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Hertford ( or ) is the county town of Hertfordshiremarker, Englandmarker, and is in the East Hertfordshiremarker district of the county. In 2006 East Hertfordshire was ranked within the top 10 places to live in the UK following a survey commissioned by the Channel 4 TV station.Forming a civil parish, the 2001 census put the population of Hertford at about 24,180. Recent estimates are that it is now around 28,000. The name is Anglo Saxon and means the ford frequented by hart or stags. The town of Meryton in the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice is thought to have been based on Hertford.


The Council of Hertford met in the year 673 at the instigation of Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus. The site of the synod is not known. It was at this meeting that the Roman and Celtic churches came to an agreement on the date to celebrate Easter.

Since 1974, Hertford has been within the East Hertfordshiremarker district of Hertfordshiremarker.

Hertfordshire County Council's main base is at County Hall in Hertford. East Herts District Councilmarker's offices almost adjoin County Hall, and there is also a Hertford Town Council based at Hertford Castlemarker (see "Landmarks", below).


Hertford is at the confluence of four river valleys: the Ribmarker, Beanemarker and Mimram join the River Lea at Hertford to flow south toward the Thames as the Lee Navigationmarker, after Hertford Castle Weir.The shared valley of the Lea and the Beanemarker is called Hartham Commonmarker and this provides a large park to one side of the town centre running towards Waremarker and lying below the ridge upon which Bengeomarker is situated.
The town centre still follows the 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 for 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 north of Central London. This is aided by its proximity to larger towns such as Harlowmarker, Bishop's Stortfordmarker and Stevenagemarker where modern development has been focused.

Suburbs and Estates

Nearby Hertford


Employment in the town is centred on County Hall (Hertfordshire County Council), Wallfields (East Hertfordshire District Councilmarker) and McMullens Brewery, one of a dwindling number of independent brewer in the United Kingdommarker. Many residents commute to work in London.

In comparison with neighbouring towns Hertford has suffered from the absence of a modern shopping development (mall). However, it has most of the usual supermarkets. A Tescomarker store occupies part of the former Christ's Hospitalmarker Bluecoat Girls School, which closed down in 1985. Sainsburysmarker plans to build a new store on part of the McMullens Brewery site. The local branch of Woolworths closed for good on 27 December 2008, after the collapse of that store chain. There are very few of the usual chain shops found in most high streets and this makes Hertford stand out from other "clone towns". There is a high number of independent shops in the town with a variety of boutiques and salons.


Alfred Russel Wallace who proposed a theory of natural selection at the same time as Charles Darwin lived in Hertford between the ages of five and thirteen and attended Hertford Grammar School. The radical politician John Wilkes was educated in Hertford. Samuel Stone was a 17th century Puritan Minister who established the American town of Hartford, Connecticut (with Thomas Hooker). He was born in July 1602, and lived in Fore Street, Hertford. He was baptised at All Saints Church. Much more recently, the band Deep Purple formed in Hertford in 1968. Harry Potter film star Rupert Grint comes from Hertford, and although he now lives outside the county town, he lived within Hertford when filming began on the Harry Potter series. He attended Richard Hale Schoolmarker before leaving after his GCSE exams in 2004. Other famous students at Richard Hale Schoolmarker are listed on that school's page.


  • In the town are the remains of the original Hertford Castlemarker, principally a motte. The castle's gatehouse, the central part of which dates to a rebuild by Edward IV in 1463, is the home to Hertford Town Council. The Motte, from the original Motte and Bailey castle in Hertford, can be found just behind Castle Hall, a short distance from the modern castle.
  • There are several churches in the town, All Saints' and St Andrew's, are late and mid 19th century respectively. In the northern suburb of Bengeomarker lies St Leonard'smarker, a two-celled Norman church of considerable architectural interest.

  • In Railway Street can be found the oldest purpose-built Quaker Meeting House in the world, in use since 1670.
  • The Parliament of England temporarily moved to Hertford during the Great Plague of London. This is why the main square in the town, Parliament Square, is so named, although it is a twentieth century creation.

  • The home of Alfred Russel Wallace (see above), now named Wallace House, can be found at 11 St. Andrew St. and is marked with a plaque.

  • Built in 1779 the Shire Hall was designed by Robert Adam. The ground floor houses Court Rooms.
  • The Hertford Corn Exchange was built on the site of a former gaol. After years in the doldrums it has now reverted to being a live entertainment venue.
  • In Cowbridge there is a Prince Albert Cottage. The first of these cottages were originally built in Hyde Parkmarker by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes in 1851 at the time of the Great Exhibition. Prince Albert was involved in their design and financing.



Hertford serves as a commuter town for Londonmarker, and has two stations :


The A414 main road now bypasses the town centre to the south and runs east to Harlowmarker, the M11 and Chelmsfordmarker and runs west to Hatfieldmarker, the A1marker, St Albansmarker and the M1.Hertford also lies just west of the A10marker and the Kingsmead Viaductmarker which links it south to Londonmarker and the M25marker and north to Roystonmarker and Cambridgemarker.

Bus and Coach

For all bus and coach timetables see here.


There are numerous schools in Hertford: these include the The Sele Schoolmarker, Richard Hale Schoolmarker and Simon Balle Schoolmarker at secondary level, with primaries of Hollybush JMI, Millmead Community School, Bengeo County Primary School, Morgans JMI, Abel Smith School,Wheatcroft School,St Andrew's School and St. Josephs RC School.

Private schools include St. Joseph's In The Park, Duncombe School (a preparatory school in Bengeomarker) and Haileybury Collegemarker in Hertford Heathmarker; a short distance to the north of Hertford on the A10 is St Edmund's College.


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 Londonmarker suburbs. There are approximately 25 pubs and clubs in the area , and around 35 restaurants, takeaways and snack bars .Hertford also hosts swimming pool and gym facilities, and has also recently acquired a small skatepark, based in Hartham Commonmarker.


Town twinning


  1. Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels, 2003, ISBN 0711222789, p. 179: "... and it can be deduced later on that Meryton is, in fact, Hertford ..."
  2. "The fictional town of Meryton [...] is likely to have been based on the real town of Hertford, according to Deirdre Le Faye",
  3. History of Hertford, F. M. Page, Hertford Town Council, Hertford, 1959 (2nd edition, 1993), ISBN 0-952-2390-0-0, page 16
  4. Wallace’s House
  5. Shire Hall, Hertford
  6. The Corn Exchange
  7. Victoria and Albert Museum information on Prince Albert Cottages
  8. Hertford.Net pub list
  9. Hertford.Net restaurant list
  10. Guardian article on Hertford and the Holy Grail
  11. news June 2006,

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