BERKHAMSTED /ˈbɜːrkəmstɛd/ is a medium-sized historic market
town on the western edge of
Hertfordshire , England. The affluent
commuter town is located in the small Bulbourne valley in the Chiltern
Hills , 26 miles (42 km) northwest of London.
Berkhamsted is a civil
parish , with a town council within the larger borough of
People have been living in the
Berkhamsted area for over 5,000 years.
There is evidence of flint working in the
Neolithic period and metal
working in the late
Iron Age and Roman periods. The high street is on
a pre-Roman route known by its Saxon name
Akeman Street . The earliest
written reference to
Berkhamsted is in 970AD.
Berkhamsted was recorded
as a 'burbium' (an ancient borough ) in the
Domesday Book in 1086. The
oldest known extant jettied timber-framed building in Great Britain,
built 1277 - 1297, survives as a shop on the town's high street. In
the 13th and 14th century the town was a wool trad ing town, with
thriving local market.
The most important event in the town's history was in December 1066.
William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror defeated King Harold\'s
Battle of Hastings , the
Anglo-Saxon leadership surrendered to
the Norman encampment at Berkhamsted. The event was recorded in the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle . From 1066 to 1495,
Berkhamsted Castle was a
favoured residence held by many English royals, including Henry II and
Edward, the Black Prince ; and historical figures such as Thomas
Geoffrey Chaucer . After the castle was abandoned in 1495
the town went into decline, losing its borough status in the second
half of the 17th century. Modern
Berkhamsted began to expand following
the construction of the canal and the railway in the 19th century.
Among those born in
Berkhamsted was Colonel
Daniel Axtell , who was
the captain of the Parliamentary Guard at the trial and execution of
Charles I in 1649. The towns literary connections include the 17th
century hymnist and poet,
William Cowper , the 18th century writer
Maria Edgeworth , and the 20th century novelist
Graham Greene . The
town is the location of
Berkhamsted School , a co-educational boarding
independent school , founded in 1541 by
John Incent , Dean of St
Paul\'s Cathedral ; and
Ashlyns School a state school whose history
began as the
Foundling Hospital established in
London by Thomas Coram
, in 1742. The town is home to the Rex Cinema (a highly regarded
independent cinema) and the
British Film Institute 's BFI National
Archive at King's Hill, one of the largest film and television
archives in the world, which was endowed by
J. Paul Getty, Jr.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Origin of the town\'s name
* 1.2 Prehistoric and Roman
* 1.4 1066 and the Domesday Record
* 1.5 Royal medieval castle (11th to 15th centuries)
* 1.6 Medieval market town (12th to 15th centuries)
* 1.7 Castle abandoned, the town in decline (16th to late 18th
* 1.8 Development of the modern town (19th and 20th century)
* 1.8.1 19th century urban growth
* 1.8.2 19th century industry and utilities
* 1.8.3 Provision for the destitute
* 1.8.4 Land dispute The Battle of
First World War
First World War
* 1.8.6 20th Century urban developments
* 2 Geography
* 2.1 Neighbouring settlements
* 2.2 Climate
* 3 Governance
* 4 Demography
* 4.1 Homes
* 4.2 Employment
* 4.3 Diversity
* 4.4 Relationships and education
* 5 Transport
* 5.1 Road
* 5.2 Canal
* 5.3 Railway
* 6 Economy and commerce
* 7 Education
* 7.1 State schools
* 7.2 Independent schools
* 7.3 Business school
* 8 Religious sites
* 9 Culture and leisure
* 9.1 Literary connections
* 9.2 Cinema
British Film Institute National Archive at King\'s Hill
* 9.4 Sport
* 10 Sites of interest
* 11 Associations with the town
* 11.1 Twin towns
* 12 Footnotes
* 13 References
* 13.1 Sources
* 14 External links
ORIGIN OF THE TOWN\'S NAME
The earliest recorded spelling of the town's name is the 10th century
Anglo-Saxon Beorhðanstædæ. The first part may have originated from
Old English words beorg, meaning "hill", or berc or beorc,
meaning "birch "; or from the older
Old Celtic word Bearroc, meaning
"hilly place". The latter part, "hamsted", derives from the Old
English word for homestead. So the town's name could be either mean
"homestead amongst the hills" or the "homestead among the birches".
Percy Birtchnell identified over 50 different
spellings and epithets for the town's name since the writing of the
Domesday Book ; the present spelling was adopted in 1937. Other
spellings included: "Berkstead", "Berkampsted", "Berkhampstead",
"Muche Barkhamstede", "
Berkhamsted Magna", "Great Berkhamsteed" and
"Berkhamstead". The town's local nickname is "Berko".
PREHISTORIC AND ROMAN
An Early Middle
Bronze Age (c.1500 to 1300 BC) copper Chisel
found in Berkhamsted.
Bronze Age ,
Iron Age and Roman artefacts show that the
Berkhamsted area of the Bulbourne Valley has been settled for over
5,000 years. The discovery of a large number of worked flint chips
Neolithic evidence of on-site flint knapping in the centre of
Berkhamsted. Several settlements dating from the
Neolithic to the
Iron Age (about 4500–100 BC) have been discovered south of
Berkhamsted. Three sections of a late
Bronze Age to Iron Age
(1200–100 BC) bank and ditch, sixteen feet (five metres) wide by
seven to thirteen feet (two to four metres) high and known as Grim\'s
Ditch , are found on the south side of the Bulbourne Valley. Another
Iron Age dyke with the same name is on
Berkhamsted Common, on the
north side of the valley.
In the late Iron Age, prior to the Roman occupation, the valley would
have been within
Catuvellauni territory. The Bulbourne Valley was
rich in timber and iron ore. In the late Iron Age, a four-square-mile
(ten-square-kilometre) area around
Northchurch became a major iron
production centre, now considered to be one of the most important late
Iron Age and Roman industrial areas in England. Iron production led
to the settlement of a Roman town at
Cow Roast , about two miles
(three kilometres) northwest of Berkhamsted. Four first century iron
smelting bloomeries at Dellfield (one mile (two kilometres) northwest
of the town centre) provide evidence of industrial activity in
Berkhamsted. Production ceased at the end of the Roman period. Other
evidence of Roman-British occupation and activity in the Berkhamsted
area, includes a pottery kiln on Bridgewater Road. The town's high
street still follows the line of the Roman-engineered
Akeman Street ,
which had been a pre-existing route from
St Albans (Verulamium) to
During Roman occupation the countryside close to
subdivided into a series of farming estates. The
appears to have been divided into two or three farming estates, each
including one or more masonry villa buildings, with tiled roofs and
* The remains of a villa were found close to the river in 1973 in
the adjacent village of Northchurch. The oldest building, made of
timber, was built in AD 60, rebuilt using stone in the early 2nd
century, and enlarged to a ten-room building around AD 150. The house
may have been empty for a period, reoccupied in the 4th century, and
abandoned in the late 4th or early 5th century.
* A Roman-British villa, dyke, and temple were found 1.25 miles
(2.01 km) NNW of the castle, near Frithesden, at the edge of the
Berkhamsted Golf Course. Excavations in 1954 revealed masonry
foundations and tesserae floors. Together, the villa, dyke and temple
form a unique complex, suggesting occupation in the late
Iron Age and
* Two flint and tile walls from a Roman building were found north of
Berkhamsted Castle in 1970. The construction of the castle's
earthworks in the
Middle Ages may have damaged this building.
The earliest written reference to
Berkhamsted is in the will of
Ælfgifu (died AD 970), queen consort of King
955–959), who bequeathed large estates in five counties, including
Berkhamsted. The location and extent of early Saxon settlement of
Berkhamsted is not clear. Rare
Anglo-Saxon pottery dating from the 7th
century onwards has been found between
Chesham Road and St John's Well
Lane, with water mills near Mill Street in use from the late 9th
century, show that an
Anglo-Saxon settlement existed in the centre of
modern-day Berkhamsted. The nearest known structural evidence of the
Anglo-Saxon period are in the south and west walls of St Mary's
Northchurch, one mile (two kilometres) to the north-west of modern
Berkhamsted. The church may have been an important minster , attached
to a high status
Anglo-Saxon estate, which became part of the medieval
Berkhamsted after the Norman conquest .
