Dean Incent's House © TAB
Pleasant little market town near the Chiltern Hills on the banks of the River Bulborne. It was here that William the Conqueror was crowned King of England in 1066. Following which he started work on its Norman castle, of which little now remains apart from earthworks and a few crumbling walls. The Grand Union Canal also passes through the town.
Berkhamsted is the birthplace of the author Graham Green, whose father was headmaster of the public school. The school was founded in 1541 and is a fine decorative brick building with stone windows and doorways.
A number of other interesting old buildings can be found along the High Street. The half-timbered Dean Incent's House (not open to the public) dates from 1500. Reputedly the birthplace of John Incent, a clergyman from the early 16th-c (during the time of the English Reformation), who served as Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London between 1540 and 1545. St Peter's church, heavily restored in the 19th-c, is a mix of styles dating back to the 13th-c.
A series of blue plaques have been placed on key buildings in the town. A short heritage walk, starting and ending at the railway station, guides you on a circular walk around the the town, taking in most of the heritage sights. A leaflet covering the walk is available for download from the Berkhamsted Town Council website. A number of longer Audio Trail Walks are also available.
William the Conqueror received the crown on this site just after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Following which he built a timber fortification. 100 years later Thomas Becket rebuilt the castle from local stone and flint, which became the home of the Royals up until the end of the War of the Roses in the 15th-c. After which the castle fell into ruin and was then looted by the locals and used as a quarry for building local housing. The most notable remains are the unique double moats.
Opening times: all
year, Summer, daily 10am to 6pm; Winter 10am to 4pm
(closed Xmas hols) - Free Entry
Location: Near Berkhamsted station HP4 1HF
Run by English Heritage - Website
Part of the Ashridge Estate, the common is one of the largest in largest in the Chilterns. An ideal spot for a wide range of social activities from kite flying and picnics to walking and horse riding or cycling on its extensive network of waymarked pathways.
Just short walk from Berkhamsted, this ancient forest once provided beach and other wood for local industry. It contains some of the oldest beach trees in England. The trees were pollarded to provide wood for furniture and fuel, so today have grown into many unusual shapes. Because of its natural eerie ambience the area has been used in films such as Sleepy Hollow and Harry Potter. The most famous beach tree named by locals walkers as 'The Tree' is said to be over 400 years old.