Unlike most New Towns, Hemel Hempstead developed around a charming old settlement, centred on St. Mary´s Church, dating from the 12th century. Roman structures have been discovered in the Boxmoor and Gadebridge areas of the town and a settlement on this site was mentioned in the Domesday book. The preserved High Street has 17th and 18th century houses and is now home to specialist shops and a lively arts centre. The Industrial Revolution impacted the town, with the construction of the Grand Junction Canal (now part of the Grand Union Canal). At the end of the Second World War, Hemel Hempstead was designated a New Town, to house Londoners displaced by the war, and the development of the New Town was based around a green landscape and featured the Water Gardens. Hemel Hempstead has some famous faces associated with it; Sir Francis Bacon was lord of the manor at Gorehambury (which included Hemel Hempstead) and students of Lockyers Park School included Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and Guy Burgess, the Russian spy (and one of Queen Victoria’s grandsons).
Must see and do
- Take a walk through the New Town and shop!
- Cycle along the canal with a break to catch your breath at Aspley Lock
- Uncover a bargain at the market
- Head to Binghams Park Farm for food and fun!
- Discover the historic Frogmore Mill and delve into the history of the canal and paper-making
- Be entertained at the Old Town Hall with an evening of theatre, comedy, music or dance
- Hunt for dinosaurs, enjoy a gig or enjoy a full family day out at Knebworth
- Don’t be scared, have fun with the scarecrows at the annual Scarecrow Festival, Flamstead (Aug)
- Find accommodation in the area