Area Guide: Hatfield
- Credit: Archant
Good VFM and great celeb connections help Hatfield stand out from the crowd.
The Saxon town of Hatfield is increasingly attracting commuters, for its close proximity to London and slightly more affordable properties than in surrounding areas, such as St Albans and Welwyn Garden City.
Historically, it is known for Hatfield House, which was the hub of the old town and home to the Marquess of Salisbury. It is also famous for the former British Aerospace site, which housed an impressive aircraft design and manufacturing industry and was a major source of local employment.
Hatfield was one of the new towns built after the war and has modernist architecture typical of that period.
Film director Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield in 1968 and is known globally for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and the Sherlock Holmes movies. Despite not attending academic film courses and dropping out of school at 15, he got a job as a runner and worked his way up.
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Duncan James from boy band Blue, Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Michael Birch, founder of social media network Bebo, and romance author Barbara Cartland lived in Hatfield.
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Two large supermarkets (Asda and Tesco) sell a huge array of items from everyday essentials to clothes and electrical goods. There are smaller newsagents, pharmacies and independent convenience stores dotted around Hatfield but The Galleria is most widely used, as it has a variety of chain stores, eateries and factory outlets under one roof.
A handy 20 miles from London, near to the M25 and connected by the A1(M) road - which runs through the town - it also benefits from direct trains to King’s Cross, Moorgate and Finsbury Park.
A new train station and car park, which opened in 2015, has made Hatfield more desirable for those working in London. Frequent trains from the station to King’s Cross take 16 minutes to get to Finsbury Park (Victoria Underground Line) and 21 minutes to King’s Cross on the fast trains running two or three times an hour. Another service calls at all stations to Moorgate.
A memorial garden was made beside the East Coast Main Line to recognise those lost in the fatal Hatfield rail crash of 2000.
Hatfield has numerous credible primary and secondary schools, such as Birchwood Avenue Primary School, Green Lanes Primary School, De Havilland Primary School, The Ryde School, St Philip Howard Catholic School and Onslow St Audrey’s (all of which were rated ‘good’ by Ofsted), plus Bishops Hatfield Girls’ School (‘outstanding’), which was attended by Everything But The Girl singer Tracey Thorn.
Food and drink
The Galleria is full of well-known restaurant names, including Bella Italia, Harvester, Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s, Pizza Express, McDonald’s, Burger King and Prezzo. The Real China is a contemporary restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Everest Spice Lounge in Harpsfield Broadway is reportedly the best place to get Asian food in Hatfield. The Broadway serves Chinese food and Skippers apparently sells the nicest fish and chips in Hatfield. Also in The Common is Hatfield Kebab & Pizza House or for deep fried chicken, try KFC.
And everyone loves Nando’s. According to rumours, One Direction’s Niall Horan sometimes dines in the Galleria-based chicken restaurant.
Cock O’ The North, in Great North Road, is described as a community pub with plenty of nooks and crannies. It serves traditional British pub grub and boasts outdoor seating. Also in the same street is The Red Lion, with its comfort food, local ales, free Wi-Fi, televised sports and modern interior.
The Horse & Groom is a typical village pub in Park Street, serving locally sourced sausages and a great range of real ales and has friendly staff.
Sport and leisure
As you might expect from a town with a long list of sports stars (QPR’s Iain Dowie and Matthew Connolly, cricketers Valentine Faithfull and Francis Pember and boxing world champion Billy Joe Saunders), there are ample facilities for getting active in Hatfield.
This includes a public swimming pool and four leisure centres, two with indoor swimming pools. A £15m sports village opened in 2003 on the £120m de Havilland Campus, owned by the University of Hertfordshire.
David Lloyd athletic centre in Hatfield Business Park once welcomed The Hobbit actor Martin Freeman.
Hatfield Town FC is a non-league football team, playing at Gosling Sports Park.
The Weston Auditorium offers theatre and cinema leisure opportunities from the University of Hertfordshire-owned premises, which also features a contemporary art and design gallery.
Hatfield House hosts large events, such as a Santa Run, festive carol concert and an antiques market. You can tour the stately home, and see the impressive gardens and park farm for a fee during open season.
The Odeon cinema has nine screens and is based at The Galleria. Other attractions include Mill Green Museum and watermill and music venue, The Forum.