The parish of
Berkhamsted St Mary's (in Northchurch) once stretched
five miles from the hamlet of Dudswell , through
Berkhamsted to the former hamlet of Bourne End. Within Berkhamsted,
Chapel of St James, was a small church situated near St John's
Well (a 'holy well' that was the town's principal source of drinking
water in the
Middle Ages ). The parish of this church (and later that
of St Peter's) was an enclave of about 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) that was
carved out of the middle of
Berkhamsted St Mary's. By the 14th
century the adjoining village of "
Berkhamsted St Mary" or "Berkhamsted
Minor" name had changed to "North Church", later "Northchurch", to
distinguish the village from the town of Berkhamsted.
1066 AND THE DOMESDAY RECORD
Main article: Norman conquest of
The Anglo-Saxons surrendered the crown of
England to William the
Berkhamsted in early December 1066. After William
defeated and killed Harold II at the
Battle of Hastings in October, he
failed in an attempt to capture
London from the south. William led his
London , crossing the
River Thames at Wallingford ,
"laying waste" while travelling through southeast England. At
Berkhamsted, he received the surrender of
Edgar the Ætheling (heir to
the English throne), Archbishop Ealdred , Earl Edwin ,
Earl Morcar and
the leaders of London. It is not known why
Berkhamsted was chosen as
the meeting place, except
Berkhamsted was in a defensive position
north-west of London. William was crowned in
Westminster Abbey on
Christmas Day, 1066. After his coronation, William granted the
"Honour of Berkhamsted" to his half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain
, who after William became the largest landholder in the country.
Robert built a wooden fortification that later became a royal retreat
for the monarchs of the Norman to
The lord of
Berkhamsted prior to the Norman conquest was Edmer Ator
(also referred to as Eadmer Atule), thegn of
Edward the Confessor and
King Harold. The Domesday survey records that there was enough land
for 26 plough teams, but only 15 working teams. There were two flour
mills (Upper and Lower Mill), woodland for 1,000 pigs, and a vineyard.
The total population was calculated to be either 37 or 88 households;
the families included 14 villagers, 15 smallholders, 6 slaves, a
priest, a dyke builder (possibly working on the earthworks of the
castle) and 52 burgesses . Some historians have argued that the
number of 52 burgesses in
Berkhamsted was a clerical error, as it is a
high number for a small town.
Berkhamsted was described in the
Domesday Book as a burbium (ancient borough ) in the
Tring Hundred .
Marjorie Chibnall argued that
Robert, Count of Mortain intended
Berkhamsted to be both a commercial and defensive centre; while John
Hatcher and Edward
Miller believed that the 52 burgesses were involved
in trade, but it is unknown if the burgesses existed prior to the
ROYAL MEDIEVAL CASTLE (11TH TO 15TH CENTURIES)
Berkhamsted Castle View across the Inner moat
towards the bailey walls of
Berkhamsted Castle. A view of the
castle motte, moat, middle bank and outer earthworks.
Berkhamsted Castle is a well-documented example of an 11th-century
motte-and-bailey Norman castle, with historical records dating from
the 12th to 15th centuries. The castle was a high-status residence
and an administrative centre for large estates. The royal castle's
presence clearly affected the town. It created jobs for the local
population, both in the castle itself and also, for example, in the
large deer park and in the vineyard , which were maintained
alongside the castle. Moreover, for nearly 400 years, patronage from
the royal court connected to the castle helped fuel the town's growth,
prosperity and sense of importance.
Robert, Count of Mortain's heir William rebelled against and lost the
castle to Henry I . In 1155–65, Henry II\'s favourite, Thomas Becket
, was given Berkhamsted. Becket was later alleged to have spent over
£300 on improvements to the castle, a claim that led Henry to accuse
him of corruption and may have contributed to Becket's downfall.
Henry II extensively used the castle, making it one of his favourite
residences. Both King Richard I and King John gave the castle to their
Berengaria of Navarre and
Isabella of Angoulême ,
respectively. In King John's reign, Geoffrey Fitz Peter (c.
1162–1213), Earl of Essex and the Chief
Justiciar of England
(effectively the king's principal minister) held the Honour and Manor
Berkhamsted from 1199 to 1212. During his time in the castle he was
responsible for the foundation of the new parish church of St Peter
(the size of which reflects the growing prosperity of the town), two
hospitals, St John the
Baptist and St John the Evangelist (one of
which was a leper hospital), which survived until 1516, and the lay
out of the town. In December 1216, the castle was besieged during
the civil war, known as the First Barons\' War , between King John and
barons supported by Prince Louis (the future
Louis VIII of France ),
who captured the castle on 20 December 1216 after twenty days using
siege engines and counterweight trebuchets .
In 1227, Henry III\'s younger brother, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall
, was given the manor and castle, beginning the long association of
the castle with the Earls and later the Dukes of Cornwall .
Richard redeveloped the castle as a palatial residence and the centre
for the administration of the
Earldom of Cornwall . Richard's coat of
arms as Earl of Cornwall, along with bezants , is included in
Berkhamsted's coat of arms. Henry III's wife,
Sanchia of Provence ,
died in the castle in 1260. Richard was succeeded by his son, Edmund,
Earl of Cornwall , who founded
Ashridge Priory , a college of the
monastic order of
Bonhommes , in 1283. In 1300, after Edmund died,
Edward I - aka \'Longshanks\' took the castle and subsequently granted
it to his second queen, Margaret of
France . In 1309, Edward I and
Edward II , granted
Berkhamsted to his favourite,
Piers Gaveston ; afterwards In 1317, the castle was given to Edward
Isabella of France . The castle's bailey viewed from
the Norman motte. (Enlarged: A train can be seen passing close to the
castle, with the town to the south beyond).
Edward III further developed the castle and gave it to his son,
Edward, the Black Prince , who expanded the hunting grounds. By
Berkhamsted Castle still belongs to the eldest son of the
reigning English monarch, via the Duchy of Cornwall. The castle was
used to hold royal prisoners, including
John II of France . In 1361,
the "Hero of Berkhamsted",
Edward, the Black Prince , and Joan, the
Maid of Kent , spent their honeymoon in Berkhamsted. The Black Prince
was supported at the
Battle of Crecy
Battle of Crecy by local bowmen - Everard Halsey,
John Wood, Stephen of Champneys, Robert Whittingham, Edward le Bourne,
Richard of Gaddesden and Henry of
Berkhamsted (who was rewarded with
2d a day and appointed porter of
Berkhamsted Castle after he saved the
prince's baggage at the Battle of Poitiers ). Richard II inherited
Berkhamsted Castle in 1377 and gave it to his favourites, Robert de
Vere and John Holland . In 1400, Henry IV lived in the castle after he
deposed Richard, and he used the castle to imprison others attempting
to obtain the throne. During this time,
Geoffrey Chaucer , later
famous for writing
The Canterbury Tales , oversaw renovation work on
the castle in his role as Clerk of the Works at
Berkhamsted Castle and
other royal properties. It is unknown how much time he spent at
Berkhamsted, but he knew
John of Gaddesden , who lived in nearby
Little Gaddesden and who was the model for the Doctor of Phisick in
The Canterbury Tales. Henry V and Henry VI owned the castle, the
latter making use of it until he was overthrown in 1461. In 1469,
Edward IV gave the castle to his mother, Cecily Neville, Duchess of
York , who was the last person to live in the castle.
In 1833, the castle was the first building to receive statutory
protection in the
United Kingdom . In 1834, construction of the
railway embankment demolished the castle's gatehouse and adjacent
earthworks. Since the 1930s, the castle ruins have been managed by
English Heritage , under the guardianship of the Secretary of State
for National Heritage, and are freely open to the public.
MEDIEVAL MARKET TOWN (12TH TO 15TH CENTURIES)
Though close to the castle, the town continued to develop on the old
Akeman Street .4 miles (1 km) to the south of the castle and to the
west of St Peter's Church; with a triangle formed by Mill Street,
Castle Street and Back Lane pointing towards the castle. In 1156,
Henry II officially recognised
Berkhamsted as a town in a royal
charter , which confirmed the laws and customs enjoyed under Edward
the Confessor , William I and Henry I, and freed the town's merchants
from all tolls and dues. The charter also stated that no market could
be set up within 7 miles (11 km) of the town. Tomb of Henry of
Berkhamsted (who served under Edward the Black Prince at the battles
of Crécy and Poitiers ) and his Lady
The town became a trading centre on an important trade route in the
12th and 13th centuries, and
Berkhamsted received more royal charters.
