Bishop's Stortford

Bishop's Stortford

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Bishop's Stortford
latitude= 51.8720
longitude= 0.1725
civil_parish= Bishop's Stortford
population= 35,325
shire_district= East Hertfordshire
shire_county = Hertfordshire
region= East of England
constituency_westminster= Hertford and Stortford
postcode_district = CM23
postcode_area= CM
dial_code= 01279
os_grid_reference= TL495215

Bishop's Stortford is a market town in east Hertfordshire, England, on the county boundary with Essex. It is situated just west of the M11, is the closest town to London Stansted Airport, and is part of the London commuter belt. Bishop's Stortford is 29 miles north east from Charing Cross in Central London and it is within the London Fringe. In the 2006 edition of the Channel 4 'Best and Worst Places to Live in the UK', East Hertfordshire was the seventh best district to live in. The town has a population of about 35,000 (United Kingdom Census 2001) and is administered by the East Hertfordshire district council.


There was nothing significant in the Bishop's Stortford area until it became a small Roman settlement on the Roman road of Stane Street between St Albans and Colchester. After the Roman Empire broke down, the small town was abandoned in the 5th century.

A new Saxon settlement grew up on the site. At that time, the settlement was known as Esterteferd, probably because a family called Estere owned or controlled the river ford (crossing) around which the settlement was based. Over time, this became Stortford. In 1060, William, Bishop of London bought the Stortford manor and estate for 8 pounds, and the town has been known as Bishop's Stortford ever since.

At the time of the Domesday book the town had a population of around 120 inhabitants. The Normans built a motte and bailey wooden castle in the town, but by the Tudor period it was in ruins (the mound still remains). Development of the town increased with the presence of a river and the roads. A weekly market was set up for farmers to sell their goods.

Despite outbreaks of the plague in the 16th century and 17th century, the town continued to grow with an approximate population of 1,200 by this point.

Unusually, the River Stort is named after the town, and not the town after the river. When early cartographers came to the town in the early 1600s, they reasoned that the town must have been named for the ford over the Stort and assumed the river was called the Stort. It has been ever since. Until then, there was no official name for the river.

After 1769, the River Stort was made navigable, further transport links improved the town when the town was made a stagecoach stop on the Mail coach road between Cambridge and London.

By 1801, Bishop's Stortford had become a market town; a corn exchange had been established, whilst the main industry was malting. In 1842, the railway came to Bishop's Stortford; another introduction of the Victorian era was the opening of a hospital, in 1895.

At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1901, the population was over 7,000. By 1951, Bishop's Stortford had expanded further, to 13,000. During World War II, Bishop's Stortford was the evacuation centre for many Britons, including the entire Clapton Girls Technology College. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, Bishop's Stortford has seen further growth since it became a commuter town. The M11 motorway, nearby Stansted Airport, and the train links to London and Cambridge have contributed to the town having a population of around 35,000, as of the 2001 national census, but future growth is expected to increase the population to 45,000.

Bishop's Stortford has its town centre and six outer suburbs: Thorley, Thorley Park, Havers, Bishops Park, St Michael's Mead and Snowley. Little Hallingbury and Takeley, too, are within the ambit of Bishop's Stortford; they are, however, in Essex rather than Hertfordshire.

Arson and Threats in 1825

In March and April 1825, a number of buildings in Bishop's Stortford were set alight and caused great alarm in the town. A committee was formed and a £500 reward offered for information on the arsonist. Soon a number of threatening letters were received, warning in part that "Stortford shall be laid in ashes" [] . Thomas Rees was arrested and found guilty on the charge of sending the letters, but not of arson. He was sent to Australia as a convict.

hootings in 2007

On 28 August 2007, two men and a teenager were shot dead at '2, Plaw Hatch Close' in Bishop's Stortford. Two women were seriously injured in the attack that was around 21:35 pm. The men killed were named as Keith Cowell, 52, and his son Matthew, 17, who died alongside 33-year-old Tony Dulieu of Billericay. Keith Cowell's wife, Nicole, had left for work at Stansted Airport 10 minutes before the attack. A three-year-old girl called 'Angel' was thought to have been in the house at the time of the shooting. Chief Superintendent Al Thomas of the Hertfordshire Police said, "We share the concern and sense of shock within the community. Early information suggests this was a targeted incident and not a random attack." Post-mortem examinations were conducted on the three bodies on Wednesday, August 29 2007 but the results have not yet been made public. Police presence was dramatically increased after the incident in and around the town. However, crime rates in the town are well below the national average.


