Piccotts End, Hertfordshire
Piccotts End is a mediaeval hamlet situated on the River Gade. The hamlet dates back to the late 15th Century and boasts a mixture of architecture including several mediaeval cottages, with later additions of Georgian and Regency villas. The hamlet also features a 19th Century watermill which has been extensively restored.
River Gade, Piccotts End
The exciting discovery of some particularly fine medieval wall paintings was made in some of the cottages at Piccotts End in 1953. The discovery was made during repair work in an upper room. The paintings, dating from between 1470 and 1500, were found underneath several layers of wallpaper and were painted on linen which was then attached to the wall. Further investigation showed that paintings continued on the lower level and in adjoining cottages. This revealed that the entire row of cottages must once have been a single building of significance, containing a Great Hall with double doors through to a kitchen or buttery, and possibly a second hall. Additional features of the cottages include a priest hole, a painted Elizabethan bedroom, a medieval well and superb examples of wattle and daub.
The exact purpose of the building has not been discovered, but there are strong indications that it may have been a pilgrims hostel linked to the house of Bonhommes at Ashridge.
The paintings consist of seven panels (originally eight) and show a number of religious scenes. The central panel depicting Christ in Majesty, the panel to the right the baptism of Christ by St John whilst to the left a scene showing the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ before the cross.
Also depicted are St Peter, St Clement, St Margaret of Antioch and St Catherine of Alexandria.
Another fascinating fact about the cottages is that they were part of the UKs first cottage hospitals. The buildings, along with others now demolished, were converted in 1826 by Sir Astley Cooper, the most eminent surgeon of the day.
Enjoy an interesting walk around the village to take in local history. Modern day facilities include two public houses, one of which, the Marchmont Arms, is a restored 18th century villa.