In 1216, Henry III relieved the men and merchants of the town from all
tolls and taxes everywhere in England, and the English Plantagenet
possessions in France,
Normandy , Aquitaine and Anjou The growing
wool trade brought prosperity to
Berkhamsted from the 12th century
until the early
Tudor period . Four wealthy
merchants were amongst a group in
Bruges to whom
Edward III wrote in
Berkhamsted merchants sold cloth to the royal court.
Henry III in 1217 recognised by royal charter the town's oldest
institution, Berkhamsted's pre-existing market. Trades within
Berkhamsted were extensive: early in the 13th century the
town had a merchant, two painters, a goldsmith, a forester, two
farriers , two tailors, a brewer of mead , a blacksmith, carpenters,
wood turners , tool makers, a manufacturer of roofing tiles and wine
producers. In the mid–13th century, a banker, the wealthy Abraham
of Berkhamsted, financier to the Earl of Cornwall, lived in the town;
this was unusual for a small town in a time of heightened persecution
of Jews . In 1290, a taxation list mentions a brewer, a lead burner,
a carpenter, leather workers, a fuller , a turner , a butcher, a
fishmonger, a barber, an archer, a tailor, a cloth-napper, a miller ,
a cook, a seller of salt and a huntsman. At this time, larger houses
of merchants and castle officials appeared on the south side of the
high street (including 173
High Street , the oldest known extant
jettied building in England). In 1307
Berkhamsted was a large town
with an estimated population of 2,000 to 2,500. In 1355, there were
five butchers, two bakers, nine brewers, two cobblers , a pelter , a
tanner , five cloth dyers, six wheelwrights , three smiths , six grain
merchants, a skinner and a baker/butcher. In the 14th century,
Berkhamsted (recorded as "Berchamstede") was considered to be one of
the "best" market towns in the country. In a survey of 1357, Richard
Clay was found to own a butcher's shop twelve feet (four metres) wide,
William Herewood had two shops, and there were four other shops eight
feet (two metres) in length. In 1440, there is a reference to lime
The town benefited when Edmund, 2nd
Earl of Cornwall founded Ashridge
Priory in 1283, two miles (three kilometres) from the town and within
the castle's park. At the foundation of the abbey, the Earl donated a
phial claimed to contain Christ's blood. Pilgrims from all over Europe
passed through the town to see the holy relic. The abbey grew quite
wealthy as a result. Edward I held parliament at the abbey in 1290
while he spent Christmas in
Berkhamsted burgesses sent two
members to parliament in 1320, 1338 and 1341, but the town was not
represented again. In the mid-14th century, the Black Prince took
advantage of the
Black Death to extend the castle's park by 65 acres
(26 ha), eventually producing a park covering 991 acres (401 ha). In
the 15th century, the town is reaffirmed as a borough, by a royal
charter granted by
Edward IV (1442–1483), that decreed that no other
market town was to be set up within 11 miles (18 km).
CASTLE ABANDONED, THE TOWN IN DECLINE (16TH TO LATE 18TH CENTURY)
Berkhamsted Place 1832
In the 16th century, the town fell into decline after abandonment of
the castle following the death of
Cicely Neville, Duchess of York in
1495, and the rise of the nearby town of
Hemel Hempstead (which was
granted a Charter of Incorporation by
Henry VIII on 29 December 1539).
Berkhamsted Castle passed through the hands of three of
Henry VIII 's
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon ,
Anne Boleyn and
Jane Seymour . After the
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries ,
Henry VIII bequeathed
to his daughter Elizabeth . The priory became her private residence
during her sister Mary I 's reign. The population of the town in 1563
has been estimated at only 545. In 1580, the castle ruins and the
park were leased by Elizabeth I to Sir Edward Carey, for the nominal
rent of one red rose each year. Stone from the castle was used to
Berkhamsted Place , a local school, and other buildings in the
late 16th century. Brewing and maltings was noted as one of the
town’s principal industries in the reign of Elizabeth. Around 1583,
a new market house was erected west of St Peter's Church at the end of
Middle Row (alternatively named Le Shopperowe or Graball Row). The
market house was destroyed in a fire in 1854.
Berkhamsted Place was bought by Henry Frederick, Prince of
Wales for £4,000. Henry, who died later that year, bequeathed the
house to his brother Charles (later King Charles I ), who leased the
property to his tutor, Thomas Murray, and his wife, Mary Murray, who
had been his nurse and Lady of the
Privy Chamber to the prince's
John Norden wrote in 1616 that the making of malt was then the
principal trade of the town. In 1618, James I reaffirmed
Berkhamsted's borough status with a charter. Following surveys in 1607
and 1612 the Duchy of Cornwall enclosed 300 acres (121 ha) from the
Common (now known as Coldharbour farm) despite local opposition led by
Rev Thomas Newman. In 1639 the Duchy again tried to enclose a further
400 acres (162 ha) of the
Commons but were
prevented from doing so by William Edlyn of Norcott. The castle's
park, which had reached 1,252 acres (507 ha) in size by 1627, was
broken up over the next two decades, shrinking to only 376 acres (152
ha), to the benefit of local farmers. In 1643,
visited by a violent pestilential fever.
Born in Berkhamsted, Colonel
Daniel Axtell (1622 – 19 October
Baptist and a grocer 's apprentice, played a zealous and
prominent part in the
English Civil War
English Civil War , both in
England and in the
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland . He participated as a lieutenant
colonel in Pride\'s Purge of the
Long Parliament (December 1648),
arguably the only military coup d'état in English history, and
commanded the Parliamentary Guard at the trial of King Charles I at
Westminster Hall in 1649. During Cromwell's Protectorate, he
Berkhamsted Place. Shortly after the Restoration , the
unrepentant Axtell was hanged, drawn and quartered as a regicide .
After the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II , the town lost
its charter given by James I and its borough status. The surveyor of
Hertfordshire recommended that a new tenant and army officers were
Berkhamsted Place "to govern the people much seduced of late
by new doctrine preacht unto them by Axtell and his colleagues." The
estimated population of the town in 1640 and in the 1690s was 1075 and
767, respectively. The town was a centre of religious nonconformity
from the 17th century: over a quarter of the town were Dissenters in
the second half of the century, and in 1700, there were 400 Baptists
recorded as living in Berkhamsted. Three more shops are mentioned in
the row next to the church, and the Parliamentary Survey of 1653
suggests that the area near the Market House was used for butchery.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE MODERN TOWN (19TH AND 20TH CENTURY)
19th Century Urban Growth
In the 17th and 18th-centuries
Hemel Hempstead with its thriving
Berkhamsted as the major town in the area. Georgian
Berkhamsted barely extended beyond the medieval triangle and the High
Street. With the coming of the
Industrial Age ,
Berkhamsted was well
placed at a gateway through the Chilterns, between the markets of
London and the industrial Midlands . The town became a link in the
growing network of roads, canals and railways. These developments led
Berkhamsted's population to once again expand. In 1801, the population
of St Peter's parish had been 1,690 and in 1831, this had risen to
2,369 (484 houses). An 1835 description of the town found that "the
houses are mostly of brick, and irregularly built, but are
interspersed with a fair proportion of handsome residences". The
town's population increased as "hundreds of men arrived to build the
railway line and needed lodging"; by 1851, the population was 3,395,
From 1850 large estates around
Berkhamsted were sold, allowing for
housing expansion. In 1851 the Pilkington Manor estate, east of Castle
Street, was sold, and the land developed both as an industrial area
and for artisans’ dwellings. In 1868 streets of middle-class villas
began to appear on the hill south of the
High Street Lower Kings
Road was built by public subscription in 1885 to join Kings Road and
High Street to the station. In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer
of the British Isles recorded the population at 4,485.
19th Century Industry And Utilities
Former buildings of Cooper & Nephews on Ravens Lane, Berkhamsted
Industries in the 19th century included: · Timber: In the mid-18th
Berkhamsted had been noted for turned wood products. Based on
the extensive woodland resources of the area (principally alder and
beech ), the milling and turning of wood was the town's most prominent
industry in the 19th century. The Crimean War contracts for supplying
the army with lance poles and tent pegs led to major expansion. The
largest manufacturer was East William Cooper was an animal doctor who
Berkhamsted in the early 1840s and experimented in
treatments for scab in sheep. He formulated an innovative arsenic and
sulphur sheep-dip. The Cooper family firm was later inherited by his
Sir Richard Cooper, 1st Baronet . ·
Nurserymen : Henry Lane's
nurseryman business, founded in 1777, became one of the largest
employers in the town in the 19th century. Extensive nurseries are
shown on the 1878 OS 25 inch plan, at the western end of the town. ·
Iron working: Wood's Ironworks was set up in 1826 by James Wood.
