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Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Coordinates: 51°45′49″N 00°13′33″W / 51.76361°N 0.22583°W / 51.76361; -0.22583
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Old Palace at Hatfield House
Hatfield is located in Hertfordshire
Location within Hertfordshire
Population41,265 (2021 Census) [1]
OS grid referenceTL2308
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtAL9, AL10
Dialling code01707
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°45′49″N 00°13′33″W / 51.76361°N 0.22583°W / 51.76361; -0.22583

Hatfield is a town and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, in the borough of Welwyn Hatfield. It had a population of 29,616 in 2001,[3] 39,201 at the 2011 Census,[4] and 41,265 at the 2021 Census.[1] The settlement is of Saxon origin. Hatfield House, home of the Marquess of Salisbury, forms the nucleus of the old town. From the 1930s when de Havilland opened a factory, until the 1990s when British Aerospace closed it, aircraft design and manufacture employed more people there than any other industry. Hatfield was one of the post-war New Towns built around London and has much modernist architecture from the period. The University of Hertfordshire is based there.

Hatfield lies 20 miles (30 kilometres) north of London beside the A1(M) motorway and has direct trains to London King's Cross railway station, London St Pancras railway station, Finsbury Park and Moorgate. There has been a strong increase in commuters who work in London moving into the area.[5]

In 2022, TV property expert Phil Spencer named Hatfield as the second best place to live for regular commuters to London, based on train times, house prices and the attractions the town has.[6]


In the early tenth century Hatfield belonged to a vir potens (powerful man) called Ordmær and his wife Ealde, who may have been the grandfather of King Edward the Martyr. Sometime between 932 and 956 he exchanged the town for land in Devon with Æthelstan Half-King, who then gave it to his sons. King Edgar seized the land when he became king on 959, claiming that Ordmær and Ealde had bequeathed it to him, but Æthelstan's sons recovered it after Edgar died.[7] Hatfield is recorded in Domesday Book of 1086 as the property of the Abbey of Ely, and unusually the original census data that compilers of Domesday used survives, giving us slightly more information than in the final Domesday record.[8] No other records remain until 1226, when Henry III granted the Bishops of Ely rights to an annual four-day fair and a weekly market. The town was then called Bishop's Hatfield.

Hatfield House is the seat of the Cecil family, the Marquesses of Salisbury. Elizabeth Tudor was confined there for three years in what is now known as The Old Palace in Hatfield Park. Legend has it that she learnt here of her accession as queen in 1558 while sitting under an oak tree in the Park. She held her first Council in the Great Hall (The Old Palace) of Hatfield. In 1851 the route of the Great North Road (now the A1000) was altered to avoid cutting through the grounds of Hatfield House.

St Etheldreda's Church in Old Hatfield.

The town grew up around the gates of Hatfield House. Old Hatfield retains many historic buildings, notably the Old Palace, St Etheldreda's Church and Hatfield House. The Old Palace was built by the Bishop of Ely, Cardinal Morton, in 1497, during the reign of Henry VII, and the only surviving wing is still used today for Elizabethan-style banquets.

St Etheldreda's Church was founded by the monks from Ely, and the first wooden church, built in 1285, was probably sited where the existing building stands overlooking the old town.

The church of St Etheldreda, well situated towards the top of the hill, contains an Early English round arch with dog-tooth moulding, but for the rest is Decorated and Perpendicular and largely restored. The chapel north of the chancel is known as the Salisbury chapel and was erected by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, who was buried here. It is in a combination of classic and Gothic styles. In a private portion of the churchyard is buried, among others of the family, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.[9]

Aerospace industry[edit]

The Comet; the carving of the pillar is by Eric Kennington; the aircraft is not the original

In 1930 the de Havilland airfield and aircraft factory was opened at Hatfield and by 1949 it had become the largest employer in the town, with almost 4,000 staff.[10] It was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960 and merged into British Aerospace in 1978.[11] In the 1930s it produced a range of small biplanes. During the Second World War it produced the Mosquito fighter bomber and developed the Vampire, the second British production jet aircraft after the Gloster Meteor. After the war, facilities were expanded and it developed the Comet airliner (the world's first production jet liner), the Trident airliner, and an early bizjet, the DH125.

British Aerospace closed the Hatfield site in 1993 having moved the BAe 146 production line to Woodford Aerodrome. The land was used as a film set for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan and most of the BBC/HBO television drama Band of Brothers. It was later developed for housing, higher education, commerce and retail.

Today, Hatfield's aviation history is remembered by the names of certain local streets and pubs (e. g. Comet Way, The Airfield, Dragon Road) as well as The Comet Hotel (now owned by Ramada) built in the 1930s. The Harrier Pub (formerly The Hilltop) is actually named after the Harrier bird, not the aircraft, hence the original pub sign showing the bird. The de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, at Salisbury Hall in nearby London Colney, preserves and displays many historic de Havilland aeroplanes and related archives.[12]

New Town[edit]

Hatfield New Town centre, looking west along its axis.

