Area Guide: The pretty Hertfordshire village of Boxmoor
- Credit: Archant
With a distinct local character, Boxmoor is a bastion of rural life a couple of miles from the centre of Hemel Hempstead.
Taking the A4146 exit from Hemel Hempstead’s famous Magic Roundabout and, turning onto St John’s Road, you can immediately see Boxmoor’s natural beauty as you come upon Heath Park, a large natural space adjacent to the River Bulbourne.
Looking this good doesn’t come cheap, however: according to Rightmove, the average price of a property in the village last year was £416,941.
Boxmoor has long been a popular destination for couples moving out of London looking to settle down, and it has many family homes with large gardens. Homes of this type currently on the market include a gated five-bed detached house in Aspens Place for £1.3m and a four-bed semi on St John’s Road, a short walk from the station, for £725,000.
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The name ‘Boxmoor’ is derived from the box tree and the watermeadows that run alongside the River Bulbourne.
The river runs from the Chiltern Hills and is part of a system of chalk downlands – hilly areas full of chalk deposits which incidentally make fertile soil for the box tree.
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In terms of ancient history, Boxmoor was never a large settlement: it was once the site of a Mesolithic camp, discovered from stone tools dated 1500 to 6000BC, and there are also remains of a roman villa from the 1st and 2nd century.
For a long period of time, Boxmoor remained undeveloped. Apart from the Fishery Inn, which served as a refreshment stop for coach and canal travellers and is still in operation today, Boxmoor was little more than meadow land for grazing sheep.
It wasn’t until the London and Birmingham Railway was forced to build its main line and station a mile to the west of neighbouring Hemel Hempstead that Boxmoor began to grow as a small village.
Whilst the area was absorbed into Hemel Hempstead during the ’50s and ’60s, the railway being renamed in the process, Boxmoor still retains much of its rural land and heritage.
The Box Moor Trust, founded in 1594, continues to own and protect much of the surrounding area, ensuring that it remains free for residents to use and enjoy.
From the Boxmoor high street of St John’s road, you can immediately step onto one of many natural walking paths or areas alongside the river.
These large open spaces are perfect for family outings and picnics, especially Heath Park where Boxmoor Cricket Club play and which also features a children’s play area.
Or, you can continue on into the rolling hills around the neighbouring residential areas of Felden and Chaulden. For whatever purpose – leisurely stroll, family outing, dog-walking – Boxmoor has acres upon acres of preserved natural space freely accessible on foot from any part of the area.
There is a post office, a local GP’s surgery and a pharmacy along St John’s Road and a dental practice around the corner in Chaulden.
The nearest supermarkets are a Tesco Express and Co-op up on Warners End Road, a five-minute car journey from St John’s Road via Northridge Way, which runs through adjacent Chaulden.
As it was developed around it, Boxmoor’s station – now Hemel Hempstead Station – has rail connections by West Midlands and Southern Rail services to London Euston, South Croydon and Milton Keynes. It is also part of the Hemel Hempstead town bus route, which accesses all parts of the town.
Boxmoor has several schools within walking distance, including Boxmoor Primary, Pixies Hill Primary and St Rose’s Catholic Infants School, which were all rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at their last inspections.
The Hemel Hempstead School is a comprehensive with sixth form between Boxmoor and Hemel, which also has a ‘good’ ranking. There are many fee-paying schools nearby too, including Westbrook Hay Prep School, Lockers Park and Abbot’s Hill.
Food and Drink
There are several restaurants and pubs in Boxmoor, including the historic canalside Fishery Inn, featuring a waterside view and traditional pub food.
A Harvester sits directly outside the station for a quick drink or meal after a commute, and there are two pubs, the Three Blackbirds on St Johns Road and a family-run sports bar, The Post Office Arms, on Puller Road.
Alternatively, it is only a short way, via car, bus or even on foot, into the centre of Hemel, which contains a wide variety of eateries, venues, leisure activities and other services that Boxmoor, as a beautiful, but small, rural commuter village, might be lacking.