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Chipperfield (England)

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A small village in the district of Hertfordshire, England.

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      08.03.2009 20:45
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      Hertfordshire's Hidden Gem

      After the last review it is a welcome break to write something that is less controversial and race, creed or religion free (I'm still waiting for my speakers corner suggestion of "should women be allowed to vote?" to get approved by dooyoo.......kidding!!!!) So it is with great glee and a proud heart that I tell you about the little village I call home....Chipperfield.


      Where Is It?

      In deepest darkest Hertfordshire, on the cusp of the Chilterns with its rolling hills of flint and chalk,Chipperfield is equidistantly nestled 5 miles between Costa Del Watford and Hemel Hempstead. It lies just north of the M25....or what the Londoners call, 'the edge of the world and civilisation as they know it" and connects to historic Kings Langley, once home to the Kings and Queens of England.


      What Is It?

      Not much really... but happily so. Population 1700 serviced by a post office/ grocer, an award wining deli, a newsagent, a garden centre, 4 pubs and a butchers. Comprising of an eclectic mix of new (post 1980) and old flint built houses, the villages is centred around an attractive and well maintained common, with it's war memorial and red telephone box..all quite twee.

      Socially the village has three active churches, a village hall, a social club and youth club, each with their own premises. There are well-supported clubs for cricket, football, tennis and short-mat bowling. The village primary school is at full capacity, with over 200 children on the roll.

      History.

      I love Chipperfields long and interesting history. For many centuries Chipperfield was an outlying settlement of the village of Kings Langley, being on the boundary of the domain of the Royal Palace there. The first documentary evidence of the name is found in 1316, when Edward II bequeathed 'the Manor House of Langley the closes adjoining together with the vesture of Chepervillewode for Fewel and other Necessaries' to the Dominican Black Friars. The name is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon 'ceapere' -a trader and 'feld' meaning field, suggesting that there was some form of market in early times

      The dense woodland and clean chalk streams provided ample hunting grounds for royal hunters and horse riders,staying at the palace in Kings Langley, as Chipperfield was owned by the royalty until 1630 when Charles I sold the village to the City Of London to repay debts. Local legend has it that on such a stag hunting trip in 1510, King Henry the eighth fathered an illegitimate child with the windmill owners daughter and there are still lanes named after the child and it's mother, with a handful of residents, far too eager in claiming to have blue blood within them.

      By the 1830's the hamlet was large enough to warrant the building of both Anglican and Baptist Churches and Chipperfield became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1848. Around the same time Champion bare knuckle boxers such as Jem Mace, Bob Fitzsimmons and Thomas Sayers began using the Two Brewers Pub with its sparring facilities and Green to run on as their training quarters.

      The village changed little until after second world war, when the first council built houses appeared on the site of an old leper colony and later pig farm. The last batch of housing built was in 1980 catering primarily for the elderly (I'm not that far off myself)


      Famous Residents

      As well as the bastard offspring of Royalty, Chipperfield can claim Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland, Ex England Goalie David Seaman and of course me as ex or current residents!. Jimmy Carter, the ex US president can trace his family tree back to Chipperfield too.


      Whats So Good About Chipperfield?

      Lots!... thats what. There is a real village feel to the place. Just about everyone says hello to each other and has a good natter in the many popular focal points in the village.... The Two Brewers Pub, the village social club, the newsagent and the postoffice. You do know your neighbour here and can ask them for help if needed, which is something not everybody can boast and I have not experienced living elsewhere.

      The village green is an absolute joy to visit in the summer .... complete with ancient church, cricket pitch and woodland to one side. However it can get busy too as popularity for visitors has been unabated since its creation. No longer randy Kings, more now young families, taking shade under the sprawling old oak. Taking a walk amongst the woodland with bridlepaths created for the benefit of Queen Isabella of Spain it is hard to believe you are only 20 mins drive from the hustle and bustle of London, and 5 from the large towns of Watford and Hemel Hempstead....or 'Emel 'Empstead as its known there..... not out of historical reasons.... just linguistical laziness.

      The Two Brewers is a must visit and for a full review, there is one available in all good review sites (by me, of course). Since new management and a £250,000 refurb the standard of food has gone up considerably, all enjoyed in front of a roaring open fire.

      The Windmill and The Boot do good hearty home cooked food at very reasonable prices. The latter also has a good kids area and beer garden to compensate for not overlooking the green. The only disappointment is The Royal Oak which is surely to close at some point soon as the landlord is as miserable as sin, and manages to turn a well located pub into the only place to avoid.

      The surrounding villages of Belsize , Felden with its strong links to Oliver Cromwell and former village of the year winner Sarratt are smaller and all made out the same flint and there are many beautiful walks that can be had taking in all the varied beauty of the area.

      The Chipperfield News - the free monthly newsletter consisting of a few photocopied pages stapled together posted through our letterboxes. War time memories, local news and gardening tips, births and deaths , all something I find endearingly community binding.

      Another good thing about Chipperfield is the postcode... WD4.. although my dwelling is a modest and humble abode there are some ridiculously expensive houses in the area, where many a CEO or MD lives, and WD4 regularly features in the top ten postcode lists.... peaking at no.4 about 5 years ago. great for all postcode snobs - which I am not.... honest.

      Finally,.... a darn good reason what is so good about chipperfield.... is Morris Dancing... for those who like a bit of a hanky waving, bell kicking jig. Chipperfield is a regular host of the World Morris Dancing Championship. How this is not on Setanta is a mystery to me as it is a great day of beer, sunshine and bearded men looking silly.


      Transport

      Limited bus services from Watford and Hemel Hemsptead, but easily accessible by road. 5 mins from the A41 and Junction 20 of the M25 with a further 5 mins to the M1. The west coast railway line from London to Birmingham stops at Kings Langley 2.5 miles and about 6 miles away is Croxley on the Metropolitan Line. Parking is regrettably plentiful and free for all the many visitors.

      Final thoughts

      The first time I visited Chipperfield I knew I wanted to live there and I had to bribe an estate agent to get a property as not many come up in the humble modest abode variety.(estate agents bribable? I hear you exclaim in horror and disbelief). Genuine community spirit exists and it can be so quintessentially English to look at and walk around I feel spoilt. I love a good walk around and would recommend to all... Ive been lucky enough to see roe, muntjac and chinese water deer close up and have a resident owl only metres from my bedroom window...put that in your pipe and smoke it Bill Oddie.

      Come see Chipperfield..... you know you want to. :)

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