Epping Green

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There’s no pavement along the road running through Epping Green, which meant it was a little tricky taking photos. The most imposing building is a brick stud farm with its cupola. The bricks are etched with the names and initials of innumerable youngsters.

There’s a pub set back from the road and undergoing renovation when we passed, and a big old house down a lane has been converted into flats. The land along there is known as Epping Long Green. Beyond that, a yard with utilities paraphernalia – a water tower and phone masts.

We found a sort of circular walk from there and passed through a farmyard-cum-junkyard-cum-builder’s yard with some interesting bits and pieces, including a property marker of the old London brewer Meux that operated premises on the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street until 1921.

Here there be dragons

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The Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford Ordnance Survey shows at least 20 greens to the north of Bishop’s Stortford, so off we set off on a reconnaissance trip. We were just a few hundred yards from Killem’s Green when we spotted it – a ‘Welcome to Essex’ sign. I’d forgotten the Essex bulge to the north of Stortford. So, the likes of Roast Green and Stickling Green, Starling’s Green and Deer’s Green are beyond this blog’s Hertfordshire remit.

But we’d come this far and decided that if we were within sight of Hertfordshire, the natives might not be entirely feral and a mosey might be risked. After all, we dipped a few hundred yards into Bedfordshire to visit Butterfield Green (earlier post) and survived.

So we stopped off at Killem’s Green and nearby Pickerton Green. Killem’s Green is a 90 degree turn in a country road. Look at the map and you can see that in former days it was a crossroads – or crosstrack – a byway continuing one road approach and a footpath the other. The north-south road approach is edged by a sward that may be the relic of the original green. There are four houses. The source of the River Stort is nearby.

This trip was the day it struck me that we’d started recording greens in spring and now it was autumn. The harvest was in. And the oak trees around the vast field that stands on Pickerton Green were full of acorns and the bushes bulged with hips and hoars and sloes.

South of Killem’s Green is Langley Lower Green, with its mirror Upper Green a mile to the east. Too far inside Essex for us to record, but interesting as they lie some distance from Langley village. The name Langley comes from the old English for long clearance from woodland. It may be that the two greens were subdivisions of the ley that later spawned the village.

So, we moved on to another Lower Green, this one on the righteous side of the boundary, between Meesden and Anstey. It has no (extant) upper green and seemed far enough from the nearest villages to be deemed freestanding and therefore meriting a post. We found some half-hidden ponds and a clutch of pretty cottages.

A view to the north of the hamlet gave on to white earth and a field of sunflowers. Beyond Scales Park wood, the map still shows a long airstrip that was built during the Second World War for the US air force. It was initially a fighter base but later hosted Flying Fortresses. A monument at a pub in Nuthampstead has the chilling inscription Hell from Heaven.

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Wellpond Green and Westland Green

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Bar a Marmite angular newbuild, this fabulous old barn is the only building of note in Westland Green, unless what you are noting is size, expanse of garden and price. We got there by the ill-advised route from the Hadhams, the final stretch being through a farmyard.

The houses sit among trees along the arms of the Y formed by two of the approaching lanes. On the other side of the southern lane is a narrow wood beyond which lies Pig’s Green, land that is now a vineyard.

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Wellpond Green is the Siamese twin of Westland Green. Unlike its counterpart, Wellpond Green was a living, breathing village at one time, with a pub – erroneously still marked on my Ordnance Survey – and a post office. There are a few lovely old cottages. There’s also a bit of pomposity and a run of gaffs with garden sheds as big as my house, grounds bigger than many municipal parks, and posh rubbish.

Ambling around, I think we found the wellpond. Broken Green is down a track. There’s a former farm on the near corner and a rare clutch of houses below the £1.5mn bracket on the far side but nothing more to see.

Bury Green

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Truth be told, we didn’t mean to go to Bury Green. A subscriber alerted us to a whole collection of greens on the land above and between the Rib and Stort valleys. We missed a turn for our intended stop and meandered on through the lanes of East Hertfordshire until we happened upon Bury Green.

And very pleased we were. The cottages of the hamlet line the northern entrance and then fan out around a sizeable bit of tended grassland.

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The old telephone box has been repurposed as miniature library. And there are a couple of farms on the edges of the hamlet. (There are other Bury Greens in the county, by the way.)

Todds Green

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The Thatched Cottage – claiming to date from the 14th century – is the only venerable building in Todds Green, which otherwise comprises a Victorian terrace on the single turning off the new Stevenage Road, a number of pleasant but unremarkable first half of the 20th century houses plus a few newer builds, and a couple of small light industrial estates.

