Today’s post is a weekend wander around Hemel Hempstead. There is a reason for this – last week, on my Thursday Doors post, roughseasinthemed asked if I could post some pictures of the Old Town area, as I had mentioned that improvements had recently been undertaken. Apparently their partner used to live here, and was curious to see what had been done. So here we are.
Hemel Hempstead Old Town has buildings dating back to the 1500s, though it is believed there has been settlement here since Roman times. Henry VIII used to rampage his way through here, and had a hunting lodge nearby, plus there are rumours of secret tunnels and trysts with Anne Boleyn. He is reputed, as is Anne, to haunt at least one building in the Old Town.
The Old Town has a mix of architectural styles, from half-timbered Tudor buildings,
to Georgian shops and apartments,
to the Victorian splendour of the rebuilt Corn Market, home to my Thursday door.
There are old carriageways leading to hidden courtyards,
Where the gates have been open so long, flowers grow around them.
The improvements took place a couple of years ago and are still ongoing. A rather nice set of gates was installed, one with an image of the church steeple, the other with the old Town Hall.
New paving and parking bays were laid, adding to the appeal of the streetscape.
The building covered in scaffolding was, until recently, a rather unattractive late 70s/early 80s edifice in dark red brick, a bit of an eyesore when compared to the other architecture in the area. It has now been painted off-white and is undergoing other renovations, no doubt trying to make it more sympathetic to the area.
This building is still a mystery, though a small plaque on the front door reads ‘Bank’. It is no longer a bank, and the tattered curtains and peeling woodwork add to the air of intrigue.
This is a small parking area overlooking the Norman church and graveyard. When it was being repaved, an underground chamber was discovered. Perhaps a remnant of the rumoured tunnels?
I’ll finish with a view over Gadebridge Park, which runs behind the Old Town. Apparently ghostly galloping can be heard there at night – at one time, the Park was private land belonging to a large house (now gone). The owner of the house was a military veterinarian and he used the land to rehabilitate injured cavalry horses, so was somewhat ahead of his time. Apparently the horses lived out their days in peace and tranquility but, every so often, would make formation and charge down the field, as though reliving their battle days. So perhaps it is their hooves that people hear…
Thanks for taking a trip around the Old Town with me. Happy weekend, everyone!