Harpenden news reports. 2021/2020

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My wife and I were privileged to have a private viewing of the panels in February this year. They are incredibly beautiful and still in remarkable condition for their age.

A single image can change the face of History

Portrait imagery was the key aspect of the programme. Images whether painted or photographed could have an incredibly powerful influence on the population. Examples featuring Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, and Margaret Thatcher were used to demonstrate this power. Clever or deceptive dependent on your personal position.

Saving the Cottages for the Nation

The current owner, Ms Murphy, from Hertford, explained that she and business partner Alison Wright bought two adjoining cottages, which house the mural between them, specifically to find a way for the paintings to be brought into public ownership.

"The panels should be in the care of the nation - we are committed to finding a way of doing it."

"They are so rare that the paintings must be preserved for both present and future generations, as a sign of those past beliefs and turbulent times," he said.

"We have been pursuing this aim for a number of years and have now launched a public appeal as the only way to preserve them for posterity."

The owner added that if the money couldn't be raised, they would have to apply for a change of use to residential.

Hopefully Simon Schama’s programme will awaken the local Herts authorities to take action now.

Ron Taylor. Editor. Harpendia.com

Hemel’s hidden treasure featured by Simon Schama on BBC TV’s ‘The Face of Britain’ Wed Sept 30

Simon Schama visited Piccott’s End Cottages to show an important aspect of the history of British portraiture, revealing some beautiful and compelling images that demonstrate their eternal power.

Defacing religious paintings

The cottages in Hemel were a resting place for Pilgrims on their journey from Ashridge to nearby St Albans Abbey in the 1530’s. The interior wall panels had been painted extensively with religious murals reflecting imagery of the Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Saints. Scenes include Jesus's baptism, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Peter and St Margaret. During the Reformation the faces of Jesus, Mary and the Saints were obliterated (defaced- see below) to make the images powerless in the sight of anyone who visited the cottages. At some time post Reformation the panels were covered by linen and NOT seen again until 1953.


Lots of information is available via the SADC consultation web site. You have to be registered and then trawl through the hundreds of comments made by commercial organisations and residents. Additionally several ‘gems’ of information were shown (briefly) at The Harpenden Society public meeting on Feb 4 at Rothamsted Conference Centre. My reports starting today (March 2) will be revealed during the coming weeks.

The maps below show the Legal and General proposals for 500 homes and  a new primary school.

How did this expensive proposal or ‘Masterplan’ become a ‘live’ option. Find out in more revelations soon. Ron Taylor. Editor.


Residents will be encouraged to walk and cycle via the routes on the map which are going to be improved.

So what happens with all the new cars being added to already congested roads?

The 500 homes development above is not sacrosanct .

A survey has revealed a large number of small scale sites around Harpenden that could be utilised. Another developer has plans for a 50 home site.


Legal & General have huge land interests in NW Harpenden and south Beds (see map below) They have submitted their concepts to SADC (See part letter below) for the yellow area on the map with detailed plans later on this page.


How can the 948 Sports Foundation help Harpenden schools. associations, clubs and individuals?

Read the article below.

Would you like to shape the future NHS services and buildings which are designed to improve your experiences as a patient or carer?    NOW CLOSED

The Harpenden Society have been assessing the implications of

YOUR CARE YOUR VIEWS -West Hertfordshire Acute NHS Trust’s

public information initiative concerning the distribution of services for patients after the rebuilding on the Watford site and upgrading of the St Albans and Hemel Hempstead sites is completed.The Trust wish to take the opportunity offered by the capital programme to rationalise and improve patient care.

Residents are invited to submit their views via a survey which can be completed via:


Details of the TRUST’s proposals are contained in the recently released ‘YOUR CARE YOUR VIEWS’ Document -  which you can read by visiting their website www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk/about/redevelopment/yourcareyourviews.asp

The main changes relevant to Harpenden

residents are:
1. Improved diagnostic services -MRI/CT

scanning at St Albans City Hospital,( SACH).

