Hatfield, Hertfordshire

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Hatfield
Hatfield House - the Old Palace - geograph.org.uk - 1839366.jpg
The Old Palace at Hatfield House
Hertfordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Hatfield
Location within Hertfordshire
Population41,265 (2021 Census) [1]
OS grid reference TL2308
Civil parish
District
Shire county
Region
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
UK
England
Hertfordshire
51°45′49″N00°13′33″W / 51.76361°N 0.22583°W / 51.76361; -0.22583 Coordinates: 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.

Contents

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, 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]

History

Early history

During the early Saxon period, Hatfield was known as 'Hetfelle'. However, when King Edgar gave 5,000 acres (20 km2) to the monastery of Ely in the year 970, it had become known as 'Haethfeld'. Hatfield is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as the property of the Abbey of Ely, and unusually, the original census data which compilers of Domesday used survives, giving us slightly more information than in the final Domesday record. [7] 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 sat 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 the 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. [8]

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. [9] It was taken over by Hawker Siddeley in 1960 and merged into British Aerospace in 1978. [10] 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. [11]

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. [9] (By 2001 the population had reached 27,833. [12] ) 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." [9] 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. [9]

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. [13]

Sport

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. [14]

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

Governance

Hatfield is part of Welwyn Hatfield borough council in the county of Hertfordshire and 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.

Climate

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

Climate data for Hatfield
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)8
(46)
9
(48)
12
(54)
14
(57)
18
(64)
21
(70)
23
(73)
23
(73)
20
(68)
16
(61)
11
(52)
8
(46)
15
(59)
Average low °C (°F)5
(41)
5
(41)
6
(43)
8
(46)
10
(50)
13
(55)
15
(59)
16
(61)
13
(55)
11
(52)
8
(46)
5
(41)
10
(50)
Average precipitation mm (inches)50.7
(2.00)
39.9
(1.57)
31.7
(1.25)
46.2
(1.82)
38.9
(1.53)
46.4
(1.83)
33.1
(1.30)
43.6
(1.72)
49.7
(1.96)
70.7
(2.78)
58.1
(2.29)
56.9
(2.24)
565.9
(22.28)
Source: [15]

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).

Education

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. "RVC Equine". Royal Veterinary College. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.

Places of interest

Transport

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 2000, which brought track-maintenance deficiencies to public attention. [18] A garden beside the East Coast Main Line was built as a memorial to the crash victims.

Notable residents

Business

Music and dance

Politics, nobility and royalty

Religion

Science and scholarship

Sports

Stage, media and film

Writing

Nearby towns and villages

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

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