Currently, the town centre is undergoing many changes, with the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and surrounding area to make way for a new town centre area and the building of new city type apartments and penthouses on the riverside and around the town centre. Jackson Square (a modern shopping complex) was rebuilt and an extension added with many cafes, bars and shops. The developments are happening quickly and are almost finished. Also the Havers (an outer part of Bishop's Stortford) is being redeveloped with new houses and flats being built. There are many plans for further expansion and development of the town due to its continued growth and the expected enlargement of Stansted Airport. If this goes ahead then the town will see many more changes than planned to be able to cope with the more people living there.

Bishop's Stortford is useful for a large number of Herts and Essex villages in its area, as most of the nearby towns (excluding Harlow) are small and Bishop's Stortford serves as a common ground for meeting, shopping, and entertainment.


The town is generally seen as a conservative area, and this can be backed up by the fact that in the 2005 national elections Mark Prisk was elected for the Conservative Party with a majority of the votes cast (50.5%) and conservative parties (including United Kingdom Independence Party) gained 53.8% - although General Election results cannot be used as a way of measuring the ideological stance of the constituents, and the fact that the constituency Bishop's Stortford is in covers many other settlements, including Hertford. A recent addition to the Conservatives' new shadow cabinet under new leader David Cameron is also from the town, Caroline Spelman.

The most passionate political issue for the town is the opposition to the expansion of Stansted Airport (known as Stop Stansted Expansion). A proportion of the local population vehemently opposes any new runways or any kind of growth taking place there (there are no pro-expansion lobbies). There is also an increasing opposition to the development of the town centre with many fearing the loss of its historical character.

The town also has a Youth Council that meets up once a month. It is made up of students from the local schools where many local and youth issues are discussed.


Bishop's Stortford is a particularly affluent area and this is partly due to the town's status as a commuter town for the (mainly financial) workers in London. The town is also home to many people working in the tourist related industry, including hotels, catering and airline staff, because it is the closest large town to Stansted Airport. In total, about 85% work in the services sector (2001 census). Bishop's Stortford is served by a variety of shops, both high street chains and long-established family firms. The main retail streets are "South", "Potter", "North", "Hockerill" Streets. "Jackson Square" is a modern shopping complex in which recent development has just been completed. Market days are Thursday and Saturday.

Transport and services

Bishop's Stortford owes its continued growth to developments in transport. It is well serviced by all forms of transport:

Bishop's Stortford station is on the London Liverpool Street to Cambridge mainline operated by National Express East Anglia. The Stansted Express services take around 20 minutes to reach Tottenham Hale and 40 minutes to reach London Liverpool Street and allow Bishop's Stortford to be part of the London Commuter Belt. Epping tube station is about 12 miles away from Bishop's Stortford which means some residents use the London Underground station rather than the main line station at Bishop's Stortford. Bishop's Stortford is close to junction 8 of the M11 motorway, which runs from London and the M25 north to Cambridge, and the town is a frequent stop-off point for travellers using the nearby Stansted airport. To the north of the town is the A120, which meets the A10 at Buntingford to the west and the A12 at Colchester to the east.

Stansted Airport is on the town's doorstep, with easy transport via rail between there and the town. This airport mainly flies to Europe and is the third largest airport serving London.

The town has many bus routes, including the 308 main bus route for travel within Bishop's Stortford and to Stansted Airport. Other, longer routes like the 510 (Stansted Airport - Harlow) and 333 (Stansted - Epping) link Bishop's Stortford with other nearby towns, and several services exist to connect the plethora of nearby villages to the town.