2. Improved planned surgical services at SACH

  1. 3.Centralisation of outpatient services for

  2. 4.gastroenterology and endoscopy at SACH

  3. 4.Centralisation of outpatient services for

  4. 5. diabetes and endocrinology, respiratory

  5. 6. medicine, rheumatology, cardiology,

  6. 7. neurology and dermatology at Hemel

  7. 8.Hempstead.


The Society has asked the Trust to carefully

consider the impact on Harpenden residents who need to travel to their appointments by public transport, as there are no direct bus services between Harpenden and Hemel Hempstead.

If you like Brioche style bread then CHALLAH from Zuckermaus will be a new taste experience.

It’s made from enriched dough with sesame seeds and poppy seeds giving a light crust with a soft texture inside. Toast it and spread with butter for a taste sensation.(Challah is fixed in Jewish cuisine being eaten on ceremonial occasions and holidays)

The range of cakes from Zuckermaus Artisan Bakery is pretty amazing as you will have seen on earlier reports.

This  time it was another test for my taste buds.

Starting with Cinnamoned Apple cake. This had 2 layers of Bramley apples encased in a dairy free cake glazed with apricot jam.

Next to taste was Austrian Applestrudel. Homemade filo pastry, bramley apple slices marinated in cinnamon, sugar, flaked almonds and raisins. Warm it in the microwave and serve with custard or cream.

Finally and my favourite,  Linzer cake, named after a town in Upper Austria. Ground almond, cloves and cinnamon in the base with a layer of red currant jam, topped with a pattern and flaked almonds. Very like Bakewell tart.

Great news for Gin lovers...

Harpenden now has its own Gin...

made by a local business with

local ingredients.

Before you buy, find out more...

I asked the owners for some background.

  1. 1.When did you launch Harpenden Gin

and what makes it different in a crowded

market place?

We launched Harpenden gin just before Christmas and it's been gradually building up sales - people are slowly discovering we exist and getting excited about trying their local gin!

What sets us apart is our local grounding. As well as being branded with Harpenden imagery, this gin uses literal pieces of Harpenden as its botanicals. Angelica root, an essential gin ingredient, is foraged from the river at Batford Springs, along with fragrant meadowsweet. In the ancient oak woodland of the Common, we pick sweet woodruff to give the gin a creamy hint of vanilla and mown hay. That's what makes the gin local - we have to be fully in touch with the local landscape and seasons to make it.

2. What experience do you have in the Drinks market?

Spirit of Herts is owner Richard Daniel and distiller Richard Osmond. Richard Osmond has a background in wild plant foraging and the brewing industry so he's well up to the challenge of finding new and exciting flavours in the wild and processing them into top quality gin.

Richard Daniel's experience in the drinks market is that of a lifelong passionate consumer...

3. What can you recommend as Spring drinks with your gin?

My favourite spring gin drink is a gin and cloudy apple juice with a dash of sharp sorrel juice, or lemon juice if you don't want to go foraging. The apple juice goes especially well with the vanilla-cinnamon notes of sweet woodruff in the Harpenden gin to give a flavour almost like an apple strudel. To make the drink extra springlike, cut a green straw from the hollow stem of a cow parsley plant. Every sip will have a green celery-like freshness...

4. How can you buy it and costs?

At the moment it's only available from us directly at our website www.spiritofherts.co.uk. Prices are £18 for 200ml, £39 for 500ml or £49 for 700ml. So it pays to buy big!

March. Harpenden Trust thanks community for record breaking Appeal total


The Harpenden Trust today announces

that thanks to the generosity of local

residents and businesses, the total for

its annual Care Fund Christmas Appeal

stands at just under £65,000 – more

than any other year previously.


Over the past year, donations to the

Harpenden Trust’s Care Fund have

enabled the Trust to help the community

in a wide variety of ways. These include

setting up the Harpenden Cares Contact Centre to answer over 2,000 calls for Covid-19 Pandemic support and assisting over 12 local GP practices with delivering Oxygen monitors to local residents. In addition, the Trust has provided financial and practical support to over 565 local families, utility grants to over 80 local residents on low pensions and given befriending support to over 70 people in need of it – a number that continues to rise.


