1932 - The Rev. Arthur Durrant commissioned a massive oak Screen which was erected across the chancel arch, cutting the church in two. Behind it a new "English" High Altar and carved oak presbyter stalls were built. These were designed by Walter Tapper. This work was done as a memorial to members of the vicar's family. (His wife had died in 1926 and his son had been killed during the Great War. This screen was to remain in place across the chancel, until its removal and reordering further back in about 1983. [S2 p.6 ] . See Durrant graves & Monuments.
19th February 1932 - Following the previous day's national coverage of the Durrant/Seabrook Romance, the following article was published in the Herts Advertiser :
THE VICAR'S DAUGHTER
ROMANTIC LOVE STORY AT
WHY CONSENT TO MARRIAGE WAS REFUSED
REV. A. DURRANT'S STATEMENT TO
THE "HERTS ADVERTISER"
A romantic love story in which, however, there is an heavy element of sadness, was revealed this week, at Leverstock Green. The central figures are the Vicar of Leverstock Green (the Rev. )A. Durrant, his eldest daughter, Miss Lorna Durrant and Mr. Fred Seabrook. It is a story which has its beginning over thirty years ago, when as a lad of eighteen, Fred Seabrook, the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Reuben Seabrook, of "Bennetts End" Leverstock Green , was given employment at the Vicarage there as a gardener. There he met Miss Lorna Durrant, and a boy-and-girl friendship sprang up between them which was to ripen into something deeper as the years went by. After two years at the vicarage, Fred Seabrook left to find work in other parts of the country, and in 1904, he went to Canada. In the years which followed, he established himself as a rancher and farmer, and now at the age of fifty he has a ranch at Saskatchewan.
Never, did he during those years, did he lose the impression made upon him, when first he met the Vicar's daughter as a young girl, and apparently a correspondence ensued between them which increased his determination to return home to seek her hand in marriage. About three years ago he came from Canada to Leverstock Green for twelve months' holiday and personally renewed his long-standing friendship with Miss Durrant. He returned to Canada and did not come to England again until about three weeks ago. Immediately upon his arrival, he again met Miss Durrant and went to the Vicar to ask his consent to their marriage. The Vicar, however, felt there were reasons which compelled him to refuse that consent. Those reasons, the Vicar related to a "Herts Advertiser " representative, yesterday. He was deeply affected while giving his objections, the chief of which relates to the mental health of his daughter. While the Vicar has decided views that there should be social equality in marriage, he made it clear that this was entirely a secondary consideration in causing him to oppose the marriage. It transpired that Miss Durrant's health at one time necessitated her being in a mental institution for seven years, and that owing to the excitement caused by the events of the last few days, it has again, upon medical advice, been necessary for her to enter an institution. The Vicar said that when his daughter first signified her affection for Mr. Seabrook, her late mother and he (the Vicar) thought that this was a passing infatuation, - a boy-and-girl affair - and took little notice of it. It was not until Mr. Seabrook returned from Canada, a few weeks ago, that the matter again came to his notice. He had since learned that Lorna had been corresponding with Mr. Seabrook while he was in Canada, but she did not tell him so at the time.
"Came to Marry Lorna"
"The other day," continued the Vicar, "Mr. Seabrook suddenly appeared in the hall of the Vicarage and said that he had come home to marry Lorna. I was so taken by surprise that I could not say anything. Afterward I saw him and told him that he ought not to marry Lorna, giving him my reasons. Apart from pointing out the differences that might arise through their having been brought up in different environments, I told him that my main objection to the marriage was that I felt it might tend to again unstabalise my daughter's mind, explaining to him that my daughter had already received treatment in a mental institution. "I then consulted the mental expert who had previously treated her and asked him for his opinion. He said that marriage might have an adverse effect on my daughter's mind, and he would give me a written statement to that effect. "Meanwhile my daughter had gone to stay with a friend at St. Albans. When, on Monday last, I was about to go to the doctor for the statement, I received a telephone message from my daughter's friend saying "Come over at once." I went, and found my daughter is a state of great mental excitability. Marriage was then out of the question. "I did not know what to do. There was no one at the Vicarage to look after her, but I suggested that she should be taken there and I would get two nurses to attend to her. "The Doctor, however, said he thought it would be better under the circumstances, for her to go into an institution. A magistrate was called in, she was certified and taken to Hill End Mental Hospital." It is said in the village that Miss Durrant has been looking extraordinarily happy since Mr. Seabrook arrived home, and it was generally understood that there was an understanding between them, although Miss Durrant wore no engagement ring. The strong feeling which the romance has aroused and the subsequent events caused by Miss Durrant's departure from the village have, however, given rise to circumstances which are deeply felt by the Vicar.
