Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter launch Wheathampstead Heritage Trail

A TOUCH of celebrity glamour came to Wheathampstead last weekend as a husband and wife acting team officially opened the first phase of the village’s Heritage Trail.

Jim Carter, who has appeared in The Madness of King George, Shakespeare in Love and as Mr Carson the butler in Downton Abbey, was accompanied by wife Imelda Staunton, best known for playing the title role in Vera Drake and Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge in the Harry Potter films, to unveil the first gold and green plaque next to the Grade I listed Saxon church of St Helen’s.

After inspecting the volunteer butlers serving mulled wine and mince pies in a marquee on Rectory Meadows, Jim confessed that Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who travelled with Scott to the Antarctic, was one of his heroes, and marvelled at how laundry and elephant dung could be brought into Wheathampstead railway station on the same train from London.

Imelda said she was delighted with the sense of community and how the parish council, Preservation Society and local businesses had joined forces to bring the village’s impressive timeline and colourful history to life.

“I have been to the Oscars, but I’d much rather be here,” she added.

There are 20 plaqued heritage sites in the mile and a quarter village centre circuit of the Heritage Trail.

Walking maps are available from the parish council office and most local shops. For more information visit