Area Guide: There’s more to Batford than meets the eye
- Credit: Archant
Nature, history and a hugely popular nursery make the Batford area of Harpenden a sought after spot.
Located at the bottom end of Harpenden, Batford was once a village in its own right. This attractive spot on the River Lea is home to Batford Springs, the local nature reserve, which runs alongside the river and the village green. With hidden gems like the historic water mill and undulating pathways to scenic spots, there’s much more to Batford than first meets the eye.
The popular Batford Nursery School – rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – has a rich and varied curriculum. An excellent partnership with parents and carers and a track record of good performance make it the perfect choice for local families looking for safe and trusted childcare.
Primary schools in and around Batford include Sauncey Wood, Manland and The Lea Primary School and Nursery, all rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. These schools are highly reputable with respected results and are either located within the village itself or a short drive away.
There are regular bus services passing through Batford village with destinations like Welwyn Garden City, Luton, Wheathampstead, Harpenden and Stevenage, which all provide a day trip for locals at the weekend or an easy weekday commute to work and school.
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Harpenden station is just a stone’s throw away, with a journey to Central London taking as little as 30 minutes. Access to St Albans and Watford for shops, restaurants and nightlife is speedy, taking between ten and fifteen minutes.
During WWII a large prisoner of war camp was located in Batford adjoining what is now Common Lane. Prisoners were present there until about 1947. When vacated, the camp buildings were used to house local people who were waiting for housing.
The River Lea has a quaint history. In the Roman era the Lea was a wide, fast flowing river, and the tidal estuary stretched as far as Hackney Wick. Evidence of a late Roman settlement, dating from the 4th century BC, has been found.
Somewhere between 878 and 890 the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum was drawn up using the course of the Lea to define the border between the Danes and the English. In 894, a force of Danes sailed up the river to Hertford and built a fortified camp there. Alfred the Great saw an opportunity to defeat the Danes and ordered the lower reaches of the Lea drained.
Improvements were made to the river from 1424, with tolls being levied to compensate the landowners, and in 1571 there were riots after the extension of the River was promoted in a private bill presented to the House of Commons. By 1577, the first lock was established at Waltham Abbey and the river began to be actively managed for navigation.
Many years ago there was a train route that ran from Hemel Hempstead through to Redbourn and on to Batford, known as the ‘Nickey line’. This railway is now a pleasant footpath and cycle track.
A popular route for walkers begins at All Saints Church, along the river, passing through the grounds of Brocket Hall, through tranquil woodland and, ultimately, to Stanborough Park, with access to many water and indoor sports, a spa and outdoor activities for all the family.
Amenities and things to do
Batford has a Tesco Express, petrol station, Co-Op supermarket, and a local takeaway restaurant. The pubs of Batford include The Malta, The Gibraltar Castle and the Marquis of Granby. In the village you will also find an Indian takeaway restaurant, a beauty salon and The Shop By The Park.
Churches in the area include Crabtree Church, All Saints Church, on the cusp of Harpenden, and Batford Methodist Church, built in 1905, which exhibits the distinctive, ‘modern’ architecture of the era. Close by is Aldwickbury Park golf club which is one of only a handful of golf courses in Hertfordshire that offers play on two golf courses - The Park Course and the Manor Course.