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Cell Park, Markyate (geograph 2584464).jpg
Cell Park, Markyate
Markyate is located in Hertfordshire
Location within Hertfordshire
Population3,135 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceTL065165
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townST ALBANS
Postcode districtAL3
Dialling code01582
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°50′10″N 0°27′18″W / 51.836°N 0.455°W / 51.836; -0.455Coordinates: 51°50′10″N 0°27′18″W / 51.836°N 0.455°W / 51.836; -0.455

Markyate is a village and civil parish in north-west Hertfordshire close to the border with Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.


Having had several former name variants, including Markyate Street and Mergyate, Markyate has been part of one or other of the three counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire at various times, as the county boundaries have changed over the years. At one time the boundary was the line of the main road itself: Hertfordshire to the east and Bedfordshire to the west. Markyate is close to the source of the River Ver, which has occasionally flooded the centre of the village, though the watercourse is often dry during parts of the year.

Part of the Dacorum Borough Council district (centred on Hemel Hempstead), it has Luton (01582) phone numbers and a St Albans postal code (AL3). Although historically a rural and agricultural area, it is now a dormitory village for Luton and the surrounding region, as it is a short distance from the M1 motorway.

Lying on Watling Street, the Roman road (subsequently the A5 until de-trunking) between St Albans and Dunstable, it was a major coaching stop on the highway from London to Birmingham, at one point having over forty inns and public houses along its main road, and the village was one of the earliest sites of the Pickfords transport service, one road out of the village being named Pickford Road. During the 12th century Christina of Markyate was the Prioress of a Benedictine community in the area.

The village lies near the junction of the A5183 Watling Street (formerly A5) and the B4540 (for Luton and Caddington). A bypass for the A5 was constructed to the east of the village in 1955. South near the A5183 is Flamstead and junction 9 of the M1.


Markyate first became a separate ecclesiastical parish, known as Markyate Street, in 1877; while on 30 September 1897 the civil parish of Markyate was created from the Bedfordshire civil parish of Humbershoe[2] (created in 1866 from part of the ancient parish of Studham), the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire portions of Caddington, Flamstead, an exclave of Houghton Regis known as Buckwood Stubbs[3][4] (tithe map [5]), including an exclave of Whipsnade, Ballington Bottom in Hertfordshire.

Growth since the 1950s has been by infilling with new housing in the gap between the old High Street and the newer Markyate by-pass. In 2014 most of the village's light industry area off Hicks Road was demolished, to be replaced by new housing and shops.

The Gainsborough film The Wicked Lady was based on events surrounding the life of Lady Katherine Ferrers — the wife of the major landowner in the area – at Markyate Cell. Parts of the film The Dirty Dozen were also filmed in the village and surrounding area, the stockade being built in the grounds of the local preparatory school.


The Old School House, Cheverell's Green

Markyate has two junior schools: Markyate JMI (state) and Beechwood Park School (independent). The latter is south-west of the village in Beechwood Park, the site of a former Benedictine nunnery. Adjacent to the park was an Army Y-station during the Second World War. Beechwood Park lent its name to a song by the Zombies, written by the group's bassist Chris White.[6] The song has since been covered by Beck in live shows.[7]

From its height in the coaching era, only two public houses now remain in the village: the Plume of Feathers and the Swan. The White Hart closed in the early 1970s, followed by the Red Lion at the end of 2009 and Sun Inn in 2014, all of which became private dwellings. A micro-pub 'the Local' opened within the village in 2016. Being near the M1 motorway and Luton Airport, there is a large three-star Holiday Inn hotel just south-east of the village.

Markyate has four Indian restaurants including Saffron (on the A5183) plus The Pavilion, Markyate Tandoori, and Markyate Spice all on the High Street, with the latter being named Best Chef at the Curry Life Awards 2018.[8] There has also been a fish and chips shop in the village since the 1960s.

Markyate also offers a gym/personal training studio called Gymtro,[9] a pharmacy and doctors' surgery, a general store, a hardware store, and a bakers.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Christina of Markyate, a 12th-century nun and mystic
  • William Cowper, who was sent to boarding school here between the ages of four and eight years old.
  • Lady Katherine Ferrers, according to popular legend, the "Wicked Lady", a 17th-century highwaywoman.
  • Nicholas Lyell, Baron Lyell of Markyate, British Conservative politician and Attorney General.
  • Chris White, bass player and songwriter of the Zombies rock group, grew up in the village, where his parents owned a grocery store.
  • Sir Charles Masefield, head of DESO (1994-1998) vice chairman of BAE (2002-2005?) and a trustee of the Qatar Foundation. Knighted in 1997 for services to industry.
  • Martin Benson (10 August 1918 – 28 February 2010) was an English character actor, who appeared in films, theatre and television. He appeared in both British and Hollywood productions. He lived and died in the village.
  • Andy King (14 August 1956 – 27 May 2015) an English professional footballer and manager. He was capped twice by England at Under-21 level and made a total of 195 appearances for Everton.
  • Nathan Jones. Retired professional footballer and ex Luton Town manager, currently manager of Stoke City F.C.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Hosted By Bedford Borough Council: Humbershoe Index of Pages". 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  3. ^ "The hundred of Manshead: Introduction | British History Online". Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Notes concerning the title to Buckwood". The National Archives. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Tithe map of Buckwood Stubbs [Buckwood Stubs] (district in the parish of Houghton..." The National Archives. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Beechwood Park by the Zombies in Hertfordshire, London". Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Beck Song Information - Beechwood Park". Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  8. ^ "MARKYATE SPICE (Best Chef) – Currylife Awards". Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Home | Gymtro". Home | Gymtro. Retrieved 25 April 2019.