We have been in Hertfordshire in one shape or another for over 250 years but have gone through exceptional change in recent years.

Our history in Hertfordshire stretches back over 250 years. As we have grown we have kept all the benefits of our heritage – experience, knowledge and strong roots in our community. However, we actively pursue change to ensure we are a leading, modern, client focussed law firm, working with businesses of the future and thriving families and individuals in Hertfordshire, London and across the UK.

  • 1700s

    The origins of Debenhams Ottaway can be traced back as far as the late 1700s to Alexander Allen and James Hall who were partners at 15 Poultry in London.

  • 1804

    A year before the Battle of Trafalgar, James Hall moved the practice to Salters Hall Court where it remained for 103 years. George Debenham (one of the Debenham Dozen) joined in 1840.

  • 1850

    George Debenham moved to St Albans setting up as Thompson, Debenham & Brown. George was a prominent member of the St Albans community and was Mayor of St Albans from 1857 to 1859.

  • 1895

    By now, the brothers, Alfred and Edward Debenham were running the firm and bought the freehold office premises at 6 St Peters Street. For a number of years the office also doubled as the Town Clerk’s Office, with Alfred also serving as Town Clerk.

  • 1939

    When war broke out, Gilbert Debenham was heading up the firm. He served in the army and assistant solicitor Denis Scholey was a pilot in the RAF. The managing clerk, Henry Low ran the firm until Gilbert and Denis returned at the end of the war. Denis became partner in 1948.

  • 1978

    Thompson & Debenham merged with Borehamwood and Radlett firm, Turner Evans to become nine partner firm Turner & Debenhams.

  • 1985

    Turner & Debenhams celebrated 100 years at St Peters Street, operating from three offices in St Albans, Radlett and Borehamwood. Gilbert’s youngest son, Christopher Debenham also joined the partnership.

  • 2008

    Turner & Debenhams merged with Ottaways to become Debenhams Ottaway.

  • 2012

    Championing the vulnerable, Debenhams Ottaway worked with the police to convict two fraudsters who tricked an elderly man they were caring for out of £750,000. This made the national and local press.

  • 2015

    Debenhams Ottaway won the Law Society Excellence Award in Private Client Practice.

  • Today

    Debenhams Ottaway has two offices in St Albans and Radlett with 12 partners and over 120 staff. It is a leading Hertfordshire law firm, and the only St Albans firm listed in The Lawyer UK 200.