The picturesque Hertfordshire village of Ayot St Lawrence is located on country lanes between Wheathampstead and Welwyn, and is known for its links to playwright George Bernard Shaw and its unusual Greek-inspired church.

Herts Advertiser: Shaw's Corner is a National Trust attraction in Ayot St Lawrence

About the Ayots 

The village is located within the triangle formed by Stevenage, Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City, and is widely regarded as one of Hertfordshire's finest villages.

Boasting chocolate box cottages and an idyllic rural setting, the village is famed for its links to renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, whose former home, Shaw's Corner, is now a National Trust property.

Ayot St Lawrence has previously been crowned Hertfordshire's most expensive village by Zoopla, with house prices averaging £1,655,000.

The village is also home to a characterful 14th century inn, The Brocket Arms, and is known as one of 'the Ayots' along with smaller neighbours Ayot Green and Ayot St Peter.

Shaw’s Corner

Herts Advertiser: Which way to Shaw's Corner at Ayot St Lawrence?

The village is synonymous with renowned Irish playwright, polemicist and political activist George Bernard Shaw.

The Nobel Prize and Oscar winner's famous plays include Pygmalion, Saint Joan and Man and Superman.

Bernard Shaw moved to Ayot St Lawrence and 1906, and made his home at Shaw's Corner until his death in 1950.

Now a National Trust property, the house is an Edwardian Arts and Crafts-influenced villa.  

Herts Advertiser: George Bernard Shaw's former home, Shaw's Corner, is in Ayot St Lawrence,

The property was originally a rectory, but was opened as a National Trust property in 1951.

Shaw's Corner remains much the same as when Bernard Shaw left it, with the playwright's famous revolving wooden writing hut tucked away in the estate's grounds.

Shaw referred to the hut as 'London', so that unwanted visitors could be told he was away 'visiting the capital'.


Part of the Ayots, along with Ayot St Peter and Ayot Green, Ayot St Lawrence is a small village about five miles from Welwyn Garden City and a similar distance from Harpenden in the opposite direction. 

The village falls under the council borough of Welwyn Hatfield - with the village of Wheathampstead under three miles away.


A tale of two churches 

Herts Advertiser: Old St Lawrence Church, Ayot St Lawrence

Ayot St Lawrence is known for its old 12th century church and its new 'Palladian' place of worship.

Dedicated to St Lawrence, namesake of the village, the old church was partially demolished under orders from local squire Sir Lionel Lyde in 1775. 

Sir Lionel was a wealthy tobacco merchant from Bristol, who acquired country manor Ayot House in the 1770s.

According to legend, Lyde was only stopped from completely demolishing the church by the then Bishop of Lincoln.

The Grade II listed ruins of Ayot St Lawrence Old Church still attract visitors today. 

The ruined Norman church was replaced by a neoclassical structure, which is now known as the Palladian Church. 

The new church, which has a Grade I listing, was commissioned by Sir Lionel around 1775, and was designed by architect Nicholas Revett in the 'Greek Revival' style.

The church's design is loosely modelled on the columns found in the temple to Apollo on the island of Delos, in the Cyclades.

Every year the hugely popular Ayot St Lawrence Art Show takes place at the church.


Prime village real estate in Ayot St Lawrence does not cheap, with homes coming on the market infrequently.

Rightmove currently lists just two properties for sale in the village, a three-bedroom property at Bibbs Hall Lane for £1,500,000 and a two-bedroom terraced property for £500,000.  

The Brocket Arms 

This cosy country inn dates back to the 14th century, and was previously the monastic quarters for the nearby Norman church, until the Reformation.

The Brocket Arms offers accommodation and retains the traditional features one would expect to find in such a building - including low ceilings, oak beams and inglenook fireplaces.

The bar and restaurant serve good quality, seasonal food, together with a varied range of real ales and wines. 

According to legend, the inn is haunted by a monk or priest, who was tried and hanged in the building.


While small, the village is far from isolated, with the rail network easily accessible from the nearby Welwyn North and Welwyn Garden City stations.

You can also journey into London from the train stations at Harpenden and St Albans.

For drivers, the A1(M) is close to hand at Welwyn.


The nearest primary schools are in the neighbouring villages of Codicote, Kimpton, and Wheathampstead. 

Two of the closest secondaries are Monk’s Walk in Welwyn Garden City, which was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its most recent short inspection, and the new Katherine Warington School in Harpenden.