is a village in the English county
, situated midway between the towns of Stevenage
in the valley of the River Beane
. The 2001 census showed a population of 2,272, living in 921 households.
There is little employment directly within the village and it largely serves as a dormitory
for commuters to London
or to the nearby towns.
The village has a primary school and nursery school. The co-educational Heath Mount independent school is located on the outskirts in the private estate of the Grade II* listed Woodhall Park.
The A602 formerly ran through the centre of the village between Stevenage and Hertford before a bypass was built in the 1980s through farmland to the north-east. The section of the road to Hertford was renamed the A119, and the A602 then ran out of Watton-at-Stone to Ware. Watton-at-Stone is served by a railway station on the Hertford Loop Line. The station opened for passengers on 2nd June 1924, was closed on 11th September 1939 (though the line continued to run through the village), and reopened on 17th May 1982, paid for partly by public subscription.
A war memorial lies in a field adjoining the church.
The name Watton
first appeared in writing in an 11th-century
publication of 10th-century Anglo-Saxon
wills as Wattun
. It was later recorded in the Domesday Book
as both Wodtune
. The origin of the word is uncertain, and is variously ascribed to Old English wád
, or woad
, and ton
meaning small farming settlement; or waden
; or from waétan
meaning watery. The suffix -at-Stone
dates from the early 13th century
and is derived from the presence of two large examples of Hertfordshire puddingstone
, now situated at the Waggon and Horses public house
A Roman Road ran from Verulamium (modern St Albans), fording the River Beane at Watton-at-Stone. A battle between the Danes and Saxons took place nearby in 1016. In later years, the natural springs in the area once made the village a popular spa town.
The village has a number of dwellings dating from early Tudor, such as Watton House, through to late Georgian constructions. Its flintstone rubble Anglican church dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Andrew dates from the 15th century, and is built in the Perpendicular style.
The Iron Age Aston Mirror
was found nearby, closer to Watton-at-Stone than to the village of Aston
, but technically in Aston parish due to the convoluted border. It is now kept at the British Museum
. A collection of Belgic
armour and weaponry was discovered in the mid-19th century by workers digging a drain at the north end of the village.
Watton-at-Stone is home to the boxing promoter Frank Warren
. It was the birthplace and childhood home of the actor Rupert Grint
, well-known from his role of Ron Weasley
in the Harry Potter
film series. The famous locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley
lived in Watton House until his death in 1941.
The name is also spelled unhyphenated as Watton at Stone
and appears in this form on Ordnance Survey
maps. The County Council favours the hyphenated version. Both spellings are equally valid.
Locally, the '-at-Stone' suffix is frequently dropped.