Bishop’s Stortford

Street Map

[amazon_carousel widget_type=”SearchAndAdd” width=”600″ height=”200″ title=”” market_place=”GB” shuffle_products=”False” show_border=”False” keywords=”Bishops Stortford” browse_node=”” search_index=”Books” /]

Bishop’s Stortford is a historic market town and civil parish in the district of East Hertfordshire in the county of Hertfordshire in England. It is situated just west of the M11 motorway, on the county boundary with Essex and is the closest large town to London Stansted Airport and part of the London commuter belt. Bishop’s Stortford is 29 miles (47 km) north east of Charing Cross in the centre of London and 35 miles (56 km) from Liverpool Street station where the railway line from Cambridge to London, which runs through the town, terminates. In the 2006 edition of the Channel 4 “Best and Worst Places to Live in the UK”, East Hertfordshire was the seventh best district to live in. The town has a population of 34,826.

Bishops Stortford has grown around the River Stort valley, with the town centre lying about 60 metres above sea level, rising to over 100 metres above sea level on the Eastern and Western margins of the town. Being in South East England, the town enjoys a warmer climate than most of the United Kingdom and has some of the hottest summers in Britain; it is also one of the driest places in the country. Temperatures may sometimes reach the mid-30s Celsius in the summer. Snow is often seen in the winter months because the town is near to the east coast, where cold, moist air is brought in from the North Sea and cold fronts from northern Europe. In recent years there has been up to three inches of snow early in the year which has resulted in minor disruption to transport and caused some schools to close for several days. However, the snow tends not to persist in any noticeable quantity.

Nothing of historical significance is known of the Bishop’s Stortford area until it became a small Roman settlement on the Roman road of Stane Street between Braughing and Colchester. After the Roman Empire broke down, the small town was abandoned in the 5th century.

A new Saxon settlement grew up on the site. At that time, the settlement was known as Esterteferd, probably because a family called Estere owned or controlled the river stort around which the settlement was based. Over time, this became Stortford. In 1060, William, Bishop of London bought the Stortford manor and estate for eight pounds, and the town has been known as Bishop’s Stortford ever since.

At the time of the Domesday book the town had a population of around 120 inhabitants. The Normans built a motte and bailey wooden castle in the town, but by the Tudor period it was in ruins (the mound still remains). Development of the town increased with the presence of a river and the roads. A weekly market was set up for farmers to sell their goods[citation needed]

Only the font survives from the Norman church of St Michael’s, which was completely rebuilt in the early 15th century, followed by alterations and restoration in both the seventeenth and 19th centuries. Both the belfry and the spire which dominates the town and surrounding countryside were built in 1812.

Despite outbreaks of the plague in the 16th and 17th centuries, the town continued to grow with an approximate population of 1,200 by this point[citation needed]

Unusually, the River Stort is named after the town, and not the town after the river. When early cartographers came to the town in the early 17th century, they reasoned that the town must have been named for the ford over the Stort and assumed the river was called the Stort. It has been ever since. Until then, there was no official name for the river.[citation needed]

After 1769, the River Stort was made navigable, and the town was made a stagecoach stop on the Mail coach road between Cambridge and London.

By 1801, Bishop’s Stortford had become a market town and a corn exchange had been established[citation needed] while the main industry was malting. In 1842 the railway came to Bishop’s Stortford; another introduction of the Victorian era was the opening of a hospital, in 1895.

At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1901, the population was over 7,000. By 1951, Bishop’s Stortford had expanded further, to 13,000. During World War II, Bishop’s Stortford was the evacuation centre for many Britons, including the entire Clapton Girls Technology College. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Bishop’s Stortford has seen further growth since it became a commuter town. The M11 motorway, nearby Stansted Airport, and the train links to London and Cambridge have contributed to the town having a population of around 35,000, as of the 2001 national census, but future growth is expected to increase the population to 45,000.

In 1935 the parish church of All Saints’ Hockerill was destroyed by fire and in 1937 a new church, to a spacious, light and airy design by the architect Stephen Dykes Bower, was erected in its place. It is a Grade II listed building and the tower dominates the eastern skyline of Bishop’s Stortford. The building contains a notable rose window designed by Hugh Easton, a two manual Henry Willis II organ and is a popular venue for concerts.

