DD
Bar and Refreshments

Please read the conditions for attending the hall in order to comply with Abbots Langley Parish Council requirements for use of their facility.

Map and directions


For the time being, we plan to continue simultaneously broadcasting talks by Zoom. This facility is available to ALLHS members who will be invited by email to the Zoom talks.

To become a member, please email for an application form. The membership year runs from 1 June and is currently £10 per year for single membership and £15 per year for family membership.


Talks start at 8pm - Zoom meetings open at 7.45pm (*AGM starts at 7.30pm).

Click on a talk title (or the + sign) for more details of the talk.

Monday 25th September 2023

Earlier this year, the Abbots Langley Local History Society applied to the Vernacular Architecture Group for a grant of £980.00 to drill and take tree ring samples from the timbers making up the frame of the barn in Dairy Way, Abbots Langley known as Tithe Barn Court. This application was approved in April, samples were taken in July and the analysis is now complete. Lee Prosser is the Chair of the Vernacular Architecture Group and he will present the results of the survey. The name of the barn implies that it was used to store tithes, but it is more likely to have been a grange barn built by Abbot John Moote of St Albans Abbey in 1396 making it the oldest secular building in Abbots Langley. But has this been proved?

Lee Prosser
Monday 30th October 2023

Ian will present a short historical introduction to the former Ovaltine Egg Farm and its acquisition by Renewable Energy Systems Ltd (RES) in 2000. He will then discuss why the company decided to buy the buildings and the immediately surrounding land and the process of designing and implementing what was to become the world’s first zero carbon office conversion. The project was truly ground breaking, setting out to incorporate wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy systems at a time when these technologies were in their relative infancy. How these renewable sources of energy were incorporated into the building, now named Beaufort Court, the challenges in doing so and the experience in using them will be related.

Since moving into Beaufort Court, RES has grown to become a major worldwide company in the renewable energy sector, and its international headquarters remains here in the Langleys. Ian will also describe the growth of this locally based business over the past 20 years, illustrate some of the landmark projects that it has built around the world and set out the renewable technologies that it has used.

Dr Ian Mays was CEO of RES until his retirement at the end of 2016 after 35 years with the company.

Ian Mays
Monday 27th November 2023

The talk is about a remarkable Palace which no longer exists. But this is no mythical Camelot, even though you will find precious few physical remains of the Royal Palace at Langley above the ground. Such history now exists only on a few written pages and the memory and imagination of those who know its story. However, defining elements of our shared past were seeded within its stone and flint walls. Not least because the creators of this once magnificent Royal Palace were the Plantagenet rulers of thirteenth and fourteenth–century England, who favoured it as a royal residence for one-hundred-and-twenty-five years.

Michael Long is a historian, author, teacher and novelist. After many years of teaching, he turned to writing and publishing historical articles in UK and US journals. His love of medieval history always endured, encouraging him to use this as the back drop for his novel, Shadows on the Queen: A St Albans medieval Mystery (Apsley Press 2022) which is based on recorded events and set in the reign of Edward I. Michael still teaches medieval history to adults through the WEA.

Michael will be selling and signing copies of his new book, Palace Lives, at Abbots Langley Library on Saturday 14th October 2023 09:30-12:30.

Michael Long
Monday 11th December 2023

This presentation is based on Geoff Wicken's book 100 Years at Vicarage Road.

Geoff will be bringing copies of his book for sale on the evening.

Geoff Wicken
Monday 29th January 2024

Today, Leavesden Park South is a tranquil haven for strolling and relaxing. Yet between August 1945 and April 1946 it was a buzzing seat of learning, the site of a university for six hundred Canadian servicemen. It was known as the Khaki University. In the Leavesden Hospital buildings the young men studied for academic and vocational qualifications. They also socialised in the Students' Union, enjoyed films and dances in the campus hall, and spent time with the local ladies of Abbots Langley and Leavesden. Field Marshall Montgomery and the King and Queen came to visit. Yet after just eight months the students handed in their books and returned home. The site briefly became a teacher training college, then reverted to its use as a hospital.

This presentation tells the story of the Canadian Khaki University of Leavesden: why and how it was established, the daily routines, the academic and extra-curricular activities of the students, the links with the local community, and the positive impact upon the former servicemen when they returned to Canada in the post-war world. According to one student: "The Brass Hats must have been on holiday when they thought of this one!"

Helen George
Monday 26th February 2024

This radical new style of art and architecture developed in Europe at the end of the 19th Century and was characterised by a spectrum of contradictory images and ideas that embraced the natural world, fantasy and myth. The talk explains its origins, the key exponents of the movement and its eventual demise.

Mark Lewis
Monday 25th March 2024 Programme change

Frank Iddiols and Jon Mein tell the story of the canal linking St Albans to the wider world that came close to being built in the 1790s. They consider why the canal was never built, who was for and who was against the expensive proposals, and the planned route of both the canal and, in a surprising coda, the replacement railway service.

Jon Mein and Frank Iddiols
Monday 29th April 2024

Since 2013 the Community Archaeology Geophysics Group have been conducting surveys at the Roman city of Verulamium. The surveys have revealed a mass of new details about the town including small houses, large houses, pottery kilns, temples and an aqueduct. This talk will introduce the survey techniques used, and then show some of the highlights of the survey results.

Dr Kris Lockyear is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. He has been leading CAGG since its creation. He is also the Director of the Welwyn Archaeological Society and has a long-standing interest in the archaeology of Hertfordshire.

Kris Lockyear
Monday 20th May 2024*

The story of WW2 spy Nancy Wake

“The Legend of the White Mouse” tells the story of WW2 spy Nancy Wake who became a hugely successful spy for the famous SOE (Special Operations Executive) and the Gestapo’s ‘Most Wanted’ agent in France.

Our speaker Paul Barwick, who had a full career in police intelligence and counter terrorism, will explore her life and amazing exploits making her one of the most decorated Allied agents of the war.

Paul Barwick

Click here for Summer Programme 2023


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