Hertford Heath: Where the heart is
PUBLISHED: 17:11 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:35 20 February 2013
When it comes to being a winning village, Hertford Heath residents certainly know what's most important, as Jessica Clark finds out
JUST a glance across the centre of Hertford Heath is enough to explain why this picturesque village was crowned Hertfordshire's Village of the Year in 2007. Nestled in the Lee Valley, between the towns of Hertford and Hoddesdon, the 3,000 residents were brought together 15 years ago under Hertford Parish Council - after nearly 100 years of being divided between Little Amwell and Great Amwell Parish Councils. The 2,050-year-old village is kept beating by its thriving business and strong community, which without the village would surely have never gained the accolade.
It is almost unheard of that a village could offer so much employment to its residents but Hertford Heath has a buzzing business sector. Alongside private businesses are four pubs, an off-license, a food and general store, a garage and even three bed and breakfast lodges. But one of the largest employers, and also an outstanding feature of the village, is Haileybury School - a private boarding school for boys and girls. Set in 500 acres of beautiful grounds to the south of the village, the building was first erected in 1808 for the East India College to train civil servants for India. Fifty-four years later the boarding school opened its doors and for nearly 150 years it has been known as one of the country's finest private schools. The village also has its own state primary school, Hertford Heath Primary School.
Pub landlord Gill Fielding has run the Silver Fox in Hertford Heath for nearly five years and says business in the village is always flowing, thanks to the beauty of the area. Gill, 47, who lives above the pub in London Road with her two sons, says, 'All the pubs do well, we have a lot of workers in the village who stop by for lunch. Haileybury is a real asset to the village and brings a lot of customers in.
'The pub gets a great mixture of residents and visitors, and quite a few people who move away like to come back to the pubs. Everyone knows everyone else, but if you don't know the others you don't need to worry because you soon will. They are all so friendly and mix and integrate so well. It really struck me when I moved here how friendly people are.
'Everyone says how pretty it is and will comment on the church or the village green. We're kept busy because of Hertford Heath's great atmosphere, good mix of people and beauty.'
Until 1992 the family pub was called the Crown and photos of its older days are fondly displayed on the walls.
Enthusiasm in the village is in abundance with plenty of people working hard to keep the village in top shape after the Campaign for Rural England were overwhelmed by its beauty and named Hertford Heath Hertfordshire's Village of the Year in 2007. Members of the village's horticultural society work on enhancing the village and the annual flower show ensures people are keeping their gardens blooming. As well as beautiful country views, the village has a nature reserve to the south filled with butterflies, birds and insects - a highlight of an already naturally beautiful place.
A long list of clubs and organisations keeps residents busy and in touch with the village life. Annual events like the firework display and summer fete exemplify the shining community spirit which glues the village together.
Bob Akers, of Trinity Road, has lived in the village all his life and at 82 is more involved than ever. Apart from being chairman of the parish council he is also the president of the horticultural society, an organiser of the annual firework display and has starred in the football, cricket and now the carpet bowls team.
He has been on the council for 40 years and although the village has changed 'tremendously', he says the heart of the village is still the same, and in fact the change in councils 15 years ago boosted the community.
The widower and retired engineer says, 'I have got all my roots here, I know most of the people. I like village life and I find I'm interested in the village. My house backs on to a woodland and I really like that - it's peaceful.
'We have a saying that you have to live here 30 years or you're still a newcomer. But a lot of new people have come to the village and they support the activities which is great really. I think you never appreciate what you've got until you go away. When I come back I realise how lovely it is. 'We have got so much going for us in this village.'
The village is now awaiting the latest results of the Village of the Year award but whatever the judges decide, Hertford Heath is certainly a village to be proud of.
Don't leave without enjoying...
- The sprawling countryside around the village - ideal for any walker, whether for a short stroll or day-long exploration through the beautiful surroundings
- A great country pub lunch - on offer at the College Arms, The Townsend Arms, The Goat Inn and The Silver Fox
- The Classic Car Display - held on the first Sunday of every month, this popular event is held outside The Goat Inn near the Village Green, attracting hundreds of visitors, especially on a sunny day. It has been running since 1975
- The nature reserve - open for the public to enjoy