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Water Pump, Watton-at-Stone.jpg
Village cast iron water pump, dating from the early 19th century
Hertfordshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Hertfordshire
Population2,272 (2011 Census including Whempstead)
OS grid reference TL299194
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HERTFORD
Postcode district SG14
Dialling code 01920
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°51′29″N0°06′47″W / 51.8580°N 0.1130°W / 51.8580; -0.1130 Coordinates: 51°51′29″N0°06′47″W / 51.8580°N 0.1130°W / 51.8580; -0.1130

Watton-at-Stone is a village in the English county of Hertfordshire, situated midway between the towns of Stevenage and Hertford in the valley of the River Beane. The 2011 census showed a population of 2,272 living in 946 households. Watton-at-Stone is also a civil parish in East Hertfordshire District Council. [1]

Hertfordshire County of England

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

Stevenage Town and borough in England

Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, 28 miles (44 km) north of London. Stevenage is east of junctions 7 and 8 of the A1(M), between Letchworth Garden City to the north and Welwyn Garden City to the south. In 1946, Stevenage was designated the United Kingdom's first New Town under the New Towns Act.

River Beane river in the United Kingdom

The River Beane is a short river in the county of Hertfordshire, England. A tributary of the River Lea, it rises to the south-west of Sandon in the hills northeast of Stevenage and joins the Lea at Hartham Common in Hertford.


Village life

Watton-at-Stone Village Sign.jpg

There is little employment directly within the village and it largely serves as a dormitory for commuters to London or to the nearby towns with hourly trains to Moorgate station.

Moorgate station London Underground and railway station

Moorgate is a central London railway terminus and connected London Underground station on Moorgate in the City of London. Main line railway services for Hertford, Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth are operated by Great Northern, while the Underground station is served by the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Northern lines.

The village has a primary school and nursery school. The co-educational Heath Mount independent school is located on the outskirts in the private estate of the Grade II* listed Woodhall Park.

Heath Mount School Independent school in Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire, England

Heath Mount School is a Church of England co-educational independent prep school near Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire, England. It admits pupils aged 3 to 13. It was founded as Heath Mount Academy in Hampstead in 1796. In 1934 it was relocated to a Georgian mansion on the Woodhall Estate in rural Hertfordshire. In 2014 there were 442 children at the school: boarding pupils and day pupils and girls and boys.

The A602 formerly ran through the centre of the village between Stevenage and Hertford before a bypass was built in the 1980s through farmland to the north-east. The section of the road to Hertford was renamed the A119, and the A602 then ran out of Watton-at-Stone to Ware. Watton-at-Stone is served by a railway station on the Hertford Loop Line. The station opened for passengers on 2 June 1924, was closed on 11 September 1939 (though the line continued to run through the village), and reopened on 17 May 1982, paid for partly by public subscription.

A602 road road in England

The A602 is a road linking Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England, with A10 at Ware in Hertfordshire, via Stevenage.

The A119 road is an A road connecting Ware and Watton-at-Stone via Hertford.

Ware, Hertfordshire town in Hertfordshire, England

Ware is a town of around 18,800 people in Hertfordshire, England close to the county town of Hertford. It is also a civil parish in East Hertfordshire district. The Prime Meridian passes to the east of Ware.

A war memorial lies in a field adjoining the church.

War memorial Type of memorial

A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in a war.

In the village itself there is a small convenience store, café and takeaway restaurant as well as a hairdressers, newsagent and a butcher's shop.


The name Watton first appeared in writing in an 11th-century publication of 10th century Anglo-Saxon wills as Wattun. It was later recorded in the Domesday Book as both Wodtune and Watone. [2] The origin of the word is uncertain, and is variously ascribed to Old English wád or woad, and ton meaning small farming settlement; or waden meaning ford; or from waétan meaning watery. The suffix -at-Stone dates from the early 13th century and may be derived from the presence of two large examples of Hertfordshire puddingstone, now situated at the Waggon and Horses public house. [3]

Domesday Book 11th-century survey of landholding in England as well as the surviving manuscripts of the survey

Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states:

Then, at the midwinter [1085], was the king in Gloucester with his council .... After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire."

Hertfordshire puddingstone

Hertfordshire puddingstone is a conglomerate sedimentary rock composed of rounded flint pebbles cemented together by a younger matrix of silica quartz. The distinctive rock is largely confined to the English county of Hertfordshire but small amounts occur throughout the London Basin. Despite a superficial similarity to concrete, it is an entirely natural silcrete. A fracture runs across both the pebbles and the sandy matrix as both have equal strength unlike concrete where the pebbles remain whole and a fracture occurs only in the matrix. Like other puddingstones, it derives its name from the manner in which the embedded flints resemble the plums in a pudding. It forms the local base of the Upnor Formation of the Lambeth Group.

However, it is far more likely that the suffix refers to the Roman road (anciently described as a Stone Street) that ran from Verulamium (modern St Albans), fording the River Beane at Watton-at-Stone. The area where the bridge over the railway was built was shown on tithe maps as a common, and the fields to the east and west of this point were named Stoneyfield and Further Stoneyfield. It is deduced that the Roman Road passed through this area, and the later village took its name from the important routeway. In the 1950s, sections of the road agger, composed of large flint nodules, could still be seen at several points in the village; most obviously, the northern boundary of the grounds of Chestnut House preserves the line of the road [4]

The Roman road was the first known development in Watton and it crossed the High Street at the point of the modern milestone. There is no evidence of a permanent Roman settlement at Watton, however archaeological finds suggest Roman activity, possibly a market place trading to travellers as they slowed to cross the River Beane. It is possible that the High Street was a pre-existing track and therefore the new Roman road formed a crossroads here. [5] A battle between the Danes and Saxons took place nearby in 1016. [4] In later years, the natural springs in the area once made the village a popular spa town. [4]

The village has a number of dwellings dating from early Tudor, such as Watton House, through to late Georgian constructions. [2]

Church of St Mary and St Andrew

The parish church is dedicated to St Andrew and St Mary. It dates from the fifteenth century, [2] [3] and is built in the Perpendicular style. [6] The building is constructed from flint, and is protected by a Grade II* heritage listing. [7]

Archaeological finds

The Iron Age Aston Mirror was found nearby, closer to Watton-at-Stone than to the village of Aston, but technically in Aston parish due to the convoluted border. It is now kept at the British Museum. [3] A collection of Belgic armour and weaponry was discovered in the mid-19th century by workers digging a drain at the north end of the village.

