The Borough of Broxbourne is steeped in history with many beautful sites and buildings.
The New River
The New River starts in Ware and ends in Islington. It runs the entire length of the Borough of Broxbourne and was built between 1608 and 1613 to take drinking water from local springs to London by Hugh Myddelton. In 1611, King James I put up half the cost of building the New River and allowed it to flow through his palace at Theobalds (once sited in Cedars Park). It still fulfils its original purpose and provides opportunities for walks along the riverbanks.
The name of Cheshunt stems from the old name ‘Cestrehunt’ which refers to a castle or fortress. It lies one days march north of London along Ermine Street, the old Roman road from London to York. In 2001, Channel Four’s ‘Time Team’ archaeologists uncovered part of the street that runs through Broxbourne’s Cheshunt Park, along with the remains of several buildings which are thought to be associated with an overnight resting point.
The settlement first appeared written in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Chestrehunt.
The Old Pond, now a roundabout with a fountain, marks the traditional centre of the town. To the west lies the historical Churchgate area which includes Bishops’ College, St Mary’s Church, Whit Hern Park and the 16th century Green Dragon Inn. It was here at Pengelly, a house which burnt down in 1888, that the Cromwell family lived. Richard Cromwell the Lord Protector, (great-grandson of Oliver Cromwell), is buried in the churchyard.
The most southerly of the Borough’s towns is Waltham Cross. At its heart is the Eleanor Cross, one of three remaining of 12 erected between 1291 and 1292 to mark the overnight stops of the funeral cortège of Eleanor of Castile, wife of King Edward I, on its way to Westminster Abbey.
The Four Swannes gantry sign in Waltham Cross High Street has been a historical landmark feature in the town centre since the eighteenth century outside the now demolished Four Swannes Public House. A replica was made and attached to the Waltham Cross Pavilions Shopping Arcade in June 2007 whilst the original swans were removed to the Lowewood museum.
Henry III granted a weekly market and annual fair to Hoddesdon on the Feast of St Martin’s in 1253. From this time, the town grew to be a centre of commerce, with a prosperous market. Traders built town houses, some of which still survive. One of them, Lowewood House, a fine example of Georgian architecture, is now the museum serving the Borough of Broxbourne.
By the 18th century Hoddesdon had developed into a coaching centre on the route from London to Cambridge with over 30 inns. It is believed that from one of these, a “broad shouldered, pock-marked man” called Dick Turpin operated during the 1730s, holding up travellers on the Hoddesdon to Ware Road. Today, some of the inns remain, such as the Golden Lion (1535), White Swan, Salisbury Arms (both 16th century) and the Bell (1660).
The Hoddesdon Clock Tower was built in the town centre in 1835 and is now a listed building.
There is a heritage trail around the town.
The hamlet of Broxbourne, from which the Borough takes its name, contains St Augustine’s Church, built in the early 15th Century. Behind the Church are the remains of Broxbourne Mill, first mentioned in 1086 in the Domesday Book. A footpath from the Church leads to the Broxbourne conservation area and the New River Heritage Trail. One of the principal features are the Monson Alms Houses built of red brick in 1728.
Wormley contains several well-preserved buildings from various periods. The Queen’s Head public house (where courts were held in the 18th century) and the Old Manor House (a timber framed building) are both of late medieval origin. West of the village and adjacent to the church stands Wormleybury, a large house built in 1767 to designs of Robert Mylne.