Area Guide: The Hertfordshire market town of Bishop's Stortford

The Black Lion Pub, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The Black Lion Pub, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

While Bishop's Stortford's claims to fame may be dubious – its the birthplace of controversial imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and the closest large town to Stansted Airport – it's also an appealing market town with lots to offer residents. We found out more...

Bishop's Stortford town centre.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Bishop's Stortford town centre. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Bishop's Stortford is an affluent Hertfordshire town on the Essex border. Despite its proximity to London and status as a commuter town, it has a surprisingly rural feel, which attracts those who want both the convenience of commuting to the capital and a quieter country lifestyle. 

It’s also something of a hub for nature lovers; the River Stort runs through the middle of the town which makes for a pleasant stroll. 

History

Waytemore Castle, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: DANNY LOO

Waytemore Castle, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The Romans established a small settlement in the area and what's now the centre was home to an Anglo Saxon town, which the name Stortford was derived from. The prefix 'Bishop' was added when the town was sold to the Bishop of London in 1060.

However, the oldest standing structure in the town is the Grade I listed Church of St Michael, whose baptismal font dates back to the Norman invasion of Britain. The town is also home to the Grade I listed ruins of Waytemore Castle and a number of Tudor houses.

St Michael's Church, Bishop's Stortford.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

St Michael's Church, Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

In the medieval and early modern period, Bishop's Stortford was a significant market town, making it an important stop on the road from London to Cambridge. The market continues to run to this day.

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Travel

Bishop's Stortford is located by the M11 between Cambridge and London, and is the nearest large town to Stansted Airport, which is about five miles away.

Trains take just under 45 minutes to get to London Liverpool Street, making it a popular commuter town.

Property

According to Rightmove, properties in Bishop's Stortford had an overall average sale price of £502,367 over the last year. The majority of sales were of detached properties, changing hands for an average of £757,969.

Bishop's Stortford.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Homes currently on the market in the town include a four-bed detached house on Hadham Road for £1,795,000, a four-bed Victorian townhouse on Church Street for £745,000 and a two-bed own centre apartment on Basbow Lane for £425,000. 

Schools

A major draw for parents considering a move to Bishop's Stortford is the quality of the schools. Popular options include Windhill21 primary and The Bishop's Stortford High School, which were ranked 'outstanding' by Ofsted at their last inspections. 

Food and Drink

The town is home to a number of independent cafes, bars and restaurants, from the highly rated Shadhona curry house to Skew, a restaurant and oyster bar offering the taste of the Mediterranean coast from a prime spot overlooking the River Stort. 

The Horn at The Half Moon Inn is the place to be for live music and the sister pub of St Albans' own The Horn. 

Leisure

Bishop's Stortford's town centre offers plenty of shopping opportunities, with two weekly markets and a monthly farmers' and craft market, plus the likes of Jackson Square with its mix of big-name brands and independent cafes and boutiques.

The town is also home to South Mill Arts, which houses a theatre, art gallery and museum. The centre was formerly known as the Rhodes Arts Complex, after imperialist Cecil Rhodes, who was born in the town. The museum tells his story, among others. 

Sworder’s Field and Castle Gardens provide two skate parks, tennis courts and a paddling pool among other amenities, while Southern Country Park is a 23 hectare green space with play area, fishing pond and plenty of picnicking spots. 

Another popular attraction is the Cammas Hall Farm, where families can pick their own fruit during the summer months, go on a walking trail or tackle a maize maze.

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

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