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The Old Palace at Hatfield House
Hatfield shown within Hertfordshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||AL9, AL10|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||Welwyn Hatfield|
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, and is of Saxon origin. Hatfield House, the home of the Marquess of Salisbury, is the nucleus of the old town. From the 1930s when de Havilland opened a factory until the 1990s when British Aerospace closed, Hatfield was associated with aircraft design and manufacture, which employed more people 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 is 20 miles (30 kilometres) north of London. A train service runs directly from Hatfield Station to Kings Cross, taking approximately 20 minutes on the fast service.
In the Saxon period Hatfield was known as Hetfelle, but by the year 970, when King Edgar gave 5,000 acres (20 km2) to the monastery of Ely, it had become known as Haethfeld. Hatfield is mentioned in the Domesday Book as the property of the Abbey of Ely, and unusually, the original census data which compilers of Domesday used still survives, giving us slightly more information than in the final Domesday record. 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 it was here in 1558, while sitting under an oak tree in the Park, that she learned that she had become Queen following the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary I. 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.
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.
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. It was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960 and merged into British Aerospace in 1978. 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. Part of the former British Aerospace site was intended to be the site of a £500 million new hospital to replace the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn GC and a new campus for Oaklands College, but both projects were cancelled.
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 of a Harrier 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.
The Abercrombie Plan for London in 1944 proposed a New Town in Hatfield and it was designated in the New Towns Act 1946, forming part of the initial Hertfordshire group with nearby Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth. The Government allocated 2,340 acres (9.5 km2) for Hatfield New Town, with a population target of 25,000. (By 2001 the population had reached 27,833.) 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." 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.
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. The redevelopment of the town centre is being planned, involving the construction of 275 flats and retail units. Planning permission has been granted and compulsory purchase orders have been approved.
Hatfield is part of Welwyn Hatfield borough council in the county of Hertfordshire. It is a civil parish and has a town council. It is twinned with the Dutch port town of Zierikzee. Hatfield is part of the Welwyn Hatfield constituency, which includes Welwyn Garden City. The MP for Welwyn Hatfield is Grant Shapps, (Conservative).
|Climate data for Hatfield|
|Average high °C (°F)||8
|Average low °C (°F)||5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||50.7
Culture and recreation
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 at two supermarkets (ASDA and Tesco).
The town also has one public swimming pool, and four sports/leisure centres (two with indoor swimming pools).
Hatfield contains numerous primary and secondary schools, including The Ryde School, St. Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Onslow St Audrey's School and Bishops Hatfield Girls School and the independent day and boarding girls' school Queenswood School.
The University of Hertfordshire is based in Hatfield. 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.
Places of interest
- The Forum Hertfordshire (music venue) University of Hertfordshire.
- Hatfield House.
- Mill Green Museum and watermill.
- Art and Design Gallery (contemporary art gallery) University of Hertfordshire.
- The Weston Auditorium (theatre and cinema) University of Hertfordshire.
- The Galleria.
- Hatfield Business Park, former de Haviland plant, later Base Systems Hatfield, used as a location for Saving Private Ryan (film) and Band of Brothers (TV series).
- Headquarters of Computacenter
- EE (Head office; formerly T-Mobile)
- Ocado (Head office)
- David Lloyd Leisure (Head office)
The East Coast railway line from London to York runs through the town and separates the old and new parts of Hatfield. A 22-minute commuter service connects Hatfield railway station to London Kings Cross.
There was a fatal rail crash at Hatfield in 2000, which brought track maintenance deficiencies to public attention. A garden beside the East Coast Main Line was built as a memorial for the crash victims.
- Moniza Alvi, poet and writer, grew up in Hatfield
- Babe Ruth, a 1970s rock band, came from Hatfield
- Michael Birch, founder of the social network BEBO, lived in Hatfield
- Sanjeev Bhaskar, comedian and broadcaster, lived in Hatfield whilst studying at the University Of Hertfordshire
- Martin Carthy, folk musician, born in Hatfield
- Barbara Cartland, author of romances, lived in Hatfield
- Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
- Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury lived at Hatfield House
- Sandra Conley, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet
- Matthew Connolly, QPR defender, lived in, and attended primary school in Hatfield
- Colin Blunstone of The Zombies lived in Hatfield
- Donovan Leitch the folk singer came from Hatfield
- Iain Dowie, former West Ham player, QPR manager & BBC pundit, was born and brought up in Hatfield and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Hertfordshire
- Queen Elizabeth I lived at Hatfield House (Hatfield Old Palace)
- Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, founder of De Havilland Aircraft Company
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
- Barbara Gaskin, pop singer, No.1 with It's My Party
- Duncan James, member of the boy band Blue, lived in Hatfield
- David Kossoff, broadcaster and father of Paul Kossoff of the 1960s rock band Free, lived in Hatfield
- Rodney Marsh, QPR footballer, is from Hatfield
- Derek Martin, actor known for role of Charlie Slater in EastEnders
- Reginald Maudling, Conservative cabinet minister, lived in Hatfield
- Jack Olding (Henry John Douglas Olding), wartime tank and tractor importer, came from Hatfield
- Guy Ritchie, film director famous for Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, was born in Hatfield
- Alan Shacklock, pop musician and record producer lived in Hatfield
- George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen lived at Brocket Hall
- LH Sumanadasa, aviator and university founder, learned to fly at Hatfield
- Mick Taylor, Rolling Stones guitarist 1969–1974, grew up in Hatfield
- Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, prime minister
- Tracey Thorn, lead singer of Everything But The Girl
- Billy Joe Saunders, WBO middleweight world champion boxer
Nearby towns and villages
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hatfield, Hertfordshire.|
- "Parish Headcounts: Welwyn Hatfield". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- Hatfield And Its People, Workers Educational Association, 13 vols., 1959-1966
- Brett, Lionel, Hatfield New Town, Report of the Hatfield Development Corporation, 1949
- Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key Statistics for HCC Settlements
- "Averages for Hatfield".
- Discogs Babe Ruth; Bobby Shred's Babe Ruth Tribute Page.
- Martins Biography :: Waterson : Carthy :: Keeping it in the Family
- "Sandra Conley". The Oxford Dictionary of Dance. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Profile: Iain Dowie". London: The Times. 2003-08-01. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "Guy Ritchie Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- "Dr Lokusatu Heva Sumanadasa – pilot, engineer and educator". www.hatfield-herts.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-25.