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Touring Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire is more or less swallowed up by Greater London, therefore visitors will be hard put to know they are not simply in the far reaching suburbs of that city. Nevertheless, Hertfordshire is a county in its own right with its own attractions.

St Albans Main Street by Barbara Ballard Chief among the interesting towns is St Albans with its many historic buildings, especially those on Fishpool St near the cathedral and Holywell Hill. The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Albans was founded in AD 793 as a Benedictine monastery and was rebuilt in 1077. It became a cathedral in 1877.

St Albans Cathedral by Barbara Ballard It's a fascinating building with two completely different architectural styles. The west part is bare and plain in contrast to the rest, which is richly carved with a decorated ceiling and many different nooks and crannies. There is a shrine to St Alban, the first English Christian martyr. On the opposite wall are monk's sitting places where they spied on pilgrims so they wouldn't take bits and pieces of the red cloth canopy over the shrine for souvenirs.

St Albans Roman archaeological dig  by Barbara Ballard St Albans museum on Hatfield Rd gives an excellent write-up on the abbey and town and has some artifacts. Also on show are Roman and other historical information about the city. A bus ride or a half hour walk from the city center is one of England's best Roman museums, the Verulamium Museum. Full of artifacts found in the area, many of them are presented in the context in which they were used. This is a 'not to be missed' museum. Allow at least two hours for your visit. Down the road is the site of a Roman amphitheatre.

St Albans by the old millhouse and river by Barbara Ballard Walk along the river Ver from the museum, and you will run into Kingsbury watermill (now a waffle restaurant). The mill dates back to Elizabethan times with a 200-year old waterwheel. Once three millstones crushed the grain.

Gorhambury house (HHA) and Old Gorhambury house (EH) are just west of St Albans. The first is an 18th century country house, and the later is the remains of an Elizabethan mansion, including the porch of a great hall.

The large town of Berkhamsted sits on the Grand Union Canal and river Bulbourne; part of the town is a conservation area. By the rail station is the remains of a double moat Norman motte and bailey castle, under the care of English Heritage.

Four miles north of Berkhamsted is the National Trust Ashridge estate where woodland, common, and downland walks can be enjoyed. There's a visitor centre as well. The town of Letchworth has a local history museum with celtic and Roman exhibitions.

Two other towns situated on water are the market town of Bishop's Stortford where the river Stort goes through the town centre and Broxbourne beside the river Lee and the Lee navigation canal. In the town on High road are 1728 almshouses and a 17th century priest's house. Canal enthusiasts will want to visit Rickmansworth where the historic canal site, Batchworth, has on show restored working boats and souvenirs.

Hitchin's market square boasts Tudor and Georgian buildings and a nearby medieval parish church of St Mary and late 18th century Adam designed priory. Hoddesdon's town centre is a conservation area with an 1835 town clock. On Rye road is 17th century Rye House gatehouse, scene of the Rye House plot. An exhibition and display give all the details. Harpenden is another town whose centre is a conservation area with many listed buildings.

Royston, a late medieval town in the north-east corner of Hertfordshire, is surrounded by countryside. Royston Cave has a circular, bell-shaped chamber with medieval pagan carvings on the walls. The cave's origins are unknown, but it is thought that the Knights Templar used the caves in the 13th century. Royston museum on Lower King St has displays on local history, ceramics and glass.

At Ware, a Hertford suburb wannabe, are many historic buildings including a 1338 priory and St Mary's church, rebuilt in 1380. It was in Ware that Lady Jane Grey was made queen in 1553.

Hatfield House long gallery courtesy Hatfield House A 'must see' historic house is Hatfield House, constructed from 1607-1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and chief minister to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. He chose the site of the former royal palace of Hatfield, childhood home of Elizabeth I. One wing of the palace still exists in the 52 acres of gardens. Inside the Jacobean house is a collection of world famous paintings, rare tapestries, and 16th-18th century furniture.

Lovers of the 'high Gothic fantasy' style of architecture will want to visit Knebworth (HHA), home to the Lytton family since 1490. You may recognize it and its 250 acres of gardens as the star in a number of movies. There's a Jacobean banqueting hall and a state drawing room among others on show.

Other Hertfordshire gardens are found five miles south of Hitchin at St Paul's Walden Bury, where the Queen Mother spent her early days, and the Royal National Rose Society collection near St Albans. Here are 1800 different varieties and 30,000 plants. Benington Lordship gardens (HHA) are sited on a hilltop with ruins, manor house, old roses, lakes, and teas.

George Bernard Shaw was a famous Hertfordshire resident, and his home, under the care of the National Trust, at Shaw's Corner near Welwynis is open to visitors.

Hertfordshire Attractions

For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.

Aldenham Country Park
Tel. 020 8953 9602

Ashridge Estate
Ringshall, Berkhamsted
Between Northchurch and Ringshall, just off B4506; between the A5 south of Dunstable and the A41
Tel. 0 1442 851 227

Ashwell Village Museum
Swan St, Ashwell
Tel. 0 1462 742 956

Baldock Museum
Town Hall (Hitchin St entrance), Baldock
Tel. 0 1462 892 640
Web: Baldock Museum and History

Batchworth Lock Canal Centre
99 Church Street, Rickmansworth
Tel. 0 1923 778 382

Benington Lordship Gardens
Benington, off the A602
Just east of Stevenage, on a hilltop
Tel. 0 1438 869 668
Web: Benington Lordship Gardens
Berkhampstead Castle (EH)
Near Berkhampstead
Tel. NA

Bishop’s Stortford Museum
Rhodes Art Complex, South Rd, Bishop’s Stortford
Tel. 0 1279 651 746

