Hatfield, Hertfordshire

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Hatfield House - the Old Palace - geograph.org.uk - 1839366.jpg
The Old Palace at Hatfield House
Hertfordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Hertfordshire
Population41,265 (2021 Census) [1]
OS grid reference TL2308
Civil parish
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HATFIELD
Postcode district AL9, AL10
Dialling code 01707
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°45′49″N00°13′33″W / 51.76361°N 0.22583°W / 51.76361; -0.22583

Hatfield is a town and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, in the borough of Welwyn Hatfield. It had a population of 29,616 in 2001, [3] 39,201 at the 2011 Census, [4] and 41,265 at the 2021 Census. [1] The settlement is of Saxon origin. Hatfield House, home of the Marquess of Salisbury, forms the nucleus of the old town. From the 1930s when de Havilland opened a factory, until the 1990s when British Aerospace closed it, aircraft design and manufacture employed more people there than any other industry. Hatfield was one of the post-war New Towns built around London and has much modernist architecture from the period. The University of Hertfordshire is based there.


Hatfield lies 20 miles (30 kilometres) north of London beside the A1(M) motorway and has direct trains to London King's Cross railway station, London St Pancras railway station, Finsbury Park and Moorgate. There has been a strong increase in commuters who work in London moving into the area. [5]

In 2022, TV property expert Phil Spencer named Hatfield as the second best place to live for regular commuters to London, based on train times, house prices and the attractions the town has. [6]


In the early tenth century Hatfield belonged to a vir potens (powerful man) called Ordmær and his wife Ealde, who may have been the grandfather of King Edward the Martyr. Sometime between 932 and 956 he exchanged the town for land in Devon with Æthelstan Half-King, who then gave it to his sons. King Edgar seized the land when he became king on 959, claiming that Ordmær and Ealde had bequeathed it to him, but Æthelstan's sons recovered it after Edgar died. [7] Hatfield is recorded in Domesday Book of 1086 as the property of the Abbey of Ely, and unusually the original census data that compilers of Domesday used survives, giving us slightly more information than in the final Domesday record. [8] No other records remain until 1226, when Henry III granted the Bishops of Ely rights to an annual four-day fair and a weekly market. The town was then called Bishop's Hatfield.

Hatfield House is the seat of the Cecil family, the Marquesses of Salisbury. Elizabeth Tudor was confined there for three years in what is now known as The Old Palace in Hatfield Park. Legend has it that she learnt here of her accession as queen in 1558 while sitting under an oak tree in the Park. She held her first Council in the Great Hall (The Old Palace) of Hatfield. In 1851 the route of the Great North Road (now the A1000) was altered to avoid cutting through the grounds of Hatfield House.

St Etheldreda's Church in Old Hatfield. Hatfield St Etheldreda.jpg
St Etheldreda's Church in Old Hatfield.

The town grew up around the gates of Hatfield House. Old Hatfield retains many historic buildings, notably the Old Palace, St Etheldreda's Church and Hatfield House. The Old Palace was built by the Bishop of Ely, Cardinal Morton, in 1497, during the reign of Henry VII, and the only surviving wing is still used today for Elizabethan-style banquets.

St Etheldreda's Church was founded by the monks from Ely, and the first wooden church, built in 1285, was probably sited where the existing building stands overlooking the old town.

The church of St Etheldreda, well situated towards the top of the hill, contains an Early English round arch with dog-tooth moulding, but for the rest is Decorated and Perpendicular and largely restored. The chapel north of the chancel is known as the Salisbury chapel and was erected by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, who was buried here. It is in a combination of classic and Gothic styles. In a private portion of the churchyard is buried, among others of the family, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. [9]

Aerospace industry

The Comet; the carving of the pillar is by Eric Kennington; the aircraft is not the original Hatfield, The Comet hotel - geograph.org.uk - 209701.jpg
The Comet; the carving of the pillar is by Eric Kennington; the aircraft is not the original

In 1930 the de Havilland airfield and aircraft factory was opened at Hatfield and by 1949 it had become the largest employer in the town, with almost 4,000 staff. [10] It was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960 and merged into British Aerospace in 1978. [11] In the 1930s it produced a range of small biplanes. During the Second World War it produced the Mosquito fighter bomber and developed the Vampire, the second British production jet aircraft after the Gloster Meteor. After the war, facilities were expanded and it developed the Comet airliner (the world's first production jet liner), the Trident airliner, and an early bizjet, the DH125.