Utilities in the 19th century included: · Gasworks: The Great
Berkhamsted Gas, Light it closed in 1959. · Water and sewage: The
Berkhamsted Waterworks Company was set up in 1864 on the high
street (on the present site of W.H. Smith and Boots). Mains drainage
was first supplied in 1898–99, when effective sewerage was
Provision For The Destitute
The 19th century soup kitchen built inside
(part now used as the castle visitor centre) located at the entrance
next to the cottage within the castle's bailey.
In 1725 "An Account of Several Workhouses", records a parish
Berkhamsted and a parliamentary report of 1777 refers to
a parish workhouse for up to 34 inmates in Northchurch. A small
"wretched, straw-thatched" house was used to house poor families in
Berkhamsted, on the corner of what is now Park View Road, until it was
demolished in the 1820s. In 1831 a bequest of £1,000 by the Revd
George Nugent, led to a new parish workhouse being set up on the site
of a workhouse, which had operated in a row of tenements on the High
Street (at the Kitsbury Road junction) known as Ragged Row. The
"Berkhampstead Poor Law Union" was formed in June 1835 covering ten
parishes centring on the town. The Union took over the existing
Berkhamsted parish workhouse and by August 1835 it became the sole
workhouse for the union. The workhouse had no schoolroom, so in 1849,
Poor Law Board recommended that pauper children be sent to the
local National School , although in 1858 the school complained about
the state of children attending from the workhouse. A fever ward was
erected in 1855, and a full-time nurse was engaged in 1868. The
workhouse system officially came to an end in 1930, and control over
the workhouse was given to local council. Nugent House, The
Berkhamsted workhouse, finally closed in 1935 and its function was
relocated to Hemel Hemspstead. In 1841, the Countess of Bridgewater
built a soup kitchen for the local poor within the ruins of
Berkhamsted Castle. The soup kitchen was used by an estimated 15% of
the population of
Berkhamsted (about 500 people) during the winter
months, until at least 1897. The building still stands connected to
the cottage in the castle grounds, why it was placed outside the town
and inside the ruins of the historic castle is unknown. The
Beech or Harry Potter tree (now fallen) This pollarded tree in
Frithsden Beeches on
Berkhamsted Common was at least 350 years old. In
1866, it was at the centre of the battle of
Berkhamsted Common. It was
noted by the naturalist
Richard Mabey in his book "Beechcombings" and
Whomping Willow in the Harry Potter Film "The Prisoner of
Land Dispute The Battle Of
From 1604 the former
Ashridge Priory became the home of the Edgerton
Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater ,
demolished the old priory, and built a stately home
Ashridge House .
In 1848 the estate passed to the Earls Brownlow, a strand of the
In 1866, Lord Brownlow of
Ashridge House (in an action similar to
many other large estate holders) tried to enclose
with 5-foot (2 m) steel fences (built by Woods of Berkhamsted) in an
attempt to claim it as part of his estate. In order to defend the
historic rights of the public at large to use the ancient common land,
Augustus Smith MP and
George Shaw-Lefevre organised local folk plus
120 hired men from London's East End to dismantle those same erected
steel fences and return
Berkhamsted Common to the people of
Berkhamsted on the night of the 6 March, in what became known
nationally as the Battle of
Brownlow brought a legal case against Smith for trespass and criminal
damage, Sir Robert Hunter (later co-founder of the
National Trust in
1895) and the
Commons Preservation Society defended the action. Lord
Justice Romilly determined that pulling down a fence was no more
violent an act than erecting one. The case, he said, rested on the
legality of Brownlow’s actions in having erected the fence in the
first place and the legal right of people to use the land. He ruled in
favour of Smith, a legal decision, along with the Metropolitan Commons
Act 1866 , that helped ensure the protection of
Berkhamsted Common and
other open spaces nationally threatened with enclosure. In 1926 the
common was acquired by the National Trust.
First World War
First World War
First World War , under the guidance of Lt Col Francis
Inns of Court
Officer Training Corps trained men from
the legal profession as officers. Over the course of the war, 12,000
men travelled from
Berkhamsted to fight on the Western Front . Their
training included trench digging: eight miles (thirteen kilometres) of
trenches were dug across the Common (of which 1,640 feet (500 m)
Inns of Court War Memorial on the Common has the motto
Salus Populi Suprema Lex – the welfare of the people is the highest
law – and states that the ashes of Colonel Errington were buried
20th Century Urban Developments
In 1909 Sunnyside and later in 1935
Northchurch were added to
Berkhamsted Urban District. Shortly after 1918 much of the extensive
estate belonging to
Berkhamsted Hall, at the east end of the High
Street, was sold; many acres west of Swing Gate Lane were developed
with Council housing. More council housing was built at Gossoms End.
Development on the north side of the valley was limited until the sale
Ashridge estate in the 1930s after which housing appeared at
each end of Bridgewater Road. Meanwhile, over the last century, many
of the old industrial firms in
Berkhamsted closed, while the numbers
of commuters increased.
After the Second World War, in July 1946, the nearby town of Hemel
Hempstead was designated a New Town under the New Towns Act ("New
Towns" were satellite urban developments around
London to relieve
London's population growth and housing issues after the blitz).
February 1947 the Government purchased 5,910 acres (2,392 ha) of land
and began construction, which led Hemel Hempstead's population to
increased from 20,000 to today over 90,000, making it today the
largest town in Hertfordshire. In 1974, the old hundred of Dacorum
became the modern district of
Dacorum formed under the Local
Government Act 1972 , based in Hemel Hempstead.
Northchurch from the air, looking south across
Berkhamsted is situated 26 miles (42 km) northwest of
Chiltern Hills , part of a system of chalk downlands throughout
eastern and southern England, believed to have formed between 84 and
100 million years ago in the
Cretaceous Period when the area was a
chalk -depositing marine environment. The town is located in a narrow
northwest to southeast valley falling from 590 feet (180 m) above sea
level to 344 feet (105 m). The valley is at the southernmost limit of
the Pleistocene glaciation ice erosion throughout the Chiltern scarp,
giving it a smooth rounded appearance, with alluvial soils in the
valley bottom and chalk, clay and flint on the valley sides. The
River Bulbourne , a chalk stream , runs through the valley for seven
miles (11 km) in a southeast direction, starting at Dudswell and the
adjoining village of
Northchurch and running through Berkhamsted,
Bourne End and
Boxmoor , where it merges with the
River Gade at Two
Waters in Apsley , near Hemel Hempstead. Looking south towards St
Peter's Church on the high street.
In the early
Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age, mid to late 8th
millennium BC), the local upland was mostly pine woodland and the low
area of central
Berkhamsted probably a grass-sedge fen. In the 6th
Millennium BC the dense deciduous forest became well established. By
the Mid to late 3rd millennium BC during the
Neolithic period (the New
Stone Age) human activity can be seen in wood clearances; the woodland
being then dominated by lime trees , with alder trees growing on the
flood plain . The River Bulbourne, rich in eels and other fish, was
fast-moving and full, and prone to frequent localised flooding. The
river created a marsh environment (at times referred to as an
'unhealthy swamp') in the center of the valley. The river powered
the watermills (recorded in 1086) and fed the three moats of the large
Motte and Bailey castle, that stands close to the center of the
town where a small dry combe joins the Bulbourne valley.
The layout of Berkhamsted's centre is typical of a medieval market
settlement; the linear
High Street (aligned on the Roman Akeman Street
) forms the spine of the town (roughly aligned east–west), from
which extend medieval burgage plots (to the north and south). The
surviving burgage plot layout is the result of a comprehensive plan
carried out in the beginning of the 13th century, most probably
Geoffrey fitz Peter . The town centre slowly developed
over the years and contains a wide variety of properties that date
from the 13th century onwards. The modern town began to develop after
the construction of the
Grand Junction Canal in 1798. The canal
intersects the river at numerous points, taking most of its water
supply and helping to drain the valley. The locality became further
urbanised when the
Birmingham railway was built in
1836–37. The townscape was shaped by the Bulbourne valley, which
rises 300 feet on either side at its narrowest point; the residential
area is elongated and follows the valley's topography. The southwest
side of the valley is more developed, with side streets running up the
steep hillside; on the northeast side, the ground gently slopes down
to the castle, railway, canal and small river, was less available for
Berkhamsted is an affluent, "pleasant town tucked
in a wooded fold in the Chiltern Hills"; with a large section of the
settlement protected as a conservation area. 2014 Map of
Berkhamsted and Northchurch.
