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Holloway Brewery

Two Waters, Hemel Hempstead

Author: Alister Rayner.

The brewery at Two Waters was owned by James Holloway from the 1780s and passed to his son George, who died in 1827. (see The Half Moon, Hemel Hempstead) It then became part of the estate of the Weller Brewery, Amersham.

The Weller Estate was sold to Benskin's Brewery, Watford, in 1930 and this is the fate of the public houses mentioned:


It shows the contents of the auction held at Two Waters for George Holloway's estate in 1827. In it you will get an idea of the size of his brewery operation and farm, along with the five pubs he owned, the Leather Bottle, The Half Moon in Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, The Bull in Markyate, the Queens Head in Corner Hall, and the Red Lion in Nash Mill. (The conclusion to his article is slightly erroneous.)

Origins of the brewery

There has been speculation that George's father was a chap called James Holloway, who married a Lydia Smith in Hemel Hempstead in 1759 (Lydia Weller's grandmother). Was James too a brewer? Actually no. It turns out that his wife Lydia was the daughter of Dr Hugh Smith of Hemel Hempstead, a very well known doctor and apothecary. In his will in 1784, Dr Smith gave his Brewhouse in Two Waters, along with Malting, Storehouse, Dwelling House, utensils and lands to his daughter Lydia Holloway, widow. He give his grandson George Holloway his pub the Red Lion. He gave the Sign of the Half Moon to one of his son-in-laws, and specified that the tenant of that pub may only stay on in his occupancy if he purchased his beer from the Brewhouse now belonging to Lydia Holloway. He gave a lot of other land to other offspring, but mostly to his son Hugh, who became an even more respected doctor in London, much published, and an alderman. (I can't yet prove the link, but there were Hugh Smiths in St Albans, but a few miles away, who were maltsters going back to the 1600's.)

George, Brewer of Hemel Hempstead, was also listed as one of the trustees of the Boxmoor land trust in 1809. Getting in touch with the Boxmoor trust, it turns out he was also listed on their Indenture of Feoffment in 1787 and 1797, where he was named as the owner of the Half Moon Meadow. In the Indenture of 1787 a James Holloway, Draper of Hemel Hempstead, was also mentioned. George's father?

James Holloway, Lace Merchant and Draper of Hemel Hempstead, died in 1783 (hence his wife Lydia was a widow when her father died a year later). In his will he gave his house and lands in Two Waters to his wife Lydia, and after her death to his son George, to whom he also gave some other pieces of land (note, Two Waters and Boxmoor are adjacent). He also gave some money in trust to each of his children, George, James and Sarah, who were all under the age of 21 at the time of his death (putting their birth dates between 1762 and 1783. George was actually born in 1764).

On the 28th July 1804, "At Hemel Hempstead, Herts, advanced in years, Mrs Lydia Holloway, daughter of the Late Dr. Hugh Smith, of that place, and sister of the late physician and alderman of that name in London [, died]."

Lydia bequeathed the whole brewing operation to George. Although the Half Moon had been given to his aunt and uncle, they either bequeathed it to him, or he'd bought it from them, prior to his death 1827. It should be noted that George named his nephew executor in his will, another Hugh Smith, the son of his sister Sarah, who had married a George Smith, Distiller of Aldersgate Street. This Hugh was charged with looking after the Brewery on behalf of George's three illegitimate children Lydia (later Weller), George (Rev.) and Sarah (later Statham). Based on the auction article, they must have collectively decided to sell up the estate in Two Waters immediately, and hence all three children, now fairly well off, were able to decamp to Amersham in 1827, the eldest, Sarah marrying Charles Statham in 1828.

The Queens Head in Corner Hall is interesting. George owned it as part of his tied estate on his death in 1827. However, a James Holloway, probably his younger brother, who only inherited cash and no land, was landlord there from 1817-1828. Another James Holloway, born 1821, perhaps his son, was landlord there as late as 1851. One of these two was done for Weights and Measures in 1840!

People related to this content: George Smith, George Holloway, George Holloway (Born:1764), Hugh Smith, Lydia Holloway (Born:1817),

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