Lottery grant will fund restoration of Boxmoor landmark

The Cranstone fountain outside Boxmoor Hall, pictured in the 1980s
The Cranstone fountain outside Boxmoor Hall, pictured in the 1980s

A dilapidated Hemel Hempstead landmark is to be restored with the help of a £10,000 lottery grant.

Dacorum Heritage Trust teamed up with the Hemel Hempstead Local History & Museum Society and South Hill JMI School to make the Heritage Lottery Fund bid to restore the water fountain and lamp outside Boxmoor Hall.

Dacorum Borough Council has contributed £500 to the project, which will see the monument renovated to its original condition by craftsman Tim Millard.

The fountain will be the focus of local history displays and a history trail through the town, which will be developed through work with South Hill JMI and other local community partners including Boxmoor Hall, The Society of Friends, St John’s Church and Roman Fields School in Box Lane.

The Grade II Listed ‘fountain’ and gas lamp standard was erected for the public good in 1835 and commemorated the printing of the first English bible in 1535.

The inscription concludes with a Bible quotation about the words of Jesus being like a well of water springing up into eternal life (John 4.13-14).

The Cranstone’s iron founding/ironmongery business, then based in Hemel Hempstead’s High Street (Market Street), provided the structure, which has a decorative metal outer layer over a wooden frame.

The senior Joseph Cranstone, who was born in 1747 in Surrey, married Sarah Pollard of Hemel Hempstead in 1782.

After several business ventures failed, the Cranstones came to live in the town in 1798, at first renting a shop and house in Market Street.

On Joseph’s death, his widow and his son George ran the ironmongery business very successfully.

Joseph Jr became involved and after completing his studies in engineering, he set up an iron foundry on the premises, known as the Phoenix Works – a name which has been adopted for Dacorum Heritage Trust’s project to establish a local history centre at The Bury.

The Cranstone family were Quakers and so the nearby Meeting House in St Mary’s Road provided a convenient place of worship.

The Quaker tradition of service to the community was upheld by the younger Joseph, who took on many public service roles in the area.

The pupils of South Hill School hope to produce a DVD on the story of the structure, its renovation and the Cranstone family.

Boxmoor Hall, now privately owned, will provide space for a DHT exhibition on this innovative community project and there will be other displays locally.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the borough council.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning MP believes the project is an opportunity to highlight the town’s rich local history and, since annual Remembrance Day parades pass the fountain as they make their way from the town centre to the war memoial at St John’s, to reflect on the past contributions of local people.

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Robyn Llewellyn said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that the Dacorum Heritage Trust can embark on a real journey of discovery.

“Heritage means such different things to different people and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what is important to them in their area.”

To find out more contact DHT chairman Roger Hands on 01442 393381