The Abercrombie Plan for London in 1944 proposed a New Town in Hatfield. It was designated in the New Towns Act 1946 (9 & 10 Geo. 6. c. 68), forming part of the initial Hertfordshire group with nearby Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Hemel Hempstead. The Government allocated 2,340 acres (9.5 km2) for Hatfield New Town, with a population target of 25,000.[10] (By 2001 the population had reached 27,833.[13]) The Hatfield Development Corporation, tasked with creating the New Town, chose to build a new town centre, rejecting Old Hatfield because it was on the wrong side of the railway, without space for expansion and "with its intimate village character, out of scale with the town it would have to serve."[10] They chose instead St Albans Road on the town's east–west bus route. A road pattern was planned that offered no temptation to through traffic to take short cuts through the town and which enabled local traffic to move rapidly.[10]

Hatfield retains New Town characteristics, including much modernist architecture of the 1950s and the trees and open spaces that were outlined in the original design. As of 2017, a redevelopment of the town centre was planned.[14]


Birchwood Leisure Centre: Combined leisure centre and headquarters of town council.

There are three tiers of local government covering Hatfield, at parish, district and county level: Hatfield Town Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council. Hatfield Town Council has its offices and meeting place at the Birchwood Leisure Centre on Longmead. Hatfield town council is currently under a Labour administration led by Cllr Larry Crofton.[15]

Old council offices, 16 St Albans Road East

From 1894 until 1974 the lower two tiers of local government were Hatfield Parish Council and Hatfield Rural District Council. The rural district council built itself a headquarters at 16 St Albans Road East in 1930.[16] The rural district council was abolished in 1974 and its powers transferred to Welwyn Hatfield.[17]

Hatfield is twinned with the Dutch port town of Zierikzee. Hatfield is part of the Welwyn Hatfield constituency, which also includes Welwyn Garden City. The Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield is Grant Shapps, a Conservative.


Hatfield Town F.C. plays Non-League football at Gosling Sports Park. The Welwyn Garden City Hockey Club are a field hockey club based in Hatfield.

Hatfield Athletic Football Club competes in the Herts Senior County League and plays its games at Lemsford.[18]

The town has a public swimming pool and four sports/leisure centres (two with indoor swimming pools).


Hatfield experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) like most of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Hatfield
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 50.7
Source: [19]

Culture and recreation[edit]

The south wing of The Galleria with the connecting bridge on the right of the photograph, viewed from its north wing.
EE Head Office in Hatfield Business Park.
The memorial garden built alongside the East Coast Main Line.
Hatfield railway station viewed from the public footbridge.
Statue of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury in front of the park gates of Hatfield House.

Hatfield has a nine-screen Odeon cinema, a stately home (Hatfield House), a museum (Mill Green Museum), a contemporary art gallery (Art and Design Gallery), a theatre (The Weston Auditorium) and a music venue (The Forum Hertfordshire). There are shopping centres in the new town: the Galleria (indoor shopping centre), The Stable Yard (Hatfield House), and three supermarkets (ASDA, ALDI and Tesco). In 2022, Hatfield held its first vegan market, an event held in a number of English towns, at Hatfield House and now holds the market each June and November.[20] During Veganuary in 2023, students at the University of Hertfordshire organized their own vegan market.[21]


Hatfield contains numerous primary and secondary schools, including St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Howe Dell Primary School, Countess Anne School, Onslow St Audrey's School, Bishop's Hatfield Girls' School and the independent day and private boarding girls' school Queenswood School (only to name a few).

In addition to the important areas in the town, the University of Hertfordshire is also included by many. A large section of the airfield site was purchased by the university and the £120-million de Havilland Campus, incorporating a £15-million Sports Village, was opened in September 2003. The university has closed its sites at Watford and Hertford; faculties situated there have been moved to the de Havilland Campus.

The equine branch of the Royal Veterinary College is based in Hatfield.[22]

Places of interest[edit]


Hatfield is 20 miles (32 km) to the north of London. It is 14 miles (23 km) from London Luton Airport. The A1(M) runs through a tunnel beneath the town, which is also close to the M25.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was the northern terminus of the Hatfield and Reading Turnpike that allowed travelers from the north to continue their journey to the west without going through the congestion of London.

The East Coast railway line from London to York runs through the town, separating the old and new parts. A commuter service connects Hatfield railway station to London King's Cross. A new railway station and car park opened in late 2015. The frequent train service runs direct from Hatfield Station to London King's Cross (21 minutes) via Finsbury Park (16 minutes, Victoria Underground Line) on fast trains running two or three times an hour. An additional train service calls at all stations to Moorgate in the City of London.

