Spend a weekend in Berkhamsted
PUBLISHED: 11:29 15 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 20 February 2013
From unique boutiques to art-deco cinema, walks along the Grand Union Canal to open air dining, Damion Roberts explores Berkhamsted
Splash the cash
For those who cannot resist a touch of retail therapy why not put on a good pair of shopping shoes and make for Berkhamsteds High Street.
With a choice of big name shopping outlets to the more quirky and specialised shops and boutiques, some of which you will not find elsewhere, Berkhamsted has everything you need to fulfil those shopping urges.
Why not fill up those bags with all kinds of bargains from a choice of antique shops to the latest fashionable jeans from the towns clothing stores or, if youre feeling generous, why not take back to your family and friends a little piece of Berkhamsted from the towns various gift shops.
If you get to the town on a Friday there is the antique market, but for those arriving with dreams of overflowing shopping bags a day later there is also the Saturday street market to peruse.
Looking for treasure
Berkhamsted Castle, where William the Conqueror met with the makers and breakers of London to be offered the crown of England in 1066, St Peters Church, one of the largest such buildings in Hertfordshire, and the Edward Buckton-designed Town Hall are, of course, places of historical and cultural interest and all three should be on the tourists checklist.
In addition to these there are the somewhat less obvious but nonetheless interesting sites. These include the Totem Pole, carved by the Kwakiutu tribe on Canadas west coast, in Castle Street, the blue plaques of the Berkhamsted Heritage Walk which adorn a number of walls and buildings throughout the town, and the little treasures of the High Street which include the Tudor structure of Dean Incents House, the Sayer Almshouses which date from 1684 and the wonderful H H Dickman chemist shop facade.
A night at the movies
Civilised. Thats how the Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted likes to describe itself, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Built in 1938 the Rex is an art-deco cinema with one large screen showing the latest Hollywood blockbusters and only the best foreign language inports.
Reopened in 2004 having closed its doors 16 years earlier, it gets bums on seats 362 days a year and for those looking to make the most of a good night out there is also a good wine list for those discerning palates.
The cinemas box office is open Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 6pm. Call (01442) 877759 for more details.
I do like to be beside the canal side
After a fruitful Saturday afternoon in the shops and an evening spent watching the latest Hollywood has to offer, what better way to spend Sunday absorbing beautiful Berkhamsted than taking in a quiet few hours discovering the town on foot?
Berkhamsted, for example, has a rather delightful water feature you may have heard of the Grand Union Canal.
Originally a throbbing industrial vein, the canal is now home to a hive of leisure and social activities. There are playgrounds at the Canal and Moor Fields with picnic facilities at the former, while for those with an interest in the natural world there is an additional benefit for birdwatchers, eagle-eyed viewers can be expected to spot mallards, swans, herons and wagtails among the varieties of birds calling the area home.
Tuck in to quality food
With a range of indoor and outdoor eateries, the gastronomic choices in Berkhamsted are varied with options for whatever the taste of the diner, whatever the weather.
If you wish to sit out in the open air, the north-east area of the High Street is the place to be as Berkhamsteds cafe culture continues to thrive. Here there are a number of cafs and restaurants offering the best in outdoor eating.
If you want somewhere a little bit more peaceful the Lamb, Taj Mahal and Old Mill are among those establishments offering more secluded, and sometimes canal side, dining.
Head to church
Should you find yourself in Berkhamsted on a Sunday and want to visit a place of worship, or you have an architectural or cultural interest in such buildings, there are of course a number of churches with their doors open to the public.
St Peters Church, which dates back to the 13th century, is the oldest building within the core area of the town and is located on the High Street. The Rev Dr Michael Bowie resides and around 200 worshippers descend upon the church on a Sunday.
Of the other churches located in and around the town, Berkhamsted Baptist Church can be found on Ravens Lane and All Saints Church is on Shrublands Road.