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Redbourn - St Mary's Church - - 142551.jpg
St Mary's Church, Redbourn
Area 7.37 sq mi (19.1 km2)
Population 5,344 (2011)
• Density 725/sq mi (280/km2)
OS grid reference TL105125
Civil parish
  • Redbourn
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ST ALBANS
Postcode district AL3
Dialling code 01582
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
  • Hitchin and Harpenden
List of places
HertfordshireCoordinates: 51°48′01″N 0°23′47″W / 51.8002°N 0.3965°W / 51.8002; -0.3965

Redbourn is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, lying on Watling Street, three miles (4.8 km) from Harpenden, four miles (6.4 km) from St Albans and five miles (8 km) from Hemel Hempstead. The civil parish had a population of 5113 according to the 2011 Census and an estimated population of 5188 in 2014. It lies within the City of St Albans local government district.


To the south-west of the village, just beyond the motorway is the site of an Iron Age hill fort called the Aubreys. To the north of the village is the site of a complex of Roman temples.

The village has been continuously settled at least since Saxon times and is recorded in the Domesday Book. Its parish church, St Mary's, was built in the early 12th century. Some fifty years later, a small priory was founded half a mile away on Redbourn Common, after the abbot of St Albans Abbey decided to consecrate the ground. Some bones had been found on the spot, reputed to be of St Amphibalus, the priest who had converted St Alban to Christianity.

In the 16th century the manor of Redbourn belonged to the Reade family: Sir Richard Reade, formerly Lord Chancellor of Ireland, bought the manor when he came back to England from Ireland; he died in 1575 and was buried at the parish church. Reade left legacies to Winchester College and for the upkeep of the parish of Redbourn. The manor of Redbourn itself was inherited by his eldest son Innocent, who also inherited the older family estate at Nether Wallop.

In 2010, Redbourn's St Mary's Church celebrated its 900th anniversary.

Economy and transport

Redbourn was for a long time the centre of a farming community and for a time had a successful watercress business on the water meadows of the River Ver. Just south of the village, flour was ground at Redbournbury Mill, a recently restored watermill.

Silk throwing was carried out at the steam-driven Woollam's Mill near Redbourn Common. The mill was taken over by John Mangrove & Son, but closed in 1938. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Brooke Bond took over the silk mill as a food factory. Whilst it was still open, a young man in the village fell into a vat of jam and died. After a successful lobbying campaign by schoolchildren in 2003, a memorial bench was unveiled to Sticky Joe, as he had come to be known. After the closure of the factory in 1996 the old silk mill manager's house (the Grade II-listed Silk Mill House) was donated as Redbourn Village Museum, which opened in May 2000. The former silk mill site is now a housing estate.

Local grocer Russell Harborough also set up a jam-making factory, which in 1956 was bought by Thomas Mercer Ltd, marine chronometer manufacturer. The site, just off High Street, is now an industrial estate.

Old industries in the village included making straw plait and hat making – Redbourn Village Hall in the centre of the village High Street was formerly a straw hat factory, which has been extensively renovated, thanks mainly to money from the National Lottery and Redbourn Parish Council.

During the coaching era, Redbourn was known as the "Street of Inns", with at least 25 pubs and inns at its peak, but the expansion of the railways in the 1840s sounded the death knell of stagecoaches. A branch railway line known as the Nickey Line, from Hemel Hempstead to Harpenden, passed through Redbourn. It opened on 16 July 1877 and closed in 1979. The route is now a public footpath and cycle path. The first bus service through the village started in 1908, though buses took some years to become established.

In 1903 a Mr Boucher, the local dentist, owned the first private car in the village, a 6 hp Gladiator. Several motor rallies were held in Redbourn in the 1900s using The Bull pub as a base. Three garages, in High Street, Dunstable Road and at Church End, have closed, leaving only a filling station next to The Chequers pub in the St Albans Road.

The first idea for a Redbourn by-pass came in 1935 and one was built in 1984. High Street was closed for a day of celebrations and a fun run on part of the bypass took place before it opened to traffic.

County show and awards

The Hertfordshire County Show takes place annually in late May at a 70-acre show ground site one mile north of the village.

Redbourn was Hertfordshire Village of the Year, 2002 (Overall and Western Area Winner), and a section winner in 2003. In 2002 Redbourn was also an Eastern and Home Counties Section Winner. The year 2004 saw Redbourn again winning Hertfordshire Village of the Year, Western Area, and in 2005 it was the Hertfordshire Village of The Year IT Section Winner and Eastern England Information Communication Technology Winner 2005, also winner of the Hertfordshire Village of the Year Best Community Project Award, and the Silver Award Anglia in Bloom 2005.

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