Area Guide: Rich in history and culture, Flamstead offers rural tranquillity with a burgeoning cultural scene

PUBLISHED: 14:00 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:00 14 October 2017

The Flamstead scarecrow festival draws many visitors to the village

The Flamstead scarecrow festival draws many visitors to the village

Archant

Just a few miles west of Harpenden is the pretty village of Flamstead, best-known locally for its annual scarecrow festival.

Some of the village's characterful cottages Some of the village's characterful cottages

Flamstead is an ancient community with a documented history going back 1,000 years. Although the first record of the village does not appear until the year 1006 (mentioned in a Charter granted by King Ethelred to the Abbot of St Albans) there was a settlement present in Roman times.

The Domesday Book records the area, 80 years later, as being held by Ralph de Todeni, granted by William the Conqueror. The de Todeni family were Lords of the Manor for 244 years.

For an idyllic village deep in the Hertfordshire countryside, Flamstead is well connected with easy access to London. The M1 is a couple of minutes away and the nearest train station is a short 3.5 mile drive to Harpenden, with regular trains to London St Pancras.

The annual scarecrow festival is held in August The annual scarecrow festival is held in August

Historic structures

Flamstead has 65 listed buildings. The church (dedicated to St Leonard, a somewhat obscure 6th century monk) is difficult to date as it developed in stages, but it’s estimated to trace back to Saxon times. The iconic tower dates from 1140 and a list of parish priests dating back to 1223 is recorded there. There are medieval wall paintings and the Saunders Memorial of 1670 also.

There are various other important buildings within the parish like the mansion at Beechwood (today a preparatory school). Beechwood Park gave its name to a song by The Zombies, written by the group’s bassist Chris White, who grew up in Markyate. Also of considerable interest are the Almshouses opposite the Three Blackbirds, which are dated 1669 and the Three Blackbirds pub itself, the western wing of which is 16th century.

St Leonard's Church, Trowley Hill Road, Flamstead St Leonard's Church, Trowley Hill Road, Flamstead

Time Team come to Friar’s Wash

In 2008 Channel 4’s Time Team discovered a previously unknown major Roman temple complex near the parish at nearby Friar’s Wash. They ended up unearthing not one temple, but four - one of which is so rare it is only the second of its type ever found.

This came about when the team were presented with an aerial 30-year-old photograph showing double square cropmarks in a field. When a tessellated pavement was discovered, a whole complex of buildings were revealed, becoming one of the most important excavations in the show’s history. They also unearthed numerous bronze and silver coins and lead curse-tablets made by 3rd century worshippers.

Three Blackbirds, High Street, Flamstead Three Blackbirds, High Street, Flamstead

Festivals and Culture

Since the creation of Flamstead Scarecrow Festival in 2002, residents have made over 120 scarecrows every year, attracting about 5000 visitors over the three day festival. Attendees pick up a trail map and voting form on arrival and make their way around the village, noting their favourite scarecrows. The proceeds are split between two charities – the Hertfordshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Letchworth and the Friends of St. Leonards in Flamstead.

2014 marked the inaugural Flamstead Book Festival and the event has grown year on year. In the past the festival has attracted best-selling authors such as Tony Parsons, Ian Ridley and Sophie Hannah. The 2017 bill included comedian and star of Have I Got News for You, Andy Hamilton.

Trowley Bottom Farm, Flamstead Trowley Bottom Farm, Flamstead

Schools

Flamstead Village School is a half-form entry primary with a morning nursery set in beautiful grounds overlooking valleys and woodland. It was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.

Three of the closest state secondary schools are Roundwood Park in Harpenden (rated ‘outstanding’), Townsend in St Albans (‘good’) and The Astley Cooper School in Hemel Hempstead (‘good’).

Christina of Markyate and St Leonard

St Leonard of Noblat was the patron saint of prisoners and women in labour. Why should a church in a Hertfordshire village be named for an obscure French saint? The answer probably lies in Christina of Markyate who spent much of her life in confinement at nearby Markyate Cell (on what is now the A5). She was revered for her divine ability to foretell events from her dreams. She was much honoured locally, but was never canonised, so it was impossible to dedicate a church to her. The next best thing was to dedicate the church to her birthday saint: she was born on 6th November 1096, which is St Leonard’s day.

Food and drink

Coffeedog – the village coffee house – is open seven days a week. It’s got WiFi and is the ideal spot to have a winter warmer before starting a walk. On top of the carefully crafted drinks they have a selection of fresh locally baked cakes and pastries and a range of very special home made cards to buy.