"Up in Arms."
"When I went back" he said, " I found the whole village up in arms against me, because they thought I had done a very wicked thing." "I think, that when they know the whole of the circumstances, they will not want to criticise me. Mr. Seabrook feels no resentment towards me, and we are quite good friends; in fact, we have just had tea together. We intend to do everything we can for Lorna, and, if she gets better, I will consent to their being married. "It has been entirely on account of my daughter's health that I have refused consent; that has always been the primary objection in my mind." Miss Lorna Durrant is regarded with the utmost affection in the village, and the Vicar says she has been of very great help to him in his work and at the Vicarage. She was trained as a teacher, and gained all her certificates. Her chief interests have been the Sunday School and the Carol league. The Vicar feels that he cannot take the services it the Parish Church on Sunday and has communicated with the Bishop of St. Albans, who has consented to someone deputising for him. [ Herts Advertiser , February 19th 1932.]
19th February 1932 - Herts Advertiser reported the funeral of Mrs. Emmas Sears on the porevious day. She ahd been the wife of the late Mr. Jesse Sears who had been gardener to a former vicar of Leverstock Green.
[ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times February 19th 1932.]
29th February 1932 - Dorothy Durrant, Lorna's youngest sister was married quitely in South kensingtin Registry Office, later receiving a church blessing from her father. The wedding was presumably so low key following the national publicity afforded Lorna and Mr. Seabrook. . The Gazette wrote:
WEDDING OF MISS D.M. DURRANT
Sir Robert Alan Clayton East Clayton was married on Monday (Leap Year Day) at London Register Office to Miss Dorothy M. Durrant, daughter of Rev. Arthur Durrant of Leverstock Green.
Sir Robert, who is 23, is a son of the late Sir George Frederick Lancelot Clayton-East. He is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and lives at Hall Place Maidenhead. The bride who is 24, was dressed in a blue ensemble with a blue hat. There were only two witnesses at the ceremony.
Miss Lorna Durrant, the brides' sister is shortly to be married to Mr. F. Seabrook of Leverstock Green , who has recently returned from Canada, to marry the vicar's daughter. At first the Rev. Durrant banned the wedding but it is understood this has now been lifted. [Gazette 5th March 1932]
Dorothy and Sir Robert were both eventually to die tragically within the next 19 months, having first gone to the desert in Libya to join an expedition with Count Ladisalaus Almasy to find the lost Oasis of Zezura. Dorothy was used as the inspiration for the character of Katherine Clifton in the novel and film of The English Patient . (See separate article on Dorothy Durrant.)
Wednesday 16th March 1932 - Three hayricks were destroyed by fire during the afternoon. The ricks were valued at over £250 and were the propoerty of the Finch Brothers of Corner Farm. The Hemel Hempstead firebrigaide attended, but owing to the lack of water in the field next to Blackwater Lane were unaable to do anything about it. The cause of the fire was unknown. It is ironic that in the previous centuries a pond was off Blackwater Lane, and that later in the twentieth century a water tower was built on the same spot. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times March 18th 1932.]
17th March 1932 - Mr. Charles Ernest Steers of 1, Curtis Road, died at his home. The Herts Advertiser in an obituary a week later recorded that:
"Mr. Steers, who was 57 years of age, was employed at Nash Mills for over 30 years. He leaves a widow, five sons and four daughters. One of the sons is in Italy. The funeral took place on Tuesday in Leverstock Green churchyard, following a service in the church, which was conducted by the Rev. Durrant." There then followed a list of mourners as was traditional at this time.
[ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times, March 24th 1932.]
