Leaving Hertingfordbury village by the old Hatfield Road, there is, on the right hand side and partly covered by shrubs, a very imposing building. It was originally called the 'Cowper Memorial Hall', but has since been renamed 'Mayflower Place'.
It was built, on the instructions of Countess Cowper (pronounced Cuper), in memory of her husband who died in 1905, by the skilled workmen from the Cole Green Estate Works. It is worth noting that they had, only a few years earlier, completed their part of the rebuilding of the parish church, St Mary's.
The hall was built to provide a meeting and recreation place for the families of her estate workers. It was nearing completion in 1913 when the Countess went on holiday to France. She died on that holiday, so she never saw the grand village hall, which had been built on her orders, and at her expense. It is not known whether any legal documents concessing the upkeep etc. had been drawn up, or were even awaiting signature on her return.
High in the south gable end of the building, there is a built in crest with the Latin words "TUUM EST" which is believed to interpret to mean "IS FOR YOU" or "IT IS YOURS".
The Earl and Countess Cowper had several estates around the Home Counties and on their deaths, as they had no children themselves, their properties were distributed to various related families. Panshanger, the largest and the Home estate, was left to the Earl's niece, Lady Desborough. Lord and Lady Desborough had a large country house - Taplow Court - which continued to be their main residence. They only spent a few weeks, two or three times a year, at Panshanger!
Death duties increased astronomically during the following years, and many parts of the Panshanger Estate were sold. These included all the tenant farms, Cole Green Estate Works, the large Kitchen gardens, and areas of land on which part of Welwyn Garden City was built.
However, Lord and Lady Desborough honoured the intentions of the late Countess, in regard to the Memorial Hall, for paying not only for a resident Caretaker, but also for its maintenance and running cost.
The above extract was taken from a magazine of the Hertingfordbury Parish News, written by My Arthur James Adams, 25th June 1908 - 21st May 2001. Kind permission to use this article was given by the Hertingfordbury Parochial Church Council with the assistance of Mrs Jane Hoare to whom I extend my grateful thanks