In November 2011, by means of a single page letter, the town council gave notice that with effect from September 2012 they would end their 46 year old twin town status with Villiers-sur-Marne in France and Friedberg, Hesse in Germany.[5][6]

The town centre is undergoing many changes, with the demolition of the old multi-storey car park and surrounding area to make way for a new town centre area and the building of new city-type apartments and penthouses on the riverside and around the town centre. Jackson Square (a modern shopping complex) was rebuilt and an extension added with many cafes, bars and shops. The developments are almost finished. Also, the Havers estate (an outer part of Bishop’s Stortford) is being redeveloped with new houses and flats. There are many plans for further expansion and development of the town due to its continued growth and the expected enlargement of Stansted Airport.

The Rhodes Arts Complex is a state-of-the-art venue which incorporates a theatre, cinema, dance studio and conference facilities. Situated within the complex, in the house where Cecil Rhodes was born, is the Bishop’s Stortford Museum. It has a local history collection, a unique collection relating to Rhodes and the British Empire in Africa as well as its temporary exhibition gallery.

Bishop’s Stortford is a particularly affluent area and this is partly due to the town’s status as a commuter town for the (mainly financial) workers in London. The town is also home to many people working in the tourist industry, including hotels, catering and airline staff, because it is the closest large town to Stansted Airport. In total, about 85% work in the services sector (2001 census). Bishop’s Stortford is served by a variety of shops, both high street chains and long-established family firms. The main retail streets are South, Potter, North and Hockerill Streets. There is a modern shopping complex called Jackson Square. Market days are Thursday and Saturday, which cobsist of a selection of stalls with a variety of goods including bags and luggage, flowers, cards and clothing.

Bishop’s Stortford owes its continued growth to developments in transport. Bishop’s Stortford station is on the London Liverpool Street to Cambridge main line operated by Greater Anglia. The Stansted Express services take around 25 minutes to reach Tottenham Hale and 40 minutes to reach London Liverpool Street and allow Bishop’s Stortford to be part of the London Commuter Belt. Epping tube station is about 12 miles away from Bishop’s Stortford which means some residents use the London Underground station rather than the main line station at Bishop’s Stortford.

Bishop’s Stortford is close to junction 8 of the M11 motorway, which runs from London and the M25 north to Cambridge, and the town is a frequent stop-off point for travellers using the nearby Stansted airport. To the north of the town is the A120, which meets the A10 at Buntingford to the west and the A12 at Colchester to the east.

Stansted Airport is on the town’s doorstep, with easy transport via rail or bus between there and the town. This airport is mainly used for flights to Europe and is the third largest airport serving London.

Being a market town and major coach stop between London and Cambridge, Bishop’s Stortford has many large public houses within the town centre, one of which is the Star Inn on Bridge Street, which serves hand-pulled ales and hot and cold food.

The first mention of the Star was in 1636 when it was held by one John Ward, and though the brick exterior gives it the appearance of being a much later building, they cover a timber-frame structure the foundations of which were likely to have been laid in the 16th century. Former town brewers Hawkes & Co bought the Star in 1808. An entrance at the corner of the building that once opened onto Water Lane was bricked-up in the early 20th century, perhaps to protect departing patrons from potential accidents due to increased traffic. The side of the building is half covered in traditional weatherboard, while at the rear can be found the inn’s old water pump and former stables. The stable yard later became a car park but is now a small pub garden. And in the early 20th century the Star advertised accommodation for cyclists, making it particularly popular with people from local villages who would stop overnight to ensure an early start to Thursday’s market. Former celebrated local artist, John Kynnersley Kirby, a painter of many local scenes and characters in the early 20th century, once used the interior of the Star for a painting entitled ‘The Slate Club Secretary’. In it he portrayed a freelance journalist named Jimmy Sell set against the pub’s smoke-laden Victorian wallpaper.

Located in the town centre is Anchor Street Entertainment, a multiplex which hosts an Empire cinema and a Nuffield House Health Club. There have been many changes at the Anchor Street Leisure Complex resulting in many of the units now lying empty.

The Lemon Tree restaurant in Water Lane is listed in both The Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide. In late 2006, town centre restaurant, Host, opened a private members’ bar above its restaurant in the Corn Exchange building.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

 

No reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.