The New International Encyclopædia/Great Berkhampstead
GREAT BERK′HAMPSTEAD (from AS. birce, birch + hām, home + stede, place). A market-town of Hertfordshire, England, situated in a deep valley, on the right bank of the small river Bulborn, on the Grand Junction Canal and the London and Northwestern Railway, 28 miles north-northwest of London (Map: England, F 5). The father of the poet Cowper was rector of Berkhampstead, and the poet himself was born here. A few massive fragments of the wall of a castle still remain, to the east of the town. A free grammar school founded in the reign of Edward III. still exists, and there is also a charity school founded in 1727. Straw-plaiting is carried on to a considerable extent, and bowls, cricket-bats, hoops, toys, and numerous articles in wood are manufactured. There are extensive chemical works, and a considerable trade in timber, malt, and coal. There is a weekly corn market. Population, in 1891, 4574; in 1901, 5219. The town is of Saxon origin, and the Kings of Mercia had a palace or castle here. William the Conqueror met the nobles and prelates at Berkhampstead, and took an oath to rule according to the ancient laws and customs of the country.