Parliament Square, Hertford Town Centre
|Population||26,783 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||19.2 mi (30.9 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||SG13, SG14|
|Ambulance||East of England|
Hertford (// HART-fərd, locally // HAR-fərd) is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. The town has a population of approximately 26,000, according to the 2011 census.
The earliest reference to the town appears in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written by Bede in 731 AD, which refers to Herutford. Herut is the Old English spelling of hart, meaning a fully mature stag; thus the meaning of the name is a ford where harts are found. The Domesday Book of 1086 gives a spelling of Hertforde.
Hertford has been the county town of Hertfordshire since Saxon times when it was governed by the king's reeves. By the 13th century, the reeves had been replaced by a bailiff, elected by the burgesses. Charters of 1554 and 1589 established a common council of eleven chief burgesses and a bailiff. Another charter of 1605 changed the bailiff's title to mayor. In 1835, Hertford became a Municipal Corporation; the ratepayers elected twelve councillors, who chose four aldermen, aldermen and councillors composing the council. This body elected the mayor.
Since 1974, Hertford has been within the East Hertfordshire district of Hertfordshire. The headquarters of Hertfordshire County Council is at County Hall in Hertford. East Herts District Council's offices almost adjoin County Hall, and there is also a Hertford Town Council based at Hertford Castle (see "Landmarks", below).
Hertford is at the confluence of four river valleys: the Rib, Beane and Mimram join the River Lea at Hertford to flow east and then south toward the Thames as the Lee Navigation, after Hertford Castle Weir. The shared valley of the Lea and the Beane is called Hartham Common and this provides a large park to one side of the town centre running towards Ware and lying below the ridge upon which Bengeo is situated.
The town centre still has its medieval layout with many timber-framed buildings hidden under later frontages, particularly in St Andrew Street. Hertford suffers from traffic problems despite the existence of the 1960s A414 bypass called Gascoyne Way which passes close to the town centre. Plans have long existed to connect the A10 with the A414, by-passing the town completely. Nevertheless, the town retains very much a country-town feel, despite lying only 19.2 miles (30.9 km) north of Central London. This is aided by its proximity to larger towns such as Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Stevenage where modern development has been focused.
Suburbs and estates
Possibly the first mention of the town was in 673 AD: the first synod of a number of the bishops in England was held either in Hertford or at Hartford, Cambridgeshire. It was called by Theodore of Tarsus; decisions included the calculation of the date of Easter. In 912 AD, Edward the Elder built two burhs (earthwork fortifications) close by the ford over the River Lea as a defence against Danish incursions. By the time of the Domesday Book, Hertford had two churches, two markets and three mills. The Normans began work on Hertford Castle, and Hertford Priory was founded by Ralph de Limesy. King Henry II rebuilt the castle in stone, but in 1216, during the First Barons' War, it was besieged and captured after 25 days by Prince Louis of France. The castle was regularly visited by English royalty and in 1358, Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II, died there. The priory was dissolved in 1536 and subsequently demolished and in 1563, the Parliament of England met at the castle because of an outbreak of plague in London. Hertford grew and prospered as a market and county town; communication was improved by the construction of the Lea Navigation Canal in 1767 and the arrival of the railway in 1843. The Port Hill drill hall was completed in 1898 and Yeomanry House was brought into military use in 1910.
A fair amount of employment in the town is centred on County Hall (Hertfordshire County Council), Wallfields (East Hertfordshire District Council) and McMullens Brewery, one of a dwindling number of independent pre-1970 family brewers in the United Kingdom. Many residents commute to work in London.
Hertford differs from neighbouring towns as it lacks a modern shopping development (mall). However, it has most of the usual supermarkets. A Tesco store occupies part of the former Christ's Hospital Bluecoat Girls School, which closed down in 1985. Sainsbury's opened a new store on part of the McMullens Brewery site in June 2012. A Waitrose occupied a reasonably large store in the Bircherley Green Shopping area that closed on 12 September 2017. The local branch of Woolworths closed for good on 27 December 2008, after the collapse of that store chain. There are fewer of the usual chain shops found in most high streets and this makes Hertford stand out from other "clone towns". There are a high number of independent shops in the town, with a variety of boutiques and salons.
Hertford has a leisure centre on Hartham Common.
There is a Non-League football club Hertford Town F.C., which plays at Hertingfordbury Park. Hertford Town Youth FC, a FA Charter Standard Football Club, play at County Hall Playing Fields, situated next to the headquarters of Hertfordshire County Council at County Hall in Hertford. Other clubs surrounding the town include Bury Rangers, Hertford Heath Youth FC and Bengeo Tigers Football Club (an award-winning FA Charter Standard Community Football Club.)
Hertford Cricket Club is an English amateur cricket club, located in Hertford, the county town of Hertfordshire. Cricket records for a Hertford club go back a far as 1825, however the club in its present form has been in existence since 1860. The club plays its matches at Balls park, Hertford. Currently the club runs five teams and all the teams play in the local league.
Hertford serves as a commuter town for London, and has two stations :
The A414 main road now bypasses the town centre to the south and runs east to Harlow, the M11 and Chelmsford and runs west to Hatfield, the A1, St Albans and the M1. Hertford also lies just west of the A10 and the Kingsmead Viaduct which links it south to London and the M25 and north to Royston and Cambridge.
During the months of April to September a scheduled Waterbus operates between Bircheley Green Shopping centre, Hertford and Ware priory. The Waterbus runs on Saturdays and Sundays only except in August when it also runs on Thursdays and Fridays.
The Waterbus is accessible to all and has two toilets one of which has disabled access. Refreshments are available on the Boat and there is also a licensed bar on board. The Boat can accommodate 60 passengers on each journey and people with Pushchairs, Wheelchairss and well behaved Dogs are welcome aboard.
There are numerous schools in Hertford: these include the Sele School, Richard Hale School and Simon Balle School at secondary level, with primaries of Hollybush JMI, Millmead Community School, Bengeo Primary School, Morgans Primary School & Nursery, Abel Smith School (named after banker and MP Abel Smith (1788–1859)), St Andrew's School and St. Josephs RC School and Wheatcroft School.
Pinewood and Middleton Schools are special needs schools that are available in neighbouring Ware.
Former schools include The Pines JMI school which was built on the Pinehurst estate in 1977 and closed in 2003.
Hertford Theatre, previously known as Castle Hall, is a modern theatre, cinema and art gallery complex at The Wash in the town centre. The Hertford Corn Exchange is a building where entertainment such as comedy and art exhibitions take place. Hertford has many food, drink and entertainment establishments which have grown in number considerably since the eighties and nineties. It attracts people from nearby towns, and often the North London suburbs. There are approximately 25 pubs and clubs in the area, and around 35 restaurants, takeaways and snack bars. Hertford also benefits from public swimming pool and gym facilities and a small skatepark, all situated on Hartham Common.
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