Hertingfordbury lies one mile west of Hertford on the A414 road. Ribbon development along that road has yet to reach the village, which retains a rural character. The village straddles the River Mimram, on which was built a water mill in the 18th Century, and lies just north of the River Lea. The northern boundary of the village is Panshanger Park, with its Great Oak, considered by some to be the oldest oak in England.
The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Herefordingberie, meaning "Stronghold of the people of Hertford".
"Ralph himself holds Herefordingberie. It is assessed at 5 hides. There is land for 10 ploughs. In demesne are 3 hides and 1 virgate, and there are 2 ploughs, and there can be a third. There 5 villans with 1 Frenchman and 6 bordars have 5 ploughs, and there can be 2 more. There are 11 cottars and 4 slaves, and 2 mills rendering 6s, meadow for 3 ploughs, pasture for the livestock of the vill and woodland for 200 pigs. From woodland pasture, 7s. In all it is worth £8; when received, £6; TRE £10. Alwine, a thegn of Earl Harold, held this manor and could sell.
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary’s Church is situated on rising ground to the east of the village, overlooking the water meadows that lead down to the River Mimram. A church seems to have stood on this spot as early as the 13th century. Construction is mainly of local flints with stone dressing, and the roof is tiled. Extensive alterations and restorations were carried out in 1845 and 1890. Inside the church is some interesting alabaster work, including the pulpit, and oak carvings by a native of Oberammergau. The churchyard contains the unmarked grave of Jane Wenham, erroneously believed to be the last person to be sentenced to death for witchcraft in England. She was condemned by a Hertford court in 1712 but was given a reprieve from the death sentence and later granted a Royal pardon by Queen Anne. Originally from Walkern her cause was adopted by William Cowper, 1st Earl Cowper, and she lived out her days in a cottage on his land in Hertingfordbury. Also buried in the churchyard are members of the Cowper family, and Benjamin Truman, owner of the Truman Brewery in the 18th Century. An American heiress, Pauline Payne Whitney, who had married Lord Queenborough, is buried there as is their daughter, Dorothy Paget,a racehorse owner, whose horses won the Cheltenham Gold Cup seven times and the Champion Hurdle four. Her funeral procession included a string of race horses, whose jockeys included Gordon Richards
Both Hertingfordbury Park, former residence of the Cowper family, and St Joseph's In The Park, a private primary school, stand to the east of St. Mary's. David and Victoria Beckham's son Brooklyn attended the school. Interesting houses in the village include “Epcombs”, a Georgian brick house reputedly visited by Jane Austen, “Amores“, which stands in a triangle in the centre of the village and is over 500 years old and “Roxford House“ in St. Mary's Lane was once the home of Austrian composer Joseph Haydn . Two of the pubs in the village are The White Horse Hotel, which is a 15th-century Georgian-fronted building that in the past was a staging post for the Reading to Cambridge coach and The Prince of Wales which closed in 2014. To the north-east of the church is the Old Rectory, formerly home of the Addis family, descendants of William Addis, inventor of the first mass-produced toothbrush. There was an Addis brush factory in Hertford from 1920 to the 1990s.
Mayflower Place was commissioned by Countess Cowper and built in 1910. It was originally for the workers and their families from the Panshanger Estate. It is now owned by the East Herts Lodge of Freemasons.
A by-pass was constructed in 1974. Since then the village has changed in character and it now provides homes for those who commute daily to London rather than for farm workers. Shops, such as a baker's and a post office, have disappeared.
Hertingfordbury was formerly served by a station on the Hertford to Hatfield line. Passenger services ceased in 1951 and the line eventually fell victim to the Beeching Axe when goods traffic ceased in 1966. The station, which was the setting for scenes in the 1936 film When Knights Were Bold, has now been converted into a residence. The disused railway line is now the Cole Green Way, popular with walkers, riders and cyclists.
Hertingfordbury Cricket Club plays at the recreation ground as does Hertingfordbury Tennis Club, which was formed at a public meeting in 1961. There is an annual fete on the third Saturday in June to raise funds for the upkeep of the recreation ground.
Details of the parish council minutes meetings and other news can be found here. There is a traditional village primary school in Birch Green known as Hertingfordbury Cowper. The original school was a classic Victorian school house, which now has some modern extensions. There are children at the school who are 4th generation attendees.
- The Domesday Book, 1086, Folio138v in the Hertford Hundred, Hertfordshire, Alecto Historical Editions. London 1991
- http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/News/Bishops-Stortford/Poshs-dad-speaks-on-Becks-return.htm Article from Herts & Essex Observer newspaper: Published: 31/03/2005
- http://www.fairviewhotels.com/ourhotels_whitehorsehotel.html White Horse Hotel website: historic reference
- http://www.easthertslodge.org/mayflower.htm History of Mayflower Place on East Herts Freemasons website
- http://www.easthertslodge.org/open.htm East Herts Freemasons
- http://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/page_id__725_path__0p34p151p217p.aspx Herts Memories website
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