6th April 1932 - St. Albans Rural council received notice from Hemel Hempstead Corporation that the council (as the owner of the propoerties) was to be charged the water rate rather than the occupiers. The amount due for the supply of each house for the half year ending September 1932 would be 17s 6d. St. Albans Clerk Mr. Hicatt had written to to Hemel Hempstead Corporation suggesting that as the houses would be transfered to the ownership of the Corporation the following year, that the scheme be deferred, however, Hemel Hempstead Corporation were unwilling to do this. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times, April 8th 1932.]
22nd April 1932: - The sad romance and subsequent notoriety of Leverstock Green's vicar and his eldest daughter was brought to a close with the return of Fred Seabrook to Canada. The Herts Advertiser reported:
THE LEVERSTOCK GREEN ROMANCE
MR. SEABROOK RETURNS TO CANADA
The Romance of Miss Lorna Durrant, eldest daughter of the Vicar of Leverstock Green, and Mr. Fred Seabrook, a prosperous Canadian farmer who was once the Vicar's gardener, has, apparently, come to a dramatic close. Mr. Seabrook returned from Canada to his home in the village, about two months ago, to marry Miss Durrant, whom he met when he was a gardener at the Vicarage twenty-eight years ago. The Vicar, however, objected to the marriage, on the grounds of his daughter's health, and later she was removed to Hill End Mental Hospital St. Albans, for a month. As time passed, the vicar withdrew his ban, and Mr. Seabrook waited on in the village in the hoping for the return of his fiancé in better health.
Last Friday, however, he left for his ranch in Saskatchewan, and Miss Durrant is still in the Hill End Institution.
A representative of the " Herts Advertiser " who called on Mr. Seabrook's mother at Bennetts End, Leverstock Green this week, was told that Mr. Seabrook had returned to Canada because he was unable to wait any longer. His business requires his presence there. "He went away broken-hearted," said his sister.
The Vicar told our representative that he often visited his daughter, whose health is slowly improving.
"I do not know when she will be able to come home," he added. [ Herts Advertiser April 22nd 1932]
23rd April 1932 - The Gazette gave the following report the next day:
RETURNS TO CANADA
The return of Mr. Fred Seabrook to his ranch in Canada has rather upset the expectations of a happy wedding bells climax to a Leverstock Green romance. It will be remembered that Mr. Seabrook returned to the homeland some time ago with the expressed desire and intention of marrying Miss Laura Durrant, the daughter of the Vicar of the village. Miss Durrant is however, in a nursing home, and as her health does not show signs of immediate improvement Mr. Seabrook has decided to go back to his ranch. It is stated that he is broken hearted at being unable to marry the Vicar's daughter, who he has know for many years, as he was engaged as a gardener at the vicarage when he was 18 years of age. He left England in 1904 and has established a ranch at Saskatchewan. He is now 50 years of age. He made an acquaintance with Miss Durrant as a boy and renewed this when he came home for a holiday three years ago. Immediately on his arrival a few months ago he went to the Vicarage and said that he had returned to marry Lorna. The Vicar at first objected and a good deal of publicity was accorded the romance. Miss Durrant was however taken to a Nursing home and has not been able to leave since. Mr Seabrook has had to return to Canada to attend to his business [Gazette 23/5/1932]
25th April 1932 - The Report of the HMI on Leverstock Green School read as follows:
"The Managers are to be congratulated on the provision of the new school buildings which were opened just over a year ago. The four classrooms provie ample accomodatin for the 126 children now on the roll. The Headmaster and the elder noys have put a great deal of hard work in an endevour to ake the outside of the premises more suitable for recreation and physical Training, but the task has proved too heavy and difficylt. The space in front of the school has been covered with clinkers, but the surface is loos and dangerous and several tree stumps protrude some inches above theground level. At the back of the school their is a partially cleared copse unsuitable for any purpose in wet weather and the approaches to the school from the road are gaps in the hedges.
There are no rooms set apart for Practical Instruction but the elder boys and girls are conveyed by bus to centres in St. Albans for instruction in Woodwork and Domestic Science.
