Getting to know Cottered

Village life is well and truly thriving in this corner of Hertfordshire, as Damion Roberts finds out...

SET amid the rolling hills and fields of the north east of Hertfordshire lies Cottered, a charming village full of vitality and friendliness.

The village is welcoming, has a close-knit feel about it and is proud of its community spirit and hard-working nature. It is also full of lush, green spaces and plenty of public footpaths, which gives Cottered a very active feel about it, as chairman of Cottered Parish Council, Bryan Pitman, says.

‘I suppose we think of Cottered as a typical Hertfordshire village with very nice large greens in the middle of it, right through the centre.

‘If you talk to people outside the village, they mention those beautiful playing fields, the greens and the excellent pub right in the middle of it.’

The Bull is that pub/restaurant, and it sits in the very heart of Cottered on Bull Lane. On the opposite road, a little to the east, is Cottered Village Hall which looks out onto the village’s main playing fields.

The hall itself is quite new, having been opened in 2001 to replace the previous facility which had been erected in 1957, and could be described as the very hub of social activity in the village.

Most Read

Many sports groups are based there, and so are social functions, dances and plenty of other activities.

‘It is a very good facility,’ said Bryan, who has been the council’s chairman for eight years.

‘It is certainly a very grand building with some of the finances coming from a millennium fund and village donations. They, the residents, drove it through.

‘It’s quite central to a lot of things that happen in the village, and clubs from outside the village hire it out as well.’

Adjacent to the hall, the road to Brook End – with a name like that how can this be anything but an English village? – has a slight lay-by which has a deep red coloured post box which stands next to a similarly coloured telephone box. Tradition remains here, and the village is all the better for it.

To the east of Cottered Village Hall the road veers off to the right as the A507 heads towards Buntingford.

Just before the turning there is a side road, beside which sits the wonderfully clipped and terrifically manicured Magpie Farm, before the road rolls on for another mile to Cottered’s close neighbour, Throcking.

The village’s parish church is St John the Baptist, which is a Grade II listed building and, accompanied by some houses, is located on a triangular piece of land framed by the two main roads and Warren Lane.

One person buried within the churchyard is Sir James Cantlie, a Scottish physician and pioneer of first aid who was hailed for rescuing his friend, the then future president of Chine, Sun Yat-Sen, from kidnap in London in 1896.

There is also a plaque of Sir James inside the church building, while a blue plaque was recently placed on a cottage in Baldock Road on the most westerly side of the village commemorating Yat-Sen’s brief stay there on a visit to his one-time saviour.

There are some beautiful thatched cottages within the village, but there are new builds too. The village looks picture perfect and the residents are proud of how it appears – and they aim to keep it that way.

Kind enough to speak to Hertfordshire Life on his 71st birthday was retired garage proprietor Dennis Thorp.

Dennis spent 45 years working on cars, but after downing his tools he now wears the cap of the local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator.

‘If somebody has a problem, or sees somebody they’re not happy with or who seems strange, they could ring me and let me know. They have a contact within the village, and it makes people feel safe knowing that we’re all looking after each other.

‘We’re not a big village. We don’t have problems with young children unlike a town, for example, but it’s good for people to know that they do have someone to turn to.

‘There is a very strong community in the village, and this reinforces that. And we want to keep it the way it is.’

And that – the tradition, the love and care of the village and the residents’ pride about where they live – is one of the most endearing things about Cottered.