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10 reasons to love Barley & Barkway

PUBLISHED: 11:19 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 31 July 2017

The Town House in Barley has had many lives, including workhouse, fire station and village hall (photo by Peter McPartland)

The Town House in Barley has had many lives, including workhouse, fire station and village hall (photo by Peter McPartland)

Peter McPartland

Things to do and see in the neighbouring North Herts villages of Barley and Barkway

Stained glass window at St Mary Magdalene in Barkway commemorates the Burma Campaign (photo by Jean McCreanor) Stained glass window at St Mary Magdalene in Barkway commemorates the Burma Campaign (photo by Jean McCreanor)

1) Pair of pubs

Historically, more than 30 public houses have been recorded in Barkway, serving people travelling between London and Cambridge. Today there is just one pub in the village and one in neighbouring Barley. The Tally Ho in Barkway was bought and refurbished by Kevin and Saleesha Hall in 2014. The menu is regularly revised to reflect the seasons and focuses on British classics alongside creative specials. Suppliers are chosen for quality, freshness and locality to the pub.

The Chequers is at the heart of the village community in Barley and has an excellent Italian and English menu. This dog-friendly venue runs darts and petanque teams and has regular quiz and music nights.

2) It’s showtime

What started as a fundraising effort 25 years ago, is still going strong.

Rob Squire, Edwin Kilby, Lily Tibbals-Roberts, Paul Samways, Jenny Warren and Carol MacKay Rob Squire, Edwin Kilby, Lily Tibbals-Roberts, Paul Samways, Jenny Warren and Carol MacKay

Amateur dramatic society the Barkway Players was co-founded by Edwin Kilby who had the idea for a ‘songs from the shows’ event to raise funds for the historic village hall. He had such a good response to a recruitment leaflet asking ‘do to want to be a star?’ that the group put on a whole show, Witch Way to the Wizard, and haven’t looked back since.

‘We try to offer something a bit different,’ says Edwin. ‘So favourites are rewritten with additions such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and a Dog.’ New players are welcome. Go to barkwayplayers.org.uk for more details.

3) Lock them up!

Misbehave in Barley in times gone by and you could find yourself in the village lock-up. The 17th century timber-framed building with its pyramid slate roof was used to detain suspected criminals on a temporary basis before they could go before a court or as a place to put the drunk and disorderly to sober up. The parish council has plans to restore the listed building and are looking for ideas for what it could be used for.

The Grade II listed lock-up in Barley (photo by Peter McPartland) The Grade II listed lock-up in Barley (photo by Peter McPartland)

4) Ramble round Barkway

For a leisurely woodland walk try the Rokey Wood Walk of three miles. Enjoy ancient woodland and open fields with views towards Wyddial and Barkway church and village. For a slightly shorter walk, the Earls Wood Walk takes in the surrounding countryside, including a site of common spotted orchids. Both routes are circular and start at the centre of Barkway by the pond. They take around an hour and a half to complete.

5) Play a round

Barkway Golf Club opened in 1992 and was designed by former LPGA tour player Vivien Saunders. The oaks and sycamores lining the course have thrived and the 18-hole course, once known as ‘barren and open’, has matured into a true test of golfing ability according to owner Geoff Cannon. ‘It’s a friendly club and we liken it to an inland links course which can make it challenging.’ he says. Day vistors can play from £10.

The annual Barkway Market in May - its roots go back to the 13th century (photo by Danny Loo) The annual Barkway Market in May - its roots go back to the 13th century (photo by Danny Loo)

6) Game, set, match

Set in beautiful countryside, Barley Tennis Club has two hard courts and membership of 100-plus players. The club’s aim is to provide affordable tennis in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It offers club sessions three times a week, coaching and local tournaments.

‘It’s very much social tennis – people don’t have to be a member and can come along and try it out at one of our sessions,’ says club secretary Robin Saklatvala.

7) Annual market

The origins of Barkway Market can be traced to 1270. It was re-established as a street market in 1977 when residents wanted to raise money for the Queen’s Jubilee.

It is held annually in May at Manor Farm and this year had around 120 stalls offering goods including antiques, plants, food and books and crafts.

‘There’s something very English about Barkway Market,’ says head of the organising committee, Tom Wornham. ‘I love to see all the stallholders and visitors with big smiles on their faces and to hear the sound of the brass band.’

8) Burma stained glass

St Mary Magdalene church in Barkway has a fine stained glass window in its north aisle. Commemorating those who fought in the Burma Campaign during the Second World War, it was designed by Alan Younger, who also created the rose window in St Albans Cathedral. The Burma artwork was paid for by the Hertfordshire Cambridgeshire and Essex Branch of the Burma Star Association

9) Music on the Rec

This music event returns on Saturday, July 15 with entertainment from local bands Rumpus and SkyWest and country music from Martin Kazcak. Bring along a picnic, chairs and your dancing shoes. Gates open at 4pm and the music starts an hour later. The evening concludes with a firework display.

Visit barkway-events.uk for tickets.

10) Oldest village hall?

The Town House in Barley is one of the oldest buildings in the village and has been a community asset for nearly 500 years. Now a village hall, it is thought to be one of the oldest in the country, and was the first village hall in the country to be licensed for civil marriages. It has previously been a school, workhouse, almshouse and fire station.

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