Area Guide: The historic Hertfordshire village of Shenley
PUBLISHED: 08:33 21 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:35 23 August 2020
One of the most unaffordable places to rent a property in Hertfordshire, Shenley is a sought-after village about five miles south of St Albans. We found out more about this historic place.
Shenley and neighbouring Radlett were named last month as the most unaffordable places to be a tenant in Hertfordshire, with residents spending an average of 88 per cent of their income on rent.
The WD7 postcode came eighth in the countdown of pricey rental locations, behind areas of London, Surrey and Berkshire.
Properties currently for rent in the village include a five-bed detached house on London Road for £3,500pcm and a two-bed semi in the new Harperbury Park development for £1,850pcm. The 206-home scheme was built on the site of Harperbury Hospital mental health facility, which was demolished in 2018.
Homes currently available for sale include a six-bed house in a wing of Grade II listed Shenley Manor for £1,795,000, and a modest three-bed semi on Harris Lane for £700,000.
Cited three times in the Domesday Book, Shenley is an Anglo-Saxon settlement originally titled ‘Senlai,’ which means ‘fair clearing or wood.’ In south west Hertfordshire, much of it deep woodland, Shenley grew out of the glade.
Instantly recognisable on the bank of the village pond is the ‘Cage’, or ‘lock-up.’ This domed construction, with a single arched wooden door, was built in the 1700s, and served as a prison for the parish constabulary. Before a national system of policing was instituted, villages would often have their own provincial lock-ups. Local criminals would be detained provisionally, before being sent to a larger town for trial.
An inscription can still be seen on the structure: ‘Do well. And Fear not.’ ‘Be sober. Be vigilant.’
Radlett railway station is less than 10 minutes away by car, with excellent links to London via Watford Junction. Bus routes to other Hertfordshire counties and North London boroughs also run through Shenley on a regular basis.
Shenley Cricket Ground boasts the considerable fame of a 19th century pavilion designed by none other than W. G. Grace. Grace was commissioned on the request of the esteemed Porter family, who owned substantial landholdings around Shenley at the time.
The ground, known as The Denis Compton Oval, after the legendary Middlesex and England cricketer, is held in high regard internationally, and each summer plays host to U19 international matches and women’s cricket. It was described by the Evening Standard as “possibly the most beautiful ground in England and therefore the world”.
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Shenley Sports Grounds, to the north of the village, are the current training facilities of Watford FC. The site was originally used by Arsenal until 1999 when they moved to London Colney under new manager Arséne Wenger.
Shenley Park is home to an orchard, meadow and two-acre walled garden with its own amphitheatre. It also has a tea room with adjacent playground, which makes it a popular spot for families.
The White Horse on London Road is the only remaining pub in Shenley. A premium gastropub, it offers a comprehensive menu of everything from salads to steaks. The King William IV closed last year, and is set to be converted into flats.
Shenley Primary School, in the heart of the village, serves most of the local children. It takes up to 45 in each year group and currently has around 260 children on roll. At its last Ofsted inspection in November 2019 it was found to require improvement.
A fee-paying alternative is Manor Lodge, an independent primary school for children aged four to 11, on the periphery of the village.
Jewish parents may also be interested in Clore Shalom (‘good’), a single form entry Jewish primary school that teaches the National Curriculum alongside traditional Jewish studies.
The independent Haberdashers’ Aske’s boys’ and girls’ schools are also nearby, just off Watling Street on the fringes of Elstree.
The closest state secondary school is Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood (‘requires improvement’).
St Botolph’s church, now a private dwelling, served as the village parish church until the construction of St Peter’s in 1826.
Soon after, however, many properties within Shenley became incorporated into the expanding settlement of London Colney, and St Peter’s lost huge swathes of its congregation.
As such, in 1839, the Rector of Shenley, Thomas Newcombe, commissioned the building of another church – St Martin’s – which remains the parish church of Shenley.
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