An area is defined by its architecture; over time, towns and cities evolve as the architectural landscape changes. What we see today is extremely different from what we would have seen 100 years ago; even if we looked back 10 years, you would find notable changes.
When you rush through your working day, do you take a moment to really see what surrounds you? Have you noticed how our streets have changed, and really acknowledged those buildings that have stood the test of time and provide us with a glorious insight into our past?
We take a quick tour through Hemel Hempstead to share with you some of our favourite buildings.
Its tall and elegant spire is said to be one of the tallest in Europe, which is why it is hard to miss the charm and beauty of St Mary’s Church. Although the building of the church began in around 1150, the spire wasn’t added until the 14th century. Norman in architectural design, except for the porches and vestry, it was built using the local clunch stone and flint. The church has a glorious ring of eight bells, cast by bellfounders between 1590 and 1768, which bear inscriptions such as ‘God save King James – 1604’ and ‘Praise the Lord – 1633’.
Set on the site of the original Bury House is The Walled Garden, also known as Charter Gardens. King Henry VIII granted Hemel a charter to make it a market town in 1539, and a local myth is that it got the name Charter Tower because Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed there – although the tower wasn’t built until after the charter was given. Between 1540 and 1595, Bury House was rebuilt and The Charter Tower was its original entrance. Whether the myth is true or not, the beautiful tower stands proud in Gadebridge Park for us all to enjoy.
Another of Henry VIII’s haunts is said to be The Olde Kings Arms in the Old Town, which was an ale house in the early 1600s. It is believed that the pub is haunted, with some suggesting that a white lady walks its halls, thought to be the ghost of Anne Boleyn. Ghostly encounters aside, it’s a beautiful building bursting with original features, so well worth a visit.
To continue our Tudor theme we head to a mock Tudor building. Established in 1845, the local volunteer fire brigade is said to be one of the oldest in the country. They worked with limited resources until a major fire at Gaddesden Place in 1905 highlighted the need for a better fire engine and a new Fire House. A blue plaque marks the place where the Fire House was built to house their horse-drawn steam fire engine from 1906.
We couldn’t write a piece about some of our architectural favourites without mentioning Piccotts End, famed for its 15th century cottages, which are all Grade I listed. They held a fascinating secret for over 500 years until the extraordinary historic wall paints were uncovered in 1953. Thought to have been painted around 1470, they are believed to be pre-Reformation, with scenes including St Catherine of Alexandria with a wheel and sword, and the baptism of Jesus by St. John. The village is an architectural feast for the eyes; as well as the medieval cottages you will also find a 19th century watermill, and Georgian and Regency villas.
Instead of looking down at a screen, why not take a look at the beauty that surrounds you? With so many fascinating finds, you may wish to get out and explore some more.
We’re inspired by our local architecture, and if you would like to know more about living in and the properties available within our community, contact our team at Squire Estates.Published Date: Feb-25-2017