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The Swan, Bell Bar, Hertfordshire

Plans to build flats on the site of The Swan in Bell Bar have been granted by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. The proposal was opposed by the North Mymms District Green Belt Society which argued that one of the grounds against development was that the area would lose an important part of its local history. The following is a piece written by local historian Peter Miller in March 2016 as part of the case against development.

A map at the end of the piece has been added to show the changes to Bell Bar over the years, and how it's slowly been stripped of its historical past. There are also notes by the late Bill Killick, local historian, along with his hand-drawn maps of the area as it was.


Swan Lodge Bell Bar
Heritage Statement

Prepared by Peter Miller, March 2016

The White Swan on the wall of the building

The White Swan on the wall of the building

Bell Bar is a small ancient linear settlement bordering what was once the North Road, later called the Great North Road.

Prior to 1850 the western end of Bell Lane was the Great North Road. The road ran from the present Shepherds Way, across what is now part of Brookmans Park to join Bell Lane, then along Woodside Lane, through Hatfield Park and down Fore Street in Old Hatfield.

The White Swan c1900

The White Swan c1900
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in

Bell Bar was a self-contained farming community, whose inns accommodated the travellers and drovers. In 1756, Bell Bar had four inns; The Bull (Black), The Swan (White), The Bell and The White Hart.

Now only one remains; Swan Lodge (The White Swan).

Originally called The Swan, the inn has occupied three separate locations. The first was recorded in 1746 as being where the present Grade II listed Lower Farm stands (next door to Swan Lodge) and by 1768 had moved to its second location between Lower Farm and Swan Lodge. This building no longer exists. In 1833 the Swan became known as The White Swan and c1851 was moved to its current location at the junction of the old and new roads when the Great North Road was diverted round Bell Bar and no longer went through the village.

Map of the area showing the various sites for the pub

Map of the area showing the various sites for The Swan

In the 1960s the White Swan finally closed and became a private dwelling house.

Bell Bar was 17 miles from London on the old road and the 18C milestone can still be seen against the wall of Swan Lodge.

18C milestone outside the former Swan

18C milestone outside the former Swan

Looking at the 1844 North Mymms tithe map it is clear that many of the original buildings in Bell Bar have already been demolished and only four buildings survive today; Grade II Lower Farm, Grade II Carpenters Cottage, Grade II Upper Farm (Elm Tree Farm) and The Old Bakery.

Swan Lodge is a well-known and much loved local landmark due to its prominent position on the A1000 and although not listed it plays an important part in defining the semi-rural appearance of the locality and also the history and heritage of Bell Bar.

The Swan is the last link in Bell Bar's coaching history as part of the old North Road and if it were to disappear there would be an increased likelihood in the future of Bell Bar being ultimately subsumed by Brookmans Park.

The White Swan c1920

The White Swan c1920
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in

Heritage statement prepared by Peter Miller, March 2016


Map of Bell Bar showing changes over time

Old sketch map of Bell Bar - click on image for larger version

Old sketch map of Bell Bar
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in


Notes on the inns of Bell Bar
By the late Bill Killick, local historian

Notes by Bill Killick - click on image for larger version

Notes by Bill Killick
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in

Notes by Bill Killick - click on image for larger version

Old sketch map of Bell Bar
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in

Old sketch map of Bell Bar by Bill Killick - click on image for larger version

Old sketch map of Bell Bar by Bill Killick
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in

Old sketch map of Bell Bar by Bill Killick - click on image for larger version

Old sketch map of Bell Bar by Bill Killick
Click on image for larger version then click again to zoom in


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You can discuss this document in a discussion thread running in this site's community forum.

August 2016

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