The parish of Lilley lies on the western edge of North Hertfordshire, mostly north of the A505. Its northern boundary follows the early medieval line of the Icknield Way, and it abuts Bedfordshire to the west. Part of the parish once included Mangrove Green, now in Offley. Three areas now in Lilley, one stretching from the eastern edge of Ward’s Wood in the west to Kingshill Plantation in the east, the second from west of Lilleypark Wood to the boundary wall of Putteridge Bury and a third to the east of Dogkennel Farm, were formerly part of Offley. The longer version of this post, linked below, explores how this complex arrangement came into being.
Although the first record of Lilley is in 1086, when Domesday Book was compiled, the community has a much longer history. It is possible that the settlement initially lay in the northern part of the parish and developed from the estate of an undiscovered Roman villa. Its move south to East Street and West Street perhaps happened when the parish church was founded, before the Norman Conquest. Archaeological remains take the story back to earlier periods when there were farmsteads and valleys across the landscape. There may even have been a henge (an oval area enclosed by a chalk bank) on a hillside overlooking Mazebeard Spring.