Famous inhabitants

* Cecil Rhodes, the son of the vicar of St. Michael's Church in the town. Rhodes was born in 1853 and was the effective founder of the state of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), De Beers diamond company and the Rhodes Scholarship. There is a museum for him within the house that he lived in.
* Martin Caton - MP for Gower was also born in Bishop's Stortford.
* John Mann - comedian. Lives in Bishop's Stortford and has a fortnightly column in the local paper, The Bishop's Stortford Observer.
* Jon Thorne - Musician
* Frederick Scott Archer - inventor of the collodion process, the first photographic emulsion used to create glass negatives.
* Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, owned land in Bishop's Stortford, though there is no record of his having visited the town. The town's Richard Whittington Primary School and the road "Whittington Way" are both named after him.
* Dean Bowditch - Footballer of Ipswich Town F.C. used to attend school in Bishop's Stortford.
* Matt Holland - Footballer who plays for Charlton Athletic.
* Dean Ashton - Footballer currently of West Ham United.
* Roy Essandoh - Footballer lives nearby. Formerly of Wycombe Wanderers and Bishop's Stortford
* Russell Brand - Comedian. Lived in Bishop's Stortford as a boarder at Hockerill College before being expelled.
* James Frain - Actor who lived in Bishop's Stortford as a youngster. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the John Stockwell box office hit Into the Blue (2005) starring alongside Paul Walker and Scott Caan, and Deception (Reindeer Games) where he starred alongside Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron.
* Sir Walter Gilbey, 1st Baronet - British Businessman. Wine merchant and philanthropist.
* Caroline Spelman - Conservative MP
* Matt Grant British Reality TV contestant
* Ernie Cooksey British footballer for Grays Athletic
* Ben Clarke Ex-England Rugby Union international and British Lions representative.
* Austin Healey Rugby Union player formerly of Leicester Tigers and now of Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club and lives close by.
* Greg James - BBC Radio 1 DJ - Early Breakfast
* John Radford Ex Arsenal FC player (third highest goal scorer ever) and, most recently, ex Bishops Stortford FC manager

Twin towns

Bishop's Stortford is twinned with the following towns:
* Villiers-sur-Marne in France
* Friedberg in Germany


Hertfordshire County Council is responsible for education. Being in England, Bishop's Stortford follows the English schools model of primary school, secondary school, and further education college. There are 13 primary and 5 secondary schools (two of which are single sex). The town does not have any further education colleges for post-16 education, as all post 16 education is received at the secondary schools in the form of sixth form. All schools in Hertfordshire have sixth forms.

There is also an independent school, the Bishop's Stortford College [] , which covers the whole educational spectrum from the ages of 4 to 18, and provides facilities which are enjoyed by the whole town.

Many of the secondary schools in the Bishop's Stortford area have gained special college status, variously for technology, sciences, languages, music or performing arts. Secondary schools include St Mary's Roman Catholic School, Birchwood High School, Hockerill Anglo-European College, The Bishop's Stortford High School (commonly referred to as the 'Boys High') [] and The Hertfordshire and Essex High School. The latter two schools are single sex schools, for boys and girls respectively, although both have mixed gender sixth-forms.

In July 2008, Herts and Essex High School and Bishop's Stortford High School submitted a ['wphappsearchres.displayResultsURL?ResultID=220092%26StartIndex=11%26SortOrder=APNID:asc%26DispResultsAs=WPHAPPSEARCHRES%26BackURL=%3Ca%20href=wphappcriteria.display?paSearchKey=103400%3ESearch%20Criteria%3C/a%3E'%3ESearch%20Results%3C/a%3E planning application] to merge to a single site funded by the building of new residential estates on their existing land.

Leisure and entertainment


Bishop's Stortford has many sports facilities, including the Grange Paddocks Swimming Pool & Gym, and various leagues are based in the town. Sporting facilities consist of the Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club, the cricket club, the hockey club, the tennis club, the squash club, the swimming club and the Bishop's Stortford Golf Club.

Bishop's Stortford Running Club (BSRC) supports road running and cross-country running, organising four training sessions a week (two coached), and also has an active multi-sports section for those interested in triathlon, duathlon and adventure racing.

Bishop's Stortford also boasts two association football clubs - Bishop's Stortford F.C., who play in the Conference South, and Bishop's Stortford Swifts, who play in the Essex Olympian Football League.

In nearby Thorley, there is also a cricket club; Thorley CC.


Located in the town centre is Anchor Street Entertainment, a multiplex which hosts an Empire cinema, a bowling alley with a bar and arcade, and a Cannon's Health Club.

The Lemon Tree in Water Lane is a restaurant which specialises in freshly cooked, locally sourced, modern British food. It is listed in both "The Good Food Guide" and the "Michelin Guide". In late 2006, popular restaurant Host opened a private members' bar above their restaurant in the Corn Exchange building.

Nightlife-spots in Bishop's Stortford include a Chicago Rock Cafe, nightclubs such as Flaunt and JR's and an over 22's club called The Attic. There is also The Terrace wine bar open during the summer months with food and live and DJ music on Friday and Saturdays till 12.30.

