THE HUNDRED PARISHES SOCIETY
The Hundred Parishes Society charity was launched as an initiative to raise awareness of a large area of northwest Essex, northeast Hertfordshire and southern Cambridgeshire that is particularly notable for its exceptional depth of heritage. Bartlow sits within the 100 Parishes area. Those who live here may take our ancient countryside and wealth of listed buildings somewhat for granted, but visitors are usually surprised when they discover the charm of our villages and small market towns and the attractive countryside in which they sit.
The primary aim of the Hundred Parishes Society is to ‘educate’ – to increase knowledge and appreciation of our area. The wedsite, www.hundredparishes.org.uk, provides an introduction to each parish, and has sections on walks, events, ideas and guidance to some of the features and attractions of the area.
INTRODUCTION: What is the Hundred Parishes?
It is a large, attractive, gently-undulating area, around 450 square miles of northwest Essex, northeast Hertfordshire and southern Cambridgeshire that is largely unspoilt and is richly endowed with many fine examples of agricultural and built heritage. For example, it has over 6,000 listed buildings. As a proportion of total housing stock, there are five times as many listed buildings as in England as a whole. In particular, there is a very high concentration of pre-1700 architecture, Grade I-listed churches, village greens and conservation areas. In addition, there is an exceptional depth of visible agricultural heritage with ancient field patterns, ancient woodland, winding roads, sunken lanes and ancient hedgerows. The area also enjoys a wide variety of wildlife and long-established cultural activities.
The area has shared a common history which shaped and preserved its distinctive landscape of small and medium-sized farms linked by winding lanes and ancient rights of way to hamlets, villages and then to small market towns. This historic rural pattern has been little disturbed by industrialisation and urbanisation, although the Hundred Parishes is surrounded by examples of such developments that have taken place over the last century.
The area is largely unknown. Many folk who live here may take it for granted, forgetting how special it is or how far it extends. Beyond, few people know of this corner of eastern England, probably because it had no name until now. The title we eventually decided upon reflects the fact that the area encompasses just over 100 administrative parishes. Whilst the Hundred Parishes as a whole has distinct characteristics, each parish has its own character. A full analysis of the parishes can be accessed from the Parishes section of the Hundred Parishes website.
It is an area that is suitable for exploration, with an attractive landscape and a wealth of interesting places in close proximity to one another. It is well served by a network of quiet lanes, good footpaths offering fine views, welcoming pubs and tea rooms, and much more. The hundred parishes hope to encourage both locals and visitors to explore the area and fall in love with its charm.
The Society is a registered charity and the website includes details of how to become a member for a nominal subscription. Whether or not you become a member, the website will increase your knowledge and enjoyment of the Hundred Parishes and provide you with ideas of places to go and things to do.