Area Guide: Kimpton
- Credit: Archant
Six miles south of Hitchin and four miles from Harpenden and Luton is the quaint historic Hertfordshire village of Kimpton. A small semi-rural village, it is populated by 2,000 residents.
It lies along the valley of a dried-up riverbed and is about a mile long. Though most houses on High Street were built in the 19th and 20th century, some date back to the 16th century. Two large housing estates, behind High Street, were built in the 1970s.
Kimpton’s strong community spirit is evident in its clubs and organisations – of which there are more than 50 – with members meeting regularly to help support village life.
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Local traditions include the May Festival, where many of the groups set up a stall on the Recreation Ground as part of a three-day fundraiser. It features an art exhibition, craft market, entertainments and stalls and a six-mile sponsored walk with clues to solve. There’s also a village concert, cream teas, a quiz and a jazz band.
A village magazine is produced every quarter, through the Parish Council, Kimpton Players, Kimpton Horse Show and other local groups. It is a strong means of communication within Kimpton and has been published for years.
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Kimpton Protection Group runs several active campaigns. It aims to help influence the way the village develops and is made up of 300 members.
Neighbourhood Watch reports on local crimes to raise awareness and prevent crime. They also investigate ways to keep crime low. Kimpton History Group began in 2002 and has received a grant to enable it to make a digital archive of photographs and documents, to record memories on CD.
The Parish Council
A lively parish council consists of eight councilors who are elected every four years. It owns a small part of the village and two playing fields and has responsibility for maintenance of its property, street cleaning and grass cutting. They employ a part-time clerk who deals with administration. A sub-committee oversees the many footpaths and bridleways, which add character to the village.
It has a spacious flint parish church in an unusual style between Normal and Early English. Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul has a fine perpendicular screen in its Dacre Chapel and remains of early wall paintings. The belfry contains a peal of eight bells, the oldest of which was case in 1390. Kimpton is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Notably, in 2001, Kimpton was flooded due to unprecedented rainfall. The dried up River Kym, which was now a vital road, emerged again and flowed from Netherfield Springs through the village and joined the Mimram at Kimpton Mill. Business owners from the industrial estate on Claggy Road and residents hired pumps and called the fire service out to try to deal with the one-metre deep water flow. Flood damage cost around £500, 000 and evidence suggests flooding is a feature of the village’s history.
There is a thriving village school for primary children, which also has a nursery within it. It was rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted in October 2013, when it was last inspected. Kimpton Primary School first opened in 1843 and its early Victorian buildings still form a central part of the school, although they have been added to. Set in large grounds and within easy access to countryside, the school prides itself on a friendly family atmosphere. There are more than 150 pupils.
An hourly bus service is in operation taking residents to neighbouring St Albans and Hitchin. A regular service also goes to Stevenage and Luton.
There are good road links to London, which is about 45 minutes away in the car. The A1(M) and M1 motorways are five to eight miles from Kimpton.
The nearest train station is in Harpenden and trains run every 15 minutes into London, which is half an hour away by rail.
The Boot is an idyllic country pub with a warm friendly atmosphere in High Street. It has five bedrooms, open fires, a beer garden and a conservatory restaurant serving home-cooked food with an option of al fresco dining in the summer.
The Cross Keys in nearby Wheathampstead is a popular bed and breakfast with child-friendly gardens, en-suite accommodation with antique furniture and a wide selection of country pub fare. It’s a free house with real ale as well as other beers, and they frequently have guest beers.
Shops and local amenities
The Corner Shop in Claggy Road sells household essentials and everyday items.
The Post Office in High Street is the main village shop and the only place selling newspapers.
Emily’s Tea Shop is in nearby Hitchin and provides a homely well-run family café experience with good value and great fresh-baked cakes, according to online reviews.
Large shopping centres and attractive towns with major chain stores and independent clothes and gift shops are all within a short travelling distance (of about half an hour) in St Albans, Luton, Harpenden, Hitchin and Watford.