The Rhodes Arts Complex benefited from a lottery grant in 2006 and is now the main venue for live music and theatre.

In early 2007, Cluzion Music was set up to host a monthly Jazz Club in Bishop's Stortford. The Cluzion Jazz Club is hosted by local Jazz Pianist Peter Lemer and displays phenomenal musicianship in all degrees of Jazz. Sponsored by RealLife Music, the club is held at the Hume Theatre at St. Mary's, Windhill on the last Saturday of month.

Apart from that, the closest to a live music venue in Bishop's Stortford, supporting rock, blues and folk bands is The Half Moon at the top end of North Street. It is a cosy, traditional and somewhat untouched pub that has a small back-room with stage.

Bishops's Stortford is where the youth choir Cantate is based; the choir holds many concerts in the surrounding area, including numerous in the town itself.

Being a market town, Bishop's Stortford also has many large public houses within the town centre, most notably The Boars Head in the High Street (rumoured to date back to the early 1400s, and was once visited by the famous diarist Samuel Pepys) offers hostel accommodation, live sporting events and food served all day.


Being in South East England, the town enjoys a warmer climate than most of the United Kingdom and has some of the hottest summers in Britain; it is also one of the driest places in the country. Temperatures may sometimes reach the mid-30s Celsius in the summer. Snow is often seen in the winter months because the town is near to the east coast, where cold, moist air is brought in from the North Sea and cold fronts from northern Europe. In recent years there has been up to three inches of snow early in the year which has resulted in minor disruption to transport and caused some schools to close for several days. However, the snow tends not to persist for a significant length of time in any noticeable quantity.

Water for the town is supplied by Three Valleys Water. The water is classed as "very hard" with over 345 mg/l of minerals and 0.225 mg/l of fluoride.

Location Grid

External links

* [ Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation - Representing all the residents' associations in Bishop's Stortford]
* [ Comprehensive History of Bishop's Stortford]
* [ Shootings 2007]
* [ Bishop's Stortford Town Council]
* [ History]
* [ Stop Stansted Expansion]
* [ : photos of Bishops Stortford and surrounding area]
* [ Local MP site]
* [ Bus Services]
* [] Bishop's Stortford Business Connections - a local business network
* [ Holy Trinity Church Bishop's Stortford]
* [ St Michael's Church Bishop's Stortford]
* [ All Saint's Church Hockerill, Bishop's Stortford]
* [ Hockerill Anglo-European College]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bishop's Stortford — DEC …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bishop’s Stortford — Koordinaten 51° 52′ N …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford F.C. — Football club infobox clubname = Bishop s Stortford fullname = Bishop s Stortford Football Club nickname = The Bishops, The Blues founded = 1874 ground = Woodside Park, Bishop s Stortford capacity = 4,000 |(all seated) chairman = flagicon|England …   Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford — ▪ England, United Kingdom       town (parish), East Hertfordshire district, administrative and historic county of Hertfordshire, England. It lies along the River Stort on the northeast periphery of the metropolitan complex centred on London. In… …   Universalium

  • Bishop's Stortford Castle — Bishop s Stortford Castle, which is sometimes also known as Waytemore Castle, was in the town of Bishop s Stortford in Hertfordshire (gbmapping|TL490215).This began as a motte and bailey castle in the time of William the Conqueror. A rectangular… …   Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford College — Infobox UK school name = Bishop s Stortford College size = latitude = longitude = dms = motto = motto pl = established = 1868 approx = closed = c approx = type = Independent, Day Boarding religion = president = head label = Headmaster head = John …   Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford High School — Infobox UK school name = The Bishop s Stortford High School size = latitude = 51.85667 longitude = 0.16234 dms = dms motto = RESPICE ASPICE PROSPICE (Look to the past, present and future) motto pl = established = 1950 approx = closed = c approx …   Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford railway station — Infobox UK station name = Bishop s Stortford manager = National Express East Anglia locale = Bishop s Stortford borough = East Hertfordshire code = BIS usage0405 = 2.215 usage0506 = 2.181 usage0607 = 2.295 platforms = 3 start = May 16 1842 Bishop …   Wikipedia

  • Bishop's Stortford-Braintree Branch Line — The Bishop s Stortford Braintree Branch Line was a 40 mile long line connecting the towns of Bishop s Stortford, Dunmow and Braintree. It opened on the 7th November 1910. It was originally planned for the Branch Line to be connected to the West… …   Wikipedia

  • Stortford — DEC …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.