Visit Berkhamsted and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. This small town, of ancient origin, was the birthplace of William Cowper the hymn-writer and has much to interest the visitor, with its old churches, inns and other buildings. The rolling countryside adjoining it is attractive and the 1,200-acre common, with its beech and birch trees, gorse and bracken, is pleasant to walk and picnic in.
The town is set on a hill-top and although little remains today of its castle, except the motte and bailey and a unique double moat, it was once one of the most important castles in the country. William the Conqueror made a gift of it to his half-brother, Robert of Mortain, and Thomas Becket spent 10 years there during his period as Chancellor. Besieged by King Louis of France in 1216, it eventually became an appendage of the Dukes of Cornwall. In 1376 the Black Prince spent the last days of his life there. Earthworks in the grounds are impressive and it is open to the public.
St Peter's Church is a large, handsome, cruciform building of flint with the outstanding feature of a blue and gold clock on a timber belfry. Five periods can be distinguished in the building, although it was heavily restored in 1871. Of 13th-century origin, it retains its original chancel, nave, transepts and central tower. It was added to during the centuries, and of particular interest are St Catherine's Chapel, of the 14th century, its porch which was added later, St John the Baptist's Chapel and the 15th-century clerestory in the nave. The top story of the l3th-century tower was added 400 years ago. The screen in the west tower arch is of the 15th century and is adorned with many figures of importance. A carved chest is 300 years old and the pulpit, decorated with angels, is of l9th-century origin. The church contains many fine monuments and a medieval coffin with a floral cross. There are numerous brasses of interest.
The High Street, centred around the church, runs parallel with the River Bulbourne. Court House, a l6th-century timbered building with a projecting upper story, is south west of the church and nearby, south of the church, is Berkhamsted's finest building, Incent's House, also of the 16th century. Half-timbered, with an overhanging upper story, it has been carefully restored in recent years. It is believed to have been the residence of John Incent, Dean of St Paul's, who founded Berkhamsted Grammar School in the 17th century. The school, to the north of the churchyard, its red brickwork mellowed with the years, has stone mullioned windows and a fine timber entrance. Its chapel has an altar reached from the nave by 19 steps.
The town has four inns of importance. There is the red-bricked King's Arms, with three bay windows on the first floor, and, by the War Memorial in the narrow part of the High Street, is the plastered and gabled Bell Inn. Swan Inn, of the 17th century, has two gables, and near it are 18th-century, houses with quoins and dressings. The Red House Hotel, also of the 18th century, is ornate; its handsome porch of seven bays and Ionic columns and pediments has a large Venetian window above.
Also in the High Street are the Friends' Meeting House, dated 1818, and the Victorian Baptist church, a building of red and yellow brick, typical of its period.
The gabled Elizabethan house, Berkhamsted Place, the remains of a courtyard house built about 1580 and twice altered in the following century, has a central hall and entrance, an original oriel window and large fireplace, the latter altered in the 17th century. On the first floor is an interesting ceiling. On the north-west side of the building the stone and flint chequer design is of the 16th century.
The Sayer Almshouses, 1684, a row of six brick houses of one story centred by a large pediment, are close by Boxwell House, which was built in the early 18th century with three wide bays and a cemented front decorated with quoins.
One mile south of Berkhamsted is Ashlyns, a large house built on the top of a slope in about 1800, with a charming bow-front centre and an iron veranda.
Nearby towns: Chesham, Hemel Hempstead, Tring
Nearby villages: Ashley Green, Bovingdon, Little Gaddesden, Northchurch, Nettleden, Wiggington, Whelpley Hill
Have you decided to visit Berkhamsted or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Berkhamsted bed and breakfast (a Berkhamsted B&B or Berkhamsted b and b)
- a Berkhamsted guesthouse
- a Berkhamsted hotel (or motel)
- a Berkhamsted self-catering establishment, or
- other Berkhamsted accommodation