Old Town hemel Hempstead, featuring local businesses, Restaurants and pubs
A quick history of The Old town Hemel Hempstead
The earliest archaeological records of the immediate vicinity of the Old town date back to somewhere between Roman and antiquity, there are various references within recorded history of relics and artefacts of Roman villa farming settlements that have been made by historians and archaeologists alike.
Since then, Hemel Hempstead Old Town has repeatedly and steadily re-appeared throughout English and British history at regular intervals, illustrating the import of Hemel Hempstead Old Town in the fabric of out national identity. Initially, first mentioned specifically by name of the settlement, is in church records; that, during the reign of King Offa of Essex, reference is made to the grant of land by the King to the London Saxon Bishopric of the parcel of land then known as :"Hamaele." Subsequent to that, reference to Hemel Hempstead Old Town crops up in fairly immediate relation to the event in history that arguably "created" modern England: the Norman Invasion of England. An event that was which to transform it from the Saxon society that it was, into the Norman feudal system that largely led to the development of our: class, taxation and legal(common law) systems. After William the Conqueror's victory at the Battle Of Hastings in 1066, William marched his tired but victorious troops up from Battle/Hastings around the west of the capital, through skirmishes with the remnants of the scattered still rebellious Saxon soldiers that continued to slowly seep out from the capital, up past Hemel Hempstead Old Town, to the settlement of Berkhamsted where he camped his troops. A move designed to cut off London from its main transport artery to the rest of the country as he awaited the surrender of the thwarted Saxon nobles.
The rest, literally is history. William accepted the surrender of the Saxon nobles at Berkhamsted. Later, he built the castle in Berkhamsted, the ruins of which still stand today. And included in the surrounding lands that accompanied and were included in the estate that he gave to his older half-brother Robert de Mortain, was the land that today contains Hemel Hempstead Old Town on its present site. But, back then, by the time of the Domesday book in 1086, it had etymologically already evolved into the visually more familiar: "Hamelhamsted.
Hemel Hempstead Old Town is still regarded to this day as the social epicentre or hub around which much if not all the town's social scene pulses around from. Interestingly, "The Old Bell Pub"(one of the existing public houses in the Old Town to this day: The Old Bell, The Old Kings Arms and he White Hart all included) dates back to 1603; however, however the building itself was probably built, according to local historians, in 1539, again around the time of the same 1539 Ashridge Treaty that broke up the lands of the local Ashridge Monastic Estate and established the old town's local market status.The Old Bell, itself, a typical development of its time was made in the traditional "wattle and daub" building technique of the time. Although, it did undergo various changes during the subsequent centuries. In fact, by 1756 it was recorded as being the largest house in the area and of as having nine beds upstairs and stabling enough for 54 horses, sited at the back of the building now where the car park is.As we move more now toward the present day we encounter the building in 1852 of the now Grade Two listed building; Hemel Hempstead's "The Old Town Hall." Origianlly used of course as a town hall, it is now utilised primarily as: "a leading regional small-scale theatre that offeres the best ... professional: drama, music, dance, comedy and children's theatre." Artists to have launched or enhanced their careers by appearing there have included: Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard, the Rduced Shakespeare Company, Ben Elton, Mark Thomas and the Royal Court.In fact Hemel Hempstead Old Town's remarkable abillity to retain its olde wordly charm, untouched by modern scarring has led it(along with the ease of shutting any contemporary "through" traffi) has led it to become a firm favourite throughout the land for television and film producers when attemting to create an "idylic" modern scene 'a la: "The Pie in the Sky"(popular ITV detective drama of past years) and Midsommer Murders through to soft drinks' commercial advertisements and the recent filming of the 1950's period Coronation drama "Scapegoat" about a good and evil twin, that finished filming only as immediately as late november/early december 2011, starring Sheridan Smith, the west end star and tv's: "two pints of lager and a packet of crisps. So Hemel Hempstead Old Town has been around for at least 1400 years and despite the pressures and forces of the modern world, it has continued to retain it's "Olde World" charm whilst adapting and evolving to stay current as the heartbeat of the modern town's cultural epicentre."
Seasonal celebration in the Old Town
Interior of the White Hart showing the exposed beams
Bedroom 7 of The Olde Kings arms showing exposed original beams on wall