Markyate High Street
|Post town:||St Albans|
Markyate is a village standing across the border of Hertfordshire with Bedfordshire. The border runs along Watling Street, the route of the old Roman road from London to Chester or more locally, between St Albans to the south-east and Dunstable to the north-west. Watling Street forms the High Street and London Road.
Historically Markyate was an agricultural village, though now it is swollen to serve as a commuter town for Luton and the surrounding region. It is just a short distance from the M1 motorway, which is a convenience for commuters.
The bulk of the village stands in Hertfordshire, but the border runs along the northern half of the High Street and off along Buckwood Road.
About the village
Markyate stands close to the source of the River Ver which has occasionally flooded the centre of the village, though the watercourse is often dry during parts of the year.
Standing on Watling Street, the ancient route out of London into the Midlands, Markyate was a major coaching stop and at its height the village had over forty inns and public houses along its main road. The village too was one of the earliest sites of the Pickfords transport service, one road out of the village being named Pickford Road. Only three public houses remain in the village; The Plume of Feathers, The Sun Inn and The Swan.
Today the old Roman route is the A5, which was driven off to bypass the village in 1955. The junction of the A5 and the B4540 (for Luton and Caddington) is close by. To the south are Flamstead and junction 9 of the M1 motorway.
Markyate has two junior schools and an independent school, Beechwood Park School, located in Beechwood Park, the site of a former Benedictine nunnery and a satellite airfield during the War.
During the twelfth century Christina of Markyate was the Prioress of a Benedictine community in the area.
The most prosperous days were the age of the stagecoaches, which saw a blossoming of coaching inns along the High Street. The industrial revolution brought more interest in Birmingham, to which the route lay through Markyate, until the railway superseded the coaches.
Markyate first became a separate ecclesiastical parish, known as Markyate Street, in 1877. It was an amalgamation of portions of the ancient parishes of Flamstead, Caddington (both in Bedfordshire and in Hertfordshire), Studham, and a detached portion of Houghton Regis.
Growth since the 1950s has been by in-filling with new housing in what was the gap between the old A5 High Street and the new A5 Markyate by-pass.
Lady Katherine Ferrers was the wife of the major landowner in the area – at Markyate Cell. She was rumoured to be “The Wicked Lady”, who became a highwayman with a mask and pistols to travellers. The Wicked Lady is today the name of a pub at Nomansland Common where she roamed. The film The Wicked Lady was based on events surrounding the life of Lady Katherine Ferrers.
Markyate was scene of one of the first motoring accidents in Britain.
Markyate on film
- The Wicked Lady was based on events surrounding the life of Lady Katherine Ferrers.
- The Dirty Dozen has scenes filmed in the village and surrounding area, the stockade being built in the grounds of the local preparatory school.
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