Facts and legends of Hertford Heath

Haileybury College

Haileybury College - Credit: Archant

Killer ghosts, highway robbery and roaring supercars – 10 things you may not know about the village of Herford Heath

The Goat pub

The Goat pub - Credit: Archant

1. The imposing Haileybury College began life as a training college for civil servants destined for India. It was commissioned in 1806 by the East India Company and flourished for more than 50 years. Four years after it closed in 1858, Haileybury opened as a public school, and by the mid 1870s there were more than 500 pupils. Today, the independent co-educational school caters for 770 boarding and day pupils.


2. Local legend has it that in the 1970s a man taking his dog for a walk in woodland surrounding Haileybury College heard his pet break into yelping. From out of the undergrowth, a troop of ghostly soldiers marched to where he stood, rooted to the spot. The phantoms then killed one of their comrades.

A troop of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers marched in the area, and records reveal a man was killed where the soldiers were seen.

There is a long-standing classic car meet in the village

There is a long-standing classic car meet in the village - Credit: Archant


3. At the heart of the village, on the green, is The Goat Inn – thought to be the oldest building in Hertford Heath.

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It was recorded as sleeping quarters for soldiers in 1756, and maps before this date show its location.

A focal point for the community today, the pub is a popular meeting point for ramblers and social groups, and serves traditional pub food in a picturesque setting.


4. On the first Sunday of every month, classic car enthusiasts bring their prized motors to the village and gather at The Goat Inn. Organised by Hertfordshire Classic Car Club, its members bring out up to 50 cars, trade tips and answer any questions from classic car novices. From about 11am, vistitors can see a wide range of vehicles – from early wooden-framed tourers to sleek modern supercars.


5. Infamous English highwayman Dick Turpin is alleged to have frequented the area in the 18th century, when he spent time at The Goat Inn.

On March 22, 1739, he was found guilty of two charges of horse stealing, and was hanged on April 7 in York.


6. Hertford Heath Nature Reserve is 24 hectares of open heathland, woodland and ponds, which are home to a variety of rare wildlife. Owned by Haileybury College and managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The heath is habitat for grass snakes and slow worms, the ponds are home to great crested and smooth newts, and birds here include the great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper and nuthatch.

The woodland includes hornbeam coppice, oak and birch, and in spring it is carpeted with bluebells.

The trust is supported by volunteers who help with funding and do a large proportion of the maintenance work, surveying and recording to monitor the effects of management.


7. There are nearly 40 Grade II listed buildings in Hertford Heath, many of them Haileybury College structures – including the main quadrangle and memorial hall, and the Albans girls’ halls of residence.

Other Grade II listed structures in the village include the drinking fountain on the green, the Church of the Holy Trinity, the Coleman tomb in the churchyard, The Goat Inn and the East India College Arms pub.


8. The Church of the Holy Trinity was built in 1863, costing £1,400. In 1881, the Reverend Charles Barclay and his wife Florence came to the parish, where they raised eight children.

Barclay provided villagers with clean water from a well sunk in his garden at his own expense, as well as providing the drinking fountain on the green (the Metropolitan Water Board did not bring water to Hertford Heath until 1909).

The village war memorial was erected by the Barclay family for the community a few weeks before they left Hertford Heath in 1920.


9. Hertford Heath was once split between two parishes – Little Amwell and Great Amwell. Little Amwell was wholly contained within Hertford Heath, whereas Great Amwell included the village of that name, parts of Stanstead Abbotts and Stanstead St Margarets and the southern half of Hertford Heath.

After sustained campaigning by Hertford Heath residents, the two parishes were united in 1990 under Hertford Heath Parish Council.


10. A well-attended annual fete is held each year in July, with past events including stalls, pet shows, children’s races and talent competitions This year, the village fete committee is in need of more volunteers to ensure the event on July 13 runs smoothly. People are particularly needed to man the stalls on the village green. If you can help, call Trevor Goodingham on 01992 554293 or email Jo Hole at clerk@hertfordheath.com

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