The annual Christmas Appeal is the main fundraising opportunity for the Harpenden Trust’s Care Fund. However, Covid-19 restrictions over the past year have meant that traditional fundraising activities, such the door to door collection, were not possible, making the Appeal total even more remarkable.


Richard Nichols, Chairman of the Harpenden Trust, said:


“On behalf of the Harpenden Trust I would like to sincerely thank the Harpenden community for their extraordinary generosity. To find out that our total for this year is more than we have ever raised before in an Appeal, in a year which has been difficult for so many, is incredible. The money raised will make a real difference to supporting those most in need in our community.”


“There is a lot of work that goes into organising and supporting our annual Appeal so I would also like to thank Lynn Kennedy, our Appeal Director and her senior team of volunteers, together with all the Area Organisers and Street Collectors who have worked tirelessly this year in such challenging circumstances to bring the Appeal to life.” Richard continues.


The Appeal also benefitted from generous donations from many local businesses, as well as support from Jelleys, Totals Looks, Barclays, Santander, Sainsbury’s and the Goode Kitchen as donation drop off or collection points.


As restrictions lift, the Harpenden Trust will also seek to reinstate their popular coffee mornings and outings for various sectors of the community, including seniors and families.


As well as the activities of the Care Fund, the Harpenden Trust is also currently playing a key role in the community in supporting the local GPs surgeries in organising the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations in Harpenden.

May 11. Here’s the response from the


conducted in March:

At the heart of plans for all three sites is the move

towards ‘one stop’ clinics. These are appointments

where as many steps of treatment as possible are

arranged within one visit.

A significant investment in diagnostic equipment at

each hospital is on the cards so that patients can have test results without waiting and move on to planning their next stage of treatment – if needed – immediately.

The survey, which was completed by just under 1,700 people, asked patients to rank a range of issues in order of importance.

At the top of this list was the ‘one stop’ model with ‘diagnostic tests and services available at the same time and in the same place, reducing the need for patients to visit hospital several times (e.g., have a scan and then see a consultant in the same visit)’, closely followed by ‘more on-site hospital parking and transport links’ and then the need for ‘new buildings that improve the experience for patients and visitors, including more single room wards, more green spaces, and better on-site facilities’.

Deputy Chief Executive, Helen Brown said: “Making the most of our patients’ time at our hospitals really matters, which is why we place such an emphasis on the ‘one stop’ model which will save numerous trips and remove time waiting for results. We were pleased to see that this is something that our patients also hold dear.”

She added: “The feedback from the survey also underlined what we had heard loud and clear already – there are concerns around travel to hospital. We hope to reduce the burden by converting appointments to online, where this works for patients, to provide a range of care locally and by combining as many steps of treatment into one appointment where possible. However, with some locations for more specialist services changing across our three sites, it is important to understand where we can address worries about getting to and from all of our hospitals.”

The trust is setting up a travel and access reference group for local people who want to work with the trust on access to its three sites. If you would like to express your interest in joining this group please email westherts.redevelopment@nhs.net.

A new multi-storey car park, which is set to open next spring, will improve parking at Watford General Hospital.

In terms of the need for new buildings, which was also highlighted as a key issue, the trust is approaching completion of an outline business case which will be submitted to the government this autumn to bid for funds.

Its plans include for each of the hospitals to have a more clearly defined role. Emergency, inpatient and complex care will remain at Watford; Hemel Hempstead Hospital will be the centre for planned medical care and long term conditions and St Albans City Hospital will be the centre for planned surgery and cancer care. Urgent care services and some outpatient services will be provided at all three sites.

Diagnostic facilities will be significantly upgraded at all three hospitals and the latest digital technology will be incorporated.

Phase two of the engagement programme begins next week. Chief Medical Officer Mike van der Watt said: “We’d like to thank all those who took part. Our engagement enabled us to join community meetings across west Hertfordshire and we are very grateful for the invitations and warm welcome. We are also pleased to see that our public meetings, which were led by senior clinical staff, have had more than 1,000 views.”

Recordings of engagement meetings can be found here.