The Spotted Dog has been a public house since the 1600s and has since been carefully renovated into a warmly inviting space in which to relax. They serve great food, fine ales, delectable wines and quality coffee (supplied by Coffeedog). There’s always a roaring fire in the winter and the interior features unique reclaimed furniture from the 50s and 60s. A delightful intimate courtyard garden will be open in late spring for an alfresco dining experience.

The Three Blackbirds is ideally situated for a snack or meal for ramblers and horse riders. The traditional menu is designed by head chef and landlord Neil, who has a wealth of experience from producing food in 5 star restaurants to managing traditional country pubs. There is table football for the children, a pool table, darts and BT Sports.

Related articles

Latest South Hertfordshire Property News

Yesterday, 08:00

Whether you’re interested in art for its aesthetic appeal or simply as an investment opportunity, there are many galleries to choose from in and around St Albans - as Richard Burton discovered.

Read more
Thu, 13:02

A Hertfordshire estate agency chain is raising £10,000 for charity – and it needs your help to decide which local causes should receive the cash.

Read more
Thu, 10:11

The first half of the Beaumont Gardens development in St Albans will launch this weekend.

Read more
Wed, 16:30

The ground floor of the Butlers Yard development on Drovers Way will soon house a gym.

Read more
Wed, 14:08

Work has started on the construction of new homes on the site of a former convent in St Albans.

Read more
Tue, 14:25

More than 30 per cent of house sales in England and Wales fell through before completion in 2017.

Read more
Tue, 11:10

I love a good press release as much as the next desperate journalist, but it’s rare that I receive anything as outstanding as the very special offering I found in my in box last week.

Read more
Mon, 13:27

Think kitchens and bathrooms sell houses? Think again.

Read more

A pretty village surrounded by beautiful countryside, it’s easy to see Bedmond’s appeal.

Read more
Friday, January 12, 2018

Our columnist is enjoying the signs of spring in her garden this month, and looking forward to sharing the season’s delights with her little daughter

Read more
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hertfordshire estate agency chain Putterills marked a successful 2017 with a visit to Parliament.

Read more
Thursday, January 11, 2018

One in 10 Brits has a secret room in their home – and it took an average of five years before they realised.

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Applying to extend in the Green Belt? These are the things you should consider first, says Andrew Boothby, senior planning consultant at Aitchison Raffety

Read more
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

This spacious five bedroom property is located in the St Nicholas area of Stevenage.

Read more
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Shenley is a leafy village and civil parish located immediately east of Radlett.

Read more
Monday, January 8, 2018

Apparently, residents of Bell End in Rowley Regis, West Midlands, are convinced that their street’s comedy name has depressed property prices by up to £60,000.

Read more
Friday, January 5, 2018

The new residential development at the former Beaumont Works site in St Albans is to launch on January 20.

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

The British residential property market is now valued at a total of £8.29 trillion – up 3.5 per cent (£280 billion) since the start of 2017, new research has revealed.

Read more
Thursday, January 4, 2018

It’s the time of year for a big old tidy up – but where to start? Builder and former Bake Off star Richard Burr reveals how to clear your clutter.

Read more
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

There’s nothing like a new year for forcing us to look back at all the things we haven’t done in the last 12 months.

Read more
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Homeowners should brace themselves for a petty lacklustre year as all the leading players in the property market resign themselves to price rises as low as one per cent in 2018.

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

This spacious one bedroom apartment is located in an attractive period building, with Grade II listed status, less than half a mile from the centre of historic St Albans.

Read more
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Two-thirds of home owners say they’ve had unexpected problems after moving into a new property.

Read more
Monday, January 1, 2018

Steven Haynes at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors answers five of the most frequently asked questions about leasing business premises.

Read more
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2018 is almost here, but before we start obsessing about being booze, sugar and fun-free for the foreseeable, there’s time for a quick look back at this last year in property.

Read more
Friday, December 22, 2017

It’s a mystery many of us struggle with every Christmas: the premature death of our most festive houseplant before the big day has even arrived.

Read more
Thursday, December 21, 2017

As the chill sets in, Richard Burr reveals how to warm up your house and slash your heating bills.

Read more
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at all that happened in the world of property in the St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett areas over the last 12 months.

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One in three properties currently on the market in St Albans has had its asking price slashed, new analysis has revealed.

Read more
Monday, December 18, 2017

St Albans has scored high on another ‘best places to live’ list – but its popularity is waning.

Read more

HERTS AD PROPERTY E-EDITION

Image
Read the Herts Ad Property e-edition E-edition

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Get the latest St Albans and Harpenden property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

MOST READ

search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Local business directory

Hertfordshire's trusted business finder