Area Guide: The upmarket Hertfordshire town of Harpenden
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: Archant
Harpenden's winning mix of excellent schools, speedy rail links into London and a semi-rural setting make it a popular place to be — particularly among wealthy commuters.
Indeed, Harpenden is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK, with Rightmove recording an average sale price over the last year of £942,080 – an 18 per cent increase on the 2018 peak of £814,831.
Properties currently for sale in the town include the £3.5m, four-bed Little Manor on West Common Grove, a £1.4m seven-bed semi on Station Road and a £725,000 two-bed maisonette on Milton Road.
Harpenden is ideally placed for commuting; it's seven miles from Luton Airport and London St Pancras is just under half an hour away by train. The M1, A1(M) and M25 are also close at hand.
Its excellent state schools are one of Harpenden's main selling points — and while the town is blessed with countless great primaries, it's the secondary schools that really draw in the punters.
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Sir John Lawes, St George's and Roundwood Park are all ranked 'outstanding' by Ofsted, and St George's was also named as the Sunday Times 'Comprehensive School of the Year' 2019.
Newcomer Katherine Warington School opened its doors in September 2019 in response to huge demand for more local secondary school places.
For residents seeking a private alternative, there are several options. St Hilda's is for girls aged four to 11 (though its nursery also admits boys), Aldwickbury is a prep school for boys, and The King's School, with its strong Christian ethos, teaches boys and girls from age four to 16.
Shopping and eating out
The leafy, quintessentially English high street is bursting with shops and eateries. As well as several well-stocked supermarkets and chain stores there are lots of quirky, independently owned venues, offering a wide range of options from Thai to tapas.
Bar Azita's Mediterranean grill is popular with locals, while the Harpenden Arms draws the crowds with its fine food and wine.
The White Horse at Hatching Green and The Fox on the northern edge of town are two more examples of the great British gastropub experience.
Courtyard dining can be enjoyed at Lussmans' 18th century former coach house overlooking Leyton Green, while Okka café and restaurant is another popular spot, particularly for Sunday brunch.
Harpenden also has a vibrant farmers' market on the fourth Sunday of the month. Held on Bowers Parade, it offers everything from fruit and vegetables to pastries, plants and preserves.
Sport and leisure
Harpenden Common's idyllic green space supports many thriving sports teams in the area, including Harpenden Cricket Club which has been playing here for over 150 years.
The 56-acre Rothamsted Pak, with its skate park and playground, is also home to Harpenden Town FC. The council-owned swimming pool is adjacent to the park, at Harpenden Leisure Centre.
Based on Redbourn Lane, Harpenden Rugby Club play in London 1 North, the sixth rung of the English rugby union ladder. Four ex-players, Maro Itoje, George Ford, Owen Farrell and Jack Singleton — all of whom attended St George's — have gone on to play for England.
The Nickey Line, a disused railway line between Harpenden and Hemel Hempstead, is a popular spot for walkers and cyclists.
The River Lea runs through Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve — an ideal spot for kids to have a paddle during the summer months, or a play in the park off Marquis Lane.
The Harpenden Carnival and Highland Gathering are two of the many large scale events held in the town each year.