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When Queen Elizabeth Slept in Hadham Hall

A circuit of the picturesque 'ends' and hamlets of Little Hadham and out to Hadham Hall.

Distance 4 miles (6.4km)

Minimum time 1hr 45min

Ascent/gradient 125ft (100m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field paths, tracks, roads and village pavements, 2 stiles

Landscape Gentle rolling hills and valley

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 194 Hertford & Bishop's Stortford

Start/finish TL 440228

Dog friendliness Mostly arable country but lead needed on pavements

Parking Albury Road, Little Hadham (north of traffic lights at A120 crossroads)

Public toilets None on route

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© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 Walk uphill on Albury Road, to a footpath sign on the right 'To Church ½ and Bishop's Stortford 2¾'. Take this path alongside an arable field, which descends to the River Ash, here merely a small stream. Cross the footbridge to climb on to a grassy baulk between fields. This leads to the church, whose tower peeps from its churchyard surrounded by trees.

2 Leave the churchyard with the many-gabled rear of Church End farmhouse on your right to enter a lane. Go left, past the old church hall (now converted to a bungalow). Follow the track round to the right of some farm buildings to climb to the brow of the hill. At a public bridleway junction-post turn right. The modern little development of houses called Baud Close stands behind a fine brick-built barn, which has also now been converted into a house.

3 From the central grassed courtyard of Hadham Hall and its outbuildings, pass the 1570s gatehouse to walk down the lime avenue to the main road, the A120 or Roman Stane Street. Turn right and shortly turn left down Millfield Lane. This junction is the highest point on the walk.

4 Beyond Millfield Cottage go right, on to a metalled green lane by a public byway sign where the lane turns left. At a fork go right, still on the hedged green lane. Passing the splendidly named Muggins Wood, climb to a lane, the path now overhung by trees. Turn right and follow the lane, descending into Hadham Ford.

5 At the junction, with the war memorial in a small triangular green, turn right along the main street. The lane crosses the river. At a public footpath sign opposite the Nag's Head pub turn to the right, across a footbridge leading to a stile.

6 Over the stile turn left and head for the left-hand corner of a wood, the modest river on your left. Continue uphill to the stile by a gate, joining a track which curves right, past some trees, and then goes left between arable fields with St Celia's Church in Little Hadham visible ahead. The path passes paddocks on the left, then jinks past a primary school, emerging on to the A120 past a single-storey thatched cottage.

7 Turn left along the pavement, past the school, to the traffic lights. Cross the river bridge to the group of buildings at the staggered central crossroads. Turn right here, back into Albury Road.

As with many villages walked through in this book, Little Hadham has moved about. It was originally focused around the parish church at Church End in a common Anglo-Saxon location, that is away from an old Roman road. It migrated westwards to a more important crossroads around 1600, leaving the medieval church and a couple of farms isolated between it and Hadham Hall. The church is about 200yds (183m) north of the Roman road, known to the Anglo-Saxons as Stane Street ('stone-paved road').

It was natural that development should accumulate at the crossroads and the bridge over the young River Ash. The houses here include the late medieval Bridge End, altered in 1732, The Whare, partly from about 1500 and timber-framed with four octagonal stacks, and 17th-century Brook House. There was also the Angel inn, whose sign bracket remains on a chequer-brick, 18th-century house. St Cecilia's Church, 600yds (549m) east of the crossroads, has fittings probably given by Arthur Capell, once the lord of the manor in Hadham Hall. These include a pulpit dated 1633, which was installed following a critical report by the Bishop's visitor earlier that year.

A further 600yds (549m) east of the church stands Hadham Hall. The hall is the seat of the manor of Little Hadham, a cluster of 16th- and 17th-century buildings grouped around a grassed courtyard. A small estate of modern housing behind it has been named Baud Close after earlier lords of the manor. The north side of the yard has stables and cottages with fake timber-framing from around 1900. These have now also been converted into housing. The south side of the courtyard has a former gatehouse (now offices) built in brick, and possibly earlier than the hall itself.

To the east is Hadham Hall itself, part of a very large courtyard house built for Henry Capell in the 1570s and completed by 1578, when Queen Elizabeth visited him here. What you see is the west range with its central gatehouse flanked by three-storey, battlemented towers and a part of the south range. The north and east ranges and over half the south range were pulled down around 1668 when Arthur Capell, created Earl of Essex by Charles II in 1661, moved to Cassiobury, near Watford. The surviving work gives a good idea of the hall's scale and quality, for every window has a pediment and the brick frames and mullions are rendered to look like stone.

Where to eat and drink

Surprisingly, there are now no pubs (or shops) in Little Hadham on the busy A120. The Nag's Head at Hadham Ford remains, and is a popular spot that serves food. First referred to in 1735, its colour-washed, rendered walls and mellow roof tiles conceal a partly 17th-century, timber-framed building.

What to look for

After Point d the route winds along a splendid example of a green lane, Hoecroft Lane, one of countless, often muddy, peaceful old public routes in Hertfordshire that escaped tarmacking for motor traffic in the early 20th century. Like many others its hedges are overgrown and overhang. As usual hawthorn and blackthorn predominate, but you will also see hornbeam, beech, maple and oak along here, the diversity of species indicating that this is a very old lane, perhaps with its origins in the 14th century.

While you're there

About 3 miles (4.8km) north of Little Hadham is Furneaux Pelham, a small village, formerly the home of Rayment's Brewery. The business was started in Furneaux Pelham Hall itself in the 1820s by the tenant, William Rayment. In 1860 he moved to a purpose-built brewery, with its own artesian well, at Barleycroft End. The Brewery Tap pub retains its name despite the owners, Greene King, closing the brewery in 1987.

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