Area Guide: The Hertfordshire hamlet of Gustard Wood

Gustard Wood isn't short on green spaces. Picture: Archant

Gustard Wood isn't short on green spaces. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A rural idyll close to Harpenden and Wheathampstead, this leafy Hertfordshire hamlet is home to the best house in the St Albans area (according to TV's The Best House in Town). 

With its large homes and very rural setting, Gustard Wood may feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s actually within seven miles of Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and St Albans.

Harpenden is closer still, with just four miles dividing the hamlet from its larger neighbour and its train station with fast rail links into London.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter's Church, Lamer Lane. Picture: Archant

St Peter's Church, Lamer Lane. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The church was opened in 1910 as an outlying daughter church in the parish of Wheathampstead, serving the growing communities of Gustard Wood and Blackmore End. The cost of the building was provided by Mrs Laura Pearce of Tunbridge Wells in memory of her late husband, a former vicar of Ayot St Lawrence. In the 100 years since, St Peter’s has become a much loved landmark and place of Christian worship, and has enriched the work of St Helen’s, its parent church, in the process.


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Amenities and leisure

By the end of the 19th century it was agreed by landowners that Gustard Wood Common and its neighbouring forest would be converted into a golf course.

The hamlet is within seven miles of St Albans, Welwyn, Hatfield and Harpenden. Picture: Archant

The hamlet is within seven miles of St Albans, Welwyn, Hatfield and Harpenden. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Nine holes were ready for play by 1893, and the famous golfer and course designer James Braid later developed it into an 18-hole course. Today the Mid-Herts Golf Club is one of the oldest English golf courses, and is well known for being unusual and challenging.

Lamer Lane, Gustard Wood. Picture: Archant

Lamer Lane, Gustard Wood. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The Cross Keys on Ballslough Lane is a traditional 17th century pub with exposed beams, inglenook fireplace and a quirky, higgledy-piggledy structure.

The child-friendly pub accommodates many local walkers, rambler groups and cyclists who pop in for a spot of lunch. A bed and breakfast service is also available.

If you’re looking for something more cultural, the historic villages of Kimpton, Whitwell, Knebworth and Ayot St Lawrence surround Gustard Wood, with tales of historic figures, drama, scandal, deception and love to be found around every corner.

The previous home of playwright and author, George Bernard Shaw, known as Shaw’s Corner, is just two miles away and will provide the whole family with a delicious dose of literary history.

History

Gustard Wood is home to many fond historical accolades. For example, during WWI the largest of the auxiliary hospitals was built in Blackmore End, providing care and recovery for the injured with over 214 available beds. Many locals and supporters from further afield kept the hospital running with their donations.

Property 

The amenities of Harpenden, St Albans and Welwyn Garden City are just a short drive away

The amenities of Harpenden, St Albans and Welwyn Garden City are just a short drive away - Credit: Archant

Living in this peaceful idyll isn't cheap: there are only a handful of homes currently for sale in the Gustard Wood, all of them priced in excess of £1m. They include a five-bed detached house on Brownfield Way for £1,695,000 and a four-bed semi on Kimpton Road for £1,150,000. 

Schools

The closest schools are in Harpenden and the neighbouring villages. They include Kimpton Primary School (which requires improvement, according to its most recent Ofsted ranking), Sauncey Wood in Harpenden and St Helen's in Wheathampstead (both 'good'). Secondary options include the new Katherine Warington School in Harpenden. 

As seen on TV

Chrissie Adams outside her Gustard Wood home, as seen The Best House In Town. Picture: Sidney Street

Chrissie Adams outside her Gustard Wood home, as seen on The Best House In Town. - Credit: BBC/Sidney Street Productions

One homeowner put Gustard Wood on the map in 2019 when her property won the St Albans episodes of TV's The Best House in Town. Chrissie Adams spent two years transforming her 1970s detached house into a striking modern home, which triumphed against stiff competition in the BBC1 show.

The Best House in Town winner Chrissie Adams during filming of the BBC1 show. Picture: Instagram/@ch

The Best House in Town winner Chrissie Adams during filming of the BBC1 show. Picture: Instagram/@cheeseyb1scuits - Credit: Archant

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden...

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant


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