Hertford, a History, by Jacqueline Cooper
Published by Phillimore in 2007, 162 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket
Brand New Book
RRP (As shown on inside fly leaf): £15.99
Hertford, first documented in 673 AD, grew up beside a shallow ford across the River Lea, and was founded in 912-13 AD as a royal borough by Edward the Elder, who built twin fortifications on either side of the river. The surrounding county was named after it, and William the Conqueror built a castle, which later became a royal palace. But medieval Hertford suffered a reversal of fortunes when its lucrative monopoly of road and river tolls was taken by Ware, prompting a bitter feud which continued down the centuries, and the town went into economic decline.
From the end of Tudor times, Hertford and its environs began to attract a wealthier upper class, some building grand mansions and parks and acquiring great influence. The external and internal conflicts of the 17th century were accompanied by the first stirrings of Nonconformism, but the contrasts between rich and poor were deepening. As population and poverty grew, Victorian Hertford experienced a great outpouring of charitable activity, educational and religious outreach. Modernisation began with the coming of the railway, but progress was hampered by intractable social problems in the slums of Bircherley Green.
Both world wars impacted heavily on the county, its proximity to London bringing numerous bombing raids, but post-war Hertford developed as a popular commuter town, spoilt only by the building of a divisive relief road in the 1960s. Population has grown slowly, from about 10,000 in the early 1900s to over 24,000 today, and there is still an enduring sense of community and a high quality of life in this immensely attractive, busy and vibrant place.
The author's detailed yet accessible exploration of Hertford's long history places the emphasis on the lives of the ordinary people. This well written, fully illustrated, chronological account is a significant contribution to the published history of the town