Area Guide: The Hertfordshire village of Bricket Wood

The Grade II listed Picture House is one of Bricket Wood's best known buildings. Picture: Archant

The Grade II listed Picture House is one of Bricket Wood's best known buildings. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A well connected village blessed with not one but two naturist resorts, there’s more to Bricket Wood than you may initially expect. We found out more about this very distinctive part of Hertfordshire...

Hanstead House has recently been converted into luxury flats. Picture: Archant

Hanstead House has recently been converted into luxury flats. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Conveniently located between St Albans and Watford, Bricket Wood is best known for its pair of nudist resorts.

Spielplatz and Five Acres Country Club usually invite visitors to enjoy their swimming pools and other amenities, but sadly COVID-19 has temporarily put paid to that.

History

Until the train station was built in 1861, the area now known as Bricket Wood was a scattered rural community utilised mainly by farmers. Then, in 1889, brothers Henry and William Gray bought up land in the area and built Woodside Retreat Fairground.


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The fairground attracted droves of visitors from London and nearby towns, and a small settlement developed around the station.

There are many styles of home on offer in Bricket Wood. Picture: Archant

There are many styles of home on offer in Bricket Wood. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

In 1923, a rival fairground, Joyland, was built nearby by R.B. Christmas. Though both attractions were closed in 1929, Christmas used his leftover land to build up bungalows with their own water supplies.

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During the 1950s, housing estates were built for the convenience of employees of aviation company Handley Page, who had a plant nearby.

Soon the area would prove popular with commuters thanks to its convenient access to London and its offbeat blend of village and urban life.

Strangely, Bricket Wood is also known for its ties to Wiccan forefather Gerald Gardner. In 1945, Gardner purchased a plot of land near Bricket Wood, now known as Five Acres.

He dismantled a 16th century Wiccan witch cottage in Ledbury, Herefordshire, and reconstructed it at Five Acres as a convening point for his brand of pagan witchcraft.

Lye Lane, Bricket Wood. Picture: Danny Loo

Lye Lane, Bricket Wood. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Property

Hanstead House is one of the village’s best known buildings. Once owned by the Scottish entrepreneur Sir David Yule, arguably the most important and influential Brit to do business with India during the British Empire, it was subsequently used as a Bible college, training facility and film set. More recently, it’s been transformed into luxury apartments, priced from £695,000 to £1.35m, part of the wider Hanstead Park development of new build homes.

The Grade II listed Picture House on School Lane is another exceptional building. Built in 1890, it features pictures of popular sporting pursuits of the time, including wrestling and hunting.

According to Rightmove, properties in Bricket Wood had an overall average price of £564,431 over the last year, 2 per cent down on the year before. Homes currently on the market in the village include a four-bed detached house with pool on Newlyn Close for £669,950.

Amenities

Bricket Wood Common is one of the area's main attractions. Picture: Danny Loo

Bricket Wood Common is one of the area's main attractions. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Local amenities are concentrated primarily in the hubs of Oakwood Road and Bricket Wood Parade.

Oakwood Road offers a functional variety of goods and services, including an off-licence, grocery, chemist, butcher and barber.

Bricket Wood Parade supplies two fine choices for a meal out: The Viceroy of India - a local chain of Indians which also serves How Wood, Chiswell Green and Park Street - and The Mayflower, a Chinese takeaway that prepares and cooks fresh food each day.

The village is also home to two pubs: The Black Boy, founded in 1754, prides itself on its range of real ales and coverage of major sporting events, while The Gate serves fantastic cask ale and home-cooked food.

Schools

Bricket Wood station runs between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction. Picture: DANNY LOO

Bricket Wood station runs between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Mount Pleasant Lane Primary, formerly known as Mount Pleasant Lane Junior Mixed and Infant School and Nursery, takes children aged three to 11. The school was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.

The village is served by a number of excellent senior schools, including Parmiter’s School, which is partially-selective, and St Michael’s Catholic High School, both rated ‘outstanding’.

Transport

Flanked by the M1 and M25, and just a 15-minute drive from St Albans and Watford, Bricket Wood has excellent road links, as well as a station that connects residents to St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction by rail.

More homes in Bricket Wood. Picture: Danny Loo

More homes in Bricket Wood. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Nature

Bricket Wood Common offers 78.5 hectares of biodiversity, including woodland, wet lowland heath and streams. The area plays host to a panoply of wildlife including great crested newts, heath spotted orchids, funghi and 27 different butterfly species.

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

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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