Willian, Hertfordshire

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All Saints, Willian.jpg
All Saints church, Willian
Willian is located in Hertfordshire
Location within Hertfordshire
OS grid referenceTL225308
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtSG6
Dialling code01462
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°57′40″N 0°13′12″W / 51.961°N 0.220°W / 51.961; -0.220Coordinates: 51°57′40″N 0°13′12″W / 51.961°N 0.220°W / 51.961; -0.220

Willian is a small village in North Hertfordshire. Along with Norton and Old Letchworth, it is one of the original three villages around which the garden city of Letchworth Garden City was created. Despite this, the village retains a separate character to the rest of Letchworth Garden City.


The village was referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wilie", and the name probably derives from a word meaning "willows". There is no explicit mention of a church or priest at Willian in the Domesday Book, but the current parish church of All Saints seems to have been started a few years later in the early twelfth century.[1][2][3][4]

In 1903 much of the land in the parish of Willian and the neighbouring parishes of Letchworth and Norton was purchased for the development of the first garden city, which took its name from the smallest of the three old parishes, Letchworth. The area north of Willian village was gradually developed through the twentieth century as part of the newly-created town.[5]

The solicitor and historian Reginald Hine lived in the village from 1929 until his death in 1949.[6]


Willian was an ancient parish in the hundred of Broadwater.[7]

The parish of Willian was included in the Hitchin Poor Law Union from 1835.[8] The eastern side of the parish of Willian extended to the edge of the town of Baldock, and in 1880 the Baldock Local Board was given control of the parts of Willian parish where the town's urban area was starting to expand into Willian. The following year the parish boundary between Willian and Baldock was adjusted to match the local board boundary.[9][10][11]

Under the Local Government Act 1894, the parish of Willian became part of the Hitchin Rural District.[12] Following the commencement of work on Letchworth Garden City in 1903, it became necessary to review administrative arrangements in the area. The civil parish of Letchworth was substantially enlarged in 1908 to take over all of Norton parish and the northern part of Willian parish.[13] The reduced civil parish of Willian thereafter covered the village itself and the rural areas generally to the south of the village. The civil parish of Willian was abolished in 1935, being absorbed into Letchworth Urban District on 1 April 1935.[14] Since then the village has been administered as part of Letchworth, which became part of North Hertfordshire in 1974.[15]


The village has two public houses: the Fox, built in 1870[16][17] and the Three Horseshoes, dating from the late eighteenth century.[18] The village also has a village shop, which incorporates a Post Office, and a large pond. The parish church of All Saints has a tower with clocks on two sides; two sides are blank, supposedly so that farm labourers would not be able to tell when to leave work. This continues to be an active parish church in the village. Its daughter church of St Paul's, Letchworth became a separate parish church in 1963.


  1. ^ Eilert Ekwall (1960). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names. Oxford: OUP.
  2. ^ Stokes, H.G. (1948). "A Land of Woods and Water". English Place-Names. Edinburgh: B. T. Batsford Ltd. p. 8.
  3. ^ "Church of All Saints, Willian Church Road". Historic England. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  4. ^ Harkness, Peter (1999). All Saints... and sinners: The story of a village church. Letchworth. p. 7.
  5. ^ Miller, Mervyn (2002). Letchworth: The First Garden City (2nd ed.). Chichester: Phillimore. p. 23. ISBN 1 86077 213 7.
  6. ^ Whitmore, Richard (2007). The Ghosts of Reginald Hine. Hitchin: Mattingley Press. ISBN 9780955466205.
  7. ^ "Willian Ancient Parish / Civil Parish". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  8. ^ Higginbotham, Peter. "Hitchin Poor Law Union". The Workhouse. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  9. ^ Local Government Inquiry, Herts and Cambs Reporter and Royston Crow, 13 February 1880, page 4
  10. ^ Local Government Board's Provisional Orders Confirmation (Abergavenny, &c.) Act, 1880. 1880. Retrieved 9 September 2021. Effective 29 September 1880
  11. ^ Local Government Board Order 13027, Effective 20 December 1881
  12. ^ Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73)
  13. ^ Local Government Board Order 51691, Effective 1 April 1908
  14. ^ Ministry of Health Order No. 80108: The County of Hertford Review Order, 1935, Effective 1 April 1935
  15. ^ Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70), effective 1 April 1974
  16. ^ Miller, Mervyn (2002). Letchworth: The First Garden City (2nd ed.). Chichester: Phillimore. p. 32. ISBN 1 86077 213 7.
  17. ^ Miller notes that the Fox was built as the "Willian Arms" as part of a substantial reconstruction of the village following 1867, whilst the building itself has a plaque dated 1870 on the west elevation.
  18. ^ "Three Horseshoes, Willian Road". Historic England. Retrieved 3 October 2021.