Hertford – A History Part 2
‘’Hartford be called unto remembrance than
A Towne where Tearme is kept as cause doth crave,
It favoured is, and likt of each good man,
It dooth in world, itself so well behave
Gallant and gayand gladsome to the sight
Framde from the stock that still grows bolt upright
Most meeke of minde, and plain in ev’ry part
Where dutie ought show love and loyall hart’’
Thomas Churchyard (1520?-1604)
Hertford in its own right has an awe inspiring past. It has been subject to regal visits as well as been on the sharp end of invasion. Did you know Hertford was a royal borough for over 1,000 years? The image on the right is the official borough seal. Our town has also featured on the silver screen, with Hertford being identified as the Regency town, Meryton of Jane Austin’s novel ‘’Pride and Prejudice’’. The Bennet’s home of Longbourne is Epcombs in Hertingfordbury; Netherfield, the home of the Bingleys is Balls Park and Lucas Lodge, the home of Sir William and Lady Lucas, was either Panshanger or Goldings.
It would be fair to begin our trawl through Hertford’s amazing history to when it all began, more than a MILLION years ago! Back then the river Thames actually flowed through Hertford, from the Reading area via St Albans through Hertford before continuing eastwards to Bishop’s Stortford, and finally, the North Sea. It took an ancient form of global warming to change this pattern when the first ice age came which created a giant glacier on the Chilterns, the debris carried south east which led to the blocking of the famous river. The Thames then took a new course through Watford and Finchley before rejoining its old course at Ware.
The second Ice Age caused high ground areas what we now call Sele Farm, Bengeo and County Hall. This happened as a by-product of a dam like affect somewhere near Bishop’s Stortford. Debris from the dam blocked the Thames, which widened to create what is known geologically as Lake Hertford, which gradually filled with the fallout from the dam creating the flat surface of these high ground areas.
It took a third massive glacier coming in from the north east covering what had been Lake Hertford that led to the Thames deciding its final course through London. During that time between the 2nd and 3rd Ice Ages, the River Lee cut its way back from the Thames. Exotic creatures such as Hippopotami, Elephants and even Rhinoceros flourished in these waters, with evidence of this found in the gravel pits at Water Hall Farm near Hertford.
Evidence has been found of an axe left behind in All Saints churchyard, this is believed to have dated back to just after the 3rd Ice Age. But it wasn’t until the 4th Ice Age that Hertford gained its basic shape, when the glaciers finally melted around 12,000 years ago, Britain got off from mainland Europe 5,000 years later, thus meaning the Channel was formed. This meant that rivers such as the Lee and its tributaries flowed more slowly, and their valleys became marshy, as Kings Meads still witnesses.
That's all for now folks, check back soon for part 3!
I would like to thank Cyril Heath for writing THE BOOK OF HERTFORD, which is just fantastic, and where a lot of the information that has supplied this blog series has come from.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi there, my name's Victoria and as owner of thebestof Hertford and Ware it's my job to find and promote the best information, events and businesses that Hertford and Ware have to offer!