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HAREFIELD
Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

HAREFIELD, a parish in the hundred of Elthorne, county Middlesex, 5 miles N. of Uxbridge.

It is situated on the river Colne and Grand Junction canal. It is mentioned in Domesday as Herefelle, and formerly belonged to Alice de Clare, who founded here a preceptory for the Knights of St. John, as a cell to the Clerkenwell Priory. After the Reformation it passed to the Bacheworths and Stanleys, and from them to the Newdegates. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture. The living is a donative curacy,* with a parsonage and 8 acres of glebe attached, in the diocese of London, value 64. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure with square tower and three bells. It contains four ancient brasses, the earliest bearing date 1444; also tombs of the Newdegates, Ashbys, and others, and a monument to the famous Countess of Derby, wife of Lord-Keeper Egerton, the "Amaryllis" of Spenser, and for whom Milton wrote his "Arcades," whilst residing in the neighbouring village of Horton. The register dates from 1539. The parochial charities produce 73 per annum. There are almshouses for 6 widows, founded in 1637 by the Countess of Derby. The principal residences are Breakspear House, the seat of William Drake, Esq.; Harefield Park, of W. F. Vernon, Esq.; and Harefield Place, the seat of the Newdegates, built at the commencement of the present century: the old mansion once occupied by the Countess of Derby, and in which the "Comus" of Milton was acted for the entertainment of her grandchildren, was burnt down in 1660.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]
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[Last updated on 9 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. 2003]