Area Guide: Wheathampstead
- Credit: Archant
This quaint Hertfordshire village has an array of homes from different eras and offers excellent shopping, schooling and dining to its residents. The river Lea snakes through it and there’s plenty to explore by way of woodland walks and footpaths. A well-rounded area for couples or families alike.
Living in Wheathampstead:
Wheathampstead is a leafy village situated north of St Albans offering a mix of Georgian style family homes, charming 16th century cottages and more modern new-builds.
The pretty pastel cottages that line Folly Fields make for a popular choice with house-hunters, with a picturesque hamlet setting and off-street parking (a rare bonus for terraced homes). The average price for a two-bedroom flat in Wheathampstead is £209,077; for a terraced home it’s £350,467 and for a detached house, it’s £715,449.
With a population of 6,000, the village offers a quiet, tranquil setting, with popular walking paths along the River Lea, which runs delightfully through the village.
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Without exemptions, properties in Band A can expect to receive a Council Tax bill of £1,015.42 per year, while average properties in Band D will pay £1,523.12. Larger homes in Band H would pay £3,046.24.
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There are two state primary schools in the area, both of which have been rated as ‘good’ at their last Ofsted inspection. St Helen’s Church of England Primary School, situated on the west side of the village, was recently recognised for the large majority of above-average reading and writing standards aged seven to 11. The school buildings are currently being expanded and the facilities improved upon. This is to help fulfil their aim of increasing their intake by 33 percent over the next few years.
Two independent schools are also situated in the village; the Aldwickbury School for Boys and St Albans High School for Girls (Prep). Both offer teaching from the ages of four and the latter offers a follow-through option on their main campus, situated in St Albans town centre.
Around the village:
Wheathampstead is well connected to the nearby rail services, with Harpenden and St Albans City stations within close reach. St Albans City station offers a direct service to London St. Pancras International in 19 minutes, which connects to the Eurostar and the majority of tube lines.
The UNO 657 bus service goes between Hatfield, Redbourn, St Albans, Sandridge, Wheathampstead, Batford and Harpenden, stopping at the railway stations and town centres.
Sports & 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.
Leisure amenities in the village include a number of play areas and football fields, including an all weather pitch. Numerous open spaces including the Meads and the land surrounding the River Lea are also open for public use, hosting a range of woodland walks.
The area also has its very own nine hole golf course, operating as part of a ‘pay and play’ service rather than visitors having to commit to several months membership at once or booking in advance. Designed with new golfers in mind, generous fairways and well maintained greens make for the perfect course to learn and develop your game.
The village has its own branch of girl guides and scouts, both of which are popular with local children. Trips, outings and parades are regularly arranged for both groups, as well as themed craft and adventure evenings.
Food & drink:
Wheathampstead offers a number of fantastic options for dining out, perfect for friends or the extended family.
Le Moulin is based in the heraldic old-mill building with a French menu and in-house patisserie. They offer a unique ‘take home dinner party’ package, catering for local residents in their own homes.
There’s The Bull and The Wicked Lady; the latter is located just outside the village and has a very rural feel, with popular walking paths located nearby and a hearty menu to tuck into after a long ramble.
For something a little fancier, L’Olivo have a tempting menu in a fine dining setting with traditional risottos, pastas and gnocchi on offer. It’s family run and the fourth successful venture for husband and wife team Sergio and Jo Perano.
Shopping & culture:
Independent boutiques compliment the area’s chain offerings, with a post office, florist and convenience store at the heart of the high street.
Rachel Jeffrey owns a contemporary jewellery store on Mill Walk, which also offers a unique ‘design your own wedding rings’ workshop, which draws in betrothed couples both local and from further afield. Rachel was commissioned by the Royal Family in 2000 to design a brooch for the Queen Mother to celebrate her 100th birthday. The same brooch, which displays a flying fish and is emblazoned with precious stones, was then worn by Camilla Duchess of Cornwall in the photographs taken to celebrate her engagement to Prince Charles.
Landmarks & history:
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. Their capital was eventually moved to Verlamion – which would be re-named Verulamium after the Roman conquest and later become St Albans.
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.
Later, the village was recorded in the Domesday Book under the name Watamestede.