The countryside surrounding the town includes parts of the Green Belt
and the Chilterns
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . The Urban
Nature Conservation Study (UNCS) recognises the town's hinterland as a
biodiversity resource. The hills gently rise to an undulating and open
plateau, which has a mix of arable farmland, common land and mixed oak
, ash and beech woodland. On the northeast side of town are the
Northchurch commons , the largest in the Chilterns at
1,055 acres (427 ha), and forming a large arc running from
Frithsden and down to
Potten End . Ownership of
Berkhamsted Common is divided between the
National Trust and
Berkhamsted Golf Club. Beyond the common is the 5,000-acre (2,000 ha)
historic wooded parkland of
Ashridge ; once part of
's hunting park, it is now managed by the National Trust.
part of the Chilterns Beechwood
Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a
nationally important nature conservation area, and is also designated
Site of Special Scientific Interest . Agriculture is more
dominant to the south of the town; close to the
there are two former large country estates, Ashlyns and
Rossway . The
ancient woodland at Dickshills is also located here.
‹ The template below (Geographic location ) is being considered for
deletion. See templates for discussion to help reach a consensus. ›
ADJACENT PLACES OF BERKHAMSTED
Bourne End ,
Potten End ,
Aldbury , Ringshall ,
Little Gaddesden ,
Great Gaddesden ,
Cow Roast , and
Ashley Green (
Like most of the United Kingdom,
Berkhamsted has an oceanic climate
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification Cfb).
CLIMATE DATA FOR BERKHAMSTED
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
Near-real-time weather information can be retrieved from Berkhamsted
Weather Station on the Met Office Weather Observation Website
The town's coat of arms.
Recognised as a borough as far back as the
Domesday Book — today
Berkhamsted has a town council, the first tier of local government
that represents the local people to two higher tiers of local
Borough Council and
Hertfordshire Country Council.
The local government district of
Dacorum also includes the towns of
Hemel Hempstead (the largest town in Hertfordshire),
Tring and the
western part of
Kings Langley . The modern district of
Hemel Hempstead was formed in 1974 under the Local Government Act
Berkhamsted accounted for just over 14% of the district's
population of 145,300 in 2011.
Berkhamsted is split into three local
government Wards — East, West and Castle. Following the 2015 town
council elections the political composition of the council was
Conservative 12; Liberal Democrat 3.
Until the 1997 general election,
Berkhamsted was, with Hemel
Hempstead, part of the former West
constituency. The town is now in the South West Hertfordshire
constituency represented in the House of
Commons since 2005 by David
Gauke , a Conservative . At the General Election 2015 he had a
majority of over 23,000. The constituency seat forms a thin strip
along the southwest border of Hertfordshire, from
South Oxhey (near
Watford ) in the south, through interspersed settlements including
Croxley Green , Moor Park and
Tring in the north.
Hertfordshire Local Information System (HertsLIS) website (based
on data from the
Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics and other UK
government departments) has the following data regarding the 7,363
Berkhamsted in 2011. Regarding housing tenure, 72
percent of homes were owner occupied (34 percent owned outright and 38
percent owned with a mortgage), 13 percent were social rented, and 13
percent were private rented. In 2011, 77 percent of household spaces
Berkhamsted were houses or bungalows and 23 percent were flats or
maisonettes. In third quarter of 2015 average houses and flats prices
Berkhamsted were £640,800, compared to £407,300 for
Hertfordshire, and £286,700 for
England (detached houses were
£1,057,600 compared to £389,200 nationally).
In mid-2013, the
Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics estimated the working
age population (males and females aged 16 to 64) of
11,400, (63% of the total population). According to HertsLIS in 2011,
76 percent of
Berkhamsted residents between the ages of 16 and 74 were
employed (including: full-time, 43 percent; part-time, 13 percent;
self-employed, 14 percent) and 24 percent were economically inactive
(including: retired, 13 percent; long term sick/disabled, 2 percent).
In April 2013, the benefit unemployed rate in Berkhamsted's
parliamentary constituency was 1.7 percent, compared to 7.8 percent
for the UK. People from
Berkhamsted were employed as follows: 17.5
percent worked as managers, directors and senior officials; 27.5
percent professional occupations and 8.5 percent in associate
professional and technical occupations; 10 percent were employed in
administrative and secretarial occupations; 7 percent in skilled
trades; 6 percent Caring, leisure and other service occupations; 5
percent were in sales and customer service occupations; 3 percent were
in process, plant and machine operatives; and 5.5 percent worked in
elementary occupations. Of the employed residents living in both
Berkhamsted and Tring, 35 percent live and work in the towns, whilst
65 percent commute to workplaces out of the towns, particularly to
London. Of the 7,100 people who work in Berkhamsted, 58 percent
Berkhamsted to work. In 2011, 9.5 percent of Berkhamsted
residents (aged 16 to 74 in employment) worked mainly at or from home;
52 percent drove to work by car (2.5 as a passenger in a car); 22.34%
travelled by public transport and 12.73% cycled or walked to work. In
2011, during an average commute to work, was 21 kilometres.
Looking at broad ethnic heritage in 2011, HertsLIS data found that 90
percent of residents were described as white British. Of the
remainder, 1 percent were Irish, 4 percent were of other white origin,
1.7 percent were described as mixed or multiple ethnic, 2.1 percent
were Asian or Asian British, 0.3 percent were black African/Caribbean
or black British and 0.3 percent were Arab or any other ethnic group.
Regarding religious beliefs in 2011, of the 92 percent of residents
who stated a religious preference, 30 percent were non-religious and
59 percent were Christian; other faiths included 0.4 percent Buddhist,
0.5 percent Jewish, 0.5 percent Muslim and 0.1 percent Sikh.
RELATIONSHIPS AND EDUCATION
In 2011 the marital and civil partnership status of residents aged 16
and over were as follows 28 percent single, 56 percent married, 0.1
percent in a registered same-sex civil partnership, 2 percent
separated, 8 percent divorced or legally dissolved same-sex civil
partnership and 6 percent widowed or surviving partner from a same-sex
civil partnership. Looking at the qualifications table , 12 percent of
residents had no qualifications, 10 percent reached level 1, 13
percent achieved level 2, 2 percent had apprenticeship qualifications,
10 percent were level 3 and 49 percent achieved level 4 or above.
A strip map showing
Berkhamsted on the route of the Sparrows
Herne turnpike. From Bowles's Post Chaise Companion of 1782
The former Roman-engineered
Akeman Street through the town became, in
1762, part of the
Sparrows Herne turnpike , notorious for its rutted
and pitted state even after becoming a toll road . Many coaching inns
thrived along its route, including, in Berkhamsted, the King's Arms
(where the exiled
King Louis XVIII of
France carried on a romance with
Polly Page, the innkeeper's daughter). The town's historic high
street is now the A4251. A bypass, originally proposed in the 1930s,
was opened in 1993, and the main
A41 road now passes southwest of
Berkhamsted. A study of car ownership in Berkhamsted,
Tring found that 43%–45% of households had two or more cars
(compared to the county average of 40% and the national average of
29%). Conversely, the proportion of households who did not own a car
was 14%–20% (about 7% lower than the national average). A number of
local bus routes pass through
Berkhamsted town centre, providing links
to Hemel Hempstead, Luton,
Whipsnade Zoo . Services
include the 30, 31, 62, 207, 500 (Aylesbury and Watford), 501, 502 and
532. Buses are managed by
Hertfordshire County Council 's Intalink
transport service. Berkhamsted's original railway station
(1838) on the
Birmingham Railway with the Grand Union Canal
on the right-hand side.
