Harpenden


Harpenden

infobox UK place
country = England
latitude = 51.8175
longitude = -0.3524
official_name = Harpenden
population = 30,000
shire_district= St Albans
shire_county = Hertfordshire
region = East of England
constituency_westminster= Hitchin and Harpenden
post_town = HARPENDEN
postcode_district = AL5
postcode_area = AL
dial_code = 01582
os_grid_reference= TL135145
Harpenden is a town in the City and District of St Albans of Hertfordshire in the South East of England. It lies on the A1081, north of St Albans. Harpenden's exceptionally high-performing schools and fast train links to the city of London and airports make it a popular and affluent commuter town, with The Daily Telegraph listing the town as 8th on their 'Richest Towns List' in May 2008 [Britain's Richest Towns - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.jhtml?xml=/property/2008/04/19/nosplit/prichtown10-01.xml] . With an average house price of £500,000 and many properties selling for up to £3/4 million it is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK, outside of London. Fact|date=April 2008

The town's total population is just under 30,000. [ [http://www.hertsdirect.org/atozofservices/twcoun3y/twytow4y/590511 Hertsdirect.org] , however, other sources suggest that the population is either higher, [http://www.acresofharpenden.com/Harpenden.htm] or lower. [http://www.hertfordshire.com/pages/towns/show-data.asp?id=281] ]

Geography and administration

There are two civil parishes: Harpenden and Harpenden Rural.

Harpenden railway station is on a frequent and fast rail link to central London now served by First Capital Connect, having been served previously by Thameslink. Some trains stop at 'all stations' on the route, others stop at St Albans before continuing non-stop to London St Pancras International (Harpenden to St Pancras International - 25 minutes). Trains run north to Luton and on to Bedford. From London, the trains continue south to Brighton via Gatwick or Wimbledon and Sutton. The rail link therefore gives direct access to London Luton Airport (one stop north) and London Gatwick Airport (approx 1hr 10 m on a limited stops train).

In common with much of the region, Harpenden is an area of extremely high property costs. Land Registry data suggests that the average house price in Harpenden in the 1st quarter of 2006 was £500,902 (against £287,277 for St Albans District generally, and £183,598 nationally). The data also indicates that an unusually high proportion of houses in Harpenden are owner occupied (81.4%, as opposed to 69.6% in the District generally, and 66.2% nationally). [ [http://www.mouseprice.com/property-stats/st-albans/harpenden-property-al5-1.aspx Source] . Part of the discrepancy is explained by the "top-heavy" nature of the Harpenden property market, which has a disproportionately high level of detached houses (40.8% in Harpenden, against a national average of 22.8%) and a disproportionately low level of flats (16.5% in Harpenden, against 19.2% nationally) and, slightly perplexingly, significantly fewer terraced houses (15.4% in Harpenden, against a national average of 26.0%).]

The River Lea flows through the Batford neighbourhood. The Nicky Line railway used to link Harpenden, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead. It has since been converted to a path forming part of the National Cycle Network. The A6 used to run through Harpenden, the road numbering was changed to avoid congestion. The M1 runs nearby.

Harpenden has a large number of its streets named for English literary figures on the East side of the town (an area known, unsurprisingly, as the Poet's Corner), including Byron Road, Cowper Road, Kipling Way, Milton Road, Shakespeare Road, Spenser Road, Shelley Court, Tennyson Road, Townsend Road masefield road and Wordsworth Road.

History

Harpenden grew out of Westminster Abbey's gradual clearing of woodland for farming and settlement within its Wheathampstead manor, granted by Edward the Confessor in 1060. A first reference to a parish church is in 1221 (where it is referred to as Harpendene) so it is inferred that the village grew up around then. The church of St Nicholas is the oldest church in the town, originally built as a Chapel of ease in 1217.

Just beyond the southern edge of the town lies Nomansland Common (sometimes simply called "No Man's Land") upon which part of the Second Battle of St Albans were fought during the War of the Roses. Nomanland Common also saw the first annually contested steeplechase in England, in 1830 when it was organised by Thomas Coleman, and the last fight of nineteenth century bare-knuckle fighter, Simon Byrne. It was also the haunt of the highwaywoman known as "Wicked Lady".

Between 1848 and 1914 the common was a regular venue for horse racing. In his "History of Hertfordshire" in 1879, John Edwin Cussans commented "Notwithstanding that these meetings are under the most unexceptional patronage as regards the Stewards, yet for two days in the year all the London pickpockets, sharpers and blackguards who happen to be out of gaol are permitted to make Harpenden their own and to make travelling in a first-class carriage on the Midland Railway a danger to men and an impossibility to ladies."

A little-known industry of Harpenden was straw-weaving, a trade mainly carried out by women in the nineteenth century. A good straw weaver could make as much as a field labourer. The straw plaits were taken to the specialist markets in St Albans or Luton and bought by dealers to be converted into straw items such as boaters and other hats or bonnets.

The arrival of the railway from 1860 and the sale of farms for residential development after 1880 radically changed Harpenden's surroundings. It grew from a basically agricultural village into a town. The actress Ellen Terry lived in Harpenden from 1868 to 1874, with her architect lover Godwin, in a house he built called Pigeonwick. He commuted into London by train.

Harpenden's most prestigious contribution to history is Rothamsted Manor and Rothamsted Research (formerly Rothamsted Experimental Station and later the Institute of Arable Crops Research), a leading centre for agricultural research. In front of its main building, which faces the common, is a stone, erected in 1893, commemorating 50 years of experiments by Sir John Bennet Lawes and Joseph Henry Gilbert.

