We’d walked or run around Crouch Green on many occasions without knowing it was a former green, let alone that it had a name. It nestles in the arms of two lanes, one of them being Three Houses Lane that comes up from Langley Bottom before dipping down to the Mimram valley and Whitwell. The other runs along the western top of Langley Bottom, through Rusling End to the various Easthall farms. Woodland still reaches towards three edges. There’s an unbroken chain of woods from Holl Lays Wood on the northern fringe of Crouch Green through those around the Knebworth estate to Watery Grove near Norton Green, some two and a half miles. They hide deer and a couple of tumuli but, for the most part, are now commercial not ancient woodland.
There’s one house quite close by that may be the only place with a Crouch Green postal address. You are quite high up here, so wander about and there are some views to be had. Otherwise, we found the ruin of the magnificent oak in the photograph.
A narrow and easy to miss turning off the B158 where it parallels the River Lea on its way to Hertford. A couple of twists in the lane. A handful of characterful houses, a copse and a pond. Then the road becomes a bridleway. And that’s about it for Howe Green. Rather charming.
Encapsulation of the idyll of rural England: bus stop, phone box, letter box, parish notice board, standing in front of the village hall, the photograph taken from the boundary of the cricket field. All it needs is a pub in the background. Sadly, the local is under threat.
The cricket field stands on Reed Green. The green is now the village green of Reed. I said at the start that I wasn’t going to do village greens to the extent that the village preceded the green. Rather I would concentrate on greens that on many occasions (but by no means all) gave rise to a hamlet or village. I don’t think I’m breaking my own guidelines here because Reed Green is listed by British History Online as an entity in its own right. Even today, Reed is more an area than a nucleated village. The school is almost half a mile from the church and manor house, the lane between only dotted with houses, and Reed End is a mile to the northwest of the church. That’s the other side of the A10, probably more of a barrier now than when its was Ermine Street.
Grassroots cricket had recently resumed when we walked past, and the covers were being checked after a night’s rain.
The Reed area has several ancient moated enclosures. One of these is at Gannock Green to the east and a little south of the church where the ditch is still well defined within a small wood. A footpath still leads there but no further, presumably once a track to a disappeared farmstead. Gannock Green is now cultivated land and a breeding enclosure for pheasants – autumn’s sacrifice to shooters who revel in bagging a near flightless target beaten towards their barrels.
There was a Fiddlers Green somewhere near read too but we could find no trace of it.
Burnham Green has a more lived-in feel than its near neighbour Harmer Green. It’s got a larger population, and a post office shop and a pub. It’s not a preserve of the well-to-do either though it’s only a stone’s throw from the millionaires’ reserve at Tewin Wood. The larger area of green is bordered on one side by an (I’m guessing) early 20th century housing development. The other side is fringed by a handful of cottages and countryside. Flowers on a park bench were another of the tokens of hope or supplication that we often found on our walks during this corona virus summer.
We passed through as lock down was easing and people were beginning to meet up again – at a safe distance – on the smaller area of green, near a charming village hall, built as a school in the 1840s and used as a mission church for some years after.
Harmer Green stands on high ground above Welwyn North and Digswell. A winding road leads down to the station at Welwyn North and there is a woodside footpath towards Woolmer Green and a dog’s leg route to Burnham Green avoiding the road (both places covered in earlier posts).
Monied is the word for Harmer Green. The older houses on the green itself are large and attractive and sit in their sizeable grounds. Those on the road on the road to Burnham are also large and also sit in sizeable grounds…
We had a look at the village pond, appreciated a show of ox eye daisies, noted a handsome war memorial, and moved on. The building at Barnes Wood nursery looked interesting but a high fence prevented a proper look.
We turned off Cole Green Way and made our way over ripe fields of grain to Birch Green, which has a number of houses built in the last century and a few older cottages. From there we cut through to the smaller settlement at Staines Green. Although the two are distinct and there is no ribbon development between them, they are umbilically linked by the grounds of a plant nursery. The footpath has garden plants along one side while the growing sheds on the other are more like an industrial warehouse complex.
On a hot summer afternoon, the clutch of modern whitewashed villas at the south end of the hamlet at Staines Green transported us for a moment to the Algarve.
We returned to the old railway route by way of rolling meadows with the farm at East End Green in view.
Labby Green is joined at the hip to Cole Green (previous post). Walking down the road from the latter, there’s another exclusive, authentic, original barn-conversion-appearance development underway, looking much like all the rest. Further down there’s a thriving pub doing grub that probably served as little railway hotel because just next to it a track leads up to the site of the railway station which served the Hertford-Welwyn line from 1858 to 1951. The remains of the platforms are still there as are cycle racks and a little car park for users of what is now a footpath and cycle track.
Follow the road and take a right to go through the old part of Letty Green which has a couple of listed buildings, including a deconsecrated church. We followed the Cole Green Way eastwards towards some more greens, popping out on to the residential road that runs almost parallel for a little way. Some sizeable but dowdy between-the-wars houses contrasted with an angular new build that is either inspired or inappropriate, depending on your taste. On balance, we quite liked its challenge to the neighbours.
For those of a certain age, a sign like this still prompts the thought “how many Eye Spy points will I get for that?” We saw this on a former coaching road leading out of Cole Green which is given primacy over its near neighbours Labby Green and Letty Green. The old railway track, now a footpath and cycling route is called Cole Green Way although it runs between the other two. The former train stop was Cole Green station, although it’s in Labby Green. And Letty Green now has a considerably larger population.
Still, we’ll come on to those two presently. Cole Green’s few houses lie around a broad sward crossed by three roads. The Ordnance Survey suggests this is not the green itself, siting that just to the north of the present village. There’s a set of grand gates and a lodge just off the green that’s not the green. A cursory look gave no clue as to what great house it was a lodge for, perhaps the sizeable Panshanger estate – let us know if you know.
Apart from Datchworth Green (previous post), there are several other greens around Datchworth. Painter’s Green is a big barley field in the crook of a little road leading to Bull’s Green and Bramfield, crossed by the footpaths from Datchworth Green to Datchworth church.
The original green at Raffin Green is beyond the current reach of Datchworth but the area known as Raffin Green is the housing extending out of the village towards the old location. We spotted four ladies and gentlemen of a certain age dressed as pirates as we nosed about. A funny period was lock down.
Several of the houses we passed sported union flags with NHS supporting slogans. In the 75th anniversary year of Victory in Europe, this elision of the combating of corona virus with the war against fascism was commonplace.
Not a lot to say about Gover’s Green, a clutch of houses on the Y formed by Bramfield road and a wooded track from Datchworth Green, both of which cross a former Roman road running out to Watton. But a lovely show of ox eye daisies made the walk worthwhile.
Raffin Green Lane is marked on Google Maps but for the other locations you’ll need Ordnance Survey.
Datchworth Green is in one of the clusters of greens to the northeast and east of Welwyn, some two dozen greens in all.
Datchworth itself sits on slightly higher ground, its church steeple visible from miles around, and it looks down towards Datchworth Green some half a mile away. You don’t notice if you take the route across the fields but housing built along a connecting road has now joined the two.
What struck me about Datchworth Green was the number of rugby posts in evidence, also visible from a distance. The pitch in the photo above was untended when we passed as pandemic restrictions were in place. But the several at the club over the road were only missing players.