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Hertfordshire's Location within England
Hertfordshire's Location within England
Hertfordshire's Coat of Arms

Hertfordshire's Districts

  1. Three Rivers
  2. Watford
  3. Hertsmere
  4. Welwyn Hatfield
  5. Broxbourne
  6. East Hertfordshire
  7. Stevenage
  8. North Hertfordshire
  9. St Albans
  10. Dacorum

Hertfordshire (pronounced "Hartfordshire" and abbreviated as "Herts") is an inland county in the United Kingdom, officially part of the East of England Government region. It is one of the Home Counties.

Hertfordshire is located to the north of Greater London, and much of the county is part of the London commuter belt.

To the east of Hertfordshire is Essex, to the west is Buckinghamshire and to the north are Bedfordshire, Luton and Cambridgeshire.

The highest point in the county is 803 feet (245 m) above sea level, a quarter mile (400 m) from the village of Hastoe near Tring.

The county motto is "Trust and fear not".

Status Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Origin Historic
Region East of England
- Total
- Admin. Council
Ranked 36th
634 miles² (1,643 km²)
Ranked 32nd
Admin HQ Hertford
ISO 3166-2 GB-HRT
ONS code 26
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
- Admin. Council
Ranked 16th
634 / km²
Ranked 6th
Ethnicity 93.7% White
3.0% S. Asian
1.1% Afro-Carib.
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament James Clappison
Barbara Follett
David Gauke
Oliver Heald
Peter Lilley
Anne Main
Mike Penning
Mark Prisk
Grant Shapps
Charles Walker
Claire Ward



Hertfordshire was originally the area assigned to a fortress constructed at Hertford under the rule of Edward the Elder in 913. The name Hertfordshire appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1011.

The Domesday Book recorded the county as having nine hundreds. Tring and Danais became one, Dacorum. The other seven were Broadwater, Cashio, Edwinstree, Hertford, Hitchin and Odsey.

Hertfordshire is the starting point of the New River: a man made waterway, opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water.

In the 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, Barnet Urban District and East Barnet Urban District were abolished and their area transferred from Hertfordshire to Greater London to form part of the London Borough of Barnet. At the same time the Potters Bar Urban District was directly transferred from Middlesex to Hertfordshire.

On the morning of 11 December 2005, a large explosion and fire occurred at a petroleum fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead. Forty three people were injured, and considerable damage caused. The two day fire was the largest in peacetime Europe, and a pall of smoke darkened London and much of South East England.


The rocks of the English county of Hertfordshire belong to the great shallow syncline known as the London basin, the beds dip in a south-easterly direction towards the syncline's lowest point roughly under the River Thames. The most important formations are the Cretaceous chalks, which are exposed as the high ground in the north and west of the county, and the Tertiary rocks made up of the Paleocene age Reading Beds and Eocene age London Clay that occupies the remaining southern part.

The Cretaceous

On the northern boundary and just inside the county, at the foot of the chalk Chiltern Hills, near Tring and Ashwell, there is a small strip of exposed Cretaceous Gault Clay and Upper Greensand. At 100 million years old, these are the oldest rocks in the county. Rocks get progressively younger as one moves in a south easterly direction through the county.

The lowest layer of the chalk is the Chalk Marl, which, with the Totternhoe Clunch Stone above it, lies at the base of the Chiltern Hills escarpment. This is visible as a terrace projecting north-westwards, near Whipsnade and Ivinghoe.

Above these beds, the Lower Chalk, without flints, rises up sharply to form the steepest part of the Dunstable Downs, which are the easterly continuation of the Chiltern Hills.

Next comes the Chalk Rock, which, being a hard bed, caps the hilltops by Boxmoor, Apsley End and near Baldock. The Upper Chalk slopes southward towards the Tertiary boundary to the south.

All the chalk was deposited between 100 million and 65 million years ago when the area was at the bottom of a shallow sea and some distance from the nearest land.

The chalk is often covered by a clay-with-flints deposit, which is formed of the weathered remnants of Tertiary rocks and chalk.

The Tertiary

The Palaeocene Reading beds consist of mottled and yellow clays and sands, the latter are frequently hardened into masses made up of pebbles in a siliceous cement, known locally as Hertfordshire puddingstone. Examples of Reading Beds outliers occur in what are otherwise chalky areas at St Albans, Ayot Green, Burnham Green, Micklefield Green, Sarrat, and Bedmond. The Reading Beds were laid down about 60 million years ago when the area was a river estuary receiving river sediment from land to the west.

The London Clay is a stiff, blue clay that weathers to brown and rests nearly everywhere upon the Reading beds. It represents the time 55 to 40 million years ago when Hertfordshire was once again under a deeper sea but was near enough to land to receive fine mud deposits.

The Ice Age

About 500,000 years ago during the ice age period known as the Anglian glaciation, glaciers approached from the North Sea and reached as far south-west as Bricket Wood. Glacial gravels and boulder clays cover a great deal of the whole area to the north east of the county and the Upper Chalk itself has been disturbed at Reed and Barley by glaciation.

Prior to the ice ages the River Thames followed a path through the southern part of Hertfordshire, running from the area of modern Staines up the valley of the Colne to Hatfield and then eastward across Essex originally towards the primeval Rhine but later down the valley of the modern River Lea. This path was blocked by a mass of ice near Hatfield and a lake ponded up to the west of this around St Albans. Waters eventually overflowed near Staines to cut the path of the modern Thames through central London. When the ice retreated about 400,000 years ago the river bed along the new route followed the lower path and so the river remained on its present day course. The flow in the Colne valley reversed, now flowing south as a tributary into the modern Thames. Superficial gravel deposits from the primordial Thames, are found throughout the Vale of St. Albans.

At the retreat of the glaciers, wind blown powdered rock known as loess was deposited over the whole county, forming thin layers under a meter thick. This makes for fine, easily cultivated and fertile soils.

Urban Areas

These are the main towns in Hertfordshire.

Places of interest

  • Aldenham Country Park
  • Beech Bottom Dyke, St Albans - large scale iron age defensive or boundary ditch
  • Berkhamstead Castle
  • De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, Salisbury Hall, between London Colney and South Mimms
  • Hatfield House : Jacobean house, gardens and park
  • Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham - Sculpture park on the work of Henry Moore
  • Knebworth House - 250 acres (1.0 km²) of country park, venue of regular rock and pop festivals.
  • St Albans Cathedral
  • Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, home of George Bernard Shaw.
  • The Six Hills Roman site in Stevenage.
  • Stevenage, the first UK New Town
  • Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans
  • The University of Hertfordshire was created from Hatfield Polytechnic which originated in Hatfield.
  • Verulamium Roman town remains at St Albans
  • Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans - a claimant to being the oldest pub in Britain.


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