Apsley - a former historic mill village and now a Hemel suburb - is seen by many as the birthplace of paper's industrial revolution. We found out more about the area...

Herts Advertiser: Apsley Marina

Apsley is located in the valley of the Chiltern Hills, at the confluence of two rivers - Gade and Bulbourne.


The name 'Apsley' dates from the Anglo-Saxon period and means 'aspen wood'.

The historic Apsley Mill began making paper in 1778, and in 1809 was bought by industry giant John Dickinson.

Dickinson's paper mills, which were based along the Grand Union Canal, dominated local industry until finally closing in 1999.

Production peaked during the Second World War, however the site was not ideal for large scale papermaking in the 20th century, and later became a warehouse and distribution centre for products made elsewhere.

The canal meant Apsley was ideally located for the trade route between London and the Midlands. It's now a popular area for walkers and cyclists who are travelling between Kings Langley and Hemel Hempstead.

Some of the former industrial buildings have been replaced with housing, while others now operate as pubs and cafés, among other amenities.

The former village is also home to St Mary's Church, a Grade II listed building which was first consecrated in 1871.

Herts Advertiser: Apsley Marina is just half a mile from Hemel Hempstead

Another historic building in Apsley is Shendish Manor. A manor was originally built on the site in 1300 by the family of Ralf de Chenduit. 

The house changed hands many times, before coming into the ownership of Charles Longman, who commissioned Shendish to be rebuilt in 1853.

Shendish Manor was used as a British Army camp during WWI, then a sports and social club in 1936, and since 1994 has been a hotel and conference centre.


Apsley is close to an excellent road network, with the M1, M25 and A41 all nearby. There are also fast trains from Apsley to London Euston, which take half an hour.


The majority of Apsley's housing stock is made up of flats and terraced houses, many of which have water views.

There are currently no houses for sale in Apsley. 

Rapid building around the canal area since 2011 has seen a large influx of London commuters.

Herts Advertiser: Some of Apsley's period homes


Apsley is home to several excellent educational institutions, including Two Waters Primary School in High Ridge Close, which was rated 'outstanding' at its most recent Ofsted inspection.

Nearby secondary schools include The Hemel Hempstead School, Kings Langley School and Longdean School, all of which are rated 'good'.

Independent schools in the area include Abbot's Hill, which is for girls aged four to 16, and Lockers Park, a boys' prep school.

Sport and leisure 

Fishing is allowed along the canal - providing you don't forget your rod licence! Canoeing is almost permitted, and you can tee off at the tranquil Victorian Shendish Manor golf course.

Herts Advertiser: The Grand Union Canal, Apsley

There's also the Frogmore Paper Mill museum on Fourdriner Way - which is currently closed after the visitor centre was badly damaged in a fire in January 2022. The paper mill and museum hopes to be able to reopen in 2024.

The site is the world's oldest mechanised paper mill, which had been in operation since the 1700s before more recently doubling as a not-for-profit attraction.

Apsley Mills Retail Park on London Road is home to useful stores including The Range, Wren Kitchens, Carpetright and Argos. 

Food and drink 

Food and drink options are plentiful in Apsley, with the marina offering up a range of dining options.

These include Indian restaurant Marina Spice Lounge, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the wider Hemel area, and Calzone Essential pizzeria - both of which are on Dickinson Quay.

The Paper Mill pub also serves classic pub fare and refreshing beer at a relaxing terraced canalside spot on Stationers Place.

Herts Advertiser: The Paper Mill Pub, Apsley

The Oddfellows Arms on the corner of London Road and Weymouth Street is a popular pub with live music and a cosy beer garden. 

Herts Advertiser: This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and HarpendenThis area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (Image: Frost's)