Gadening is taught by the head Master in a part of the Vicarage grounds which adjoins the school property. The plots are tidy and a very good start has been made with the cultivation of bush fruits. Somemsuitable cultured experiments have been planned.
The standard of attainment reached in the ordinary classroom subjects is by no means high. The best work at present is to be found in the two lowest classes where a fairly good foundation is being laid in the fundamental subjects.
The majority of the children in the upper classes do not appear to be very interested in their lessons. Their speach is indistinct, their vocabularies are limited, and theior general knowledge is below normal. The two scholars is Standard VII however do fairly good work in Arithmatic and Composition. The Headmaster is aware of these defects and his records show tht this set of scholars has been backward throughout their school career.
A certain amount of work on the lines of the Hertforshire Rural Syllabus, including visits to farms and local industries, is still carried on and the scholars are assisting in the preparation of a Local Land Utilisation survey map. Further developments in this direction and a fuller use of the material gathered from the local studies for written exercises in school might have a beneficial effect". [S73]
6th May 1932 - The Herts Advertiser reported that: " St. Albans Rural Council on Wednesday consented to the application of Watford Borough Council for an order enabling them to supply electricity to certain premises at Leverstock Green which were within St. Albans Rural District." [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 6th May 1932]
7th May 1932 - The following was reported in the Gazette:
A successful whist drive organised by Mrs. Sygrave and Nurse Hendry was held I the Leverstock Green Parish Hall in aid of the hall naad local nursing funds. Mr. G. Ingram was MC and nineteen table were occupied, with two at the flirtation table. Mrs. Lee a member of the nursing committee presneted the prizes as follows: Ladies 1. Mrs. Brigginshaw, 2. Mrs. Newland, 3. Mrs Chatten booby MrsMrs. Foster. Gents: 1. Mrs Lawrence (lady playing as genet) 2. Mr. R. Child, 3. R. Lavasseur, booby Mrs. Walters. Mystery prize Miss M. Brigginshaw, ladies lucky orize Mrs Dongray, , gents lucky prize Mr. G. Sears, . Raffles cake: Mr C. Briggishaw, wine, Mrs Knight, fruit, Mr W. Blackmooree Mrs Sygrave & Nurse Hendry wish to thank - etc etc. £6 was raised split 50-50 between hall and nursing funds. [Gazette 7/5/99]
Friday 14th May 1932 - The annual meeting of the nursing association took place. Both the Gazette and the Herts Advertiser reported that: "Asociation started in 1924 with £7 6s in hand, In 1926 a cottage was furnished for the nurse at a cost of £29 . Her salary was raised last year in acknowledgement of her valuable and efficient services during the years she had worked for the association. Accounts showed a balance of £47 13s 7d and members weekly subs amounted to £56 18s 8d ." [Gazette 15/5/1932]
20th May 1932 - The Herts Advertiser reported that: "Mr. George Latchford, who won the village billiards championship this year was presented with a cup which he holds for one year and a billiard cue by Mr. J.A/Marston. Mr. W.A.Skeggs the runner up received a safety razor. The presentation was made at a meeting of the Village Hall Committee." [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 20th May 1932.]
Sunday 21st May 1932 - Special services were held at the Leverstock Green Baptist Chapel in honour of the anniversary, the prechers were the Rev. C.C.Dawson and Mr. Herbert East. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times, May 27th 1932.]
Wednesday 24th May 1932 - Further celebrations of the Baptist's chapel's anniversary occurred with a public tea and a meeting presided over by Rev. Dawson. Collections amounting to £2 4s 5d were taken in aid of the new lighting and heating fund. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 1932.]
Sunday 17th July 1932 - Yet more anniversary services were held at the Baptist Chapel in Leverstock Green , this time conducted by Mr. Stanley Hall of Kings Langley. There was special singing inthe choir and Miss Hilda Wilkins was at the organ. In the afternoon children from the Marlowes Baptist Chapel in Hemel Hempstead were present. The collection - which amounted to £2 13s was on behalf of the Sunday School funds. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times July 22nd 1932.]
