Bricket Wood

From Academic Kids

Bricket Wood
District:St Albans
Region:East of England
Ceremonial County:Hertfordshire
Traditional County:Hertfordshire
Postal County:Hertfordshire

Bricket Wood is a village in the county of Hertfordshire, England, approximately three miles from St Albans. Its railway station is served by a Silverlink County service that runs between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction stations. Over the years the village has received worldwide attention primarily due to various activities just outside of the village itself.


Hanstead House and the Yule family

Bricket Wood gained fame because of Sir David Yule (1858-1928) who made his at home at Hanstead House off Smug Oak Lane, just outside the village. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and he spent most of his life in India, which is where he was knighted by King George V in 1911.

Sir David Yule joined Andrew Yule and Company Ltd., which was begun by his uncle. Its business was to produce tea, jute and paper in India and export them to Britain. Among his other business interests were directorships of Midland Bank, Mercantile Bank of India, Vickers Ltd., the Royal Exchange Assurance Company and ownership of the Daily Chronicle newspaper. In 1900 he married Annie Henrietta, oldest daughter of his uncle Andrew Yule of Calcutta, India.

Herbert W. Armstrong who later bought the former home of Sir David Yule, wrote in his booklet The Seven Laws of Success: "In 1925 Sir David decided to build for himself a mansion on his 1200 acre (4.9 km²) estate, located only five miles (8 km) from the northwest edge of London. Prior to this he had built a 'modest' two-story house of some 14 rooms to live in during construction of the mansion. It was later to become the guest house."

Hanstead House, which was built in the style of Georgian architecture, became the home of Miss Gladys Yule, the only child of Sir David and Lady Annie. She lived in the mansion with the servants while her mother lived in the guest house. Sir David spent most of his time in India. Upon his death in 1928 his widow inherited an estimated £ 15 million and she returned to England. Commented Herbert W. Armstong: "He lies buried in an admirably designed carved stone tomb, covered overhead by a stone and wood canopy, enclosed by an ornate iron fence inside a small wooded park, the whole being encircled by another iron fence." The tomb of Sir David Yule, which depicts various aspects of his life is located on the grounds of Hanstead House.

Lady Annie Henrietta Yule and her daughter Gladys were world travellers who reportedly shared an interest in big game hunting and a love of animals. Hanstead House was said to have been adorned by an a large stuffed bear which they had killed in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. On the grounds they kept a seal, penguins wallabies and beginning in 1925 they expanded their interests to Arabian horse breeding. To that end stables which later gained fame in their own right, were built on the expansive grounds.

In 1934 Lady Yule also played a key part with J. Arthur Rank in the formation of Pinewood Film Studios and in the promotion of the British film industry.

Following the death of Miss Gladys Yule in 1957, Hanstead House was put on the market where it remained uncared for over a considerable period of time.

Ambassador College

In 1959 it was brought to the attention of Herbert W. Armstrong who arrived in England looking for a larger office for his Radio Church of God staff. The existing office had been opened in London by his eldest son Richard David Armstrong, brother of Garner Ted Armstrong. While Herbert W. and his wife Loma were on their trip, Richard David was killed in a car crash in the USA.

In 1959 Herbert W. Armstrong bought Hanstead House, stables and grounds as the site for his second Ambassador College campus. By the time of the purchase the guest house had already been sold separately to another buyer, who used the property as a private home like an island within the campus. (The first Ambassador College opened in 1947 at Pasadena, California; in 1964 a third college opened in Big Sandy, Texas which for a brief time became Ambassador University. All three colleges have since closed down.) in 1959 Hanstead House was renamed Memorial Hall in memory of Richard David Armstrong and the college at Bricket Wood began its first freshman year in 1960.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Chapter 72 of his autobiography that Trans World Airlines (TWA) had been considering Hanstead House as a school for stewardesses. "Yet this mansion, with these outstanding gardens, the aviary, greenhouses, cedars of Lebanon, all finally came to us for 8,000 ($22,800) - the not uncommon price of a five- or six-room cottage on a forty- or fifty-foot lot in America, - and that on terms that gave us several years to pay."

From the radio studio of Ambassador College at Bricket Wood, Herbert W. Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong made English language daily recorded broadcasts of The World Tomorrow radio program which were heard around the world on hundreds of stations, while Dr. Benjamin Rea, the college's Vice-Chancellor made recorded Spanish language editions of the program for other stations. In addition to the broadcasting activities a sizeable printing establishment was also commenced on the site. Dr. Ernest L. Martin was the Dean of Faculty who later gained fame in his own right as the author of several books on controversial topics.

Improvements were made to the grounds and these included tennis courts, track and an Olympic standard indoor swimming pool and gymnasium next to the track.

HSBC Training Centre

When Ambassador College at Bricket Wood closed its doors in 1974, the sports facilities were sold to separately from the main buildings and they eventually became part of a Sports Centre.

The college was sold to a succession of electric power utility interests as a training centre and in 1993 it was sold to HSBC (named after its founding member, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, which was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and Europe.)


The village of Bricket Wood is close to Spielplatz, Britain's oldest naturist club which was begun in 1929 by Charles Macaskie and his wife Dorothy. They moved from London into a tent on 12 acres (49,000 m²) of virgin woodland they purchased near Bricket Wood. They called their utopian camp the Green Monastery and a Play Place (Spielplatz.)

They were joined by other couples and individuals on weekends. Among their visitors until 1947 was Ross Nichols, founder of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. In turn he attracted both fellow Druids and Gerald Gardner, who later established his first coven at Bricket Wood in his development of Wicca as a modern religion.

In 1931 Bricket Wood also attracted the development of a second naturist club called The Sun-Folk Society to the nearby area.


In 1954 Gerald Gardner published his book "Witchcraft Today" to advance his own practice of Wicca as a modern religion. He established his first coven at Bricket Wood. Gerald Gardner was also a visitor to Spielplatz.


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