10 things to know about Cheshunt
PUBLISHED: 10:30 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:30 28 April 2015
From a cardinal to cars, celebs to crocuses, Cheshunt is a place of history, creativity and beauty. Alice Cooke explores
What’s in a name?
According to the Domesday Book, the old English name for the area was Cestrehunt. This is thought to refer to a castle, erected by the Romans. Cestre and all its modern equivalents (such as Chester and Caster) are derived from the Latin for fort.
All roads lead from London
Ermine Street was the main Roman road heading northwards from London, and Cheshunt was a settlement along that route. Televsion archaeology unit Time Team found evidence of this, as well as later records that the manor of Cheshunt was held by Eddeva the Fair before William I granted it to Alan of Brittany after the Norman Conquest.
Place of power
Cardinal Wolsey was given land in Cheshunt by King Henry VIII. A small park at Goffs Lane (Cheshunt Great House) still contains the ruins of his manor. The community centre, Wolsey Hall, is named in his honour.
Before becoming Queen, Elizabeth I lived at Cheshunt for a time under the care of Sir Anthony Denny after she left Queen Catherine Parr’s household in 1548.
Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, died in Cheshunt in 1712.
Plants, cars and shopping
Much of the land around Cheshunt was used for horticultural purposes until the late 1960s and many new techniques for growing under glass were developed here. Houseplant nursery Thomas Rochford had a large concern here, which included a great many glasshouses, a few of which still exist.
Lotus Cars and Debenhams were also founded in Cheshunt, and the headquarters of Tesco was here for many years.
Food and fun
Stuck for something to do with the children? Kid Mania has a soft play area for toddlers and primary school aged children. There’s plenty of comfy seating and good eating there too, with a selection of healthy options for all ages.
For a weekend lunch at the pub, try The Crocodile, the McMullen-run local has a large garden area and lots of outdoor seating.
Cheshunt FC play in the Isthmian League Division One North. Founded in 1946, their most famous player was Iain Dowie, who played for them in the 1980s. Tottenham have had training grounds in Cheshunt over the years too.
The town also has long-established rugby and cricket clubs, and a publicly owned 18-hole golf course. The former Grundy Park Leisure Centre was recently renamed in honour local Olympic medal cyclist Laura Trott after a £4m redevelopment.
Sport, pop and fashion stars
Pop star and fashion designer Victoria Beckham went to St Mary’s High School in the town. Arsenal and Totenham football player David Bentley went to Goffs School. Laura Trott, the double Olympic Gold Medal cyclist, lives in Cheshunt, as does former glamour model and actress Linda Lusardi.
On 12 August 1944 at 8am a US Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber was flying from RAF Wendling when it crashed at Maxwells Farm near Cheshunt. All 10 crew were killed. The B198 road which runs near the crash site was renamed Lieutenant Ellis Way after the pilot – whose final action was to avoid crashing into the nearby town. There is also a memorial along the road, near St Mary’s High School.
A railway first
In 1825, the three-quarter mile horse-drawn line known as the Cheshunt Railway was both the first railway line to be built in the county and the first passenger-carrying monorail line ever built.
After the Second World War much of the River Lee flood plain was used for sand and gravel extraction. The defunct pits created the lakes that lie in the area, which are popular with anglers, birdwatchers and naturalists as they are rich in flora and fauna, including the elusive bittern (pictured). The lakes now form part of the 1,000 acre River Lee Country Park and the Turnford and Cheshunt Pits Sites of Special Scientific Interest.