Friday 26th August 1932 - A photograph appeared in the Herts Advertiser showing Sir Frances Freeemantle MP addressing a conservative garden meeting in Leverstock Green. A heat wave was currently being experienced and this was refered to in the text. Others in the photo included Miss C.M. Mortimer, Lady Freemantle, Dr Sydney Lee (Chairman of the local Conservtive Association and in whose garden along Tile Kiln Lane the event probably took place, Mrs. H. Gromwood, and Mrs. H. Secretan. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times August 26th 1932.]
1st September 1932 - The Rev. Durrant's son-in -law, Sir Robert Clayton East Clayton, died after a brief five day illness attributed to a latent tropical germ akin to polio, picked up whilst exploring in Libya. The Daily Express write-up of his demise included an excellent studio portrait photograph of Lady Dorothy (Rev. Durrant's daughter.) However, a much better photograph of both Sir Robert and Dorothy appeared in the Daily Mail. Click here to view this article. (See separate article on Dorothy Durrant.) [Daily Express; Daily Mail Sept. 3rd 1932]
Friday September 9th 1932 - The readers of the Herts Advertiser were informed of Rev. Durant's son-in-laws death as follows:
LEVERSTOCK GREEN VICAR'S
Much local interest has been aroused by the news of the death of Sir Robert Clayton East Clayton, Bart, RN, which occurred on Thursday of last week at his home, "Hall Place", Hurley, near Maidenhead. He married Miss Dorothy Mary Durrant, a daughter of the Rev. Arthur Durrant, Vicar of Leverstock Green , last February. The late Sir Robert was the only son of the late Major Sir George F. C. Clayton East, and was only 24 years of age. He succeeded his father in two baronetcies in 1926.
In April of this year Sir Robert made a journey to the Libyan Desert to find the "lost" oasis of Zerzura. Unfortunately the expedition was unsuccessful in locating the oasis and another expedition, of which Sir Robert was to have been a member, is being planned.
Death was due to acute anterior poliomyelitis which is similar to infantile paralysis. It is a rare disease, which is generally fatal, and it is believed that Sir Robert picked up the germ, while in the desert.
Lady Clayton East Clayton is a talented sculptress. She has a studio in London and specialises in glass and plaster work. Many people will remember her charming exhibits at Arts and Craft shows in Hertfordshire. Her father, too, is a keen artist. The sympathy of a large number of friends in and around Leverstock Green will go out to the Vicar and his daughter in their bereavement. The remains of Sir Robert were cremated at Woking, on Tuesday, following a service which was taken by the Vicar of Leverstock Green , assisted by the Rev. D.W. Money. Among those present were: Lady Clayton East (mother), the Misses Clayton East and R. Clayton East (sisters), Mr. Harold Clayton, (cousin), Major T.G. Anson, Mrs. Anson, Brigadier-General R.T. Perry, Major J.M. Hamilton, Mrs. Harrington Stuart, Mrs. Balfour, Captain R.G. Harvey, RN, Mrs. Symons Jeune, Miss Maude, Miss Murphy and Nurse Melnerney. The ashes are to remain at the crematorium, and will be privately removed and scattered over the English Channel from an aeroplane. [ Herts Advertiser Sept. 9th 1932]
29th September 1932 - The Herts Advertiser reported that Simon John Simons of Plough Cottages Leverstock Green was summoned for making a false statement to obtain unemployment benefit at Hemel Hempstead on April 21st. A full account of the points raised at the hearing was given in the paper, with Mr. Simons being found guilty and fined £3. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times September 29th 1932.]
Monday 10th October 1932 - A meeting of the Hertfordshire Education Committee agreed a payment not in excess of £150 to meet the cost of preparing a playground for the new Church School building (down Pancake Lane) recently provided by the Managers.. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 14th October 1932.]
20th October 1932 - John Knox Hart, the former owner of Leverstock Green Farm died. His obituary in the Gazette the following week read:
DEATH OF MR JOHN KNOX HART
We regret to record the death of Mr. John Know Hart, who passed away o October 20th at his residence in St. Albans Road Hemel Hempstead. Mr. Knox Hart, who was 85 years of age had lived in the district for 50 years and was probably one of the best known personalities over a wide area. Up till the autumn of 1920 he lived at Leverstock Green Farm whither he came from Scotland at the age of 36 a changed profession and a more southern climate being necessitated by his unfortunate ill health. Mr. Knox Hart was a tweed merchant and had a flourishing business in north Britain before his departure south. Since living at Leverstock Green he resided at Tile Kiln Farm and Belswains farm, Hemel Hempstead and was for a little time at residence in Berkhamsted.