British Aerospace closed the Hatfield site in 1993 having moved the BAe 146 production line to Woodford Aerodrome. The land was used as a film set for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan and most of the BBC/HBO television drama Band of Brothers . It was later developed for housing, higher education, commerce and retail.

Today, Hatfield's aviation history is remembered by the names of certain local streets and pubs (e. g. Comet Way, The Airfield, Dragon Road) as well as The Comet Hotel (now owned by Ramada) built in the 1930s. The Harrier Pub (formerly The Hilltop) is actually named after the Harrier bird, not the aircraft, hence the original pub sign showing the bird. The de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, at Salisbury Hall in nearby London Colney, preserves and displays many historic de Havilland aeroplanes and related archives. [12]

New Town

Hatfield New Town centre, looking west along its axis. Hatfield New Town.jpg
Hatfield New Town centre, looking west along its axis.

The Abercrombie Plan for London in 1944 proposed a New Town in Hatfield. It was designated in the New Towns Act 1946, forming part of the initial Hertfordshire group with nearby Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City and Hemel Hempstead. The Government allocated 2,340 acres (9.5 km2) for Hatfield New Town, with a population target of 25,000. [10] (By 2001 the population had reached 27,833. [13] ) The Hatfield Development Corporation, tasked with creating the New Town, chose to build a new town centre, rejecting Old Hatfield because it was on the wrong side of the railway, without space for expansion and "with its intimate village character, out of scale with the town it would have to serve." [10] They chose instead St Albans Road on the town's east–west bus route. A road pattern was planned that offered no temptation to through traffic to take short cuts through the town and which enabled local traffic to move rapidly. [10]

Hatfield retains New Town characteristics, including much modernist architecture of the 1950s and the trees and open spaces that were outlined in the original design. As of 2017, a redevelopment of the town centre was planned. [14]


Birchwood Leisure Centre: Combined leisure centre and headquarters of town council. Birchwood Leisure Centre.jpg
Birchwood Leisure Centre: Combined leisure centre and headquarters of town council.

There are three tiers of local government covering Hatfield, at parish, district and county level: Hatfield Town Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council. Hatfield Town Council has its offices and meeting place at the Birchwood Leisure Centre on Longmead. [15]

Old council offices, 16 St Albans Road East Tudor House, St Albans Road, Hatfield.jpg
Old council offices, 16 St Albans Road East

From 1894 until 1974 the lower two tiers of local government were Hatfield Parish Council and Hatfield Rural District Council. The rural district council built itself a headquarters at 16 St Albans Road East in 1930. [16] The rural district council was abolished in 1974 and its powers transferred to Welwyn Hatfield. [17]

Hatfield is twinned with the Dutch port town of Zierikzee. Hatfield is part of the Welwyn Hatfield constituency, which also includes Welwyn Garden City. The Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield is Grant Shapps, a Conservative.


Hatfield Town F.C. plays Non-League football at Gosling Sports Park. The Welwyn Garden City Hockey Club are a field hockey club based in Hatfield.

Hatfield Athletic Football Club competes in the Herts Senior County League and plays its games at Lemsford. [18]

The town has a public swimming pool and four sports/leisure centres (two with indoor swimming pools).


Hatfield experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) like most of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for Hatfield
Average high °C (°F)8
Average low °C (°F)5
Average precipitation mm (inches)50.7
Source: [19]

Culture and recreation

The south wing of The Galleria with the connecting bridge on the right of the photograph, viewed from its north wing. Hatfield Galleria exterior.jpg
The south wing of The Galleria with the connecting bridge on the right of the photograph, viewed from its north wing.
EE Head Office in Hatfield Business Park. Tmob hatfield.jpg
EE Head Office in Hatfield Business Park.
The memorial garden built alongside the East Coast Main Line. 07-11-05 Hatfield 50.jpg
The memorial garden built alongside the East Coast Main Line.
Hatfield railway station viewed from the public footbridge. Hatfield railway station.jpg
Hatfield railway station viewed from the public footbridge.
Statue of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury in front of the park gates of Hatfield House. Hatfield GascoyneCecil statue.jpg
Statue of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury in front of the park gates of Hatfield House.

