Out and about in Wheathampstead
PUBLISHED: 10:34 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 20 February 2013
For a day out or an event with a difference, Damion Roberts discovers a lively Hertfordshire village with a lot to offer
WITH the winter months beginning to flitter away, the hour of sunset rolling back, the temperatures beginning to rise and the first shoots of spring waiting to sprout softly from the ground it is traditional for the country to wake from its slumber and look beyond its television screens and bookcases for things to do outside without the need for mittens or scarves.
In the very heart of Hertfordshire villagers will be doing just that these next few weeks so Hertfordshire Life has explored Wheathampstead and the surrounding areas in search of things to see and do and discovered a hive of activity from tree planting, choral performances and something called the Crinkle Crankle Wall.
A new forest in the making, the very first trees were planted at Heartwood Forest in November and January and additional saplings will be grounded on February 14 and 15 and on March 21. The largest new native forest in the country, Heartwood is a work in progress but will eventually be an 850 acre wood created in open fields involving the planting of 600,000 trees, the creation of wildlife meadows and the laying of pathways and bridleways.
Why not go along and be a part of history. There is no car park at the site at the moment so drivers are advised to park in the Sandridge Village Hall car park or use other means to get to the site. For more information call 01476 581111.
Concert for Lent with the Lea Singers
A programme of choral music, the Concert of Lent has 12 performances beginning with Richard Allains Night and continuing with Komm, Jesu, Komm!, BWV 299 by Johann Sebastian Bach and Nunc Dimittis by Gustav Holst among other pieces. The evening finishes with Rudi Tas Miserere.
The event takes place on March 6 at St Nicholas Parish Church, Church Green, Harpenden, tickets are 13 (11 concessions, 5 school children price includes programme) and are available from Liz Keen on 01582 761246.
Antiques Valuation Day
A team of antiques valuers will be descending on St Helens Church
on March 2 for an event to raise money for the upkeep of the church. The Friends of St Helens Church have arranged for specialists from Christies and Bonhams Auctioneers, covering jewellery, silver, ceramics, glass, clocks, watches and collectables. If you need art advice,
a portrait artist, restorers, framers and other arts related businesses
will be present.
Admission is 10 for up to three verbal valuations and advice on sale
at auction if required and at 2pm Nick Turner of Debenhams Ottaway will give a 20-minute talk on wills, chattels, inheritance tax and other related matters.
The event runs from 11am to 4pm and all proceeds will go towards the restoration and repair of the 14th century church. For more information call Jane Anderson on 01727 752103 or Margaret Pearce 01582 833581.
Places of interest
For 44 years Shaws Corner was the home of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw from 1906 until his death in 1950. Just two miles north east of Wheathampstead and a popular tourist attraction for those with an interest in the arts, the rooms within the house remain as Shaw left them with many of his literary and personal belongings on show including his Oscar and Nobel Prize. The rather modest building in Ayot St Lawrence provides a unique and absorbing insight into the home life of one of the most important literary figures of the twentieth century and within the 3.5 acre garden is Shaws 6ft revolving writing hut which he could turn to catch the light as the sun made its way across the afternoon sky.
Shaws Corner re-opens next month (March 14) and will remain open to the public until November. For more information call 01438 829221.
A 12m deep, 470m long and 40m wide ditch just to the west of Wheathampstead, the Devils Dyke is a popular place for visitors to the village. The massive ditch is thought to have been constructed during the final part of the Iron Age and is also thought to have been the headquarters of Cassivellaunus, a British chieftan who it is thought was defeated by Julius Caesar in 54 BC here. The site is adjacent to Dyke Lane, around 1,100 yards from the town centre.
John Bunyans Chimney
The 17th century brick chimney in Coleman Green is the only remnant of a cottage where John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrims Progress, is said to have stayed and preached. Bunyan, a non-conformist preacher, was a frequent visitor to the area but the rest of the cottage, and two adjacent buildings, were knocked down in 1877. The site is on Coleman Green Lane, just before the John Bunyan pub.
St Helens Church
The most distinguished building in Wheathampstead with some sections dating back to the Saxons. The east end of the church dates from the 1230s, the tower from 1290 and the main building from the 14th century.
Farmers Market and Car Boot Sale
The market is run on the third Sunday of every month behind The Bull pub. Fresh and smoked fish, vegetables and tasty meat are all available to buy from this quaint and pleasant rural market. On the first Sunday of every month is Wheathampsteads car boot sale.
Both events are located on East Lane Car Park and begin at 10am.
Crinkle Crankle Walls, Old School and other notable places of interest
Wheathampsteads Crinkle Crankle Walls are a Victorian heritage feature and located at the eastern and western boundaries of the Old Rectory and have a historical and strong visual relationship with the Church of St Helens. The Old School on Bewhouse Hill is a Victorian Gothic building made from brick and flint and Wheathampstead Mill, which ground the grain which gave the village its name, is one of four mills mentioned in the Domesday Book although it has since been converted into small business premises.