Hatfield is well served by buses with regular services to all nearby towns and villages and as far as north London. Bus services are run by Uno, Arriva and Centrebus who are all part of the local Intalink Partnership.

The Hatfield rail crash occurred in October 2000, which brought track-maintenance deficiencies to public attention.[25] A garden beside the East Coast Main Line was built as a memorial to the crash victims.

Local media[edit]

The local TV stations are BBC London & ITV London, received from the Crystal Palace TV transmitter and the Hemel Hempstead relay transmitter.[26][27] BBC East and ITV Anglia are also received from the Sandy Heath TV transmitter.[28]

Local radio stations are BBC Three Counties Radio on 90.4 FM, Heart Hertfordshire on 106.9 and Radio Verulam on 92.6 FM.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times is the town's local weekly newspaper.[29]

Notable residents[edit]


  • Michael Birch (born 1970), founder of the social network BEBO, lived in Hatfield.
  • Geoffrey de Havilland (1882–1965), founder of De Havilland Aircraft Company
  • Jack Olding (Henry John Douglas Olding, fl. mid-20th c.), wartime tank and tractor importer, came from Hatfield.

Music and dance[edit]

Politics, nobility and royalty[edit]


Science and scholarship[edit]


Stage, media and film[edit]


  • Moniza Alvi (born 1954), poet and writer, grew up in Hatfield.
  • Barbara Cartland (1901–2000), author of romances, lived in Hatfield.
  • Geoffrey Drage (1860–1955), non-fiction writer and politician, was born in Hatfield.
  • Nathaniel Lee (c. 1653–1692), poet and playwright, was born in Hatfield, where his father was rector.

Nearby towns and villages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hatfield (Hertfordshire, East of England, United Kingdom) - Population Statistics, Charts, Map, Location, Weather and Web Information". www.citypopulation.de. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  2. ^ "Hatfield Town Council -". 2 November 2022.
  3. ^ "Parish Headcounts: Welwyn Hatfield". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Town population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Out of town but not out of touch". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Best Commuter Towns London; 2022 Round-Up".
  7. ^ Hart, Cyril (1992). The Danelaw. London, UK: The Hambledon Press. p. 586. ISBN 978-1-85285-044-9.
  8. ^ Hatfield And Its People, Workers Educational Association, 13 vols., 1959–1966
  9. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hatfield". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 62.
  10. ^ a b c d Brett, Lionel, Hatfield New Town, Report of the Hatfield Development Corporation, 1949
  11. ^ "Hatfield's Aviation Heritage » Hatfield Aerodrome". Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  12. ^ "de Havilland Aircraft Museum". www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  13. ^ Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key Statistics for HCC Settlements Archived 26 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Hatfield Town Centre Redevelopment". www.welhat.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Hatfield Town Council". Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  16. ^ "Percival Blow - List of Works" (PDF). St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society. October 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  17. ^ "Hatfield Rural District". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  18. ^ Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Averages for Hatfield". Archived from the original on 29 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Vegan Market Co | Hatfield". veganmarkets. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  21. ^ "University of Hertfordshire students to celebrate Veganuary with a plant-based market". Welwyn Hatfield Times. 4 January 2023. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  22. ^ "RVC Equine". Royal Veterinary College. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  23. ^ Logan, Ross (4 November 2011). "Ed Sheeran and Rupert Grint shoot Lego House video at Forum Hertfordshire in Hatfield". Welwyn Hatfield Times. Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2016..
  24. ^ "The Galleria – Outlet Shopping in Hertfordshire". thegalleria.co.uk. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Hatfield crash 'was disaster waiting to happen'". The Daily Telegraph. 31 January 2005. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Full Freeview on the Crystal Palace (Greater London, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Full Freeview on the Hemel Hempstead (Hertfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  28. ^ "Full Freeview on the Sandy Heath (Central Bedfordshire, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Welwyn Hatfield Times". British Papers. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  30. ^ Discogs Babe Ruth Archived 21 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine; Bobby Shred's Babe Ruth Tribute Page. Archived 14 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Sandra Conley". The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  32. ^ Donovan, Leitch (2006). The Hurdy Gurdy Man. Arrow. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-09948703-6.
  33. ^ Womack, Kenneth (1 September 2017). Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926–1966. Chicago Review Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-61373-192-5. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Dr Lokusatu Heva Sumanadasa – pilot, engineer and educator". www.hatfield-herts.co.uk. Archived from the original on 8 May 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  35. ^ "Profile: Iain Dowie". The Times. London. 1 August 2003. Retrieved 30 December 2008.
  36. ^ "Guy Ritchie Biography". The Biography Channel. Archived from the original on 16 March 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2007.