Hatfield has a nine-screen Odeon cinema, a stately home (Hatfield House), a museum (Mill Green Museum), a contemporary art gallery (Art and Design Gallery), a theatre (The Weston Auditorium) and a music venue (The Forum Hertfordshire). There are shopping centres in the new town: the Galleria (indoor shopping centre), The Stable Yard (Hatfield House), and three supermarkets (ASDA, ALDI and Tesco). In 2022, Hatfield held its first vegan market, an event held in a number of English towns, at Hatfield House and now holds the market each June and November. [20] During Veganuary in 2023, students at the University of Hertfordshire organized their own vegan market. [21]


Hatfield contains numerous primary and secondary schools, including St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Howe Dell Primary School, Countess Anne School, Onslow St Audrey's School, Bishop's Hatfield Girls' School and the independent day and private boarding girls' school Queenswood School (only to name a few).

In addition to the important areas in the town, the University of Hertfordshire is also included by many. A large section of the airfield site was purchased by the University and the £120-million de Havilland Campus, incorporating a £15-million Sports Village, was opened in September 2003. The university has closed its sites at Watford and Hertford; faculties situated there have been moved to the de Havilland Campus.

The equine branch of the Royal Veterinary College is based in Hatfield. [22]

Places of interest


Hatfield is 20 miles (32 km) to the north of London. It is 14 miles (23 km) from London Luton Airport. The A1(M) runs through a tunnel beneath the town, which is also close to the M25.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was the northern terminus of the Hatfield and Reading Turnpike that allowed travelers from the north to continue their journey to the west without going through the congestion of London.

The East Coast railway line from London to York runs through the town, separating the old and new parts. A commuter service connects Hatfield railway station to London King's Cross. A new railway station and car park opened in late 2015. The frequent train service runs direct from Hatfield Station to London King's Cross (21 minutes) via Finsbury Park (16 minutes, Victoria Underground Line) on fast trains running two or three times an hour. An additional train service calls at all stations to Moorgate in the City of London.

Hatfield is well served by buses with regular services to all nearby towns and villages and as far as north London. Bus services are run by Uno, Arriva and Centrebus who are all part of the local Intalink Partnership.

There was a fatal rail crash at Hatfield in October 2000, which brought track-maintenance deficiencies to public attention. [25] A garden beside the East Coast Main Line was built as a memorial to the crash victims.

Local media

The local TV stations are BBC London & ITV London, received from the Crystal Palace TV transmitter and the Hemel Hempstead relay transmitter. [26] [27] BBC East and ITV Anglia are also received from the Sandy Heath TV transmitter. [28]

Local radio stations are BBC Three Counties Radio on 90.4 FM, Heart Hertfordshire on 106.9 and Radio Verulam on 92.6 FM.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times is the town’s local weekly newspaper. [29]

Notable residents


Music and dance

Politics, nobility and royalty


Science and scholarship


Stage, media and film


Nearby towns and villages

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hertfordshire</span> County of England

Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in southern England. It borders Bedfordshire to the north, Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Essex to the east, Greater London to the south, and Buckinghamshire to the west and the south-west. For government statistical purposes, it forms part of the East of England region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hatfield House</span> Country house in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England

Hatfield House is a Grade I listed country house set in a large park, the Great Park, on the eastern side of the town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The present Jacobean house, a leading example of the prodigy house, was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I. It is a prime example of Jacobean architecture. The estate includes extensive grounds and surviving parts of an earlier palace. The house is currently the home of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury. It is open to the public.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marquess of Salisbury</span> Title in the Peerage of Great Britain

Marquess of Salisbury is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1789 for the 7th Earl of Salisbury. Most of the holders of the title have been prominent in British political life over the last two centuries, particularly the 3rd Marquess, who served three times as Prime Minister in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Welwyn Hatfield</span> Place in England

Welwyn Hatfield is a local government district with borough status in the county of Hertfordshire, England. Its council is based in Welwyn Garden City. The borough borders Hertsmere, St Albans, North Hertfordshire, East Hertfordshire, Broxbourne, and the London Borough of Enfield.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Welwyn Garden City</span> Town in Hertfordshire, England

