Originally constructed in the 17th century on over 4 acres of land, the Manor House was extended in the 18th century and later remodelled around 1880.
Over the years it has been home to many Elstree families. When sold for £1,500 in 1830 it had been the birthplace of Euphrasia Haworth, an author, artist and friend of the poet Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth. Together they formed an active local artistic and theatrical group, meeting at Elm Place, Elstree, the home of great English actor William Macready.
Thirty years later the Manor House had become the residence of Charles Gordon,gin distiller (yes, THAT Gordon!), his wife and their seven children. The photo shows two Victorian ladies playing tennis in the garden.
Remaining at the Manor House for almost another 30 years, the Gordon family was supported by a governess, a cook, four servants, a coachman, a butler, a footman and a gardener.
By 1890 Mrs. Mary Barstow was Head of a rather smaller household; she managed with the services of only a cook, a ladies’ maid, a housemaid and a gardener, The gardener, his wife and three children lived in Manor House Cottage, which still stands on Allum Lane beside the gates to Allum Manor.
More families followed. It is believed that Baroness Orczy was living in the Manor House in the early 20th century when she wrote “The Scarlet Pimpernel”
In 1927 the property was sold to Madame Mabel von Briche for £3,500 and remained hers until 1951, when a lengthy search for a local property to convert into a community centre and War Memorial Hall discovered Allum Manor.
Active fundraising was led by renowned actress and local Elstree resident Anna Neagle, President of the Elstree, Borehamwood and District Public Hall Association.
With the active support of Associated British Picture Corporation and many actors under contract to it (including Richard Attenborough, Norman Wisdom and 21 year old Audrey Hepburn) as well as loans from local Rotarians, in 1951 the Association was able to purchase the Manor House for £6,500.
By that stage it was almost derelict but the Manor House was ready to open in 1953. Refurbishment continued and in 1994 Hertsmere Borough Council approved a programme costing £2.5m. to complete refurbishment and to construct a new Allum Hall. This work was completed by March 1998 when the Manor House and Allum Hall were officially opened.
It is with sadness that I have to tell you that Jim McKean died peacefully in Watford General Hospital on Sunday 6th September.
Jim was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Allum Manor and a founder member of the Elstree Borehamwood and District Community Association.
We owe the Manor to his efforts with the late Arthur Jones. He will be greatly missed.
If you follow this link you will see some more information from one of our Trustees, Norman Shuker.
In recognition of his work as a Chartered Civil Engineer specialising in the water industry throughout his life & work in Africa the family have selected Water Aid as the chosen charity.