Area Guide: The Hertfordshire market town of Bishop’s Stortford
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
The historic market town of Bishop’s Stortford lies to the east of Hertfordshire, close to Stansted Airport. Sasha Baker found out more about it.
Bishop's Stortford has a long history, although much of it is invisible if you visit the town today. The Romans established a small settlement in the area and the present town 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.
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.
Despite its proximity to London and status as a commuter town, Bishop's Stortford has a surprisingly rural feel, which attracts those who want both the convenience of commuting to the capital and a quieter country lifestyle.
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Homes currently on the market range from a five-bedroom detached new build on a private road for £1,675,000 to a one-bed flat in a retirement development for £89,995. The average price paid for properties in the area over the past year is £471,735.
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A major draw for parents wanting to move to Bishop's Stortford is the quality of the schools, with three local primaries and a clutch of secondaries rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted. Parents who favour a single sex environment or a faith school have options for Catholic, Church of England and girls' and boys' schools within this highly-rated crop.
Food and Drink
A particular highlight of the culinary scene in Bishop's Stortford is Gourmeturk, a Turkish restaurant located in the Tudor pub, the Boar's Head. For a town of its size, Bishop's Stortford has a surprisingly wide range of nightlife options with Water Lane, a cocktail bar, and Skew Champagne and Oyster Bar, as well as the expected array of pubs.
Bishops Stortford is located by the M11. It is also the nearest large town to Stansted Airport. Trains from Bishops Stortford take just under 45 minutes to get to London Liverpool Street, making it a popular commuter town.
The centre of Bishop's Stortford is a popular shopping destination, particularly Jackson Square with its mix of big-name brands and independent cafés and boutiques.
The town is also home to the Rhodes Arts Complex, named after controversial imperialist Cecil Rhodes, possibly the most famous person from Bishop's Stortford. It houses a 300-seat theatre, art gallery and museum with exhibitions on Rhodes' life and the history of the town.
As well as its cultural treasure, Bishop's Stortford is something of a hub for nature lovers. The River Stort runs through the middle of the town and is surrounded by greenery, making for a pleasant stroll, and a popular attraction is the Cammas Hall Farm, where families can pick their own fruit, go on a walking trail or tackle a maize maze.