Charles Morris: The man and his influence on the area
Last update: 20 September 2016
Charles Morris was born in East Lydeard Farmhouse, Bishops Lydeard, Somerset, England in 1865.
Charles trained as an engineer and rose to become a managing director of the engineering firm of Jessop & Company of Calcutta (now Kolkata), India.
The roots of Jessop & Company go back to 1788 when Breen & Company was founded in Calcutta. In 1820, Henry and George, sons of William Jessop acquired Breen & Company on behalf of the Butterfly Company which had been established in Derbyshire, England in 1790 by William Jessop. These two companies merged to become Jessop & Company, a firm at which Charles seemed to have attracted the highest respect and a formidable reputation.
The rewards of many years of hard work and application enabled Charles to fulfil an ambition he had nursed since his youth - to become an English landowner and to breed champion Red Devon cattle.
In due course Charles purchased his old farmhouse in East Lydeard as well as Highfield Hall at Tyttenhanger Green, and other land in the civil Parish of St. Peter Rural in Hertfordshire.
St. Peter Rural was a civil parish created under the Local Government Act 1894 from the part of the parish of St. Albans St. Peter which was outside the borough of St Albans. It was gradually reduced in size over the years, losing a large chunk to St Albans in 1913. St Peter Rural was abolished in 1947, and its area divided between the new parishes of Colney Heath and London Colney.
In both Somerset and Hertfordshire Charles built up herds of Red Devon cattle which won all manner of championships and were said to be unmatched in England.
In 1914 Charles returned from India for the last time and settled down at Highfield Hall while still keeping an eye on Jessop & Company's affairs from their London office.
On 2nd June 1916 his wife passed away after 30 years of happy marriage and he lost a nephew on the battlefields of France who had been like a son to him he himself having no children.
In character he was a man of great benevolence and generosity, particularly to the young. The story goes that he loved all children and, while walking in the village of Tyttenhanger Green (and perhaps too in London Colney, where he had many interests), he came across a youngster whose teeth needed attention. Charles lost no time in sending the child to the dentist to mend matters at his own expense.
Charles was pleased to see the local boys playing cricket on his land and made sure they never lacked bats and balls. Many grown ups today will remember the wonderful Christmas parties they revelled in as children around the Christmas tree at Highfield Hall coach-house and the presents given to all by Charles.
Charles made several gifts of land to the St. Peter Rural Parish Council for public recreation at London Colney and Tyttenhanger Green. Charles also gifted some land behind houses near The Plough public house in Tyttenhanger Green to be used as allotments.
On the 28th March 1926, crippled by illness (so badly he had to be carried to visit the graves of relatives and friends), but stout hearted to the last, Charles Morris magistrate, champion cattle breeder, benefactor to many, and everyone's friend passed away leaving behind him many good works and kind deeds.
On 6th May 1935 the playing fields in London Colney were dedicated to Charles Morris. A brass plaque that was displayed there before the second world war read;
It is largely as a result of Charles' achievements during his life that Tyttenhanger Green and London Colney have the splendid facilities of a wonderful village hall and a spacious recreation field respectively at which many social and village activities can be enjoyed.
Source: Remember London Colney: The Millennium Book by Ted Banfield (available from London Colney Parish Council, 131 High Street, London Colney, AL2 1RJ or phone 01727 821314
If you have further information about Charles Morris which can be added to this brief biography please send it to (infoATcharlesmorrrishall.org.uk) (amending 'AT' to read '@')
Page last updated 20 September 2016