Great Amwell

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Great Amwell
Poet's Corner, The New River. - - 141022.jpg
Poet's Corner on The New River
Grid reference: TL370124
Location: 51°47’40"N, 0°-0’51"W
Postcode: SG12
Local Government
Council: East Hertfordshire

Great Amwell is a village in Hertfordshire, a mile and a half south of Ware.

Great Amwell is about twenty miles north of London, and was once the source of much of its water, for the New River begins here, taken for the well that gives the village its name, and conveyed by channels and pipes towards the city. The New River, which still flows south, is celebrated in a standing museum exhibit in the village.

The East India College was founded here in 1806, for the education of young men intended for the civil service of the East India Company in India. It is now a public school; Haileybury College.

On a hill above the church is an ancient mound, the remains of a fortification; and in Barrow field, on the road to Hertford, is a large barrow.

Parish church

St John the Baptist, Great Amwell
The parish church is dedicated to St John the Baptist.

Great Amwell has been the residence of some celebrated literary characters, among whom are:

  • Izaak Walton, (1593–1683) the noted angler.
  • John Scott of Amwell, (1730–83), author of several poems and tracts, who built a grotto, containing several apartments, which still exists.
  • John Hoole, (1727–1803), the distinguished translator of Tasso, and biographer of Scott.
  • The remains of William Warner, (1558?-1609), the poet and historian, are interred in the churchyard.

Also buried here in 1978 was Harold Abrahams, the Olympian who was depicted in Chariots of Fire.

Richard Warren (d 1628) a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, who settled in Plymouth Colony and co-signed the Mayflower Compact, married on April 14, 1610 at St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, Great Amwell, Elizabeth Walker, daughter of Augustine Walker. Richard and Elizabeth are the ancestors of two US Presidents, Ulysses S Grant and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The New River

Memorial stone on the New River
Main article: New River

The New River is an artificial waterway; a Jacobean scheme created to supply fresh water to London. It was opened in 1613, taking its water from the River Lea and from Amwell Springs (the latter however ceased to flow by the end of the 19th century),[1] and other springs and wells along its course.

The New River head today is in fact above Great Amwell, taken off the Lea between Hertford and Ware, but Amwell is its foundation and a little museum is found here telling the story of the project. A delightful memorial stone stands by the river too, with the legend:

AMWELL perpetual be thy Stream
Nor e'er thy Spring be left
Wych thousands drink who never dream
Whence flows the boon they bless
Too often thus ungrateful Man
Blingd and unconscious lives
Enjoys kind Heav'n's indulgent plan
Nor thinks of him who gives

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Great Amwell)


  1. Guide to the Waterways 1 London,Grand Union,Oxford&Lee Published by Nicholson & Ordnance Survey (1997) p.104 ISBN 0-7028-3296-0 Retrieved 4 January 2008


  • Heath, Cyril The Book of Amwell Barracuda Books Limited, 1980 ISBN 0-86023-085-6
  • Doree, Stephen and Perman, David Amwell and Stanstead's Past in Pictures Publisher: The Rockingham Press 1997, ISBN 1-873468-57-1