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Updated: 18 December, 2012
The Parish Church of
St Matthew Oxhey
Fr David Shepherd
Translation of The Oxhey Charter
In A.D. 1007, King Æthelred granted land to St Albans Abbey; at Norton, 1 hide (mansa)
at Rodanhangra and land at Oxhey, Herts. It was originally granted to the abbey by
King Offa, but was subsequently lost. It was later forfeited to King Æthelred by
Earl Leofsige, and purchased for St Albans by Archbishop Ælfric and Abbot Leofric.
The charter was Written in Latin with English bounds.
Rev'd Newton Price's 1897 Translation
St Alban is worthy of honour
In the everlasting kingdom of GOD and Our Lord Jesus Christ - The merits of the blessed
martyrs throughout the world should indeed be extolled with divine praises: and the
prayers of those who shed their blood for the name of Christ should be invoked with
all earnestness, but specially the glorious victory of the blessed martyr Alban should
be honoured by the English tribes dwelling within the limits of Britain: for he endured
martyrdom for Christ, and also consecrated this nation by the outpouring of his lifeblood.
Æthelred gives three lands to the Monanastery of St Alban
Wherefore I Æthelred, by the grace of GOD, King of all Albion, in order that on the
awful day of judgement I may by the intercession of the saints be deemed to be admitted
coheir of the heavenly kingdom, do give to Almighty GOD the possession of three lands
to be held forever for the monastery of the aforesaid martyr. Of which lands two
lie side by side: i.e. one at North-tun and one at Rodanhangra [probably the villages
of Norton and Radwell, on the northern outskirts of Letchworth]; but the third lies
apart from the others and is commonly called at Oxangehaege.
How the monastery lost the land and why it can now be restored
Of these lands, Offa, king of the Mercians, formerly held a part in right of his
kingdom, and granted it forever, and free from all conditions, to the before named
monastery, for the love of the great martyr who rests there. But after his death
this part was seized against all right by wicked men who were in power - and for
a time was unjustly severed from the monastery, until at length it came into the
possession of Earl Leofsige. And when he for his offence was sent into banishment,
Ælfric, my faithful Archbishop, and the abbot Leofric his brother, by my permission
having paid the price purchased the said portion. And they further obtained by petition
of their humble devotion that I should restore to GOD what was GOD'S.
The terms of its restoration
But after the death of the before named Archbishop, at the intercession of his brother,
I gave command to write this charter of my gift and renewal, in which I ordain by
my own authority and that of Almighty GOD, that any one, be he high or low, of what
rank soever, presume under any pretence to deprive the holy martyr of this possession,
either in my own reign or in the time of my successors; but that this grant of restitution
stand and be valid forever, and all attempts of opposing parties be made void. And
the possession of the said land shall be held gifted with the same liberty of the
aforesaid King of the Mercians endowed with all devotion the Monastery of Saint Alban
and all the property which he granted to that body, three services excepted: proportionate
contribution to the army, and the repairing of bridges and fortresses. But all thing
belonging to these estates, as fields, pastures, meadows, woods, and the rest shall
remain free. If any one therefore shall presume to break these ordinances, let him
have no part in the blessing of Almighty GOD and of all the Saints, and of me and
all Christian people, and let him perish condemned with eternal malediction, unless
he speedily set right that in respect of which he has sinned against GOD and His
holy Martyr Alban.
The boundaries of Oxhey and Batchworth
These are the boundaries of Oxangehaege and Baecceswyrth. First from Watford into
Pudawyrth. Thence into Mapuldldorgeat. Thence to East Heal to the three boundaries.
Thence to the Crucifix. Thence to the Small Oak. Thence to the Hoar Thorn. Thence
to the Defe. Thence to Beorclege. Thence to Cuthhelming Tree. Thence to the Stile.
Thence to R...ding Well. Thence to Colne Bridge.
List of signatories
I Æthelred, King of the English, for the love of GOD and the holy martyr Alban, gladly
renew this gift.
I Ælfeah, Archbishop of Canterbury, place the sign of the Holy Cross, in confirmation
of this royal gift.
I Ælfgifu, the Queen, consent with a devout mind.
I Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, give my consent to this assignment.
I Æthelstan, son of the King, with my brothers approve.
I Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, assent.
I Ordbyrht, Bishop of the South Saxons, confirm this deed.
The names of other Bishops, Abbotts, Earls and Thanes were also attached
The final endorsement
There followed an endorsement in the same hand that wrote the Charter: This is the
Charter of the three estates, Northtun, Rodanhangra and Oxangehaege, with Bacceswyth;
which estates Ælfric, Archbishop, and his brother Leofric, Abbot, bought. And Æthelred,
the King, then assigned them by charter to St Albans Monastery, in everlasting inheritance
for the service of Almighty GOD.