Area Guide: Hertford, Hertfordshire's county town
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Dating back to the 10th century, Hertford is a bustling market town packed with period buildings.
It lies at the confluence of four rivers – the Beane, Rib, Mimram and Lea, and its riverside setting is a huge part of its appeal.
With a population just shy of 30,000, Hertford is similar in size to Harpenden, but rather more affordable.
According to Rightmove, Hertford had an average sale price of £451,154 over the last year, with flats making up the majority of the sales (which averaged £279,132).
Homes currently on the market in and around the town include the seven-bed, £1.5m Grade II listed Ware Park, a three-bed Victorian semi on Townshend Street (£625,000) and a two-bed apartment on Smeaton Court with balcony views over the River Lea (£325,000).
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Hertford is home to many historic buildings, the oldest of which is the Norman St Leonard's Church, which dates back to the early 12th century.
Grade I listed Hertford Castle is located in the centre of town, in beautiful grounds by the River Lea. Elizabeth I was a regular visitor. Only the gatehouse remains of the original Norman building, which is now a popular wedding and corporate hire venue.
Hertford Museum houses more than 100,000 objects, including archaeology, fine art and social history collections, among others.
It is also home to the Addis company archive, which includes the UK's largest collection of toothbrushes. Addis was based in the town for more than 70 years until the 1990s.
There are many great primary schools in Hertford, including Abel Smith School, which was rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted at its last inspection.
Richard Hale School and The Sele School are both 'good' secondaries, while Simon Balle All-Through School ('outstanding') teaches children from primary right through to sixth form.
Hertford is around seven miles east of the A1 (M), with Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield just beyond.
It has two train stations – Hertford East, connecting to Liverpool Street, and Hertford North, with trains to Moorgate.
Food and drink
Popular local eateries include Giambrone's Italian deli and coffee bar and the imaginatively-named Alley Katsu Japanese restaurant. For more of a high end dining experience, there's Herts foodie favourite, Lussmanns.
Locals love the Millstream pub's beer garden and rave about its great roast, while Mudlarks – a charity supporting adults and young people with learning disabilities – has a great café on Railway Street, selling veggie and vegan fare.
Sport and leisure
Hartham Common is a large open space immediately north of the town centre, flanked by the rivers Beane and Lea.
Along its southern edge, the Lea leads to the Hertford Basin and weir, the former of which is home to several residential boat-owners.
Herts Canoe Club is based across the weir, while Hartham Pool and Leisure Centre is a few minutes away.
The Common has two play areas and a skate park, plus a cycle route running along its southern edge.
To the north of the Common are Sele Farm Bowls Club and Hertford Tennis Club, a public tennis court and two 3G football pitches. Football is regularly played here, with matches and training taking place at weekends.
There is also a trail running around the edge of Hartham with a selection of exercise equipment, while The Warren is a popular area of woodland within the Common, offering fantastic views.
The sprawling 1,000-acre Panshanger Park lies to the west of Hertford, 200 acres of which are open to the public. Parts of the Grade II* listed open space, which is much loved by walkers and nature lovers, were landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.
The town is also home to the Hertford Theatre; currently closed for a multi-million pound revamp, it’s due to reopen towards the end of next year.