What links a hamlet on the very edge of Hertfordshire – Luton’s outskirts lurking a field’s length away – to sub-tropical swamps? Nothing. The name Mangrove Green derives from ‘thicket in common use or possession,’ from the Old English gemǣne , ‘common,’ and græfe, says the Survey of English Place Names, not from the mangrove (a word likely taken from the Portuguese mangue).
One of the pleasures since lock down has been walking up from Lilley Bottom to the villages and greens at the top of the western slope, with skies mastered by wheeling and keening Red Kites and Buzzards. Pre-virus, the air was ripped by the howl and rush of Easyjet and Buzz Airlines flights out of Luton. The airport’s sullen sleep is bad news for employment and council service provision in the town but a good omen for all the householders with Stop Luton Airport Expansion signs in their gardens.
There’s a pub on the green, the usual barn conversions in the lane that leads past the farm to views across the bottom towards Lilley and Offley. An old brick wall, overgrown by brambles on the stretch abutting Mangrove Green, and dilapidated in parts of its long run down to the bottom, marks out the estate of Putteridge Bury.
For a brick-built chapel, a corrugated iron church and a village school you walk the couple of hundred yards to Cockernhoe, a route infilled in the last century with functional housing.