In 1798, the
Grand Junction Canal (built by
William Jessop ) from the
River Thames at
Berkhamsted was completed; it was
Birmingham in 1805. Castle Wharf (The Port of
Berkhamsted), on the south side of the canal between Ravens Lane and
Castle Street, was the centre of the town's canal trade, navigation
and boat building activities. It was a hub of the country's inland
water transport system, linking the ports and industrial centres of
the country. Main activities included the transport of coal, grain,
building materials and manure. Timber yards, boating wharves,
breweries, boat building and chemical works flourished as a result of
the canal, with over 700 workers employed locally. It is still known
as the "Port of Berkhamsted". Separately, Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of
Bridgewater (the "Canal Duke" and "father of the inland waterway
system"), lived in Ashridge, near Berkhamsted. The canal became part
Grand Union Canal
Grand Union Canal in 1929. Once an important trade artery,
today the Grand Union Canal, Canal Fields and river provide an open
space, recreational opportunities, and a wildlife corridor running
east–west through the centre of the town. Berkhamsted's current
railway station next to the Grand Union Canal.
Berkhamsted railway station
Berkhamsted railway station
The next stage in the town's transport history occurred in 1834 when,
after opposition from turnpike trusts and local landowners was
resolved, the first
Berkhamsted railway station
Berkhamsted railway station was built by chief
Robert Stephenson . Though the castle was the first building
to receive statutory protection from Parliament, the railway
embankment obliterated the old castle barbican and adjacent
earthworks. Most of the raw materials used to build the railway were
transported via the canal. The present station was built in 1875 when
the railway was widened. It is unusual on its line, in that most of
the original buildings have been retained. The 'large trunk station'
is located immediately next to
Berkhamsted Castle on one side and
Grand Junction Canal on the other. The station is 28
miles (45 km) north-west of
London Euston on the West Coast Main Line.
' One and a half million journeys are made annually to and from
Berkhamsted, the vast majority by commuters to and from London.
Principal services, operated by
London Midland , run between London
Euston and Milton Keynes Central , with additional trains running to
Birmingham New Street . The Southern train company
also runs an hourly service directly to South Croydon via Clapham
Junction . Proposals to extend the new
Crossrail service out of London
Berkhamsted to Milton Keynes Central were considered by the
Department for Transport
Department for Transport in 2014, but in 2016 it was announced that
the scheme had been cancelled due to "poor overall value for money to
ECONOMY AND COMMERCE
In 1986, farming, service and light industry were characteristic
local occupations. In 2015 schools and retail (predominantly Waitrose
) constitute the town's largest employers; these are both situated in
Berkhamsted Castle ward. The
Berkhamsted West ward (especially around
Billet Lane, close to the canal and railway) is where most of the
town's small to medium-sized industrial firms are located. The British
Film Institute (BFI) is an important local employer to the south of
In November 2014, the Academy of Urbanism's Urbanism Awards found
High Street to be a "vibrant" and "bustling" road, that
"worked extremely well as a quality high street." They considered the
layout for the street to be exemplary for its time (it was put in
place following the construction of a bypass in the early 1990s),
creating a "pleasant" and "successful" shopping environment and
allowing people to take advantage of a good "range of specialist shops
and numerous cafes, restaurants and pubs", together with the "strong
supermarket" offering set in "well-crafted re-configured streetscape".
The long high street featured one hundred percent retail occupancy,
independent traders and a "cafe culture". The Academy considered a
particularly strong aspect of the street to be the good working
collaboration between individual businesses and the
Chamber of Trade .
In the 2017 Vitality Index of 1000 retail locations in the UK carried
out by Harper Dennis Hobbs,
Berkhamsted was ranked as the 16th best
shopping location in the country. (The index measured the quality of
retail locations including factors such as how well the retail mix met
the needs of the local community, the number of vacant shops, and the
proportion of ‘undesirable’ shops such as pawnbrokers and
Berkhamsted has an active Transition Town community.
In the 1970s, the town adopted a three-tier state school education
system, reverting to the two-tier system of primary and secondary
schools in 2013. The primary stage is provided by Bridgewater,
Greenway, St Thomas More, Swing Gate, Thomas Coram, Victoria (founded
in 1838) and Westfield.
Ashlyns School is a
Foundation school with 1,200 pupils aged 11 to 19
years; it is a specialist language college. The school's history began
in the 18th century when
Thomas Coram , a philanthropic ship's
captain, was appalled by the abandoned babies and children starving
and dying in London. He campaigned for a hospital to accommodate them
and was successfully granted a
Royal Charter "for the Maintenance and
Education of Exposed and Deserted Children" in 1739. Three years later
in 1742 he established the
Foundling Hospital at Lamb’s Conduit
Bloomsbury , London. It was the first children's charity in
the country and the precedent for incorporated associational charities
everywhere. The school moved to its purpose built location in
Berkhamsted in 1935. The residential home side at
Children Act 1948 , when family centered care replaced
institutional care. In 1951
Hertfordshire County Council took over
running the school. The large school contains stained glass
windows, especially around the chapel , a staircase and many monuments
from the original
London hospital. The school's chapel formerly housed
an organ donated by
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel . The school was used a
backdrop to the 2007 comedy film,
Son of Rambow . The Grade 1
Berkhamsted School Old Hall, described by
William Camden as
"the only structure in
Berkhamsted worth a second glance".
Berkhamsted School is an independent public school , with over 475
years of history. Founded in 1541 by Dean
John Incent , (c.
1480–1545) a English clergyman , born in
Berkhamsted in the early
16th Century, who was from 1540 to 1545 the Dean of St Paul\'s
London (during the early years of the English Reformation
). Incent was noted for being one of the agents of the Lord Chancellor
Thomas Cromwell responsible for the sequestration of religious
properties during the
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries Incent financed
the setting up of the school from the combined revenues of the town's
two medieval hospitals, St John the
Baptist and St John the Evangelist
which had survived until 1516, which he had closed down. In 1523 he
appropriated the brotherhood's lands and joined it to his own land,
donating it for the creation of a school. In 1541 he obtained a Royal
Charter for "one chauntry perpetual and schools for boys not exceeding
144 to be called Dean Incent’s Free School in Berkhamstedde".Lea,
Christine (June 2011). "Dr John Incent, Dean of St Paul\'s 1540-45"
(pdf). Your Berkhamsted. Retrieved 2 August 2011. Incent died
intestate 18 months after his school opened, in order to protect the
school from legal challenges, school was incorporated by an Act of
Parliament as The Free Schole of King Edwarde the Sixte in
Berkhampstedde. Amongst the school's former students was the author
Graham Greene . The schools oldest building the Old Hall was built in
1544 and is Grade I listed, records of the time state that Incent
"builded with all speed a fair schoole lartge and great all of brick
very sumptuously", and "when ye said school was thus finished, ye
Deane sent for ye cheafe men of ye towne into ye school where he
kneeling gave thanks to Almighty God". In 1988 the school merged with
Berkhamsted School for Girls (another large independent private school
in the town), which had been founded in 1888. The school has 1,500
fee paying pupils, aged 3 to 18.
Egerton Rothesay School , an independent school founded in 1922, has
150 pupils between the ages of 5 and 19.
Spire of chapel at the Grade 1
Ashridge House, showing the
Ashridge Estate behind
Ashridge Executive Education is 'a prestigious business school with a
divine location', occupying the Grade 1 listed
Ashridge House , the
former stately home of the Duke of Bridgewater, set in 190 acres of
rolling parkland, 2 miles outside Berkhamsted. The house occupies the
site of the earlier
Ashridge Priory , a college of the monastic order
Bonhommes founded in 1283 by Edmund, 2nd
Earl of Cornwall , who
resided in the castle. After the
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries ,
Henry VIII bequeathed the property to his daughter, Elizabeth . In
1800, it was the home of
Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater ,
affectionately known as the Father of Inland Navigation. Ashridge
House was constructed between 1808 and 1814 to a design by James Wyatt
with later work by his nephew
Jeffrey Wyattville . Architecture critic
Nikolaus Pevsner described it as the "largest of the romantic palaces
London ... a spectacular composition". In 1928 Urban Hanlon
Broughton purchased the house as a gift for the Conservative Party
intended to commemorate
Bonar Law for its first 15 years, it became a
"College of Citizenship" established to help the Conservative Party
develop its intellectual forces in struggles with left-wing
organisations such as the
Fabian Society . It became a cross between a
think-tank and a training centre and had
Arthur Bryant as its
Ashridge merged with
Hult International Business School , an
American business school with campuses in seven cities around the
world. Its activities include open and tailored executive education
MBA , MSc and Diploma qualifications, organisation
consulting , applied research and online learning .
Ashridge is the
only UK specialist business school with degree awarding powers, giving
it the equivalent status to a university in awarding its degrees.