Welwyn Garden City is a town in Hertfordshire, England, 20 miles (32 km) north of London. It was the second garden city in England and one of the first new towns. It is unique in being both a garden city and a new town and exemplifies the physical, social and cultural planning ideals of the periods in which it was built.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Welwyn</span> Human settlement in England

Welwyn is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England. The parish also includes the villages of Digswell and Oaklands. It is sometimes referred to as Old Welwyn or Welwyn Village, to distinguish it from the much newer and larger settlement of Welwyn Garden City, about a mile to the south.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Albans City and District</span> Local authority district in England

St Albans, commonly known as the City and District of St Albans, is a local government district with city status in Hertfordshire, England. Its council is based in St Albans, the largest settlement in the district. The district also includes the town of Harpenden and several villages. The district borders North Hertfordshire, Welwyn Hatfield, Hertsmere, Watford, Three Rivers, Dacorum, and Central Bedfordshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hertford</span> Human settlement in England

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury</span> British politician

James Brownlow William Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury,, styled Viscount Cranborne until 1823, was a British Conservative politician. He held office under The Earl of Derby as Lord Privy Seal in 1852 and Lord President of the Council between 1858 and 1859. He was the father of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and grandfather of Arthur Balfour, who also served as Prime Minister.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury</span> British politician (born 1946)

Robert Michael James Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, Baron Gascoyne-Cecil,, is a British Conservative politician. From 1979 to 1987 he represented South Dorset in the House of Commons, and in the 1990s he was Leader of the House of Lords under his courtesy title of Viscount Cranborne. Lord Salisbury lives in one of England's largest historic houses, the 17th-century Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, and currently serves as Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury</span> British politician

James Edward Hubert Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury,, known as Viscount Cranborne from 1868 to 1903, was a British statesman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter</span> English politician and courtier

Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, KG, known as Lord Burghley from 1598 to 1605, was an English politician, courtier and soldier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Hertfordshire</span> History of English county

Hertfordshire is an English county, founded in the Norse–Saxon wars of the 9th century, and developed through commerce serving London. It is a land-locked county that was several times the seat of Parliament. From origins in brewing and papermaking, through aircraft manufacture, the county has developed a wider range of industry in which pharmaceuticals, financial services and film-making are prominent. Today, with a population slightly over 1 million, Hertfordshire services, industry and commerce dominate the economy, with fewer than 2000 people working in agriculture, forestry and fishing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Cecil, 1st Marquess of Salisbury</span> British nobleman and politician

James Cecil, 1st Marquess of Salisbury,, styled Viscount Cranborne until 1780 and known as The Earl of Salisbury between 1780 and 1789, was a British nobleman and politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georgina Gascoyne-Cecil, Marchioness of Salisbury</span> British political hostess, wife of the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.

Georgina Charlotte Gascoyne-Cecil, Marchioness of Salisbury, was the wife of British Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. The eldest daughter of a judge, her lack of wealth and social connections earned the disapproval of the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury; despite this, Alderson married his son Robert in 1857.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Hatfield</span> Human settlement in England

Old Hatfield, sometimes called Bishops Hatfield, is a historic village in Hertfordshire, England. It is in the town of Hatfield.

de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School

The de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School was founded in 1928, initially to provide owners of de Havilland Moth aircraft with technical maintenance skills.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Etheldreda's Church, Hatfield</span> Church in Hertfordshire, England

St Etheldreda's is the Anglican parish church of Old Hatfield, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Parts of the building are 13th century and there is evidence there was a church here before this in Saxon times. It is situated in the old village of Hatfield just east of the modern town of Hatfield and close to the walls of Hatfield House, once a royal palace. It once also served Hatfield House as a place of worship as well as the village and so is exceptionally grand for a parish church. The dedication to St Etheldreda derives from the Bishops of Ely for whom she is a patron saint and who once occupied the House when it was a bishops' palace.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hatfield War Memorial</span> War memorial in Hertfordshire, England

The Hatfield War Memorial is a war memorial beside the Great North Road in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. It was one of 24 war memorials in England designed by Sir Herbert Baker, that were designated as a national collection by Historic England in 2017. The memorial is located near the gates of Hatfield House, and close to Hatfield railway station. It was unveiled in 1921, to commemorate 139 men from Hatfield killed on service during the First World War. A brick pavilion records the names of the dead, with further names added after the Second World War.


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