Area Guide: The picturesque Hertfordshire village of Markyate
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A picture perfect village close to the Bedfordshire border, Markyate is a pretty place to be. We found out more about this attractive part of Herts.
The North Hertfordshire village of Markyate is close to the borders of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and has been part of all three counties at various points in its history.
Known variously as Marchiate, Marczate, Mercygate, Merkygate, Margate, and Markeyatestreet since the early 12th century, Markyate’s boundaries - like its name - have consistently eluded classification; the village is presently part of Dacorum Borough.
Homes currently on the market in the village include a Grade II listed five-bed detached house on Church End for £700,000 and a two-bed cottage on London Road for £350,000. According to Rightmove, the average sold price in Markyate during the last year was £404,521.
Local counsellor and psychotherapist Indira Chima – whose Markyate barn conversion featured in BBC1’s The Best House in Town – loves living in the village.
“We enjoy Markyate because of the nice community vibe,” she says. “We are surrounded by beautiful countryside and Markyate is on the boundary of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”
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Indira also appreciates the excellent transport links, the network of public footpaths used by local walking groups and the village’s close proximity to Luton Hoo.
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Formed in 1993, the Markyate Amateur Dramatic Society (MADS) gathers every year to put on a pantomime for the community; Robinson Crusoe, Aladdin and Peter Pan have delighted residents in recent years.
For sportier villagers there is Markyate Cricket and Football Club, and there is also an active community within the Church of England and Baptist churches.
Markyate Village School and Nursery expanded from a single form entry in 2015, and now takes 45 Reception pupils each year. It was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.
The closest state secondary schools to the village are in Luton and Dunstable, including Stockwood Park Academy (‘requires improvement’).
Beechwood Park School is a preparatory co-educational day and boarding school in the private sector.
Markyate is around a 15 minute drive from Harpenden, Luton and St Albans. The area has strong transport links, being close to the M1 and less than four miles from Luton Airport Parkway and Luton train stations. The closest airport, London Luton, is just five miles away.
The long, narrow High Street is full of great little shops, including a pharmacy, a beauty salon, an estate agency, a dry cleaners, a convenience store with post office and a fish and chip and kebab shop. Then there’s popular village baker, Pruden’s, which was founded in 1928 and offers a range of breads, cakes and savouries.
Indira suggests curry fans pay the award-winning Markyate Spice a visit: “It’s Indian cuisine with a Nepalese twist, making it a bit different – utterly delicious and very popular with the villagers.”
Two traditional public houses remain in Markyate: The Plume of Feathers and The Swan.
They were recently joined by The Local, a micropub which opened on High Street in 2016. Serving local ales as well as wines, ciders and soft drinks, it describes itself as “a pub like they used to be”, proudly offering absolutely no keg lager, spirits, large TV screens or electronic games.
“There’s local community atmosphere and a great array of real ales poured straight from the cask,” Indira says.
Markyate’s saints and sinners
Along with Chris White, bassist and songwriter for St Albans band The Zombies, Markyate has had several residents of interest over the years, including ‘Wicked Lady’, Katherine Ferrers.
Lady Katherine was an English aristocrat who, according to legend, terrorised the residents of Hertfordshire as a highwaywoman during the Civil War. In her early teens she was married off to Sir Thomas Fanshawe, who took control of her estate and sold off many of her assets, including her manor at Flamstead and much of its surrounding land. Katherine decided to take her financial future into her own hands, and was highly successful, before she was reportedly killed by a gunshot wound in a botched robbery.