Anglican Parish Church of St Peter's, Berkhamsted,
established in the 13th Century
The oldest extant church locally is St Mary's in the adjacent village
of Northchurch. Between 1087 and 1104, there is reference to a
chaplain called Godfrey and to a chapel of St James with parochial
status within St Mary's Berkhamsted's parish. The chapel situated
close to St Johns, located close to St John's Lane, was the base for a
small community of monks, the Brotherhood of St John the Baptist, in
the 11th and 12th centuries.
During King John 's reign, Geoffrey Fitz Peter , was instrumental in
the foundation the parish church of St Peter , and in 1222, Robert de
Tuardo, was registered as the first known rector. Because of the
church's proximity to
Berkhamsted Castle , the reigning monarch was
Berkhamsted rectors for several centuries. In 1648, St
Peter's Church was requisitioned during the
English Civil War
English Civil War by
General Fairfax as a military prison to hold soldiers captured from
Siege of Colchester . The poet
William Cowper was christened in
St Peter's, where his father John Cowper was rector.
The parish church of St Peter, is one of the largest churches in
Hertfordshire, stands on the high street. The church is in the Latin
cross plan, with a 85-foot (26 m) clock tower at the crossing and
measures 56 yards (51 m) from the west door to the east window, and
the width across the transepts is 30 yards (27 m). The oldest part of
the church is the chancel , which is dated at c. 1200; it is in the
Early English style common in that period. Further additions were
made up until the 15th century; in 1871, it underwent a restoration by
William Butterfield . There are two altar tombs with alabaster
effigies dating from the 14th century: the tombs are of a knight
(thought to be Henry of Berkhamsted, one of the Black Prince's
lieutenants at the
Battle of Crecy
Battle of Crecy ) and his lady. There are two other
Anglican churches in the town – 'St Michael and All Angels'
(Sunnyside)(original building 1886) and 'All Saints' Church first
gathering in secret, they built a large chapel in 1722, and moved to
their current place of worship at the junction of Ravens Lane on the
High Street in 1864. A
Quaker community is present in the town from
the second half of the 17th century, they opened their Meeting House
in 1818 on the
High Street opposite St John's Well Lane. The
Congregationlists can be traced back to 1780, they now worship
combined with the
Presbyterian church at St Andrew's United Reformed
Church on the corner of Castle Street and
Chapel Street. The
Methodists arrived with the hundreds of men who came to build the
railway, via various places of worship, today they share All Saints'
Church with the Anglians. The
Evangelist (Latter Day Saints) began
life has part of the
Plymouth Bretheren , their Hope Hall opened in
1875, which was rechristened the Kings Road Evangelical Church in
Roman Catholic tradition from the 17th to 20th century
appears to be limited, General de Gaulle worshiped at their original
Church of the Sacred Heart in Park View Road, they moved to a larger
modern church in 1980 on Park Street.
CULTURE AND LEISURE
Geoffrey Chaucer was clerk of works at
Berkhamsted Castle from 1389
and based his Doctor of Phisick in
The Canterbury Tales on John of
Gaddesden, who lived in nearby Little Gaddesden.
William Cowper was
Berkhamsted Rectory in 1731. Although he moved away when still
a boy, there are frequent references to the town in his poems and
letters. In the
Victorian era , Cowper became a cult figure and
Berkhamsted was a place of pilgrimage for his devotees. Maria
Edgeworth , a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's
literature who was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel
in Europe, lived in
Berkhamsted as a child in the 18th century.
Between 1904 and 1907, the
Llewelyn Davies boys were the inspiration
for the author and playwright
J. M. Barrie 's
Peter Pan . A little
Graham Greene was born in
Berkhamsted and educated at
Berkhamsted School, alongside literary contemporaries
Claud Cockburn ,
Peter Quennell ,
Humphrey Trevelyan and
Cecil Parrott . Children's
H. E. Todd and
Hilda van Stockum both lived in Berkhamsted.
The comic character Ed Reardon from Radio 4 's semi-naturalistic radio
drama Ed Reardon\'s Week resides in Berkhamsted.
The Rex Cinema is regarded by some, including the
Daily Telegraph ,
as Britain's most beautiful cinema. Described by Dame
Judi Dench as
"absolutely awe-inspiring", in 2014, the Rex was declared Britain's
Best Cinema in the inaugural Guardian film awards. Built in 1937 the
Rex is recognised by
English Heritage as a fine example of a 1930s art
deco cinema . The cinema was designed by architect David Evelyn Nye
for the Shipman and King circuit. Closed in 1988, the cinema was
extensively restored in 2004 and has become a thriving independent
local cinema. The Rex frequently has sold-out houses for evening
showings, the cinema is a "movie palace with all the original art deco
trimmings" (its interior features decorations of sea waves and
shells). Inside is a step "back into the golden age of film" when
going to the movies was an experience; the cinema features luxurious
seating and two licensed bars. It is managed by its owner James
Hannaway, who introduces films. Sometimes there is a question and
answer session with directors and actors involved in the films; these
sessions have included Dame
Judi Dench ,
Charles Dance , Mike Leigh
Terry Jones .
Prior to the cinema's construction, an Elizabethan mansion, Egerton
House , had occupied the site at the east end of the high street for
350 years. The house was occupied briefly (1904–07) by Arthur and
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, whose children were
J. M. Barrie 's
Peter Pan .
BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE NATIONAL ARCHIVE AT KING\'S HILL
Rarely open to the public, the
BFI National Archive 's "The J. Paul
Getty, Jr. Conservation Centre" in
Berkhamsted is the archive of the
British Film Institute . With over 275,000 feature, non-fiction and
short films (dating from 1894) and 210,000 television programmes, it
is one of the largest film archives in the world. Two of the archive's
collections were added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organisation (
UNESCO ) UK Memory of the World Register,
in 2011. The archive collects, preserves, restores and shares the
films and television programmes which have shaped and recorded British
life and times since the development of motion picture film in the
late 19th century. The majority of the collection is
British-originated material, but the archive also features
internationally significant holdings from around the world and films
that feature key British actors and the work of British directors.
Berkhamsted Bowmen are the oldest archery club in England. There
is a sports centre off Douglas Gardens, managed by the
Trust (Sportspace). The facilities comprise a large indoor
multi-purpose sports hall, squash courts, swimming pool and outdoor
all-weather pitch. This facility is complemented by dual use of the
leisure facilities of
Ashlyns School and
School. A deficit in leisure space is compounded by a high level of
sports participation locally and consequent heavy use of outdoor
sports pitches. Founded in 1875
Cricket Club competes in
the Herts League and in 2015 it ran twenty-five separate teams. The
Hemel Hempstead Hockey Club teams are based just
outside the town at the Cow Roast, playing their matches at Tring
School. There are two
Berkhamsted and Kitcheners.
Berkhamsted and the surrounding area has a variety of road cycling and
mountain biking routes, including traffic-free off-road routes in
Ashridge Estate. The town was visited by the
Tour of Britain in 2014.
The town's football club,
Berkhamsted F.C. , play in the Spartan
South Midlands League Premier Division. The team was formed in 2009
after the demise of
Berkhamsted Town F.C.
Berkhamsted Town F.C. , which had been established
in 1895. They play at the town's football ground, Broadwater, which
they share with
Watford L.F.C. , who play in the FA Women\'s Super
League Division 2. Founded in 1996,
Berkhamsted Raiders C.F.C.
football club was recognised as the FA Charter Standard Community Club
of the Year at the English Football Association Community Awards in
2014 and awarded the
UEFA Grassroots Silver Award in 2015 for their
work across the local community. The club in 2015 had more than 800
affiliated players, including 90 girls and 691 boys in the youth
set-up, 29 ladies, 20 seniors and 20 veterans: who are spread across
65 teams at different levels. The club is based at the Berkhamsted
Cricket and Sports Club, Kitcheners Field, Castle Hill,
SITES OF INTEREST
173 High Street, one of several buildings in the town that have
medieval origins, it is the oldest jettied timber building in the
The majority of Berkhamsted's eighty-five listed or scheduled
historical sites are on in the high street and the medieval core of
the town (a significant number of them contain timber frames). Four
are scheduled, one is Grade I, seven are Grade II*, the remaining 75
are Grade II. In addition to the sites noted in the article above
(such as the castle and schools) the following structures and
locations are of interest:
High Street is a Victorian façade hiding what is considered
to be the oldest extant jettied timber-framed building in Great
Britain, dated by dendrochronology of structural timbers to between
1277 and 1297. The building was originally thought to be been a
jeweller or goldsmith 's shop with a workshop behind, it is now
believed to have been a jettied service wing to a larger aisled hall
house, which has since disappeared. It represents an early example of
transition in carpentry technology, from the use of passing braces to
crown posts. The 13th century origin of the structure was discovered
by chance in 2000 by builders who had begun work on what appeared to
be a Victorian property. The shop was, from 1869, Figg's the Chemists;
post-restoration (with expertise and a £250,000 grant from English
Heritage), the shop is currently used as an estate agency. Dr Simon
Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said "This is an amazing
discovery. It gives an extraordinary insight into how
Street would have looked in medieval times."
