Bishops Stortford Things to Do Tips by Willettsworld
Bishops Stortford Things to Do: 26 reviews and 56 photos
Cecil John Rhodes is Bishop's Stortford's most famous son, having been born here in 1853. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 40% of the world's rough diamonds and at one time marketed 90%. He was an ardent believer in colonialism and imperialism, and was the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him. Rhodesia, later Northern and Southern Rhodesia, eventually became Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively. There's a large section about him plus some African artefacts in the Bishop's Stortford Museum.
Almshouses were still being built for the benefit of the poor in the early 20th century and in Bishop’s Stortford, King’s Cottages fulfilled that role. Comprising of five blocks, the first two to be erected were funded by Sir Walter Gilbey in 1906 in memory of his wife, and named as such in recognition of his association with royalty. A third block, a gift of Admiral F. Vander Meulen, was built in 1907. The Admiral was also instrumental in arranging for a further block of cottages to be built in the name of his brother, Col. J.H. Vander Meulen. This was occupied by 1911. The fifth block, erected in 1915, was paid for by the Admiral’s sister, Mrs Georgina Menet, widow of the first Vicar of Hockerill’s All Saints church.
Directions: South Rd opposite the Bishop's Stortford Museum.
The Rhodes Museum was established in 1938 in two listed Victorian Buildings, one of which is the birthplace of Cecil Rhodes, Victorian Empire Builder. As such it is a significant local landmark and has national and international links. Today, the Rhodes Museum and Local History Museum have merged to become the Bishop's Stortford Museum. The collections are housed together and provide a new focus on the town's rich local history and unique links with the story of Cecil Rhodes, Empire and Africa.
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm. Sat 10am-4pm. Admission: Seemed to be free when I visited!
Address: South Road (A1184).
The mostly early 19th century houses that now line this wide and picturesque road were originally built as homes for wealthy and professional local people. It was their affluent disposition that allowed them to live here away from the noise and noxious smells of the town's market. Today the market place is no longer noisy, nor are there any bad smells, but Windhill is still a sort after address.
This inn began its life around 1642 in premises a few doors away where No 27 now stands next to the former White Horse Inn. Its popularity and importance at that time is confirmed by the fact that it issued its own trading tokens in 1666, each being worth one farthing. The inn also traded under different names on its original site, churchwardens’ accounts of 1681 revealing that Thomas Markwell paid 3d. (2 1/2p) rent ‘for the halfe Moone in North Street’, and a reference to it in 1736 stating ‘formerly the White Swan and now the Green Man.' The current name probably stems from 1752 when it moved to this site – a reference in 1767 stating ‘formerly the Green Man and now the Half Moon.'
Although called The Chantry, this 16th century rather too pink building replaced the original Chantry house which was built in the 15th century.
Designed in the neo-classical style by Lewis Vulliamy and built in 1828, the Corn Exchange despite much alteration is still one of the few 19th century buildings in Bishop’s Stortford of real architectural merit. It is the oldest corn exchange in Hertfordshire and by far the most distinguished. There is even a suggestion that it inspired the design of St Albans Town Hall in 1832.
This very small area beside the huge Corn Exchange hosts the market which actually extends down Potter Street. The first existence of a market in the town occurred during the reign of King Henry III in 1228. Bishops, like kings, were never slow at finding ways to increase revenue. And since no record exists of any king granting the town a charter to hold a market, we assume that permission was granted by the Bishop of London – responsible for the Manor of Stortford since the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The first Methodist service held in Bishop’s Stortford took place in 1823 beneath a large tree in the Causeway. The following year a seed warehouse in Church Street was purchased and converted into a chapel, and the first minister appointed in 1828. The current Methodist Church was built in 1903 at a cost of £5,000.
Address: South St
After the railway arrived in Bishop’s Stortford in 1842, it was only a matter of time before an inn would be built close by and assume the name ‘Railway Inn’. Thomas Heskin Court, the large Victorian building at the junction of Station Road and London Road, was that inn. Opened in 1850 it was owned in 1852 by James Patmore, an industrious man who earned his living as an ale and porter merchant and also as a hearse and mourning coach maker.
Later renamed The Railway Hotel the building is now substantially larger than the original inn, its stable courtyard having had extensive additions built around it in the late 19th century to increase the number of rooms available for travellers.
In the first half of the 20th century the hotel also became a popular venue for dances, wedding parties and receptions – a notable occasion being the reception held in 1935 to celebrate the opening of the Regent cinema in South Street (See Guide 15). But in the late 1960s the hotel took on an entirely different role as a music venue for bands such as Dr K’s Blues Band, Jack Dupree, Chicken Shack, Jethro Tull, Free, and Alexis Korner. Today’s the building has been converted into apartments.
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