Area Guide: The bustling Hertfordshire village of Wheathampstead
- Credit: Archant
Wheathampstead is the perfect destination for those seeking the tranquillity of Hertfordshire countryside with a splash of urban convenience.
With the River Lea snaking through the village, rows of period cottages and bagfuls of rural charm, Wheathampstead could be the setting for a country drama.
Local resident and Rennie Grove Hospice fundraiser, Lucy Hutchins, describes Wheathampstead as, “An idyllic village that’s family friendly.” Offering a quiet, tranquil setting, with popular walking paths along the River Lea, Wheathampstead is the perfect place for you to begin your newest adventure.
Wheathampstead is the perfect location to accommodate for a cosmopolitan lifestyle, with easy access to thriving towns and major cities. With Harpenden and St Albans City station within 5 miles of the village, a speedy journey to central London is an easy option for an outing, taking just 19 minutes. A regular bus service is also available between Hatfield, Redbourn, St Albans, Sandridge, Batford and Harpenden, stopping at the railway stations and town centres. With such easy access to bustling city life, it is hard to believe that your starting point was a quiet, rural village in Hertfordshire.
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St Helen’s Church of England Primary School, on the west side of the village, lives up to its motto of “Loving learning, loving God, love our neighbour”. The school’s positive and enthusiastic community is further enhanced by extra curricular activities and clubs including, gardening, touch typing and newspaper club, as well as a host of sports; from cricket and football, to athletics and rounders. Modern facilities from the last few years’ renovation projects have accommodated more pupils and strengthened learning techniques.
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Two independent schools are also situated in the village; the Aldwickbury School for Boys and St Albans High School for Girls. Both are acclaimed institutes that have earned a prestigious reputation across Hertfordshire.
Community and leisure
Wheathampstead has a very strong community spirit, with a wide range of clubs and organisations meeting regularly to support the village. Every year, on the second weekend in July, many of these groups collaborate for a village festival on the Marford playing fields. Activities include stalls, arena entertainment, live music, picnicking by the river, a parade and a talent competition. Marford also accommodates children with its extensive playground equipment and recreational area. The family orientated village embraces community spirit, welcoming newcomers and creating a supportive neighbourly network. Lucy adds: “It’s a very friendly, welcoming community.”
Leisure amenities in the village include a number of play areas and football fields, including an all weather pitch. Numerous open spaces like the Meads and the land surrounding the River Lea are also open for public use, hosting a range of woodland walks.
Eat and Drink
Wheathampstead offers a number of fantastic options for dining out, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a formal meal.
The Wicked Lady, located just outside the village, has a very rural feel with popular walking paths located nearby and a hearty menu to tuck into after a long ramble. Named after Lady Katherine Ferrers, the 17th century Wheathampstead highwaywoman, this beautifully modern pub is the perfect setting to mingle and dine in. Another local pub, The Bull, provides a quintessentially British country pub experience. The extensive wine, beer and cocktail list, along with hearty pub grub makes for a great treat which you can enjoy alfresco during summer or inside by the fire during winter.
For something a little fancier, L’Olivo have a tempting menu in a fine dining setting with traditional risottos, pastas and gnocchi on offer. Le Moulin is based in the heraldic old-mill building with a French menu and in-house patisserie. Oxscale is a restaurant proudly standing at the top of the high street with an eclectic menu, offering tapas, steak and fish with creative flare. Oxscale’s 4.5 Trip Advisor rating shows for the bold and memorable experience previous diners have encountered. Lucy adds: “There are lots of amenities and lovely restaurants to choose from… Three of them have been in the running for Hertfordshire’s best restaurant.”
Independent boutiques line the village’s high street; a café, florist, hairdressers and beauticians are just a few on offer. A post office, pharmacy, mini supermarket, bakers, butchers and a few takeaway restaurants are strewn throughout the high street, offering a variety of services for locals and visitors.
Settlements in the area were established in approximately 50 BC by Belgic invaders who moved up towards Wheathampstead on the river Thames and the river Lea from what is now Belgium.
Evidence of their residence was found in Devil’s Dyke, at the east side of the village, where earthworks are part of the remains of an ancient settlement of the Catuvellauni tribe, thought to be their original capital. Legend has it that Devil’s Dyke is where Julius Caesar defeated Cassivellaunus in 54 BC.
Some historians have previously suggested that the dyke was part of the same defensive rampart as nearby Beech Bottom Dyke which, if correct, would make the area one of the largest and most important British Iron Age settlements.
A historic village with a faultless reputation, Wheathampstead is an asset on the Hertfordshire landscape with plenty to see and do.