In case you’re not already aware of it, Hertford is a rather splendid town! It has more history than you can shake a stick at and there’s always something going on. Just for fun, we’ve compiled a list of 20 interesting things about the town that you might not already know.
- Hertford’s four rivers – the Lea, Rib, Beane and Mimram – are celebrated in ‘Confluence’, the fountain in Salisbury Square which was erected in 1994.
- The rivers Mimram, Rib and Beane are all chalk streams – there are only 200 chalk streams in the world and they are becoming increasingly threatened by our increasing need for water.
- Britain’s first paper mill was established in Hertford in 1488. Sele Mill was set up by John Tate and used by the great printers of the time, including the brilliantly-named Wynkyn de Worde, a business partner of William Caxton. Books printed in 1494 on paper showing the Tate watermark still survive today.
- One of the most famous fictional World War I heroes, Biggles, is linked with Hertford because 41 Cowbridge is the childhood home of author W E Johns. Johns’ school days in the town were fictionalised in his novel, ‘Biggles Goes to School’.
- The founder of Hertford’s local brewery, Peter McMullen, was actually a poacher, but in 1827 he decided brewing beer might be a better career move. McMullen’s currently has 123 pubs, ensuring the good people of Hertfordshire and Essex will never be thirsty!
- The first historical record of Hertford was in the year 673 when it hosted the first Synod of the English Church.
- Although Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood home was at Hatfield House, she must have spent time in Hertford – there is a book of prayers in the British Library which is inscribed “Hertford 1545” in the 12-year-old Elizabeth’s handwriting.
- Hertford’s Parliament Square is so-called because in 1563, Parliament moved to Hertford in order to escape the Great Plague that was ravaging London.
- The statue outside Hertford Theatre is of Samuel Stone, the Puritan founder of Hartford in Connecticut. He was born in Fore Street in 1602, sailed to America in 1633 and, in 1636, took over the native American town of Saukiog, which he renamed Hartford.
- Richard Hale School was founded way back in 1617. It moved to its current premises in Pegs Lane in 1930.
- Everyone in Hertford is familiar with the site of the former Bluecoat School, but not many know there used to be a Green Coat School. Green Coat was established in 1762 and survived until 1894 when it was forced to close after the General Education Act introduced competition in the form of subsidised state schools.
- Hertford is the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theories on the subject of the Knights Templar. It has long been rumoured that the town might be one of the places where the Order hid its treasure, and some say it’s even the last resting place of the Holy Grail. There is supposed to be a labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Hertford constructed by the Templars.
- The Green Dragon building on The Wash is unusual because of its advert for the Green Dragon Hotel, which is part of the building in the form of raised terracotta letters. It is now a Grade II listed building.
- There are 350 Listed Buildings in Hertford, though this includes the walls around Hertford Castle, 10 bridges, 5 gates, buffer lights at Hertford East Station, 3 tombs and 3 gravestones.
- Between 1919 and 1993, the manufacturer Addis produced toothbrushes from its factory on Ware Road. In 1920, you could buy an Addis toothbrush from Boots for one shilling, which today is worth around £2.37.
- Hertford Museum is home to the Addis collection which includes the UK’s largest collection of toothbrushes which is 6,000-strong – though only a tiny proportion are on display in the museum.
- Before 1893, you had to pay a toll to take vehicles and animals across Mill Bridge.
- The last person in England to be condemned to death for witchcraft, Jane Wenham, was sentenced at the Hertford Assizes in 1712. Luckily for Jane, Chief Justice Powell disagreed with the jury’s guilty verdict and, through his influence, managed to get her a Royal Pardon. Laws against witchcraft were finally repealed in 1736.
- Local ghost enthusiasts claim there are more than 40 ghosts in Hertford, with occupants at virtually every property in St Andrew’s Street reporting ghostly goings on.
- Even the UOE Hub building isn’t immune with stories of spooky occurrences in the 1970s when it was a Fine Fare supermarket – apparently the staff called the ghost Godfrey. Luckily Godfrey seems to have disappeared along with the Fine Fare name… or has he?
Bonus fact: The UOE Hub is a year old! We held our official launch on 20 July last year with a breakfast networking event attended by 75 small business owners. Over the past 12 months, we have provided professional office space for many small businesses on a temporary and permanent basis, and we are continually evolving to accommodate the needs of Hertford’s growing number of entrepreneurs.
Contact us if you would like a tour of the UOE Hub to discover the advantages of working in a co-working office space.