Sustainability Festival will have

lasting impact on Harpenden.

The Organisers of the 2021 Sustainability Festival

are celebrating a hugely successful 2 weeks of

sustainability events and say that it will have a

lasting impact on the district. Over 170 events

were held across St Albans, Harpenden and

villages between 23rd May and 6th June, many

of which took place in Harpenden.

Nicola Wyeth, from the Sustainability Festival

organising group, said:

“The Sustainability Festival has been a huge success. Many Harpenden residents enjoyed events online and in person, learning about how easy it is to make small changes to our lives to live more sustainably.”

The second week of the festival saw some well-attended events in Harpenden.

All Saints Church hosted a bug-hunting afternoon entitled “Wonders Great and Small” where children looked for minibeasts in the church garden, while also hunting for mosses, lichens and grasses.

Harpenden Town Council’s Harpenden Scavenger Trail was very successful with dozens of participants over the two days. Families collected a trail map from outside park hall and followed it around the town centre and out onto the common, exploring wildlife features of the town and learning about the local green spaces.

Other events held in Harpenden included Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary livestreaming “Helping Wild Hedgehogs” on Saturday 29th May.  St John’s Church held a special Environment Day service on Sunday 6th June followed by a litter pick on the Common.

Some SustFest21 talks and activities are still available to enjoy via recordings or trail downloads on the website. Watch Professor Kate Jeffery of UCL talk about Climate Change or follow the link to the Bethany Church or Rothamsted Research Sustainability Festival trails. Visit https://sustfest.org.

July. Did you know that some

people in Harpenden are going without essential bathroom and toiletry products?

There’s hygiene poverty just like food poverty.

As shown by volunteers on the Harpenden concourse.

The Hygiene Bank is just the same as the Food Bank, also operating in Harpenden.

Take a look at the listing and think about donating in future.

Details on their web site:


NHS staff to start EPS training

in September

What’s it for?

How will you benefit?

EPR will help to improve patient services in

local NHS Hospitals and Surgeries.

It’s all part of the digitisation of patient records

onto a local NHS data base.*

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

signed a long-term deal for the provision of an

electronic patient record system in

December 2020.

The Trust awarded a £30m contract to

US-based healthtech firm Cerner which

runs until 31 August 2030.

The patient portal for west Hertfordshire will provide a gateway to information within the hospital but also has the capability of pulling data from other sources such as GP practice systems. Portals also enable patients to communicate with the hospital directly when and if appropriate. All GPs in west Hertfordshire have direct access to results so that they can order tests and view the results electronically and clinical teams at the trust are able to view results within the hospital.

Staff will start electronic patient record training in September.

*the ultimate aim being one patient portal across the whole healthcare system.

More background information to follow

Without the services of Harpenden

Child Contact Centre, many separated

families would be unable to meet

their children after a relationship

breakdown.  So local volunteers

were delighted to meet Hitchin

and Harpenden MP, Bim Afolami,

(right centre)  when he dropped in at

one of their fortnightly sessions

at All Saints’ Church Hall in

Harpenden recently.

‘Our charity provides support to families by facilitating contact between children and their parents, or other adults from whom they are separated,’ said Chairman, Brigid Brennan.  ‘The Centre is entirely free for users and relies on members who pay an annual subscription, as well as an annual grant from the Government, and donations. It was a wonderful opportunity to show Mr Afolami how our funding is spent and to know that he is supportive of the work we do.’

Mr Afolami met a number of volunteers and talked to the joint Co-ordinator, Ken Brennan, about the challenges of running the sessions that take place on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, and the rewards of seeing children interact with estranged parents in a safe and friendly environment.  He had fun looking at toys provided for various age groups and enjoyed the opportunity of talking to some of the parents.

‘I was delighted to meet the volunteers and hear about the fantastic work they do. The Centre provides a safe haven for children in often very challenging and confusing circumstances. More than just a play group, it facilitates stronger relationships with parents they are separated from. The compassionate work of Brigid and the team of volunteers has a healing impact that will resonate in the lives of these children and their families for years to come.’

