Barley, Hertfordshire

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St Margaret of Antioch, Barley, Hertfordshire - - 362626.jpg
St Margaret of Antioch, Barley
Barley is located in Hertfordshire
 Barley shown within Hertfordshire
Population 659 [1]
OS grid reference TL400385
District North Hertfordshire
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ROYSTON
Postcode district SG8
Dialling code 01763
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament North East Hertfordshire
List of places

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Barley is a village and civil parish in the district of North Hertfordshire, England. According to the 2001 census, it has a population of 659.[1] The place-name refers to a lea or meadow and not to the grain-producing plant. Coincidentally to the southwest lies the village of Reed. The Prime Meridian passes to the west of Barley.

Located on the Royston to Saffron Walden road, as well as the medieval London to Cambridge road, Barley has a church with a 12th-century Norman tower, and dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch.[2] The church was rebuilt in 1872 using designs by William Butterfield retaining only the tower and the fourth aisle.[3]


The area has been home to residents for perhaps 3000 years; evidence has been found of Bronze Age settlers in the hills around Royston and Iron Age farmers to the north of the village in 100 BC, and Romans again occupied the parish.[2]

Listed in the Domesday Book as Berlei, the name Barley derived not from the local crop but from Beora's Ley, the woodland clearing of a Saxon Lord.[2]

The village also includes a 17th-century lock-up[2] and an early Tudor town house with a large timbered upper room, which was mentioned by Daniel Defoe in a travel book in 1726.

Village life

Barley is home to a junior school, playground, village green, tennis courts, cricket team, stables, football team, petrol station and a post office and store. There are regular bus services to Royston and Hertford.

A local eccentricity is to embed objects into the flint walls. The Manor has a row of dentures set into its flint wall at one point and a cherub at another, while one of the newer houses in the village has a small figure of the Buddha set into its wall.[citation needed]

Although there is a steady flux of people moving into and out of the village, and a substantial commuter element (Royston station is only 10 minutes drive away - and then only 35 minutes to Kings Cross) - there are still a substantial number of long-established families resident in the village.[citation needed]

A well-known landmark in the village is the sign of the Fox and Hounds public house − a painted silhouette −, which stretches across the road at the top of Church End. Although it is a long-established feature of the village, it has not always been at its present site. In 1955 the Fox and Hounds, with its famous sign, was a pub located in the High Street, at the time part of an important route to London. In 1955 the Fox & Hounds burned down in a disastrous fire. The sign, which was partially saved, moved to its present site and the existing pub (the Wagon and Horses) was renamed. There are now two pubs in the village - the other being the Chequers.

Famous residents

Famous historical residents include William Warham,[4] Rev Charles Oswald Miles, Curate from 1882-5 and Thomas Willett, future Mayor of New York. His house Willet's Cottage was demolished in 1972.[5] Sam Smith worked in the local shop before the height of his fame. The actress Jaye Griffiths also lives in the village.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 2001 Census
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Village". Barley.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales. 1895.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. William Warham entry in Britannia
  5. St Margaret of Antioch, Barley

External links