The Box Moor Trust Estate
The Box Moor Trust manages almost 500 acres of agricultural and amenity land on behalf of its beneficiaries, namely those living within the old Hemel Hempstead Borough and the parish of Bovingdon. The estate comprises a variety of different environments, including watermeadows, chalk downland, woods, pastures, chalk streams, old clay workings and recreational land. The majority of the Trust land is open access, with just over a quarter of it being common land.
Around The Estate
The Valley Floor
A most obvious part of the Trust estate comprises land running along the valley floor between Two Waters and Bourne End following the route of the river Bulbourne and the Grand Union Canal. The land is now further bisected by the railway and the A41. Much of this area has been fenced to create a series of grazing fields. The Trust owns 27 residential properties along London Road and revenue is derived from the rents. In days gone by the rivers Gade and Bulbourne, which meander across the Moors, contributed to flourishing watercress businesses. The Trust leased ditches and grounds to the trade during the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Cricket bat willows have been grown on the Moors along the banks of the canal. These fast-growing trees become ready for harvesting at the age of around fifteen years. Every five or six years, a number of trees become ready for cropping and are felled. New trees are planted to replace them, which can grow to between twelve and fifteen feet high within four years.
Two Waters Moor East is a small field that was cut off from the rest of the moor when duellising of the Two Waters Road took place. Impractical for grazing or hay making, it is now mostly used by dog walkers.
On the opposite side of the road is Two Waters Moor West, Bulbourne Meadow, Bulbourne Moor and Hardings Moor, a series of grazing fields with the river Bulbourne looping through them. This area has in the past been the site of ‘Music on the Moor’, a community music festival which was staged by the Trust at intervals between 2001 and 2011. It was on this parcel of land, as well as Station Moor, that a major river restoration project took place in 2017.
The original concrete bridge on Station Moor was constructed in 1906 and replaced in 1997. The avenue of horse chestnut trees was planted in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII.
Fishery Moor is an old flood meadow that has been designated a ‘Heritage Site’. It is one of the last remaining obvious flood plain sites in the area flooding in the winter and producing a variety of flora, in some cases rare. This area is particularly notable for its former watercress beds.
Chaulden Meadow is owned by the Trust and used by the Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) Rugby Union Football Club.
The moors to the south of the A41 are divided into three grazing fields known as Herdsman’s, Snoxall’s and Snook’s Moors. The common thief James Snook (often called Robert Snook the highwayman) is buried on the moor. He was hanged at the scene of his crime (robbing a post boy) in March 1802, this was the last instance of a highwayman being hanged in the UK. The Trustees placed the original grave marker in 1904. It was moved to its current position on Snook’s Moor during the construction of the A41. The exact location of the grave itself is unknown.
There are three small areas of Trust land on the periphery of Bourne End separated from the main estate by the A41. These are known as Amen Corner and Bourne End Field, which are used for grazing, and the Memorial Orchard, which is accessible via a track from London Road in Bourne End and is planted with old species of fruit trees.
The Trust lands to the north east of the canal close to the town are primarily managed as amenity land. Hemel Hempstead Town Cricket Club is situated at Heath Park, and also makes use of Balderson’s Moor.
Plough Gardens and the land adjacent to St John’s Church where the war memorial is located are also owned by the Trust. They are managed by Dacorum Borough Council. Blackbirds Moor is an amenity area much used by the community. An avenue of horse chestnut trees was planted to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897. Home of Boxmoor Cricket Club, cricket was first played officially on Blackbirds Moor in 1857. Boxmoor Wharf was once used for the bottling of port and whisky, and later for the shipping of raw lime juice. The site is now leased to the DIY retailers B&Q and the rent is the major revenue source for the Trust.