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Berkhamsted Town

By Richard Roscoe on July 4th, 2023

Berkhamsted town in the south of England (Hertfordshire) that has been inhabited for around 10,000 years. It was originally a small Anglo-Saxon settlement but now enjoys some popularity as an upmarket commuter town.

It has been part of England for centuries but its story actually goes back much further than that to when it was occupied by the Romans thousands of years ago. In fact, they are responsible for establishing the town as an important settlement and developing public facilities like roads and sewers here. The first mention ever made of Berkhamsted is on a map created during Roman times which shows that at least 500 people lived there at this time.

History of Berkhamsted

Berkhamsted has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the Norman conquest. The town was originally a Saxon settlement, but it was taken over by the Normans in 1066. The Normans built a castle in Berkhamsted, which became an important strategic location for controlling the route from London to the Midlands. The castle was also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Berkhamsted in 1152, which ended a civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.

In 1156, Berkhamsted was granted a royal charter, which allowed it to hold a market and a fair. This helped to establish the town as an important commercial centre in the region. Over the years, the town continued to grow and develop, and it played a key role in the wool trade during the medieval period.

Historical Facts about Berkhamsted Town

Here are a few historical facts about the town:

  • Berko was founded in the 8th century. At that time, it was a small settlement of about 100 people and later became an important trading centre.
  • Berkhamsted Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and served as one of his residences for over 20 years
  • From 1066 to 1495, Berkhamsted Castle was a favoured residence of royalty and notable historical figures, including Henry II, Edward the Black Prince, Thomas Becket, and Geoffrey Chaucer
  • During the English civil war, Sir John Boys captured the castle from Parliamentary forces in 1644 and held it until he surrendered it to Oliver Cromwell's army on 2nd September 1645
  • The first mention of Berkhamsted was in 705AD, when King Ine of Wessex gifted land to his minister Beorhtsige
  • In 1307, Berkhamsted was a large town by English medieval standards, with an estimated population of 2,000 to 2,500. In 1355, there were five butchers, two bakers, nine brewers, two cobblers, a pelter, a tanner, five cloth dyers, six wheelwrights, three smiths, six grain merchants, a skinner, and a baker/butcher
  • The moat and grounds of Berkhamsted Castle stand close to the town centre, while the Plantagenet Parish Church dominates the High Street next to the 15th century Court House
  • The first recorded mention of cricket being played in Berkhamsted came from 1611

Berkhamsted Today

Today, Berkhamsted is a thriving market town with a population of around 20,000 people. It is part of the borough of Dacorum and has its own civil parish and town council. The town is known for its beautiful architecture, including many historic buildings that date back to the medieval period.

One of the highlights of Berkhamsted is its location in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The surrounding countryside is home to many walking and cycling trails, as well as a variety of wildlife.

The town is also home to a number of parks and green spaces, including the popular Canal Fields and the Watercress Wildlife Association Nature Reserve.

Berkhamsted Castle

Berkhamsted Castle is one of the town's most important historic sites. The castle was built by the Normans in the 11th century and played a key role in the development of the town. It was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Berkhamsted in 1152, which ended a civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.

Today, the castle is a ruined site that is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Visitors can explore the castle grounds and learn about its fascinating history. The castle is also home to a number of events throughout the year, including outdoor theatre performances and historical reenactments.

Berkhamsted Conservation Area

Berkhamsted is also home to a conservation area, which is designed to protect the town's historic buildings and architecture.

The conservation area covers the historic centre of the town, including the High Street/London Road and its extension. The area is home to many beautiful buildings that date back to the medieval period, including the Old Town Hall and St. Peter's Church.

Berkhamsted Life

The town has a wealth of local businesses, you'll find GDM, a Berkhamsted Marketing Agency, offering website design to local business owners.

berkhamsted countryside

I adore living in Berko. I love the pretty houses and lush green trees that are everywhere. The people here are friendly, as well as helpful when it comes to providing information about things to do around town. There are lots of things to do around here (like Yoga and Pilates, cycling, hiking, etc). The town is full of tourist attractions, and we also have a great range of places to eat and drink.

Berkhamsted Countryside

berkhamsted scenery

Its is a lovely town and the perfect place to go for walks. Whether you'd like to stroll through the countryside or just take in the sights, there are plenty of options for walking routes.

One of my favourite places to go walking is around the Ashridge Estate which is owned by the National Trust and includes the Ivinghoe Beacon area. It's stunning scenery, here's a wintry photograph of the area:

berkhamsted snow scenery

Springtime around Berkhamsted is truly beautiful as everything comes back to life after the winter. There are lots of local wooded areas that come alive with bluebells. Here's a photograph taken at Docky wood, it was once easily accessible, but since it became well known, it's fenced off and the National Trust try to control the number of visitors in order to preserve the natural splendour of the area.

berkhamsted bluebells

Berkhamsted Restaurants

Berkhamsted Town is home to a number of great restaurants. I recommend the Highwayman because it has an amazing menu, good customer service and a nice atmosphere. The Highwayman is also a great venue to visit if you want a great pint of ale, it usually stocks a great selection of real ale, including local beers from the Tring Brewery - don't miss out the the excellent Side Pocket for a Toad Ale, it's a very easy to drink session ale.


Berkhamsted is a fascinating historic market town that is well worth a visit. Its rich history, beautiful architecture, and stunning countryside make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Whether you're interested in exploring the town's historic sites, taking a walk in the countryside, or simply enjoying the local shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone in Berkhamsted.

Richard Roscoe
Article written by Richard Roscoe
CEO and Marketing Consultant

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