|Bhaktivedanta Manor is situated in Letchmore Heath, a picturesque Hertfordshire village of some one hundred and fifty houses. The village is just over a mile from Radlett, four miles from Watford to the west and six miles south of the historic city of St. Albans. It lies within the Parish of Aldenham which finds mention in the Magna Carta. Apparently a Saxon church was established there in 785 CE by Offa, King of Mercia. The area was then heavily forested and remained known as the Great Conation of Aldenham up until the time of the enclosures in the nineteenth century.
Letchmore Heath was settled on the corner of the common and is still approached today by some of the original tracks such as “Common Lane”. The name of the village is derived from the Old Saxon ‘leche mere’ meaning “a muddy pond”. The present duck pond, somewhat clearer now, is situated on the opposite side of the village green and remains a prominent feature of the village. Its waters now feed the adjacent lake within the grounds of Bhaktivedanta Manor.
The presence of the Manor was first recorded in 1261 as one carucate of land belonging to Geoffrey Picot, son of Thomas Picot, a free tenant. (One carucate equals as much land as can be ploughed by one man with one bull in one year).
In 1884 it was purchased by Mr George Villies who demolished the small house and constructed the mock-Tudor building we see today. Still named after Mr Picot, it remained as “Piggots Manor” until 1973 when, as a nurses training college, it was sold to George Harrison of the Beatles. It was not for his private use, however, but as a gift to ISKCON; the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who renamed the property ‘Bhaktivedanta Manor’ after the Society’s founder.
Although ISKCON itself is quite recent, it is part of an important and distinctive tradition of devotional faith which began in the sixteenth century with the saint, Shri Chaitanya. It participates in a much older movement dating back thousands of years, and embraces the timeless, non-sectarian values of sanatana-dharma (or the eternal religion) as found in the Vedic scriptures. These teachings were brought from India by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who formally incorporated ISKCON in New York in 1966.
The movement reached the shores of Britain two years later, and today continues to flourish with more than fifteen U.K. centres. There are over three hundred temples, farms and communities throughout the world, and the International Headquarters are situated near the birthplace of Shri Chaitanya in Mayapur, India. Bhaktivedanta Manor continues to serve as the Society’s Headquarters in Britain.
Posted by Kurma on 20/7/05; 4:20:48 PM from the Travel dept.