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Secret UK: Hertfordshire

Panoramic view across the fields to the the village of Standon in Hertfordshire

By Ellen Marriott, International Officer at the University of Hertfordshire

If you're looking for a quintessential English location, the county of Hertfordshire is the place to be. It is full of vibrant cities, beautiful countryside, historic sites to explore, quaint villages to have a traditional afternoon tea in, entertainment venues to party the night away in… and all of this just 25 minutes away from central London!

Hertfordshire: Key facts

Location: Southeast England, north of London

Population: 1,140,700 (June 2013); 39,202 in Hatfield town

Famous for: Film and TV (films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones were filmed at the famous Elstree Studios, while the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden are home to James Bond and all eight Harry Potter films – you can take the Harry Potter tour here!), and history (the third largest Roman town in the UK, Verulamium, was located in Hertfordshire and is now named St Albans).

The sprawling gardens of Hatfield House ©VisitBritain/Rod Edwards

Sports in Hertfordshire: Arsenal football club – the men’s team train in London Colney (a Hertfordshire village north of London), and the Arsenal ladies football team train at Hertfordshire Sports Village, along with a wide range of professional sportspeople and teams.

Famous people from Hertfordshire: Actor Rupert Grint (Ron from Harry Potter), director Guy Ritchie, singer and fashion designer Victoria Beckham, musicians Sarah Brightman, Simon Le Bon and George Michael, Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton, Olympic athletes Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott.

Did you know… Hatfield House (above) was home to English Royalty. Henry VIII's children, King Edward VI and the future Queen Elizabeth I, lived in an early building on the site, the Royal Palace of Hatfield. It is now home to Lord Salisbury, the Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

Nearest airports: Luton (30 minutes by train), Heathrow (45 mins), Stansted (50 mins), Gatwick (1 hour 45 mins).

Focus on St Albans

The grand cathedral in St Albans ©University of Hertfordshire

St Albans is a unique English cathedral city. This area has so much history – it was one of the largest Roman towns (from around AD 50 to AD 410) and many remains of Roman buildings can still be seen today!

It is a beautiful city with something for everyone, including a diverse range of restaurants, shopping, cafés and boutiques, lively bars and old pubs – it even lays claim to the oldest pub in England! Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest pub, with foundations dating back to the 8th century.

Take a stroll through St Albans ©University of Hertfordshire

There’s also a beautiful park perfect for lazy strolls, and cobbled streets that you could  wander around for hours. There are special events throughout the year, such as markets, food and music festivals, fireworks displays and more. Check out www.enjoystalbans.com to find out what’s on.

Other places to visit

St Albans is just one of the stunning places to visit in Hertfordshire. The county is full of lovely English villages to explore, including Hitchin, Aldbury, Ayot St. Lawrence and Hertford. You can wander around the boutique shops and have a traditional English afternoon tea.

A classic English tea, with scones, jam and cream ©VisitEngland Images

There are also numerous grand estates and stately homes for you to visit, such as Ashridge Estate, Hatfield House, Berkhamsted Castle, Knebworth House, and many more. You also have a great variety of wildlife on your doorstep, with zoos in Whipsnade and Woburn.


If you’re looking for a good night out then you can definitely find one in Hertfordshire – there are hundreds of pubs, bars, nightclubs, and music venues. The Forum is one of the top entertainment venues in the region, offering the best live entertainment and club facilities available. With a huge auditorium, three bars and a club, this 1,500-capacity auditorium has played host to world-famous acts such as One Direction and Ed Sheeran.

Best of both worlds

One of the best things about Hertfordshire’s location is that you really can experience both the countryside and the city! You can live in the peace and quiet of the English countryside, while having one of the greatest cities in the world on your doorstep – hop on a train to London for even more things to see and do.

The village of Benington in Hertfordshire ©VisitBritain/Rod Edwards

Read more:

   •  Explore the UK: More regional guides for students
   •  12 things you need to know about London
   •  8 reasons to study in the UK's countryside

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