Welcome Back to Hertford - A History Part 6!
It was King Alfreds son Edward the Elder, after inheriting the city of London from his sister the Queen of Mercia that ordered the construction of a burh (fortified placed), north of the Lee. Following gaining control of Essex a year later he built a second burh on the south bank of the Lee. What is believed to be the site of the northern burh is Old Cross where stood a Saxon church of St Mary the Less and a market. The southern burh, was sited in Maidenhead street and Market Place where Shire Hall now stands.
It was King Edgar (957-975) that is thought to have the made the town ‘capital’ of the surrounding shire, and it was customary to call the shire by that towns name, hence Hertfordshire. After the Domesday Survey, it was shown that Hertford consisted of 10 hides (1 hide=120 acres), there were 146 heads of families, two churches , two markets and also three mills, which supplied London as its main outlet with corn and flour. The motte and bailey defensive structure (which can still be seen today as the large mound of earth in the Castle Grounds), also stood by then. The moat surrounded the mound and extended to house a small yard or bailey in which stood a hall.
It was around this time that the rivalry between Ware and Hertford began. Ware was still a Saxon village and William 1st placed the town under the supervision of the Bailiff of Hertford. The Bailiff barred Ware bridge by placing it under lock and key, this resulted in traffic being guided away from Ware to now go through Hertford, and the people were outraged.
Check back soon for part 7!
If you would like to know more in depth information about the history of Hertford, then please rent from the library, THE BOOK OF HERTFORD by Cyril Heath, which has become a great source for the writing of this blog series.
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