Lawes inherited the family estate in 1834. Acknowledged as "the father of agricultural science", his early field experiments on Hertfordshire farms led him to patent a phosphate fertiliser, the sales of which enriched him immensely. With the proceeds, he established the experimental station, building laboratories in the 1850s. The station continued the development of the artificial fertilisers on which most modern farmers now depend. Some of the long-term 'classical field experiments' begun by Lawes and Gilbert remain in place to this day, representing a unique resource for agricultural and environmental research.

During the Second World War, Harpenden was used to evacuate children from heavily-bombed London. However, Harpenden was not totally confident in its safety, as evidenced by the now decaying Bowers Parade air raid shelters, soon to be secured for the future. It has been suggested both that it be used for educational and emergency training purposes. [ [http://www.harpenden.gov.uk/Uploads/Site796/Files/FULLCOUNCIMINUTES9THJULY2007.doc] Harpenden Town Council meeting re: Air Raid Shelter]

Parks and commons

One notable feature of Harpenden is its abundant parks and commons. The central area of Harpenden, known locally as "the village" is characterised by Church Green, Leyton Green and the High Street Greens, which give the town its provincial feel.

Just to the south of the town centre is Harpenden common, stretching from the shops in the town centre for more than a mile to the south, encompassing a total of 238 acres.

In addition the town has large green public spaces available in Rothamsted Park, Batford park, Kinsbourne Green, Lydekker park and the Nicky line which bisects the town.

Just to the south of Harpenden is the large expanse of Nomansland common.

Education

Harpenden boasts excellent secondary schools:
*Sir John Lawes School, a specialist Arts College and Science College
*Roundwood Park School, a dual specialist Mathematics and Computing College and Language College
*St. George's School, a specialist Technology College
Aldwickbury School is an independent all boys preparatory school.

Twinning

Harpenden is twinned with:
* Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, France
* Alzey, Germany

Miscellany

* The Rothamsted Experimental Station is in Harpenden.
* Youth With A Mission an international Christian missionary organization, has an estate in Harpenden. [http://www.ywam.org/searches/BProfile.asp?BID=56] This is on the site of the old National Children's Home.
* In a 2008 episode of Peep Show, Sophie was mentioned as owning a mug marked "Harpenden, Harpenden, Harpenden".
* A annual classic car show 'Classics on the Common' is held on the last Weds in July attracting over 10,000 visitors and 1300 cars. A free event with any monies collected going to charity. One of the biggest events of its type in Europe.

Notable residents

* George Hogg (adventurer), British journalist who rescued 50 orphaned children in China during the Japanese occupation. He is to be played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers in The Children of Huang Shi, a film to be released in May 2008.
* Ken Brown, who played in the Ryder Cup and is now a commentator for major golf competitions such as the British Open
* Red Dwarf actor and Robot Wars commentator Craig Charles [http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/lifestyle/family-life/2003/05/13/me-and-my-health-84229-12953255/]
* The visionary poet Ralph Chubb was born here in 1892.
* Donald Coxeter one of the great geometers of the 20th century attended St. George's School.
* Everest mountaineer, author, scriptwriter and director Matt Dickinson
* Former Arsenal footballers Lee Dixon and Andy Linighan
* Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, involved in the Dreyfus affair lived in Milton Road, after his flight from France until his death in 1923. He is buried in St Nicholas' churchyard.
* Saracens and England Rugby player Andy Farrell.
* Ronald Fisher, a statistician "who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" [http://www.economics.soton.ac.uk/staff/aldrich/fisherguide/rafreader.htm] worked at Rothamsted Experimental Station.
* Martin Gore from the band Depeche Mode
* Frank Ifield, legendary Australian singer and yodeller lived in Harpenden
* Guy Johnston Leading cello soloist and winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2000
* The great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick lived and died in nearby Childwickbury Manor.
* Australian writer Henry Lawson lived in 'Spring Villa', Cowper Rd, Harpenden from July-September, 1900.
* Late comedian Eric Morecambe lived in Harpenden, close to his beloved Luton Town FC. His funeral and burial took place in St. Nicholas Church. The Public Halls are named after him.
* Albert Moses, an actor who starred in Mind Your Language playing Punjabi student Ranjeet Singh and a number of James Bond films.
* Football commentator John Motson
* Tim Rice, the composer, attended Aldwickbury School.
* Christopher Strauli an actor who starred in "Only When I Laugh" and "Full House" was born in Harpenden.
* Dame Ellen Terry the famous actress 1847 - 1928, who lived in Harpenden from 1868 to 1874
* Sir John Wittewronge owned and lived at Rothamsted Manor, where in the seventeenth century he kept a weather and gardening diary which has very early records of rain, temperature and winds.
* Alternative musician Richard Youngs grew up in the town and recorded several albums there, especially "Lake" and "Advent"

port

Harpenden is home to various sports clubs. Just a selection are listed below:
* Harpenden Town Football Club
* Harpenden Rugby Football Club
* Harpenden Lawn Tennis Club
* Harpenden Dolphins Cricket Club
* Harpenden Colts Football Club
* Harpenden Hockey Club

Harpenden's Under 17 Rugby Squad won the 2008 National Cup Championship.

Gallery

References

External links

* [http://www.harpenden.gov.uk/ Harpenden Town Council]
* [http://www.harpendenvillage.com/ Harpenden Village Site]
* [http://www.classicsonthecommon.com/ Classics on the Common website]


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