Area Guide: The Hertfordshire village of Shenley

Shenley pond and lock-up. Picture: Archant

Shenley pond and lock-up. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Shenley is a Hertsmere civil parish with proud rural character, on the fringes of Radlett. Jacob Savill found out more about it.

Shenley Manor. Picture: Archant

Shenley Manor. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant


Cited three times in the Domesday Book, Shenley is an Anglo-Saxon settlement originally titled ‘Senlai,’ which means ‘fair clearing or wood.’ In South West Hertfordshire, much of it deep woodland, Shenley grew out of the glade.

Instantly recognisable on the bank of the village pond, is ‘the cage,’ or the ‘lockup.’ This domed construction, with a single arched wooden door, was built in the 1700s, and served as a prison for the parish constabulary. Before a national system of policing was instituted, villages would often have their own provincial lock ups. Local criminals would be detained provisionally, before being sent to a larger town for trial.

The inscription,‘Do well. Fear not. Be sober. Be vigilant’ can still be seen on the structure.

One of Shenley's historic buildings. Picture: Archant

One of Shenley's historic buildings. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Radlett railway station is less than a ten minute drive away, with excellent links to London via Watford Junction. Bus routes to other Hertfordshire counties and North London boroughs also run through Shenley on a regular basis.

The lock-up, also known as 'the cage'. Picture: Archant

The lock-up, also known as 'the cage'. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Shenley Cricket Ground boasts the considerable fame of a 19th century pavilion designed by none other than W. G. Grace. Grace was commissioned on the request of the

esteemed Porter family, who owned substantial landholdings around Shenley at the time.

The ground, known as The Denis Compton Oval, after the legendary Middlesex and England cricketer, is held in high regard internationally, and each summer plays host to U19 international matches and women’s cricket. It was described by the Evening Standard as “possibly the most beautiful ground in England and therefore the world”.

Another of Shenley's fine properties. Picture: Archant

Another of Shenley's fine properties. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Shenley Sports Grounds, to the north of the village, are the current training facilities of FA Cup finalists Watford FC. The site was originally used by Arsenal until 1999 when they moved to London Colney under new manager Arséne Wenger.


Shenley Primary School, in the heart of the village, serves most of the local children. It takes up to 45 children in each year group and currently has over 260 children on roll. At its last Ofsted inspection in was found to require improvement.

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 ( - Credit: Archant

A fee-paying alternative is Manor Lodge, an independent primary school for children aged 4-11, on the periphery of the village.

Jewish parents may also be interested in Clore Shalom (‘requires improvemnet’), a single form entry Jewish primary school that teaches the National Curriculum alongside traditional Jewish studies.

Secondary schools nearby include Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood (‘inadequate’), and Samuel Ryder Academy in St Albans (‘good’). The independent Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ and Girls’ Schools are also close, just off Watling Street on the fringes of Elstree.


St Botolph’s church, now a private dwelling, served as the village parish church until the construction of St Peter’s in 1826.

Soon after, however, many properties within Shenley became incorporated into the expanding settlement of London Colney, and St Peter’s lost huge swathes of its congregation. As such, in 1839, the Rector of Shenley, Thomas Newcombe, commissioned the building of another church – St Martin’s - which remains the Parish church of Shenley.


There are two pubs in the centre of Shenley, The White Horse and King William IV, both located on the high street. The White Horse is a premium country gastropub with modern British food and a heavily Mediterranean influenced menu.

King William IV might be described as a more traditional ‘locals’ pub, colloquially dubbed the ‘best place for a pint in Shenley.’

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