Welwyn /ˈwɛlɪn/ is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire,
England. The parish also includes the villages of
Oaklands. It is sometimes called Old
Welwyn to distinguish it from the
much newer settlement of
Welwyn Garden City, about a mile to the
south, though some residents dislike the suggestion of inferiority or
irrelevance that tends to be implied by the moniker "Old" and prefer
3 Historical descriptions
7 Local points of interest
9 See also
11 External links
The name is derived from Old English welig meaning "willow", referring
to the trees that nestle on the banks of the River
Mimram as it flows
through the village. The name itself is an evolution from weligun, the
dative form of the word, and so is more precisely translated as "at
the willows", unlike nearby Willian which is likely to mean simply
Through having its name derived from welig rather than sealh (the more
commonly cited Old English word for willow),
Welwyn is possibly
cognate with Heligan in Cornwall whose name is derived from helygen,
the Cornish word for willow that shares a root with welig.
The nearby modern village of
Welwyn North railway
station) was originally called 'High Welwyn' when first developed at
the beginning of the 20th century.
Situated in the valley of the River Mimram,
Welwyn has hosted human
activity since the
Palaeolithic with stone tools from that era having
been found alongside the river and further inland across the area.
Settlement across the area seems to have become established during the
Bronze Age according to various recovered artefacts and crop marks
left by round barrows and burial mounds from that period.
Iron Age remnants have not been detected until the Late Iron Age, with
various local chieftain burials dated to the 1st Century BC gaining
national prominence. The
Belgae Celtic culture colonised much of
England in the 1st century BC, with
Welwyn in the area
believed to have been settled by the
Catuvellauni tribe. In Graham
Robb's book "The Ancient Paths" there is a suggestion that
on a late-Celtic highway running in the direction of the summer
solstice angle straight from
Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds to
Salisbury via the
Catuvellauni headquarters at
Verlamion outside modern-day St Albans.
Separately, it can be shown that the line of the
Roman road through
Welwyn (see below) is in a direct alignment with the pre-Roman Belgic
tribal centres of
Verlamion (for the Catuvellauni) and Venta Icenorum
Following the Roman invasion,
Welwyn was settled by the Romans. The
area was marshy in times past, and the settlement of
Welwyn was a
known fording point across the river since at least Roman times when
Roman road through the village was laid out, leading to the
establishment of the settlement around the road and the ford. Many
Roman artifacts have been found in and around the village, including
the remains of several Roman villas close by. The
Welwyn Roman Baths
(the remains of a third-century Roman bath house) have been preserved
and are open to the public. One particular excavation revealed a large
Roman cemetery very close to the site of the current church, which
itself is known to date back to at least Saxon times (see below). The
church lies directly alongside the route of the Roman road.
The archaeological record in
Welwyn is nearly continuous from the late
Iron Age (Celtic) through to recorded times, lacking proof of
occupation only in the early Anglo-Saxon period. It is therefore
Welwyn has been continuously occupied for over 2000 years.
Welwyn was at the heart of the territory of the Anglo-Saxon Tewingas
tribe and was the site of an early minster church. In 1990, a
proposal was made to rename the village as "
Welwyn Minster" to shake
off the unpopular "Old" name.
The massacre on St. Brice's day on November 13, 1002, when the Saxons
turned on their newly settled Danish neighbours, is stated to have
commenced near Welwyn.
A Norman church was built on the site of the Saxon church about 1190.
The nave of the present church (St Mary's), was built in the 13th
century, the chancel arch being the most obvious early structure.
There are two medieval corbels at the east end of the south aisle.
Patronage of the church passed through several hands until in 1549 it
was sold to the Wilshere family, who lived at
The Frythe until
Much later, in the 17th century, as it lies on the old Great North
Road, it became an important staging post and a number of coaching
inns remain as public houses. After the Great Northern Railway
by-passed the village due to the objections of local landowners,
Welwyn became less important. Having previously been seen as a town on
par with Hatfield and Stevenage, it gradually was seen as a village.
The 20th century brought major expansion to the area, as estates to
the south, west and north of the village were built up.
