10 Things to do in...Shenley
PUBLISHED: 13:36 12 September 2014 | UPDATED: 13:36 12 September 2014
Set high on a ridge and a popular location for the gentry, Shenley was home to some of the first commuters, who came to the Hertsmere village to escape London’s smog and smells. Today’s pretty village grew around Porters Park Estate and the old mansion still dominates the landscape. Julie Lucas find 10 things to entice you here
Picnic and cricket.
Take a picnic and enjoy a summer afternoon watching a game at the Shenley Cricket Centre. The ground here was designed by WG Grace in the 19th century to the dimensions of The Oval. The Evening Standard described it as ‘probably the most beautiful in England and therefore the world’. The pavilion also provides a stunning backdrop for weddings and corporate events. In 1997 England cricketing legend Dennis Compton opened a major centre of cricketing excellence here. Shenley Village Cricket Club plays during the season on a Saturday. See shenleycricketcentre.co.uk
Wander round the Walled Garden.
Once part of the Porters Park Estate, the Walled Garden at Shenley Park has been nurtured back to health and is now a tranquil spot for all to enjoy. In the summer months, plays and picnic concerts are held in its amphitheatre with the garden backdrop providing an idyllic setting. The garden is open until October, Monday to Friday 10-4pm and until 5pm at weekends and bank holidays. shenleypark.co.uk
Sample the delicious apple juice from the Stanley Lord Orchard. The old orchard, also once part of the Porter family estate, fell into disuse in the 70s and 80s but with the help of volunteers the site was restored by the Shenley Park Trust. When replanting took place priority was given to trees that originate from Hertfordshire and the surrounding counties. It now has over 450 apple trees producing 120 varieties. Last year provided a bumper crop, and the trust invited volunteers to help with harvesting in return for juice. Looks like this year could be good too. Volunteers who can commit five days up until early November should go to shenleypark.co.uk. Tours can also be arranged and the orchard’s Apple Day is celebrated on Sunday October 19.
Brunch or lunch.
Apple juice from the Stanley Lord Orchard is also available in the Café in the Orchard. Alex Black took over the café, housed in a rustic timber-framed log cabin, in 2011. He has lived in the village for over seven years and says he loves its friendly aspect. He added, ‘People love to visit the cafe for Sunday brunch and go for a walk in the park, but we also have a lot of different people from businessmen to ladies-that-lunch,’ he says.
Follow ancient footsteps.
Watling Chase Timberland Trail follows a path used by travellers for over 2,000 years. The 10.5 mile walk starts at Elstree and Borehamwood railway station, goes through Shenley Park and Colney Heath and finishes at Smallford. The trail follows medieval tracks and old coach routes, passing through both countryside and suburbia. Shenley also holds a monthly village walk. It takes place on the first Sunday of each month from the White Horse. Call 01707 642193.
White Horse wine club. For cosy corners and open log fires, try the White Horse in London Road. Originally used as a court house, it became a coaching inn and was said to sell beer through the bay window to workers on their horses. Now owned by Mitchells and Butlers, it specialises in modern British cuisine with Mediterranean influences. The chef offers daily specials which change seasonally. In May, the pub re-launched its Grapevine wine club, aimed at beginners, enthusiasts and those that just enjoy a tipple. whitehorseradlett.co.uk
Canter through the countryside.
Situated just outside Shenley, Ridge Hill Stud and Riding Centre runs hacks around the surrounding countryside. With 40 horses and ponies the centre has a ride to suit all abilities. For those looking to learn, lessons are available in one of its three outdoor arenas. Call 01707 643377.
Gaol house rocks.
Take a look at one of the last remaining roundhouse gaols in England. The Cage, as it is called, has been recently renovated. The beehive-shaped building is believed to date from the 18th century and as the village lock-up it was used to house wrongdoers and drunks overnight before they were literally carted off to the local magistrate’s court in Barnet. Above the two small windows is the advice: ‘Do well; fear not,’ and ‘Be sober; be vigilant.’
Time for Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is an ancient form of fitness that originates from China and is good for posture and relaxation. The Shenley class teaches Chen style Tai Chi, which is based on the traditional form of Tai Chi. Classes are held at The Chapel on a Wednesday night and are suitable for any age or fitness level. Tutor Elliot Jacobson, who started the martial arts discipline 30 years ago, says, ‘We have an expression in Tai Chi, in order to move fast you move slowly first.’
What’s new at the WI.
The Woman’s Institute will celebrate its 100th birthday next year and The Shenley WI has been around for 95 of those. The WI is now the largest voluntary woman’s organisation in the UK and has seen a revival in the last few years. Shenley president Cathy Petts says, ‘It’s not just your typical jam and Jerusalem. We have a great mixture of people who come to widen their interests, make new friends and learn something new. I am president and haven’t clue how to make jam.’ The group has a book club and craft club and talks this year have included the behind the scenes insights of a royal footman.