* 125 High Street, a house and shop opposite St Peter's Church, is a
timber-framed building with a wing that is one bay of a 14th-century
open hall. The layout suggests that it once had a second bay of
similar size – a length of 26 feet (8 m) in all. This was an
unusually large house; its size and central position suggests a manor
house or other high status house, possibly supporting the castle. The
building underwent extensive alterations in the 17th, 18th and 19th
* The Swan, 139 High Street, contains the remains of a medieval open
hall. Parts of the roof date from the 14th century, and the street
range was extended and a chimney stack added c. 1500.
* Castle Street began life as the medieval lane from the town's high
street to the drawbridge of the royal castle. The other end of the
lane was the parish church of St Peters. In the 16th century next to
Berkhamsted school was founded, while in the 17th century
there were seven public houses amongst the street's trade outlets.
* To the northwest of
Berkhamsted stand the ruins of Marlin's
Chapel, a 13th-century chapel standing next to a medieval fortified
farm. The walls and moat surrounding the modern farm still remain and
are reputed to be haunted.
Dean Incent's House, residence of
John Incent (1480–1545),
Dean of St Paul's Cathedral and founder of
Berkhamsted School in 1541.
High Street is the Grade II* listed house known as Dean
Incent\'s House . (
John Incent , Dean of St Paul's, founded
Berkhamsted School.) A 15th century half-timbered house, the interior
has original exposed timber framing and several Tudor wall paintings.
The building incorporates part of an even older structure and was used
as public meeting place before the Court House was built. The house is
not normally open to the public.
* The Court House, next to the church, dates from the 16th century,
and is believed to lie on the site of the medieval court where the
Borough Court was held.
* Sayer's Almshouses, were the legacy of John Sayer, chief cook to
Charles II, at 235–241 High Street, comprise a single-storey row of
almshouses built in 1684.
* The Bourne School, at 222 High Street, was the legacy by Thomas
Bourne (1656–1729) (Master of the Company of Framework Knitters) to
build a charity school in
Berkhamsted for 20 boys and 10 girls. The
front was rebuilt in 1854 in Jacobean-style red brick; it is not clear
if any part of the building predates 1854. In 1875, the pupils were
transferred to the National School and the funds used for
* The site now occupied by the Pennyfarthing Hotel dates from the
16th century, having been a monastic building used as accommodation
for religious guests passing through
Berkhamsted or going to the
monastery at Ashridge.
* The town hall , a Victorian gothic market house and town hall,
designed by architect
Edward Buckton Lamb
Edward Buckton Lamb (built in 1859, extended in
1890, restored in 1983–1999), was built by public subscription from
Berkhamstedians. It comprised a market hall (now Carluccio's
restaurant), a large assembly hall and rooms for the Mechanics\'
Institute . When
Berkhamsted became part of the new
Council (based in Hemel Hempstead), there were plans to demolish the
building, these plans werer stopped by a ten-year citizens' campaign
during the 1970s and 1980s, which eventually ended at the High Court.
The totem pole at
Berkhamsted Canadian totem pole sits adjacent to the canal,
close to Castle Street Bridge. In the early 1960s, Roger Alsford, a
great-grandson of the founder of the timber company, James Alsford
(1841–1912), went to work at the Tahsis lumber mill on Vancouver
Island . During a strike, he was rescued from starvation by a local
Kwakiutl community. Alsford's brother, William John Alsford, visited
the island, and in gratitude for the local people's hospitality,
commissioned a totem pole from the Canadian
First Nations artist Henry
Hunt . The western red cedar pole, 30 feet (9 m) high and 3 feet (1
m) in diameter, was carved by Hunt at Thunderbird Park , a centre for
First Nation monuments. The completed pole was shipped to Britain and
erected at Alsford's Wharf in 1968. Alsford's warehouses were replaced
in 1994 by a private housing development which limit access to the
pole, so that it can be viewed only at a distance from the public
road. It is one of only a handful of totem poles in the United
Kingdom, others being on display at the
British Museum and Horniman
Museum in London,
Windsor Great Park ,
Bushy Park and the Yorkshire
Sculpture Park . The carvings on the totem pole represent four
First Nations legend: at the top sits Raven , the
trickster and creator deity; he sits on the head of Sunman , who has
outstretched arms representing the rays of the sun and wears a copper
(a type of ceremonial shield); Sunman stands on the fearsome
Dzunukwa ; at the base is the two-headed warrior sea
Sisiutl , who has up-stretched wings.
Ashridge , an estate managed by the
National Trust of 5,000 acres
(2,000 ha) of native broadleaf woodlands, commons and chalk downland
on a Chiltern ridge just to the north of Berkhamsted.
been featured many times in film and television series due to its
distinction as an area of natural beauty. Scenes were filmed for
Sleepy Hollow at Golden Valley and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
at Ashridge's ancient
Frithsden Beeches Wood. The climbable monument
Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater , a tall Doric column with
urn (a Grade II* listed building), stands in a grove within Ashridge.
ASSOCIATIONS WITH THE TOWN
List of people from Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted is twinned with:
Beaune , Burgundy,
Neu Isenburg , Hesse,
Germany (as part of Dacorum)
The town also has an informal relationship with Barkhamsted ,
Connecticut , in the United States. The latter presented a gavel and
block on 4 July 1976, the
U.S. bicentennial , which
Council now uses in meetings.
* ^ Æthelgifu's will is one of only seventeen existing wills in
Old English , and it is the most extensive of them. It gives much more
detail on slave and land ownership in this period than any other
document, and shows that a woman could have considerable wealth. The
will is written on vellum in a minuscule hand , and the original still
exists; an American consortium bought it in 1969, and it is now in New
* ^ This left a detached portion of the St Mary's parish, which
later became the village of Bourne End, southeast of the Berkhamsted.
* ^ Historians in the past, have believed the town was of Mercian
importance or in the existence of a pre–Norman conquest
fortification (there is reference to land called "Oldeburgh"). The
Anglo-Saxon word burgh hints at a pre-conquest fortification. The
notable early 20th century historian
G. M. Trevelyan , including
earlier historians such as Samuel Lewis and
Sir Henry Chauncy ,
believed that the town was once an important Mercian settlement. Two
medieval ditches have been excavated in recent years, both of which
were discovered on Bridgewater Road, north of the river, that may have
been part of a ditch that surrounded the early medieval town.
* ^ Edmer Ator was evidently a senior landholding noble who had
held 36 places over 7 counties prior to the Norman conquest, as
recorded in the Domesday Book.
* ^ Later in the
Middle Ages the
Tring Hundred merged with the
Danais Hundred, "which overlapped it", to form the
Danais referred to Danish settlers in the area. A monk writing about
this area described it as "the Hundred of the Danes", using the word
Daneis. The word was later incorrectly transcribed as "Danicorum" and
subsequently shortened to "Dacorum".
* ^ The patronymic is sometimes rendered "Fitz Piers", since he was
the son of Piers de Lutegareshale, forester of Ludgershal.
* ^ One of the wealthiest men in Europe, Richard, 1st Earl of
Cornwall , was elected King of Germany, or
Holy Roman Emperor , in
* ^ The market had been in existence since at least 1086. It was
originally held on a Sunday, but by this charter it was changed to
Monday, as the rector of the new St Peter's Church objected to the
noise. The market is now held on a Saturday.
* ^ For many centuries, the
Berkhamsted town fair was held on the
feast day of St James the Greater rather than on Petertide , which
suggests that an older parish church before St Peter's was built in
the 13th century.
* ^ Also referred to as portmanmoot or portmoot. The name had
Anglo-Saxon origins; the court had aspects both of court and of
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Wikivoyage has a travel guide for BERKHAMSTED .
Commons has media related to BERKHAMSTED .
Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New