Top Local Places

The Three Horseshoes

Winkwell, Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom



Lovely old pub on the Grand Union Canal serving traditional home cooked food using the best locally sourced ingredients.   The Building
The Three Horseshoes is located in the tiny hamlet of Winkwell lying between the railway line and the Grand Union Canal, in the parish of Bourne End. There are four terraced cottages, a modern bungalow, a big old house set in a large garden, another large house tucked behind the pub and not forgetting numerous canal boats moored in the boatyard. The road bridge which crosses the canal was originally a wooden swing bridge operated by a large wheel turned by hand. The operation was mechanized in the 1980s. It is one of just three such bridges on the southern Grand Union Canal.
The name Winkwell is thought to be, possibly, derived from old English Wincel, meaning a corner and weil (a spring or well).
The pub dates back in parts from 1535. It was once farm cottages with a shop to the rear and stables nearby. It was a regular stopping point for the bargees who would buy their groceries and refreshment here and stable their horses overnight. Canal horses were shoed in the village forge which was originally attached to the cottage next to the pub.
A Short History
When the earliest part of The Three Horseshoes was built in 1535 on the bank of the Bulbourne the land was leased from the College of Bonhommes, a monastic establishement founded in 1283 by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, nephew of Henry III.  The monastery occupied the site of the present Ashridge estate and owned extensive lands including the manors of Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Gaddesden.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, (the College of Bonhommes was dissolved in 1539), Henry VIII appropriated Ashridge and its lands for his personal and sovereign use: so placing The Three Horseshoes in Crown Land.  Henry died in 1547 and in March 1550 the 13-year-old Edward VI gave these  lands to his favourite sister Elizabeth.  He died only 3 years later.  The Ashridge manors, mills, woodlands, pasturelands and watermeadows were then, in turn, given by Eliizabeth I to her favourite courtier Robert Dudley, created Earl of Leicester.  Rather ungratefully he promptly sold them the following month to Francis Earl of Bedford of nearby Chenies, Bucks; so that he could buy even more lavish gifts for his queen, vainly hoping to win her hand.  In the same year, 1547, two local families the Combes and the Grayes were allowed to buy a portion of the estate between Hemel and Bourned End which, in 1581, was acquired by yeomen John Rolfe and Willilam Gladman and Richard Pope, shoemaker, as a communal benefice.  That was the foundation of today's Boxmoor Trust.
Meanwhile, over at Ashridge, shortly after Elizabeth’s death, her Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Egerton bought the property and all its western estates in 1604.  His son John became the first earl of Bridgewater.  The fourth earl, Scroop Egerton, was created the first duke of Bridgewater.  The third duke, Francis, while on a Grand Tour in Europe, 1752-5 , was so impressed by the Languedoc Canal in France that upon his return to England he began to plan a waterway system to convey coal from his Lancashire estates to the new industrial hub of Manchester.  Using the expertise of James Brindley, he completed the Bridgewater Canal in 1776 and become the "Father of Inland Navigation".


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