Sunday, 3 May 2015

What a gem!

When you next moor up your boat at Hemel Hempstead and head into town you may be a little disappointed.  It’s a modern pedestrian precinct with all the usual shops although the council is currently working hard to make it a more pleasant place to be by updating the seating and green areas on the walkway that is its High Street.

Once you’ve browsed the shops, coffee at Starbucks and a look around Marks and Spencer and Primark, if your shopping bags allow, continue along the pedestrian walkway until you come to a left-hand turn and if your shopping is too heavy come back again for  ….

…. a walk through the old town!
Unfortunately, it was all locked up.
Gade Bridge Park over the wall

The Corn Exchange granted by Henry VIII on 29th December 1539

1886-1887 – Matthew Leno Senior, of Cox Pond Farm, was High Bailiff of Hemel Hempstead . (See entry for 31st November 1886) According to his obituary on the Gazette in 1904 “this honour was the due reward of the inhabitants for his faithful service as a guardian of the poor and a member of other bodies. In the second year of his office as Bailiff the work of the local town improvement committee was brought to a head and it is recorded that: “The old premises known as the Lamb and some shop property were purchased and pulled down and upon the site was erected a Market square, shambles and three shops..” The present square and market place buildings will ever stand as a monument to the zeal and work of the late Mr Leno as chairman of the committee who carried out such a notable improvement, one of the most pleasant features of which was the formation of the open in the narrow High Street and the exposing to view of the grand old parish church.” [Gazette December 10th 1904.]

This was the site of The Sun, a much frequented public house in the 17th century. It was rebuilt in the next century with accommodation for travellers, who stabled their horses in the present day Sun Square. An Artisans’ Benefit Society, providing a type of health insurance for the working man, was founded here in 1775.

More views of Gladebridge Park and a mysterious alleyway!

Some of the cottages in The Dip have these plaques … for another blog I think!

We shall definitely go back to the old town it is such a pleasure ... quaint shops, beautiful buildings which house lots of pubs and restaurants.  I must pick up a copy of the heritage trail before then though.

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