Launched in 2006, and since then running

twice monthly without interruption until the

Centre had to close during the recent

lockdowns, the Centre reopened for

business in August 2020 and April 2021

subject to COVID risk assessments and

standard precautionary measures

(e.g. bubbles). Further to the latest  

government and health authority  guidance,

the Centre looks forward to returning to

pre-COVID functioning and numbers of

attending families imminently to service

a growing demand.

Bim in discussion with Ken Brennan;(right)

For further information on the work of Harpenden Children Contact Centre, either to use its services or to find out how to support its work, please contact Ken Brennan or Sam Cooper on 07842 167767 or at harpendenccc@gmail.com.



Phone: 07766072772

Free deliveries in Harpenden, St Albans and surrounding villages


The Harpenden Society’s prestigious annual Award Plaque for 2020 was presented to the Katherine Warington School on Tuesday Aug 24th. In recognition of a magnificent development by the Kier construction group, for its innovative building design and its internal appointments featuring state-of-the-art educational technology, all set on the edge of open countryside. As Harpenden’s fourth secondary school, KWS is a major asset for educating the young people of the town and surrounding area, with facilities benefitting the wider community. Society chairman Phil Waters presented the award to head teacher Tony Smith. Representing Kier were senior project manager David Tomlin, KWS project manager Tanya Hammond and project architect Alison Shepherd. Also present were Harpenden Society Awards committee chairman Penny Ayres and her colleagues John Davis, John Lowe and Pauline Waddilove.

Above: At the Society’s KWS Award presentation were (left to right) architect Alison Shepherd, head teacher Tony Smith, Society chairman Phil Waters, Society Awards chair Penny Ayres and Kier senior project manager David Tomlin.


What makes the Queens Head so


By the time you read this you’ll wonder how other

Harpenden pubs can offer a such an amazing


Approaching the venue you’ll see a stylish looking

exterior nestling into the Common beyond. Stepping

inside you’ll see how the bar and seating arrangements

have been blended together. When you walk through

to the rear patio garden you’ll see how cleverly the

seating has been planned.

The Drinks.

As you can see there is an extensive range of beers and cider, most of which are exclusive as they are brewed themselves. There’s a good range of Wines some of which are available by the glass.  Plus Spirits and Cocktails.

The Food.

The pub prides itself on the quality of the produce and the way it is cooked on site by a great team in the kitchen. There’s a ‘smoke unit’ fuelled by different woods like hickory, to impart unique flavours to main dishes.

The menu is devised by the chefs and features food for Breakfasts at 9am, Lunch and then Dinner till 10pm when the kitchen closes.

Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluton Free options are all available.

Coffee time too.

You can also drop in for coffee and snacks.

The Owners

Big Smoke Brew Company were founded in 2014 with their first pub in Esher and now have a number of  ‘gastropubs‘  in the South East including one in Soho.  

My thanks to Ivy - Rose (pictured below) who gave me a review of the pub’s activities in the absence of manger Daniel O’Donoghue.

Ron Taylor. Editor.

Special September offer:

2 - 4 - 1 Friends Eat Free on all Main Meals. Monday - Thursday.

Cheapest item off the main menu is free when purchased  alongside a full price main dish.

The Queens Head, Harpenden Common, 59 Southdown Rd. AL5 1PQ

Classics from all eras on Harpenden Common

On my journey around Classics on

Sept 22 I found a group of awe struck

visitors looking at Bentley classics from

the historic to the future.

The 1926 Bentley 3 Litre Le Mans

Team Car contrasting with the

Bentley Bentayga Hybrid.

The Bentayga combines an E-Motor with a powerful V6 engine to give you sustainability and blissful silence for 25 miles (perfect for everyday trips) AND a wave of power from the V6 going from 0 - 60mph in 5.2 secs with a top speed of 158mph.

Exquisitely finished interior with all the high

tech features and a Naim audio system

worthy of concert hall reality.

I chatted to Victoria about the importance of their Crewe headquarters heritage. Still the location for design, manufacturing and assembly of their beautiful cars.

More information from Bentley Hatfield. www.hrowen.co.uk