), commonly abbreviated as Herts
, is a ceremonial
and non-metropolitan county
in the East
region of England
. It is the 14th most populous
ceremonial county in England, home to over one million people. Hertfordshire is one of the Home Counties
and lies inland, bordered by Greater London
(the unitary authorities of Luton
and Central Bedfordshire
. Hertfordshire's county town is Hertford
, with several other population centres including St Albans
, the only city, and Watford
, the county's most populous settlement. Despite a population density
of 656 people per km2
(compared to the UK average of 255 people per km2
), more than two thirds of the county is classified as rural.
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough rose to be one of the most influential women in British history as a result of her close friendship with Queen Anne of Great Britain. Sarah's friendship and influence with Princess Anne led to public figures turning their attentions to her in the hope that she would influence Anne to comply with requests. As a result, by the time Anne became queen, Sarah’s knowledge of government, and intimacy with the Queen, allowed her to become a powerful friend and a dangerous enemy, the last in the long line of Stuart favourites.
In an age when marriage was principally for money, not love, Sarah enjoyed an unusually close relationship with her husband, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, whom she married in 1677. Sarah acted as Anne's agent after her father, James II, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution; and she promoted her interests during the rule of James's successors, William III and Mary II. When Anne came to the throne after William's death in 1702, the Duke of Marlborough, together with Sidney Godolphin, the first Earl of Godolphin, rose to head the government, partly as a result of his wife's friendship with the queen. While the Duke was out of the country commanding troops in the War of the Spanish Succession, Sarah kept him informed of court intrigue, while he sent her requests and political advice which she would then convey to the Queen. Sarah tirelessly campaigned on behalf of the Whigs, while also devoting much of her time to building projects such as Blenheim Palace. She died in 1744 at the age of eighty-four.
A strong-willed woman who liked to get her own way, Sarah tried the Queen's patience whenever she disagreed with her on political, court or church appointments. After her final break with Anne in 1711, she was dismissed from the court with her husband, but she returned to favour under the Hanoverians after Anne's death. She had famous subsequent disagreements with many important people, including her daughter the second Duchess of Marlborough; the architect of Blenheim Palace, John Vanbrugh; prime minister Robert Walpole; King George II; and his wife, Queen Caroline. The money she inherited from the Marlborough trust left her one of the richest women in Europe.
Hertfordshire is an English county forged in the Norse–Saxon wars of the ninth century and developed through commerce serving London. It is a land-locked county in the heart of England, well-protected from invasion, though it certainly saw battles during the various English and British civil wars, and action in its skies during the two world wars. Nowadays, with a population slightly over 1 million, it retains much of its historic character, but its industry and commerce have changed radically.
Although Hertfordshire is numbered among the historic counties of England, it was not created until the early tenth century. Since then, its development has been intimately tied with that of London, which lies on its southern border. London is easily the largest city in Western Europe; it requires an enormous tonnage of supplies each day and Hertfordshire grew wealthy on the proceeds of trade because no less than three of the old Roman roads serving the capital run through it, as do the Grand Union Canal and other watercourses.
This map depicts the locations of the major settlements within Hertfordshire. The line surrounding the lighter area shows the county's boundaries. The inner lines show the boundaries of the county's ten areas of local government. Grey areas depict areas of urban development.
According to the United Kingdom Census 2001
, thirty settlements in Hertfordshire had a population of at least 5,000. These include Hertford
, the county town, Watford
, the most populous settlement, and St Alban's
, the only city. Three settlements with populations of over 10,000 have been omitted from this map; Bushey
, Croxley Green
and Abbots Langley
are situated to the immediate south, west and north of Watford respectively.