Hertford's history stretches back over a thousand years, during which many great buildings have come and gone - the Priory Church, County Gaol, County Cinema, arcade, and not least, Hertford Castle, which fell in to ruins in the 17th century, leaving just the remaining gatehouse.
There are still many impressive and interesting buildings in the town, many dating back hundreds of years.
For over 200 years Shire Hall oversaw the judicial and civil business of the town.The building was designed by James Adam and dates back to 1771. The County and Borough Councils’ met here before the County Council moved to County Hall in 1939. Until recently the building was home to Hertford Magistrates Court but is now Hertford County Court.
Friends' Meeting House
A century before Shire Hall, The Friends' Meeting House was built in 1670 in what was then named Back Street (which ran parallel to Fore Street). The Grade I listed building is thought to be the oldest Quaker meeting house still in use. It is noted for its original timberwork such as the interior movable panels. In 1981 an internal steel frame was inserted to provide support to the walls and roofs without affecting the exterior character of the building.
Another Grade I listed building is the Norman church of St.Leonard, built around 1120 and Hertford's oldest building. In the mid-19th century the church was virtually abandoned after the construction of Holy Trinity Church in Bengeo Street. However, restoration work has since brought the church back in to regular use.
Hertford East Station
Hertford East Station dates back to 1888 and replaced an earlier station in Railway Place, which was built when the railway was brought to Hertford in 1843 by the Northern and Eastern Railway. The nearby Dolphin apartments were built 8 years earlier in 1880 as The Station Hotel, later becoming The Dolphin public House, which closed around the turn of the millenium.
The brewery in Hartham Lane was built in 1891, replacing McMullen's previous brewery that stood on the site of what is now The Woolpack public house on Mill Bridge. The Hartham Lane site was adjacent to the original Hertford North station (later Cowbridge station) providing easy access by rail for both delivery of raw materials and distribution of McMullens' beers.
The Salisbury Hotel
Parts of the Salisbury Arms date back to the 15th century, although many additions and alterations have been made down the centuries.
The original inn was built around a courtyard with an open gallery, now covered in. The east and west wings overlooking Church Street and Bell Lane were built in the 15th and 17th centuries respectively.
Construction of County Hall started in 1935 to replace Shire Hall as the headquarters of Hertfordshire County Council.
The building was opened without ceremony in 1939, work having been accelerated in the run up to the start of World War II.
Major extensions were designed by the County Architect Geoffrey Fardell, and built between 1969 and 1975.
County Hall became a Grade II listed building in 1996.
Otherwise known as 3-11 Fore Street, this building dates back to 1662 and is noteworthy for its pargetting - ornamental plasterwork. The Grade II listing for the building notes:
This range of substantial mid C17 urban tenements is of a scale rare in Hertfordshire. Although the local historian HC Andrews linked the buildings with residency constructed for court officials during late C16 outbursts of plague, when the court and parliament was removed to Hertford, there is little architectural evidence for a structure earlier than mid C17, although a number of earlier timbers are visible.
The impressive buildings in Bluecoats Avenue were built as dormitories for Christ's Hospital school between 1900 and 1904. They are notable for their brickwork and stained glass to the staircases. The School Hall at the end of the avenue dates from the late 17th century, although refronted when the dormitory blocks were built. The school left Hertford in 1984, when the playing fields were sold to Tesco.
The Green Dragon Hotel
Many of the town's notable buildings were constructed in the opening years of the 20th century and the Green Dragon Hotel and stables are another example of the period's architecture. The ground floor facade along Maidenhead Street was converted to retail use in 1952. The buildings replaced an earlier 16th century inn.
The Verger's House in St.Andrew Street is a timber-framed building dating from the mid-15th century. Originally there were cottages behind the house but these were demolished in 1892 and St.Nicholas Hall was constructed on the site, being incorporated into the house in 1970.
Other Notable Buildings
There are many other notable buildings in Hertford, including 42 Fore Street (Lussmanns), built in the Egyptian style; the former Addis factory in Ware Road, representing a fine example of the moderne architecture of the 1930s; and The Corn Exchange, built in 1859, replacing an earleir smaller building on the site of the former town gaol.
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