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Water Pump, Watton-at-Stone.jpg
Village cast iron water pump, dating from the early 19th century
Watton-at-Stone is located in Hertfordshire
 Watton-at-Stone shown within Hertfordshire
Population 2,272 (2001)
OS grid reference TL299194
District East Hertfordshire
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HERTFORD
Postcode district SG14
Dialling code 01920
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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Watton-at-Stone is a village in the English county of Hertfordshire, situated midway between the towns of Stevenage and Hertford in the valley of the River Beane. The 2011 census showed a population of 2,272 living in 946 households. Watton-at-Stone is also a civil parish in East Hertfordshire District Council. [1]

Village life

Watton-at-Stone Village Sign.jpg

There is little employment directly within the village and it largely serves as a dormitory for commuters to London or to the nearby towns with hourly trains to Moorgate station.

The village has a primary school and nursery school. The co-educational Heath Mount independent school is located on the outskirts in the private estate of the Grade II* listed Woodhall Park.

The A602 formerly ran through the centre of the village between Stevenage and Hertford before a bypass was built in the 1980s through farmland to the north-east. The section of the road to Hertford was renamed the A119, and the A602 then ran out of Watton-at-Stone to Ware. Watton-at-Stone is served by a railway station on the Hertford Loop Line. The station opened for passengers on 2 June 1924, was closed on 11 September 1939 (though the line continued to run through the village), and reopened on 17 May 1982, paid for partly by public subscription.

A war memorial lies in a field adjoining the church.

In the village itself there is a small convenience store, cafe and takeaway restaurant as well as a hairdressers.


The name Watton first appeared in writing in an eleventh-century publication of tenth-century Anglo-Saxon wills as Wattun. It was later recorded in the Domesday Book as both Wodtune and Watone.[2] The origin of the word is uncertain, and is variously ascribed to Old English wád, or woad, and ton meaning small farming settlement; or waden meaning ford; or from waétan meaning watery. The suffix -at-Stone dates from the early thirteenth century and may be derived from the presence of two large examples of Hertfordshire puddingstone, now situated at the Waggon and Horses public house.[3]

However, it is far more likely that the suffix refers to the Roman Road (anciently described as a Stone Street) that ran from Verulamium (modern St Albans), fording the River Beane at Watton-at-Stone. The area where the bridge over the railway was built was shown on tithe maps as a common, and the fields to the east and west of this point were named Stoneyfield and Further Stoneyfield. It is deduced that the Roman Road passed through this area, and the later village took its name from the important routeway. In the 1950s, sections of the road agger, composed of large flint nodules, could still be seen at several points in the village; most obviously, the northern boundary of the grounds of Chestnut House preserves the line of the road [4] A battle between the Danes and Saxons took place nearby in 1016.[4] In later years, the natural springs in the area once made the village a popular spa town.[4]

The village has a number of dwellings dating from early Tudor, such as Watton House, through to late Georgian constructions.[2] Its flintstone rubble Anglican church dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Andrew dates from the fifteenth century,[2][3] and is built in the Perpendicular style.[5]

Archaeological finds

The Iron Age Aston Mirror was found nearby, closer to Watton-at-Stone than to the village of Aston, but technically in Aston parish due to the convoluted border. It is now kept at the British Museum.[3] A collection of Belgic armour and weaponry was discovered in the mid-19th century by workers digging a drain at the north end of the village.

Famous residents

Watton-at-Stone is home to the boxing promoter Frank Warren. The Sun's racing tipster 'Templegate' was also a previous resident of the village. It was the birthplace and childhood home of the actor Rupert Grint, well-known from his role of Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series.[6]

The famous locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley lived in Watton House until his death in 1941.[7] The evangelical author and social campaigner Edward Bickersteth was rector of the church for twenty years from 1830 until his death in 1850.[8][9] His one-time curate was the theological scholar Thomas Birks.[9]

Alternative names

The name is also spelled unhyphenated as Watton at Stone and appears in this form on Ordnance Survey maps. The County Council favours the hyphenated version. Both spellings are equally valid.

Locally, the '-at-Stone' suffix is frequently dropped.[10]


  1. 2001 Census, Key Statistics: Parish Headcounts<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Page, William (1912), A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3, retrieved 2008-03-16<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 East Herts Council, Watton-at-Stone, retrieved 2015-06-08<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hertfordshire County Council Environment (October 2001), Hertfordshire Landscape Survey: Woodhall Park and Watton-at-Stone slopes, archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2007, retrieved 2015-06-08<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Tompkins, Herbert H. (1922), Hertfordshire, Second Edition<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. filmreference.com, Rupert Grint Biography, retrieved 2008-02-04<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Nock, Oswald S. (2007), The Locomotives of Sir Nigel Gresley, Longmans, Green and Co, p. 173<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Hylson-Smith, Kenneth (1989), Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1734-1984, Continuum International, p. 144, ISBN 978-0-567-29161-5<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Larsen, David L. (1998), The Company of the Preachers, Kregel Publications, p. 463, ISBN 978-0-8254-3086-2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Tompkins, H.W. (2008), Hertfordshire, BiblioBazaar, pp. 182–183, ISBN 978-1-4375-3234-0<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links