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Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire
Chorleywood Common, Artichoke Dell - - 95956.jpg
Chorleywood Common
Grid reference: TQ025965
Location: 51°39’-0"N, 0°30’36"W
Population: 6,814  (2001)
Post town: Rickmansworth
Postcode: WD3
Dialling code: 01923
Local Government
Council: Three Rivers
Hertfordshire South West

Chorleywood is a scenic village in south-western Hertfordshire, built beside and within a great, green common of meadow and woodland.

The village lies in the far south west of Hertfordshire, on the border with Buckinghamshire and indeed the newer developments overlap the border in the very west, the boundary marked by Shire Lane. Chorleywood is part of the London commuter belt, served by Chorleywood Station on the Chiltern Line to London Marylebone and on the Metropolitan Line of the London Underground network.

The village is naturally broken into sections by the common and latterly by the M25. The scenic heart of the village lies along the western edge of the Common and dropping down with it to the valley of the River Misbourne, and beyond the railway line Lower Road serves as a high street, with most of the homes of the village spread out up the slopes to the south. Chorleywood Bottom lies to the southeast. A second part to Chorleywood is to the north and east of the Common, the houses lining the A404 and spreading south of it, invisible to the rest of the village due to the hill over which the common spreads. East of the M25, within its great ring, is a suburb which merges into Rickmansworth, and by it is Loudwater, part of the parish but quite distinct and said to be the place of the most expensive houses outside London.

In a survey in 2004, the ward of Chorleywood West was found to be the neighbourhood in England with the highest quality of life. Of the 32,482 neighbourhoods surveyed, Chorleywood West came out top using thirty-seven criteria.[1]

In the early 1960s, researchers at the British Baking Industries Research Association in Chorleywood improved upon an earlier American bread making process. This resulted in the Chorleywood Bread Process, which is now used in over 80% of commercial bread production throughout the UK.[2]

Chorleywood Common

The cricket pitch on Chorleywood Common

Chorleywood Common is a tract of 200 acres of largely wooded common land. Since cattle grazing ended soon after the First World War, the land has been used for recreational purposes. Chorleywood Golf Club maintains a nine-hole golf course on the Common. In the 19th Century, the Marylebone Cricket Club established a cricket pitch on the Common, which is used by Chorleywood Cricket Club's senior and junior teams to this day, presenting on a summer's day an idyllic picture of village life to passers by.

Next to the common are Christ Church and its like-named primary school.

The grounds of Chorleywood house now form a 170-acre public park.[3]




Paleolithic remains have been found, the area providing valuable flint. History though broke upon the area only with the coming of the Romans developed a small village on the ancient site, complete with a mill and brewery. The likely ruins of a Roman villa are thought to be found under the M25, which passes through the outskirts of Chorleywood.[4]

The Early English created the village and it became an important centre. In Old English it was known as Cerola Leah, meaning a meadow in a clearing.[4] Through Chorleywood runs the line that once divided the Kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex and now divides the counties of Hertford and Buckingham: marked by Shire Lane.

Edward the Confessor gave the town of Chorleywood to the Monastery of St Albans.[4] On the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it passed to the Bishopric of London, being renamed 'Charleywoode'. It became Crown property during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Turnpike Act (1663) gave Chorleywood a chance to exploit its strategic position, allowing locals the opportunity to charge civilians to use the road from Hatfield to Reading.[4]

In the seventeenth century, Chorleywood became a home for many Quakers, who flocked to Chorleywood, promised sanctuary by the local people. William Penn founded the Pennsylvania Colony with settlers from Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, and nearby towns in southern Buckinghamshire, having lived and married in Chorleywood.[4]

With the boom in the paper and printing industries, on which much of southwestern Hertfordshire's economy was based in the 19th century, came new prosperity. The extension of the Metropolitan Railway to Chorleywood on 8 July 1889 brought with it incredible population growth, which continued until the 1960s. From a population of 1,500 people in 1897, the population has grown to over 9,000 today.

A Regency mansion called Chorleywood House was built here in 1822 by John Barnes, replacing an earlier farm house. In 1892, the house was bought by Lady Ela Sackville Russell, eldest daughter of the 9th Duke of Bedford. She modified and enlarged the house, turning the grounds into a model estate with market gardens.

In the BBC TV documentary Metro-land (1973), Sir John Betjeman described Chorleywood as "essential Metro-land".[5]


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