Parliament Square, Hertford Town Centre
|Hertford shown within Hertfordshire|
|Population||26,783 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||19.2 mi (30.9 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||SG13, SG14|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
Hertford (/, /) is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. Forming a civil parish, the 2011 census put the population of Hertford at about 26,000.
The earliest reference to the town appears in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written by Bede in 731 AD, which refers to "Herutford". "Herut" is the Old English spelling of "hart", meaning a fully mature stag; thus the meaning of the name is a ford where harts are found. The Domesday Book of 1086 gives a spelling of "Hertforde".
Hertford is at the confluence of four river valleys: the Rib, Beane and Mimram join the River Lea at Hertford to flow south toward the Thames as the Lee Navigation, after Hertford Castle Weir.The shared valley of the Lea and the Beane is called Hartham Common and this provides a large park to one side of the town centre running towards Ware and lying below the ridge upon which Bengeo is situated.
The town centre still has its medieval layout with many timber-framed buildings hidden under later frontages, particularly in St Andrew Street. Hertford suffers from traffic problems despite the existence of the 1960s A414 bypass called Gascoyne Way which passes close to the town centre. Plans have long existed to connect the A10 with the A414, by-passing the town completely. Nevertheless, the town retains very much a country-town feel, despite lying only 19.2 miles (30.9 km) north of Central London. This is aided by its proximity to larger towns such as Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Stevenage where modern development has been focused.
Suburbs and estates
Possibly the first mention of the town was in 673 A.D.: the first synod of a number of the bishops in England was held either in Hertford or at Hartford, Cambridgeshire. It was called by Theodore of Tarsus; decisions included the calculation of the date of Easter. In 912 AD, Edward the Elder built two burhs (earthwork fortifications) close by the ford over the River Lea as a defence against Danish incursions. By the time of the Domesday Book, Hertford had two churches, two markets and three mills. The Normans began work on Hertford Castle, and Hertford Priory was founded by Ralph de Limesy. King Henry II rebuilt the castle in stone, but in 1216, during the First Barons' War, it was besieged and captured after 25 days by Prince Louis of France. The castle was regularly visited by English royalty and in 1358, Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II, died there. The priory was dissolved in 1536 and subsequently demolished and in 1563, the Parliament of England met at the castle because of an outbreak of plague in London. Hertford grew and prospered as a market and county town; communication was improved by the construction of the Lea Navigation Canal in 1767 and the arrival of the railway in 1843.
Sport and leisure
Hertford has a leisure centre on Hartham Common. There is a Non-League football club Hertford Town F.C., which plays at Hertingfordbury Park. Bengeo Tigers Football Club is an award-winning FA Charter Standard Community Football Club.
- The band Deep Purple formed in Hertford in 1968.
- Alfred Russel Wallace who proposed a theory of natural selection at the same time as Charles Darwin lived in Hertford between the ages of five and thirteen and attended Hertford Grammar School.
- John Wilkes, the radical politician, was educated in Hertford.
- Sergeant Alfred Alexander Burt VC, soldier in the Hertfordshire Regiment who was born and lived in Hertford. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour on 27 September 1915 during the Battle of Loos.
- Captain W E Johns, Writer of the Biggles books was born in Bengeo, attended Hertford Grammar School and lived in Hertford.
- Samuel Stone, Puritan minister who established the American town of Hartford, Connecticut with Thomas Hooker. He lived in Fore Street, Hertford and was baptised at All Saints Church. There is a statue commemorating him, close to the Hertford Theatre.
- Jane Wenham was tried at the Hertford Assizes for witchcraft in 1712. The jury found her guilty, one of the last in England to be convicted of this offence. Judge Powell had no choice but to condemn her to death, but through his influence she was later given a Royal Pardon.
- Jack Trevor Story, the author of "The Trouble with Harry" and other works, was born in Hertford in 1917.
- Rupert Grint, the Harry Potter film star, comes from Hertford, and although he now lives outside the county town, he lived within Hertford when filming began on the Harry Potter series. He attended Richard Hale School before leaving after his GCSE exams in 2004. Other famous pupils at Richard Hale School are listed on that school's page.
- Dani Filth, singer of Cradle of Filth was born in Hertford, but grew up in Ipswich.
- Singer George Ezra was born and grew up in Hertford, attending Simon Balle School.
- International rugby union players Robbie Morris & Jamie George.
- In the town are the remains of the original Hertford Castle, principally a motte. The castle's gatehouse, the central part of which dates to a rebuild by Edward IV in 1463, is the home to Hertford Town Council. The Motte, from the original Motte and Bailey castle in Hertford, can be found just behind Castle Hall, a short distance from the modern castle.
- There are several churches in the town, All Saints', and St Andrew's, are late and mid 19th century respectively, although both stand on the sites of medieval places of worship. In the northern suburb of Bengeo lies St Leonard's, a two-celled Norman church of considerable architectural interest.
- In Railway Street can be found the oldest purpose-built Quaker Meeting House in the world, in use since 1670.
- The Parliament of England temporarily moved to Hertford during a plague outbreak in London in 1563. This is why the main square in the town, Parliament Square, is so named, although it is a twentieth-century creation.
- The home of Alfred Russel Wallace (see above), now named Wallace House, can be found at 11 St. Andrew St. and is marked with a plaque.
- Built in 1779, the Shire Hall was designed by Robert Adam. The ground floor houses Court Rooms.
- The Hertford Corn Exchange was built on the site of a former gaol. After years in the doldrums it has now reverted to being a live entertainment venue.
- In Cowbridge, there is a Prince Albert Cottage. The first of these cottages was originally built in Hyde Park by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes in 1851 at the time of the Great Exhibition. Prince Albert was involved in their design and financing.
- Hertford Museum is housed in a 17th-century historic town house, with a Jacobean-style knot garden.
- A stained-glass window in St Andrew's Church is part of a fringe theory that links Hertford to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail.
Hertford serves as a commuter town for London, and has two stations :
- Hertford East (on the Hertford East Branch Line) provides a half-hourly service to London Liverpool Street (taking 52 minutes), via Tottenham Hale. The line is operated by Abellio Greater Anglia.
- Hertford North (on the Hertford Loop Line) has a service every 20 minutes off-peak to London Moorgate station (taking 50 minutes), via Finsbury Park (change for King's Cross) and hourly northwards to Stevenage (for onward connections via the East Coast Main Line) and Letchworth (change for Cambridge). Services are operated by Great Northern.
The A414 main road now bypasses the town centre to the south and runs east to Harlow, the M11 and Chelmsford and runs west to Hatfield, the A1, St Albans and the M1. Hertford also lies just west of the A10 and the Kingsmead Viaduct which links it south to London and the M25 and north to Royston and Cambridge.
Bus and coach
- The town's bus services are run by a number of companies, most running from the bus station on Bircherley Green, destinations include Bishop's Stortford, Royston, Stevenage and Waltham Cross. Many of these routes receive subsidies from Hertfordshire County Council.
- The town also lies on the 724 coach route (operated by Arriva the Shires) which provides an hourly service from Harlow through the town and on to Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, Watford and Heathrow.
- Although bypassed by most National Express routes Hertford (Mill Road) is served by the 767 service which operates from Nottingham to Stansted Airport via Leicester and Luton Airport.
For all bus and coach timetables see Intalink.
Images for kids
Hertford Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.