Little Gaddesden Area Guide
This remarkably picturesque village, with its idyllic and spectacular scenery, has often found fame on the silver screen. Located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and within some 5,000 acres of National Trust countryside, Little Gaddesden has amassed a highly esteemed roster of residents over the years, including Dukes, rock stars, and captains of industry.
About Little GaddesdenAs part of the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate, Little Gaddesden occupies a rightful position in the upper echelons of English village lifestyle. A Google maps search delivers a place mark in a sea of green and a visit does not disappoint: with most of the houses set behind hedges and shrubs, and with a bounty of trees lining and leaning over the roads, the immediate and lasting impression is that of lush leafiness and serenity.
Around thirty different clubs and societies contribute to a spirited community life while facilities within the village include a Church, village hall, shop & post office, the excellent Little Gaddesden Church-of-England Primary school, and a popular pub and restaurant in the Bridgewater Arms. Just up the road in nearby Frithsden, make sure to drop in at the Alford Arms gastropub, a real - and almost literally - hidden gem.
As well as the primary school in the village, the area offers famously excellent education, including the independent Berkhamsted School, founded in 1541, and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
Just four miles away is the prestigious market town of Berkhamsted with a wide range of shopping, from independent clothing and homeware boutiques to national names like Waitrose and M&S Food Hall. The many bars, restaurants and cafes create something of a metropolitan ambiance, beautifully augmented by the Grand Union Canal that runs through the town.
Excellent transport connections by road and rail include the mainline station in Berkhamsted with regular and direct trains to London Euston taking a little over 30 minutes. The A41 can be picked up just south of Berkhamsted and provides a dual carriageway connection to the M25 and M1, as well as to the larger towns of Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes with their shopping centres, department stores and cultural venues.
Fantastic walking and riding are right on your doorstep in the beautiful surrounding countryside, both on and off the Ashridge Estate. Nearby golf courses include Ashridge, Berkhamsted and The Grove while the ultimate in five star pampering awaits at Champneys, a mere 20 minute drive on the edge of the quaint market town of Tring.
Ashridge House is the most notable property in the village; a huge country mansion in 190 acres that is today home to the internationally acclaimed ‘Ashridge Business School’, but has a unique place in English heritage.
HistoryThe manor of Little Gaddesden was included in the Domesday Survey, although beyond that the history before 1285 is fairly ambiguous. Nonetheless, at some point by the early thirteenth, the manor appears to have come into the hands of Eva de Broc, who, in 1204, sold half of the property to Simon de Vieleston.
But really, it is nearby Ashridge House that drives the history of the neighbourhood. Originating in 1283 as a monastic order called the ‘College of Bonhommes’, it was home to Parliament for a short time in 1290 when King Edward I spent a five week long Christmas here.
Ashridge became a flourishing place of learning and debate and remained that way until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII who then gave the house to his young daughter Elizabeth. She lived here for 8 years and in 1554 was arrested here by her sister Mary - something the tabloids of today might call a right royal carry on!
Skipping forward two-and-a-bit centuries, the house became the home of the Egerton family, who left an indelible mark on the British landscape. Francis Egerton, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, was a pioneer of naval construction and ‘father of British inland navigation’. It is he who brought the Grand Union Canal to Berkhamsted, transforming the town’s connection to the rest of the country.
In the 20th century Ashridge has performed roles as a hospital in both World Wars; as a training centre for the Conservative Party; and as a ladies finishing school in the 1950s. In 1959 it opened as a Business School which continues today.
- Enjoy the 5,000 acres of National Trust countryside that surrounds you, all year round
- Wander through the Bluebell Woods and enjoy the spectacular carpet of flowers in spring
- Take a tour of Ashridge House and its beautiful gardens
- Experience the sunrise drama of the Autumn deer rut, when male stags lock antlers and compete for females
- Climb the 172 steps to the top of the towering Bridgewater Monument, and see if you can spot Canary Wharf