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Hatfield, Hertfordshire facts for kids

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Hatfield House - the Old Palace - - 1839366.jpg
The Old Palace at Hatfield House
Hatfield is located in Hertfordshire
Population 39,201 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference TL2308
Civil parish
  • Hatfield
  • Welwyn Hatfield
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HATFIELD
Postcode district AL9, AL10
Dialling code 01707
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
  • Welwyn Hatfield
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, and 39,201 at the 2011 Census. 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, Finsbury Park and Moorgate. There has been a strong increase in commuters who work in London moving into the area.


Early history

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.

Hatfield St Etheldreda
Church of St Etheldreda 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.

Aerospace industry

Hatfield, The Comet hotel - - 209701
The Comet; the carving of the pillar is by Eric Kennington

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.

New Town

Hatfield New Town
Hatfield New Town centre, looking west along its axis.

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 experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Hatfield
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 50.7

Culture and recreation

Hatfield Galleria exterior
The south wing of The Galleria with the connecting bridge on the right of the photograph, viewed from its north wing.
Tmob hatfield
EE Head Office in Hatfield Business Park.
07-11-05 Hatfield 50
The memorial garden built alongside the East Coast Main Line.
Hatfield railway station
Hatfield railway station viewed from the public footbridge.
Hatfield GascoyneCecil statue
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 at two supermarkets (ASDA and Tesco).

Places of interest

  • The Forum Hertfordshire (music venue) University of Hertfordshire. In 2011, the music video for Ed Sheeran’s Lego House, featuring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, was filmed in Hatfield. Filming took place at The Forum venue, located on University of Hertfordshire, College Lane campus. Filming of the video took place during Sheeran’s performance at the venue on October 8th, 2011. Many students were involved during filming, as they made up most of the audience at the Forum that day.
  • 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.
  • 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).

Notable residents


  • Michael Birch (born 1970), founder of the social network BEBO, lived in Hatfield.
  • Sir 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

  • Babe Ruth, a 1970s rock band, came from Hatfield.
  • Colin Blunstone (born 1945) of The Zombies lived in Hatfield.
  • Martin Carthy (born 1941), folk musician, was born in Hatfield.
  • Sandra Conley (born 1943), principal dancer with the Royal Ballet.
  • Donovan (born 1946), folk musician, moved to Hatfield at the age of 10 and spent the rest of his childhood there.
  • Barbara Gaskin (born 1950), pop singer, No. 1 with "It's My Party"
  • Alan Shacklock (born 1950), pop musician and record producer, lived in Hatfield.
  • Sal Solo (Christopher Scott Stevens, born 1961), rock singer, was born in Hatfield.
  • Mick Taylor (born 1949), Rolling Stones guitarist 1969–1974, grew up in Hatfield.
  • Tracey Thorn (born 1962), lead singer of Everything But The Girl, was born in Hatfield and attended Bishop's Hatfield Girls' School.


  • Walter Curle (1575–1647), Bishop of Winchester and a close supporter of William Laud, was born in Hatfield.
  • John Morton (c. 1420–1500), Cardinal and Bishop of Ely, built Hatfield Old Palace.

Science and scholarship

  • L. H. Sumanadasa (1910–1986), aviator and university founder, learned to fly at Hatfield.
  • John Tradescant the elder (c. 1570s–1638), botanist, gardener and naturalist, was head gardener at Hatfield House.


  • Keith Abbis (born 1932), Brighton and Hove Albion footballer
  • Samir Carruthers (born 1993), Sheffield United footballer, is from Hatfield.
  • Matthew Connolly (born 1987), QPR defender, lived and attended primary school in Hatfield.
  • Iain Dowie (born 1965), West Ham player, QPR manager & BBC pundit, was born and raised in Hatfield and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Hertfordshire.
  • Valentine Faithfull (1820–1894), first-class cricketer and clergyman, was born in Hatfield.
  • Rodney Marsh (born 1944), QPR footballer, is from Hatfield.
  • Francis Pember (1862–1954), first-class cricketer, was born in Hatfield.
  • Billy Joe Saunders (born 1989), WBO middleweight world champion boxer
  • Korey Smith (born 1991) Bristol City footballer was born and grew up in Hatfield

Stage, media and film

  • Sanjeev Bhaskar (born 1963), comedian and broadcaster, lived in Hatfield whilst studying at the University of Hertfordshire.
  • John Cazabon (1914–1983), actor on stage, screen and radio, was born in Hatfield.
  • Pippa Haywood (born 1961), television, stage and radio actress, was born in Hatfield.
  • Diane-Louise Jordan (born 1960), television presenter, grew up in Hatfield.
  • David Kossoff (1919–2005), broadcaster and father of Paul Kossoff of the 1960s rock band Free, lived in Hatfield.
  • Derek Martin (born 1933), actor known especially for role of Charlie Slater in EastEnders
  • Gerry Northam (born 1947), radio presenter and investigative journalist, was born in Hatfield.
  • Guy Ritchie (born 1968), film director famous for Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, was born in Hatfield.
  • Letitia Dean, born in Hatfield.


  • 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.


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.

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 to the crash victims.

Notable sightings

Among several celebrities who frequent Hatfield as an escape from London life is Martin Freeman, best known for Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit films, who exercises at a centre in Hatfield Business Park. One Direction’s Niall Horan is often spotted enjoying a meal in the town's main shopping centre, The Gallerias.

Nearby towns and villages


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.

The town has a 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, Countess Anne School, Onslow St Audrey's School and Bishop's 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.

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

See also

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