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The Parish Church of

St Matthew Oxhey

 Fr David Shepherd   Vicar

Fr David Shepherd

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Translation of The Oxhey Charter

Summary

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.