|Hertfordshire Association for Local History||
HALH Summer Visit
Since 1997, HALH has organised a garden party or visit for members. Each year the venue changes which gives everyone a chance to see another place in Hertfordshire (or just across the border in neighbouring counties). We try to find somewhere which has a pleasant garden for people to visit or a historic house/church. Notice for each year's Summer Visit is distributed with the Spring mailing.
The HALH Summer Visit 2021 took place on Saturday 18 September at Pirton near Hitchin. Lunch at Pirton Methodist Church was followed by a guided tour of the village, led by our chairman Helen Hofton, a resident of Pirton.
Pirton has a long and complex history. There are Neolithic burial mounds and Bronze Age
barrows in the surrounding countryside, while the village itself evolved from a late Iron Age
settlement and from a number of scattered Romano-British farmsteads. It also contains the
earthworks of a motte and bailey castle, built during the civil war between King Stephen and
Queen Matilda from 1135 to 1154. The eastern bailey encloses the parish church of St Mary,
which probably dates from the eleventh century. The village was very badly affected by the
Black Death in 1349 and by subsequent outbreaks of plague, and thus by the beginning of the fifteenth century the population was only a quarter of what it had been in earlier times.
It was a nucleated farming settlement surrounded by two open fields which were divided into furlongs and shots. The layout remained until enclosure in 1818 when the 3000 small strips of land were allotted to the main landowners.
By 1801 Pirton had a population of about 500 and this figure was destined to double in the
latter part of the century with the division of detached houses into 2/3 properties or the
building of new houses, mostly terraced cottages but also some larger Victorian villas.
Several council estates were built between 1920 and 1955, and since 1965 there has been a
good deal of private infill development on former open spaces, farmyards, fields and
orchards. As a result of these trends, Pirton today has about 1,300 inhabitants and more
than 520 dwellings.
Summer Visit 2019
Our 2019 HALH Summer Visit took place on 15 July at Woodhall Park, Watton-at-Stone, where we were the guests of Ralph and Alexandra Abel Smith.
A full report of the visit is printed in the Autumn edition of Herts Past & Present.
Previous visits have been to:
1997 Barkway House, Barkway
1998 St. Ippolyts
2001 Mackereye End House
2002 Abbot's House Garden, Abbots Langley
2005 Letchworth Museum
2008 Bushey Museum
2013 Much Hadham
2014 Copped Hall, Upshire near Epping (Essex)
2015 Chenies Manor (Bucks)
2016 Myddleton House & Gardens, Enfield (Middx)
2017 Benington Lordship
2018 Hinxworth Place
Woodhall Park Watton-at-Stone
Hinxworth Place, June 2018