Stanstead Abbotts?  Sorry but were closed

According to local historians a Danish Fort existed at Easneye and a Saxon settlement near Cappell Lane. However we are warned that to go looking for these sites could be a fruitless task as little or nothing remains. Could it be that one day Stanstead Abbotts will also be just a mark on a map showing a place of historical interest?

There are plans  to turn the land along the A414, into a huge quarry that will supply building material for years to come. The quarry will stretch from Stanstead Abbotts to Gilston Park. I’m not sure what our ancestors would have to say about that but most of their existence has virtually disappeared already.

When I moved to the village it was almost self supporting. There were two bakers, (maybe three but I’m not sure), a couple of butchers and one had its own slaughter house. You could buy shoes, clothes, electrical goods and there was a hardware shop that catered for every need. There was the chemist and the doctors plus the hairdressers and a couple of mini supermarkets.  You could buy carpets, hire plant machinery, get a cup of tea at the cafe and there were more pubs than you could comfortably drink at in one evening. We even had a bank and a post office. There were two newsagents one of which, Burtons, was a fundamental part of the village. Well Burtons has now gone so what hope is there for the rest of the village?There used to be a petrol station and another in Saint Margaret's, both long gone. You could even get your car serviced and repaired at the local garage but no more.

The doctors was great when the new surgery was constructed from Andersons hardware store and saved a trip to Ware. But alas the surgery is now open only two or three days a week which means a longer wait for an appointment. Blood tests were available at the doctors but that has now been cancelled and means a trip to Hertford or Ware.

The post office has now gone as well. Yes I know we have a facility in the Coop to post a letter or parcel but it’s a shadow of the old post office. The bank has long gone and now means a trip to Ware or Hoddesdon. The pubs have disappeared too. If you want a pub crawl in the village you start in the Red Lion and that’s as far as you go. The old Lord Louis is now the Oak again and more of a restaurant so I don’t class that as a pub. The Jolly Fisherman is not in Stanstead Abbotts so we can’t include that and I know the Rye House Tavern is in the village but beyond my idea of walking to the pub. The village club is members only but you could include that if you are a member. A small remainder of the drinking houses that used to populate the area. A sad day when the Queens Head closed but that is a personal opinion.  There is a balloon shop now and I’m not knocking it, my granddaughter makes good use of it and appreciates its existence but I don’t suppose it’s much use to the elderly who can’t get around much.

There is very little left in the village now and you will have to travel to get you daily needs. Travel never used to be a problem with plenty of buses to Hoddesdon or Hertford, Bishops Stortford  and even a bus to Heathrow Airport. But things have changed. The Heathrow Airport bus does not come through the village anymore so we are obviously looked upon as not being the travelling type. You can no longer catch a bus to Hertford from Stanstead Abbotts, you have to walk to Saint Margaret’s and get one there. The Stortford bus still runs but only every two hours.

It looks as though there will be no Christmas lights in the High Street again this year. The lampposts were considered unsafe and not able to bear the lights although I believe they have now been passed as safe. However the electrics may not be up to standard and need to be checked. This all costs money so maybe next year. We were to have CCTV installed but again the lampposts are the stumbling block.

The village High Street has been resurfaced with block paving and narrowed. This was to slow down the traffic passing through. Well it worked. The High Street is now so undulated with a wonky surface that only a maniac could speed along it. Parking is a bit hit and miss. Not that there is much to park for anymore with all the old shops gone except for the Coop. There are three lay bys restricted to thirty minutes parking and a main car park. The main car park is divided into two with one area for free parking all day and the other red area for free parking for three hours and chargeable after that. Sounds good but, and there is always a but: the red area is the first three hours free from 9am till 3pm. All you do is get a free ticket from the machine that will show your time of arrival, put it in your windscreen and away you go. Only don’t arrive before 9am. The machine will not issue a ticket before 9am. So if you have a doctors appointment at 9am and park at 8.50am you can’t get a ticket. If the warden comes around before your return he will slap a fine on your car. Sounds daft but I enquired of a warden what the procedure was and he said he was duty bound to issue a fine and you had to complain to the council to get it revoked. What happened to common sense?

So the shops have gone, the pubs and banks have gone, the buses have gone, the High Street has seen better days and the streets lights are going the same way. Burtons has gone, never thought that would happen, and now they are going to turn us into a quarry.

Stanstead Abbotts? Yes it used to be a settlement on the banks of the River Lea. I’m sure there is a mark on the map to show where it once stood. Don’t go trying to find any remains though; it could be a fruitless search.

B.J.  Nov 2017

Footnote:  Aug 2018.

               The car park ticketing system has now been updated and will issue tickets before 9 am.

               The High Street lamp post are load bearing again.

               The Doctors surgery is still suffering from regular closure.