[hahr-ferd-sheer, -sher, hahrt-]
Hertfordshire, county (1991 pop. 951,500), 631 sq mi (1,634 sq km), E central England. The county seat is Hertford, but Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, and St. Albans are more important urban centers. The terrain is level except for an extension of the Chiltern Hills in the northwest. The chief streams are the Colne, the Lea, and the Stort, which drain into the Thames. The county contains four of the eight new towns planned around London since 1947: Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, and Welwyn. Although one of London's "Home Counties," Hertfordshire is primarily an agricultural region, producing large quantities of wheat and hay as well as dairy products, vegetables, and flowers for the nearby London market. There are diverse industries, such as brickmaking, printing, brewing (especially in Watford), papermaking, and engineering. The county figured prominently in the military history of England, particularly during the Wars of the Roses (see Roses, Wars of the). Of notable interest are the scenic Welwyn Gardens.

Hertfordshire (, abbreviated Herts) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.

The county is one of the Home Counties, and lies inland, bordered by Greater London, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire (with the borough of Luton), Cambridgeshire and Essex.


Hertfordshire was originally the area assigned to a fortress constructed at Hertford under the rule of Edward the Elder in 913. The name Hertford is derived from the Anglo-Saxon heort ford, meaning deer crossing (of a watercourse). The name Hertfordshire first appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1011. Deer feature prominently in many county emblems.

The area has a history dating back to the Middle Stone Age. It was first farmed during the Neolithic period, and permanent habitation appeared at the beginning of the Bronze Age. This was followed by tribes settling in the area during the Iron Age.

Following the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, Hertfordshire adapted quickly to the Roman way of life, and one of the new towns, Verulamium, became the third largest town in Roman Britain. After the Romans left Britain, the Anglo-Saxons occupied the area, creating their own towns, including the county town of Hertford.

The Norman conquest in 1066 reached its climax at Berkhamsted where William the Conqueror accepted the final Saxon surrender. After the Norman conquest, Hertfordshire was used for some of the new Norman castles at Bishop's Stortford and at the royal residence of Berkhamsted.

The Domesday Book recorded the county as having nine hundreds. Tring and Danais became one, Dacorum, from (Danis Corum or Danish rule harking back to a Viking not Saxon past). The other seven were Braughing, Broadwater, Cashio, Edwinstree, Hertford, Hitchin and Odsey.

As London grew, Hertfordshire became conveniently close to the English capital, and much of the area was owned by the nobility and aristocracy, and this patronage helped to boost the local economy. However, the greatest boost to Hertfordshire came during the Industrial Revolution, after which the population rose dramatically. In 1903, Letchworth became the world's first garden city, and Stevenage became the first town to redevelop under the New Towns Act 1946.

In 1965 under the London Government Act 1963 East Barnet Urban District and Barnet Urban District were abolished and their area was transferred to Greater London to form part of the present-day London Borough of Barnet. At the same time the Potters Bar Urban District of Middlesex was transferred to Hertfordshire.

From the 1920s until the late 1980s, the town of Borehamwood was home to one of the major British film studio complexes, including the MGM-British Studios. Many well-known films were made here: for example, all the Harry Potter films were made at Leavesden Film Studios near Watford.

In early December 2005 the 2005 Hemel Hempstead fuel depot explosions occurred at the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal.

In 2012, the town of Waltham Cross, within the borough of Broxbourne, will host the canoe and kayak slalom events of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Following a proposal put forward by The Welwyn Garden Heritage Trust, town-planner Andrés Duany has suggested that designated "Garden Villages" could be built within Hertfordshire to relieve some of the pressure for new homes, with perhaps a third Garden City to follow.


Hertfordshire is located immediately to the north of Greater London, and is part of the East of England Government Office Region. Much of the county is part of the London commuter belt. To the east of Hertfordshire is Essex, to the west is Buckinghamshire and to the north are Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

The highest point in the county is 803 feet (245 m) above sea level, a quarter mile (400 m) from the village of Hastoe near Tring.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Pasqueflower as Hertfordshire's county flower.


The rocks of Hertfordshire belong to the great shallow syncline known as the London Basin. The beds dip in a south-easterly direction towards the syncline's lowest point roughly under the River Thames. The most important formations are the Cretaceous Chalk, which is exposed as the high ground in the north and west of the county, forming the Chiltern Hills, and the younger Palaeocene, Reading Beds and Eocene, London Clay which occupy the remaining southern part. The eastern half of the county was covered by glaciers during the Ice Age and has a superficial layer of glacial boulder clays.

Natural resources

Despite the spread of built areas, much of the county is given over to agriculture. One product, now largely defunct, was water-cress, based in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted supported by reliable, clean rivers.

Some quarrying of sand and gravel occurs in the St. Albans area. In the past, clay has supplied local brick-making and still does in Bovingdon, just south-west of Hemel Hempstead.

Fresh water is supplied to London from Ware, using the New River built by Hugh Myddleton and opened in 1613. Most of the county's own supply comes from the chalk aquifer. Local rivers, although small, supported developing industries such as paper production at Nash Mills.

Urban areas


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Hertfordshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 11,742 96 3,292 8,354
2000 18,370 77 4,138 14,155
2003 20,937 82 4,348 16,507

Hertfordshire has headquarters of many large well-known UK companies. Hemel Hempstead is home to DSG International. Tesco are based in Cheshunt. Pure Digital the DAB radio maker is based in Kings Langley. JD Wetherspoon is in Watford. Comet and Skanska are in Rickmansworth. Hatfield used to be connected with the aircraft industry, as it was where de Havilland developed the world's first commercial jet liner, the Comet. Now the site is a business park and new campus for the University of Hertfordshire. This major new employment site is home to, among others, T-Mobile, Computacenter and Ocado. A subsidiary of BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica in Stevenage, MBDA, develops missiles. In the same town EADS Astrium produces satellites. The National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for all of the UK's community pharmacies, is based in St. Albans.

The loss of aircraft manufacture at Hatfield is just one of a number of industrial losses as companies capitalise on land values and move to regions where land is cheaper and recruitment is easier. Examples include Scammell, (formerly of Watford), DRG (Hemel Hempstead) and Lucas (also Hemel). In general, the land thus freed has been used for housing or service industries.


Below is a list of places, large and small, to visit in Hertfordshire.


Hertfordshire lies across routes between London and the North, the North-West and the Midlands and as a consequence it is well-served by road and rail routes and, in the past, by canals.

The county has always been traversed by some of the principal roads in England, originally the A1 (Great North Road) to Yorkshire and Scotland, A5 (Watling Street) to North Wales, A6 to North West England and the A41 (Sparrows Herne turnpike) to the Midlands and now the M1, M11, A1(M) and the M25.

Principal rail routes lie through Stevenage to Yorkshire and Scotland, and through Watford to the Midlands, Wales, the North West and Glasgow. Lesser routes serve St. Albans (and the East Midlands) and Royston (to Cambridge and Norwich). Commuter routes supplement the through routes and the London Underground extends to Watford.

Two international airports lie just outside the county Stansted and Luton. At Elstree, there is a busy airfield for light aircraft.

The Grand Union Canal passes west Hertfordshire, through Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.


See also: List of schools in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire has 26 independent schools and 73 state secondary schools. The state secondary schools are entirely comprehensive, although 7 schools in the south and southwest of the county are partially selective (see Education in Watford). All state schools have sixth forms, and there are no sixth form colleges. The tertiary colleges, each with multiple campuses, are Hertford Regional College, North Hertfordshire College, Oaklands College and West Herts College. The University of Hertfordshire is a modern university based largely in Hatfield. It has more than 23,000 students.


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