Famous residents

Watton-at-Stone is home to the boxing promoter Frank Warren. The Sun's racing tipster 'Templegate' was also a previous resident of the village. It was the childhood home of the actor Rupert Grint, well-known from his role of Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. [8]

The locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley lived in Watton House until his death in 1941. [9] The evangelical author and social campaigner Edward Bickersteth was rector of the church for twenty years from 1830 until his death in 1850. [10] [11] His one-time curate was the theological scholar Thomas Birks. [11]

For the summer of 1923, the Georgian red-brick rectory at Watton-at-Stone became the short-lived home of Alan Turing, founder of computer science and the leading cryptologist at Bletchley Park in World War II. Andrew Hodges in his biography: Alan Turing: The Enigma tells of how a gypsy fortune teller at the church fête foretold that he would be a genius. [12]

Alternative names

The name is also spelled unhyphenated as Watton at Stone and appears in this form on Ordnance Survey maps. The County Council favours the hyphenated version. Both spellings are equally valid.

Locally, the '-at-Stone' suffix is frequently dropped. [13]

Related Research Articles

Welwyn English town

Welwyn is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England. The parish also includes the villages of Digswell and Oaklands. It is sometimes called Old Welwyn to distinguish it from the much newer settlement of Welwyn Garden City, about a mile to the south, though some residents dislike the suggestion of inferiority or irrelevance that tends to be implied by the moniker "Old" and prefer Welwyn Village. When saying where they live, locals will often be asked, 'Welwyn or Welwyn Garden City?', as the latter's title is often shortened to simply Welwyn. To avoid confusion, there were plans to change Welwyn’s name to ‘Welwyn Minster’ in 1990 but this met with local resistance and the idea was abandoned.

Aston Abbotts village in the United Kingdom

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Stevenage (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1983 onwards

Stevenage is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Stephen McPartland, a Conservative.

Aston, Hertfordshire village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

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Benington, Hertfordshire a village located in East Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

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Watton-at-Stone railway station

Watton-at-Stone railway station serves the village of Watton-at-Stone in Hertfordshire, England. It is 23 miles 72 chains (38.46 km) down the line from London King's Cross on the Hertford Loop Line between Hertford North and Stevenage and is served by trains operated by Great Northern.

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Tonwell village in United Kingdom

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Whempstead human settlement in United Kingdom

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Stapleford, Hertfordshire village in the United Kingdom

Stapleford is a village and civil parish of 134 acres (54 ha) on the A119 road, in the East Hertfordshire district, in the county of Hertfordshire, England. Stapleford is located between Waterford and Watton-at-Stone in the Beane valley; the little river was forded at this point, giving rise to the village. Stapleford's parish church is St Mary's Church. Beane is a hamlet of Stapleford.

Sacombe village in the United Kingdom

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Philip Butler or Boteler, of Watton at Stone, Hertfordshire, was an English politician.

Aston Bury

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St Nicholas Church, Stevenage Church in Stevenage, United Kingdom

St Nicholas' Church is an Anglican parish church in Stevenage, a town in Hertfordshire, England.

Woodhall Park Historic house in Hertfordshire, England

Woodhall Park is a Grade I listed country house near Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire, England. The 18th century neo-classical building is set in a walled park in the Beane valley. It has been the home of Heath Mount School since the 1930s.


  1. 2001 Census, Key Statistics: Parish Headcounts
  2. 1 2 3 Page, William (1912), A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 , retrieved 16 March 2008
  3. 1 2 3 East Herts Council, Watton-at-Stone , retrieved 8 June 2015
  4. 1 2 3 Hertfordshire County Council Environment (October 2001), Hertfordshire Landscape Survey: Woodhall Park and Watton-at-Stone slopes, archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2007, retrieved 8 June 2015
  5. Watton Conservation Society (2002). Watton-at-Stone Village Guide (PDF). Watton-at-Stone: Watton-at-Stone Conservation Society. p. 6.
  6. Tompkins, Herbert H. (1922), Hertfordshire, Second Edition
  7. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101341464-church-of-st-andrew-and-st-mary-watton-at-stone#.WdifD87m5sA
  8. filmreference.com, Rupert Grint Biography , retrieved 4 February 2008
  9. Nock, Oswald S. (2007), The Locomotives of Sir Nigel Gresley, Longmans, Green and Co, p. 173
  10. Hylson-Smith, Kenneth (1989), Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1734–1984, Continuum International, p. 144, ISBN   978-0-567-29161-5
  11. 1 2 Larsen, David L. (1998), The Company of the Preachers, Kregel Publications, p. 463, ISBN   978-0-8254-3086-2
  12. Hodges, Andrew (1983). Alan Turing: The Enigma . Simon & Schuster. p. 20. ISBN   0671492071.
  13. Tompkins, H.W. (2008), Hertfordshire, BiblioBazaar, pp. 182–183, ISBN   978-1-4375-3234-0