Hatfield Broad Oak

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Hatfield Broad Oak
Hatfield Broad Oak - The Church of St Mary the Virgin - geograph.org.uk - 655238.jpg
The Church of St Mary the Virgin
Hatfield Broad Oak is located in Essex
Hatfield Broad Oak
Hatfield Broad Oak
 Hatfield Broad Oak shown within Essex
Population 916 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference TL546166
District Uttlesford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Bishop's Stortford
Postcode district CM22 7
Dialling code 01279
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Saffron Walden
List of places

Coordinates: 51°49′38″N 0°14′33″E / 51.82712°N 0.24257°E / 51.82712; 0.24257

Hatfield Broad Oak (also known as HBO or Hatfield Regis[1]) is a village and civil parish in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England, about five and a half miles south-east of Bishop's Stortford. Near the church of St Mary the Virgin is former Benedictine priory Hatfield Regis Priory.

At around 8,800 acres (36 km2) the parish is one of the largest in Essex, stretching four miles (6 km) north of the village, and was formerly divided into four "quarters": Town Quarter, Woodrow Quarter, Heath Quarter, and Broomsend Quarter. At the north end of the parish lies Hatfield Forest, known for its large oak trees.[2]

The name Hatfield Broad Oak has been used since at least 1136, and the eponymous oak was mentioned in record in 1295. The forest still contains the fenced remains of a very large oak known as the "Doodle Oak", estimated as 850 years old, though it is believed to be a different tree to that which gave the parish its name. Hatfield forest, is an Ancient woodland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR). It is now in the possession of the National Trust.[3] The modern hedges in Hatfield Broadoak still follow the boundaries the ancient forest following clearances known as Assarting.[4]

Hatfield was at one time a thriving market town. At the time of the 2001 census it had a population of 1,600.[5]


Traces of Bronze Age occupation have been found in the parish, including the Portingbury Hills mound in Hatfield forest.[3]

The settlement of Hatfield was well established by the time of the Norman Conquest and its Domesday Book population of 115 put it as the ninth biggest settlement in Essex. At one time a royal manor of Harold I, it fell under the possession of William I. Popular for hunting in the neighbouring forest, its royal patronage led to its becoming known as Hatfield Regis, or King's Hatfield, partly to distinguish it from Hatfield Peverel, also in Essex.[6]

By the time the priory was dissolved, the town had over 1000 residents.[3]


A Saxon church was present in Hatfield at the time of the Domesday Book. The present parish church of St Mary the Virgin is early medieval, and has a stone tower with eight bells. The largest weighs 17cwt and was cast in 1782 by Patrick & Osborn, a private bell foundry, who at the time worked in direct competition to Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

The parish church was at one time part of the priory church but was rebuilt for separate parochial use towards the end of the fourteenth century and extended over the next century.[3]

The nave contains the mutilated stone effigy of Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford, who was buried in the church in 1221. The writings belonging to the Barrington family are deposited in the north vestry; which is believed to have been part of the priory chapel. In the other vestry is a library, placed there in 1708, by Sir Charles Barrington.[2]

Village life[edit]

The Cock Inn, a public house, dates back to the fifteenth century.[3]

St. Mary's Church of England primary school was opened in 1816 as a National school.

Each May Bank holiday a 10 kilometre road race is held using a course running around the village.[7]


  1. ^ Hatfield Broad Oak Essex through time: Local history overview
  2. ^ a b White's Directory of Essex, 1848
  3. ^ a b c d e W. R. Powell (1983). A History of the County of Essex: Volume 8. Victoria County History. 
  4. ^ Barker, Hugh Hedge Britannia 2012 Bloomsbury, London p26-7
  5. ^ Local Area Population and Ethnicity - Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex - Town-Guides.org
  6. ^ "The Monastery of Hatfield Regis", Rev. Alan Jones. Displayed in Hatfield Broad Oak church
  7. ^ Hatfield Broad Oak 10k Road Race and 1 mile Fun Run

See also[edit]

The Hundred Parishes

External links[edit]