Mr. Knox Hart was a gentleman of wide interests and knowledge. Under a sturdy exterior he carried a genial personality and sound characteristics of the keen business man to whom integrity of purpose was a guiding trait. He was a familiar figure in the markets around West Herts and one who was greatly admired. The "world" as it is known did not deal kindly with him at times, but misfortunes never shook him from the path of perseverance and hard work and his happiness of disposition was unscathed. As would be his wish he died practically in harness, for he carried on his normal duties until a short time prior to his death. To Mrs. Knox Hart and his other relatives left to mourn their loss the deepest sympathy will be extended.
The funeral was on Monday at St. Mary's Apsley, the Rev. C.B. Goodwin conducting. The chief mourners were:
Mr. John Knox Hart (son), Mrs. Margaret Wilson (daughter), Mr. W. Wilson and Mr. Donald Pratt (sons in law), also Mr. Lyn Harding. Dr. & Mrs. Elmont, Mr. Alfred Knowles, Mrs. Nelson, Mr. Neil Scott, Mr. Jesse Lander, Miss Tozer, Mr. J. Mallard and many others. Among the floral tributes were those from: Wife and family, Mrs. Herbert Secretan, Mr. & Mrs. E. Nelson; Miss C.A.Saunders, Mr. & Mrs. J. Cook, Mr. Walter Lewis; Mr. & Mrs. Pocock; Mr. & Mrs. Baldwin; Mr. & Mrs. Malcom; R. Webster; Mr. & Mrs. Howard; Mrs. Corby; Mr. Wm John Lewis; Mr. & Mrs. Lyn Harding; Mr. Percy Webster; Mr. Lovel S.Smeathman, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Tozer; Mr. & Mrs. Bessant an family; Mr. Neil Scott; Mr. & Mrs. Floyd and sister; Messrs. W. & C. Fisher; Mr. & Mrs. Watmore; Mr. W.B. Pratt & family. [ Gazette 29th October 1932]
Monday 31st October 1932 - A Sacred Cantata was performed at the Baptist Chapel under the conductorship of of Mr. W. Gurney. The proceeds from the concert ( 15s ) were to go towards the new heating and lighting scheme. Mrs. Leslie Seabrook from St. Albans played the oragan and the Rev. Colin Dawson presided. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 4th November 1932.]
2nd December 1932 - A further Nursing Social ad been held in the village. This included some "excellent tableaux", and various other entertainments. The event raised a total sum of £13 8s 3d. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 2nd December 1932.]
11th December 1932 - Mr. James Woodward, known as "The Grand Old Man of Leverstock Green" died following an illness of several months. He had celebrated his 95th birthday the previous October. The Herts Advertiser reported that:
"Jim, as he was known, had not been far away from the old-world village of Leverstock Green for 67 years. He was born at Wheathampstead and went ot Leverstock Green as a young man. For amny years, and up to the time when he received the Old Age Pension, he worked for Mr. Bailey at Westwick Farm. He was then 73 years of age and was one of the first to benefit under the Old Age Pension Scheme. He did not give up work at that age for he considered himself still a young man, so he became a gardener to the late Mr. Secretan at "The Dells" Bennetts End, and worked until he was 80.
In 1929 he had a holiday in St. Albans where he stayed with a niece. When he got back he told his daughter that "he never did see such sights."
He leaves one son and three married daughters. There are also ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren. One son was killed in the war." [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 14th December 1932.]
14th December 1932 - The Herts Advertiser reported that a whist drive was held at the Village Hall in connectin with the Conservative Divisional whist drive. Prior to this a meeting was held to reform the Leverstock Green branch at which officers and a committee were elected. Mr. Marston as chairman gave a short address. [ Herts Advertiser & St. Albans Times 14th December 1932.]