Despite this long history, at the beginning of the 20th century Welwyn
was regarded as a sleepy backwater. One writer wrote that Welwyn, a
small town in the Maran Valley, can show little of interest beyond
many quaint cottages, and the church.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of
Welwyn thus: WELWYN, a village, a parish, and a
sub-district, in Hatfield district, Herts. The village stands on the
river Maran, 1¼ mile W of the Great Northern railway, and 5 N of
Hatfield; carries on shoe-making and wool-stapling; consists chiefly
of two well built streets; and has a head post-office,‡ a r. station
with telegraph, two hotels, a police station, a good ancient church,
two dissenting chapels, a large national school, an education charity,
a workhouse, and charities for the poor £26.—The parish includes
Woolmer-Green hamlet, and comprises 2,987 acres. Real property,
£7,044. Pop., 1,612. Houses, 320. The property is much subdivided.
Danesbury and Frythe are chief residences. The living is a rectory in
the diocese of Rochester. Value, £665.* Patron, All Souls College,
Oxford. Dr. Young was rector, and wrote here his "Night Thoughts." A
national school is at Woolmer-Green, and is used as a chapel of
ease.—The sub-district contains 4 parishes, and is a poor-law union.
Acres, 6,457. Pop., 2,21 1. Houses, 439.
A lengthier entry is given in William Page's 1912 History of the
County of Hertford.
Welwyn was noted for its congestion since the beginning of the 20th
century and in 1927 got what is claimed to be the first by-pass in
Britain. The A1 was upgraded to motorway standards north of
the 1960s and in 1973 the motorway was extended south past the
village, by-passing the existing by-pass. Today the village is the
point where the 6-lane motorway merges into 4-lanes and is the site of
extensive traffic jams in the evening peak. A decade ago there were
extensive plans to widen the whole road through the area to 8 lanes,
and upgrade the existing junction to create a long one-way system
running the length of the village. These plans were shelved, but
recently plans to provide a climbing lane at least on the section
north of the village have been discussed.
Buses are provided by
Arriva and Centrebus, with some assistance from
Hertfordshire County Council. Arriva's 300/301 Centraline service
Welwyn to the major nearby towns of Stevenage,
St Albans and Hemel Hempstead, as well as neighbouring
Woolmer Green and Knebworth. The 301 additionally connects
both the nearby hospitals in
Welwyn Garden City, while
the 300 provides a direct link to recreational areas such as
Stanborough Lakes in
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City and
Verulamium Roman town in
St Albans. Buses run every 15 minutes Monday-Friday, every 20 minutes
Saturday, and hourly on Sunday. Additional bi-hourly service 314 is
provided by Centrebus, connecting
Codicote and Hitchin.
Green Line Coaches
Green Line Coaches 797 stops on the by-pass, providing an hourly
direct link to areas of
North London and the West End.
The nearest railway station is
Welwyn North railway station
Welwyn North railway station in the
nearby village of Digswell, about a mile east from the village. Trains
are operated by
First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect and run every 30 minutes Monday
to Saturday south to London and north to
Hitchin and Stevenage, with
an hourly service to
Cambridge and to Peterborough. On
Sundays an hourly service operates from London to
There is no bus link to the station, although buses do link to nearby
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City railway station.
There are two state schools in
Welwyn and one independent school.
The larger state school is
Welwyn St. Mary's Church of
School, situated off London Road which takes children aged between 4
and 11 years of age (Reception to Year 6). Originally built in 1940 as
a secondary school, the school was later converted to a primary
school. The second is Oaklands Primary School, which incorporates
Acorns Preschool and Playgroup.
There is also Tenterfield Nursery School which is situated on London
Road close to the primary school. It takes children aged 3 to 4 years
Secondary state education is provided through schools in nearby towns,
such as Monks Walk School, in
Welwyn Garden city, and Stanborough
School near Stanborough Lakes.
There is an independent all-ages (nursery through to sixth form)
coeducational school on the eastern outskirts of
There is a tennis club, a sports & social club, a bowls
club, a football club, and a cricket pitch in the village - these
last two are part of
Welwyn Garden City-based clubs.
Local points of interest
The village has a brief association, celebrated by a blue plaque on a
building on Church Street, with Vincent van Gogh, who visited his
sister (having walked from London) while she was staying in Welwyn.
In the fields surrounding the nearby Danesbury House, now converted
into accommodation, is a dilapidated and neglected former fernery
designed by Anthony Parsons (then gardener for the Danesbury
Estate) and constructed by the second James Pulham of James Pulham
and Son in 1859. It was built in a small chalk pit in the
grounds of Danesbury Park and has a fine view across the valley -
sadly now occupied by the A1(M) motorway. In its day it was well
admired, with one W. Robinson (writing in "The English Flower Garden",
published in 1883), stating that "In the home counties there is
probably not a better fernery than at Danesbury."