Like Norton Green (see a previous post), Todd’s Green escapes being sucked into Stevenage by the A1M which truncated the original Stevenage Road. Fishers Green just a few hundred yards away (see an earlier post) was not so lucky. The penalty is the proximity of the road.

You can walk across the fields to Lower Titmore Green, an outlier of the equally small hamlet of Titmore Green. The latter is the location of the Hermit pub, shown in an earlier post on Redcoats Green because the hermit referred to was linked to the latter location

Welham Green

Apologies Welham Green but this what the name meant to me when I was commuting back and forth from London – a blur of vehicle parks and anonymous warehouses crowding a quaint old railway halt.

In fact, Welham Green station is not a Victorian relic. It was only opened in 1986, a recognition that constant expansion during the 20th century had turned a village on the southern edge of the Hatfield Park estate into a sizeable settlement in need of a commuter station of its own. And although it does have string of depots and yards on one fringe and is hemmed in by the A1M a mile to the west and the railway and A roads on other sides, it also has the expansive Bush Wood with an area of heath above. They are worth a walk even if the noise of distant traffic is incessant. The wood is typical of Hertfordshire, hornbeam and oak with a sprinkling of holly.

A circular walk through the wood, up to the triangulation point on the heath and back into the village passes briefly behind the depots and yards.

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From there, we followed a footpath through the housing and came out near Balloon Corner, so called because of the memorial below that tells its own story. Or it tells a version of a story. An alternative telling is that the intrepid aviator was carrying not just a dog and a cat but also a pigeon, which in an enclosed space was asking for trouble. It was just the cat that was deposited at Welham Green into the arms of a girl working in the fields.

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Hatching Green

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Where Kinsbourne Green (previous post) is to the north of Harpenden, Hatching Green is to the south of the old town, to the west of the common and the main Harpenden Road.

The remaining patch of green space is alongside Redbourn Lane, which has a steady flow of traffic. The shape of the grassy patch with some lovely old cottages and a pub makes it seem like Hatching Green is striving to maintain its identity by turning its back on expanded Harpenden.

Despite that defensive air and the nearness of the roads, Hatching Green has easy access to open spaces. A path in one corner leads over some fields to Harpenden Common. Or you can walk a couple of hundred yards down a quiet road to the grounds of the agricultural research centre at Rothamsted (below).

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Kinsbourne Green

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We live in Hitchin, which is in the same parliamentary constituency as Harpenden. But for most people a trip from the one to the other is a rare event. They are old market towns of a similar size so, largely, what you find in the one you find in the other. And communications in Hertfordshire are firmly on a north-south access so the drive requires routing through Luton or having the time and sense of adventure needed to negotiate the pretty route.

All of which explains why we’d never been to Kinsbourne Green. The large green remains. It’s just to the northwest of Harpenden and is an expanse of common land climbing gently from just off the A1081. Stretches are fringed with oaks. One negative: I’d have liked bigger areas to have been left unmowed for wild flowers and bracken and insects. With so much space it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone. Still, we enjoyed our visit.

There are a couple of farms near the southwest corner of the green and the south side has a few interesting older houses as well as some uninteresting modern mini-mansions.

Ayot Green

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This venerable old gentleman on his walking frame and his fellow oaks and Horse Chestnut cousins line the two lanes passing through Ayot Green, their shadows dappling the tarmac.

The grass is clipped short, the gardens of the handsome brick cottages well tended, contributing to Ayot Green’s attempt at quiet composure. In the depths of lock down when traffic was minimal that composure seemed assured but by August the incessant drone of the A1M in its nearby cutting was back, fraying the edges.

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We wandered from Ayot Green to its smaller sibling Ayot Little Green, which has equally picture postcard cottages and does not suffer the road blight.

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Ayot Green was the site of the station that served the Ayots. The old line from Wheathampstead is now a footpath and cycle way cut short by the main road. A station house remains and we found the gateposts of a level crossing and sleepers used for fencing, among other things, as we ambled along.

Offley Green

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Offley Green stretches away, flat wheat acreage reaching to Roe Green in one direction and in another to a distant wood and these houses of Friars Grange, with a moat behind. A handsome and sizeable cottage stands at another edge. A network of footpaths hatch the land, leading off to places with names like Julians, Birds Nest Farm, and The Tryst.