Dip into the past of East Hertfordshire

Older people often love to visit historical venues, as it often reminds them of interests from their past. And there’s plenty to see in and near East Hertfordshire.

A little drive around East Herts and the skirting area (from Stapleford to Sawbridgeworth and beyond) can unearth some delightful historical places that you can explore with a senior. Each has its own story to tell, which can often spark a renewed interest in the area in an older person. At Home Instead East Herts and Uttlesford, we believe that these places can be both stimulating and entertaining for seniors – so we’ve compiled a short list of some of our favourites. We hope you enjoy trying them out.

Audley End House

Audley End House is managed by English Heritage. Tickets are quite expensive, but could be well worth a special treat for your elderly loved one. The stately home is off London Road, Saffron Walden (we’re cheating, as it’s in Essex – but within easy distance of East Herts!). In the 17th century, it was one of the greatest mansions in England, and was eventually bought by King Charles II.

In the 18th century, the house was owned by Sir John Griffin Griffin, who modernised it (and introduced some domestic inventions!) and brought in Capability Brown to create the beautiful landscaped gardens. In the Second World War, Polish members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) were trained at the house before being parachuted into German-occupied Poland. Today, visitors can explore the house (including the Victorian kitchen, kitchen garden and dairy) and the restored stables, with their working horses.

Cromer Windmill

Cromer Mill, near Stevenage, is Hertfordshire’s sole surviving windmill. Built in 1681, it’s now a Grade II listed building. The mill was actually blown over in the 1860s but was then rebuilt. It continued working as a mill until the 1920s. In 1938, it was repaired and in 1964, following strong support from the local populace, work started on its complete restoration by the Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust. The work was finally completed in 1998. However, further restorative work was need in 2014 and 2015.

If the wind is in the right direction (that sounds like a line from Mary Poppins!) you and your older friend might be lucky enough to see the sails of the windmill turning. Parking is free in the field opposite the mill. However, please be warned – there aren’t any toilet facilities on the site. Admission (including a guided tour) costs £3.

The Clock Tower, St Albans

The Clock Tower at St Albans really is one historical attraction where the full picture can only be tackled by very fit seniors – as the clock tower has a viewing area that’s reached by climbing 93 steps! Apart from the view, the belfry boasts a 19th century clock. The tower is England’s only remaining mediaeval town belfry. It was built by local people in the early 15th century as a sign of their opposition to their abbot. In 1455, the tower’s bell rang to proclaim the start of the battle of St Albans during the War of the Roses. Until 1863 it was even used to sound a curfew. The bell, now 600 years old, still exists in the tower.

Entry to the Clock Tower costs £2. Located in the town centre, it usually opens at weekends and Bank Holidays, from Easter through to late September or early October.

Mill Green Museum and Mill

One site we enjoy visiting with our clients is Mill Green Museum and Millnear Hatfield. This working watermill on the River Lea was built in the 18th century and has since been restored. Visitors can see it working and can hear all about its history from the resident miller.

The attraction has a wheelchair-accessible car park, entrance and toilet, so even those with mobility issues can enjoy their visit and can learn about the history of the local area from the exhibition. There’s also a Miller’s Kitchen, where you can sit down with a cuppa and scones made with flour from the mill (also on sale in the shop). The watermill is open on Thursdays to Sundays, from 10:00am to 5:00pm (last entry at 4:30pm). Admission costs £5 but registered carers get in free! Assistance dogs are welcomed, except in food preparation areas (the mill and kitchen).

London Gate, St Albans

On a pleasant day, why not take your senior to St Albans’ London Gate? This is another English Heritage site, where you can see the foundations of the city gate and Roman walls of Verulamium (the ancient Roman name for St Albans). The wall was completed in 270AD, as part of the city’s fortifications, and most of its two-mile length can still be seen. It was originally up to five metres high in places, with a walkway protected by a parapet. The foundations of its two towers and bastions, and of the London Gate, are still clearly visible.

Entry to the ruins is free. Verulamium Park has various facilities including toilets. Dogs on leads are welcome. There’s some parking on nearby streets and a paid car park at the Verulamium Museum, ten minutes’ walk away. The museum exhibits various Roman artefacts and mosaics as well as recreated Roman rooms.

Although some of these sites in or near East Hertfordshire by their nature are more suited to those without mobility problems, others can be enjoyed by those with disabilities. We hope you’re able to take your older family member or friend to one or two so they can see them for themselves – if only from the outside.

Finally, if you’re seeking help with the care of an older person, give us a buzz at Home Instead East Herts and Uttlesford – because that’s what we’re here for! We’ll help you to find the care that’s right for your loved one.