On the outskirts of
Welwyn are the remains of a 3rd-century Roman
bath-house, which was once part of the Dicket Mead villa. The villa
and its bath-house were discovered by local archaeologist Tony Rook in
the 1960s and subsequently excavated by him and a team of
archaeologists and volunteers from
Welwyn Archaeological Society. The
remains of the bath-house are now preserved in a vault which is
underneath the A1 motorway. The site is now run by
Museum Service and is open to the public from 2.00pm-5.00pm on
Saturdays and Sundays and bank holidays from January to November. It
is also open in
Hertfordshire school holidays everyday 2.00pm-5.00pm.
Admission £2.50 for adults and children free.
The Frythe is a Victorian mansion set in grounds just south of the
village. It was privately occupied until 1934, then run as a hotel
until the outbreak of World War II. During the war, it was the home
for Station IX, a
Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive factory designing and
building weapons and tools for SOE activities in occupied Europe.
After the war, it became a commercial research facility for first
Unilever and then Smith, Kline & French. GlaxoSmithKline, its
successor company, wound down the site and sold it in 2010 for
residential property development.
Between 1928 and 1951
Welwyn Studios was active, mainly providing
supporting features. However, like
Welwyn Components (another
apparently eponymous business),
Welwyn Studios was actually located in
Welwyn Garden City.
Welwyn is twinned with a village in France, Champagne-sur-Oise. The
connection is organized (at the
Welwyn end) by the
Twinning Association (WAFTA). The twinning started in 1973 as a result
of a visit by the then headmaster and pupils of St Mary’s School in
Welwyn, who went to Champagne-sur-Oise and set up a cultural
association that has flourished ever since.
Coincidentally, Champagne-sure-Oise is in the departement of
Val-d'Oise which is a near neighbour of the departement of Marne,
whose main river of the same name is believed to have been the origin
of the alternative name of Welwyn's
Mimram river - the Maran. This
connection was brought about by a migration of the Catalauni, the
Belgic tribe from the Champagne region of France, into England
stretching north of the Thames from London, where the tribe was known
as the Catuvellauni. In that respect, WAFTA has resurrected a twinning
link that was first forged nearly 2000 years previously.
Population figures (PDF)
^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for
National Statistics. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
^ Skeat, Walter W. (1904). The place-names of Hertfordshire, Volume 2,
Part 8. Printed for the East Herts Archaeological Society by Stephen
Austin & Sons, Limited. p. 67.
^ 'River Mimram' (chapter 7) by Tony Rook (Amberley Publishing, 2014)
^ Extensive Urban Survey -
Welwyn (PDF), English
Heritage, p. 2
^ Extensive Urban Survey -
Welwyn (PDF), English
Heritage, p. 2
^ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, OUP
^ Williamson, Tom (2000), The Origins of Hertfordshire, Manchester:
Manchester University Press, p. 114, ISBN 071904491X,
^ Rowe, Anne; Williamson, Tom (2013), Hertfordshire: A Landscape
History, Hatfield: University of
Hertfordshire Press, p. 298,
ISBN 1909291021, retrieved 2014-07-20
^ The Anglo Saxons of
Welwyn — 10th Anniversary (PDF), 2010,
^ Robinson, Gwennah (1978). Barracuda Guide to County History, Vol
III: Hertfordshire. Barracuda Books Ltd. p. 12.
^ Tompkins, Herbert W (1922). HERTFORDSHIRE, Second Edition, Revised.
Methuen & Co. p. 222.
^ Page, William (1912). A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3.
Welwyn St Mary's School Website
Sherrardswood School Website
Welwyn Tennis Club website
^ WSSC website
Welwyn Pegasus FC website
^ a b 
^ Works of James Pulham & Son
Media related to
Welwyn at Wikimedia Commons
Civil parishes of Hertfordshire
Nettleden with Potten End
Brent Pelham and Meesden
Buckland and Chipping
Eastwick and Gilston
Stanstead St Margarets
Elstree and Borehamwood
Caldecote and Newnham
Clothall and Luffenhall
Rushden and Wallington
St Paul's Walden
Letchworth Garden City
Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Peter
Northaw and Cuffley
Welwyn Garden City
List of places in Hertfordshire