British Schools Museum
41/42 Queen St, Hitchin
Tel. 0 1462 420 144

Bushey Museum and Art Gallery
Rudolph Rd, Bushey
Tel. 020 8420 4057
Web: Bushey Museum and Art Gallery

Cromer Windmill
Cromer, Stevenage
Tel. 0 1279 843 301

de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre
Salisbury Hall, London Colney, Hertfordshire
On the B556 near jct 22 of M25
Web: De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre

Fairlands Valley Park
Six Hills Way, Stevenage
Tel. 0 1438 353 241

First Garden City Heritage Museum
296 Norton Way South, Letchworth Garden City
Tel. 0 1462 482 710

Gorhambury House
Two miles west of St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 854 051

Hatfield House and Gardens
Hatfield, on the A1 south-east of Hertford and north of the M25; south of the A414
Rail line (King's Cross every half-hour) runs to Hatfield village, then short walk to the house
Tel. 0 1707 262 823
For photos and more information on Hatfield House and its garden see our articles Hatfield House and Hatfield House Gardens
Web: Hatfield House

Hertford Museum
18 Bull Plain St, Hertford
Tel. 01992 582686
Open Tue-Sat, 10am-5pm
Web: Hertford Museum

Hitchin Lavender
Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin
Tel. 0 1462 434 320
Web: Hitchin Lavender

Knebworth House and Gardens
Near Stevenage off the A1 or B656 south from Hitchin
By rail from King's Cross, London, Stevenage station is two miles from the house
Tel. 0 1438 812 661

Letchworth Museum
Broadway St, Letchworth Garden City
Tel: 01462 685647

Lowewood Museum
Lowewood Museum High St, Hoddesdon
Tel: 0 1992 445 596

Mill Green Museum
Mill Green, Hatfield, just off A414 near garden centre
Tel. 0 1707 271 362

Much Hadham Forge Museum
High St, Much Hadham
Tel. 0 1279 841 295

Natural History Museum at Tring
Corner of Akeman Street and Park Rd, Tring
Tel. 020 7942 6171

Old Gorhambury House
Two miles west of St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 843 675

Paradise Wildlife Park
White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne
Tel. 0 1992 470 490

Redbourn Village Museum
Silk Mill House, The Common, Redbourn
Tel. 0 1582 793 397

River Lee Country Park
Both sides of River Lea between Waltham Abbey and Broxbourne, Essex and Hertfordshire
Tel. 0 1992 702 200

Roman Theatre of Verulamium
Western outskirts of St Albans, just off A4147
Tel. 0 1727 835 035

Royal National Rose Society Gardens
Chiswell Green, 2 miles south of St Albans and ˝ mile west of B4630
Tel. 0 1727 850 461

Royston Cave
Melbourn St, Royston
Tel. 01763 245484
Web: Royston Cave

Royston Museum
5 Lower King St, Royston
Tel. 0 1763 242 587
Web: Royston Museum

Rye House Gatehouse
Rye Road, Hoddesdon, on the A10 just south of Hertford
Tel. 0 1992 702 200

Rye Meads RSPB Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre
Rye Rd, Stanstead Abbotts
Tel. 0 1992 708 383

Shaw's Corner (NT)
west of Welwyn on the A1, at southwest end of the village of Ayot St Lawrence on B653
Tel. 01438 820307

St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church
St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 860 780 (information desk)
For photos and more information see our article St Albans
Web: St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church

St Albans Clock Tower
St Albans town centre
Tel. 0 1727 751 810
For more St Albans attractions see our article and photos at St Albans

St Albans Museum
Hatfield Road, St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 819 340

St Mary the Virgin Parish Church
Church St at head of High St, Ware
Tel. various contacts on the website

St Pauls Walden Bury Garden
Whitwell, Hitchin, on the B651, 5 miles south of Hitchin and just west of the A1
Tel. 0 1438 871 218
Web: St Pauls Walden Bury Garden

Standalone Farm
Wilbury Rd, Letchworth Garden City
Tel. 0 1462 686 775
Web: Standalone Farm

Stevenage Museum
St Georges Way, Stevenage
Tel. 0 1438 218 881

Verulamium Museum
St Michaels St, 2 miles west of St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 751 810

Ware Museum
Priory Lodge, 89 High St, Ware
Tel. 0 1920 487 848
Web: Ware Museum

Ware Priory Grounds

Welwyn Roman Baths
Welwyn Bypass Rd, Welwyn
Tel. 0 1707 271 362 (Mill Green Museum)

Willows Farm Village
Coursers Rd, London Colney, St Albans
Tel. 0 870 129 9718

Hertfordshire Tourist Information Centres

Birchanger Green
Welcome Break Service Area
Junction 8 of M11 Motorway, Bishop's Stortford
Tel. 0 1279 508 656; Fax. 0 1279 508 625

Bishop's Stortford
The Old Monastery, Windhill, Bishop's Stortford
Tel. 0 1279 655 831; Fax. 0 1279 653 136

Hemel Hempstead
Dacorum Information Centre
Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead
Tel. 0 1442 234 222; Fax. 0 1442 230 427

10 Market Place, Hertford
Tel. 0 1992 584 322; Fax. 0 1992 534 724

33-35 Station Road, Letchworth Garden City
Tel. 0 1462 487 868; Fax. 0 1462 485 332

St Albans
Town Hall, Market Place, St Albans
Tel. 0 1727 864 511; Fax. 0 1727 863 533

Photos by Barbara Ballard

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Some of our Hertfordshire Articles
Hatfield House
St Albans Town
Hatfield House Gardens
Knebworth House
Other England Articles

Fern Cottage B and B in historic St Albans
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