The world known to the people of Hemel Hempstead in 1594 was much smaller than we know today. Their parameters did not extend much further than over the hill to Tring in the west or to Bushey in the east. The main concern of the inhabitants in 1594 was not the latest play by William Shakespeare nor the music of William Byrd, but the plague that was rife in the town. There were 26 recorded burials in 1594.
On 26th April 1594, the meadow lands around the Rivers Bulbourne and Gade were conveyed to 67 inhabitants of the Parish of Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon, who were known as 'feoffees'. This single altruistic act was to safeguard their grazing rights and the right to fish without hindrance from land that had once formed part of the lands held by the Monastery of Ashridge, dissolved during the reign of Henry VIII.