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St Mary the Virgin, Westmill.jpg
St Mary the Virgin, Westmill
Westmill is located in Hertfordshire
 Westmill shown within Hertfordshire
Population 264 [1]
OS grid reference TL368270
District East Hertfordshire
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SG9
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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Westmill is a village and civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of Hertfordshire, England, with an area of 1036 hectares. A population of 264 was recorded in the 2001 National Census.[1] The village is just to the south of Buntingford, beside the River Rib.


The Prime Meridian passes to the east of Westmill, as does the Roman road Ermine Street, which ran from London to Lincoln and York.[2] Its route is followed here by the A10 trunk road. There is a skeleton bus service to Buntingford.[3]

West Mill railway station on the Great Eastern Railway's Buntingford Branch Line from St Margarets to Buntingford opened on 3 July 1863. Passenger traffic thrived until the mid-1950s and the rise of car ownership. The line and station closed to passengers on 16 November 1964. The station buildings had been demolished by 1968.[4]

Historic buildings

The large medieval parish church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin and restored in the 19th century, shows signs of a Saxon origin.[5] It is one of a large number of buildings in the village. One, a thatched cottage named Button Snap at Westmill Green, was owned by the writer Charles Lamb from 1812 to 1815.[6] It was through the widow of his godfather, Francis Fielde (died 1809) that Lamb, as he put it, "came into possession of the only landed property which I could ever call my own."[7]

The church is part of the joint benefice of Aspenden, Buntingford and Westmill.[8] The commons were enclosed in 1819.[9]


The village has a pub/restaurant, the Sword Inn Hand,[10] and a village hall,[11] where a children's nursery is run.[12]

Notable residents

  • The antiquary Nathanael Salmon (1675–1742) was a curate in the village for several years, but refused to take the oath of allegiance to Queen Anne in 1702 and later practised as a doctor in St Ives. His History of Hertfordshire appeared in 1728.[13]
  • Westmill was the 1833 birthplace of the child diarist Emily Pepys, whose father Henry Pepys, later bishop of Sodor and Man, then bishop of Worcester, was the rector from 1827 to 1840.[14] He donated a stained-glass window in memory of four of his children, who died in childhood. This can be seen behind the altar.[15]
  • The murder of a small girl by her nine-year-old brother, Billy Game, at Westmill in 1848 became the subject of a ballad.[16]

See also


  1. 2001 Census - Key statistics for parishes in Hertfordshire
  2. British History Online. Westmill. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  3. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  4. Disused Stations site. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  5. Friends of Westmill Church. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  6. Listed Buildings in Westmill, Hertfordshire Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  7. Charles Lamb: Selected Writings, ed. and introduced by J. E. Morpurgo (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003 [1993]), p. 281.
  8. St Mary the Virgin, Westmill. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  9. British History Online. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  10. Sword inn Hand, TripAdvisor.Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  11. hertsdirect.org.[dead link] Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  12. Westhill Nursery prospectus. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  13. British History Online. Westmill...
  14. Henry Pepys's ODNB entry: Retrieved 16 September 2011. Subscription required.; the name was pronounced "Peppis", not "Peeps" by this branch of the family: Gillian Avery: Introduction. In: The Journal of Emily Pepys (London: Prospect Books, 1984. ISBN 0-907325-24-6), p. 11.
  15. Friends of Westmill Church...
  16. Murder at Westmill (1848). Retrieved 29 July 2014.

External links