The Parish of Bovingdon
Bovingdon is a compact village in the south of the Borough of Dacorum with a settlement population of 4,611. It is situated approximately 25 miles (30km) north west of London, 3 miles south west of Hemel Hempstead and 3 miles north east of Chesham in Buckinghamshire. The village has links to Hemel Hempstead and Chesham via the B405 (Chesham Road/Hempstead Road/Box Lane) and to the surrounding countryside and villages to the south and east via local roads.
Bovingdon lies within the Bovingdon and Chipperfield Plateau, which comprises mainly farmland with some areas of semi natural woodland. The plateau is characterised by gently undulating land, networks of diverse old hedgerows and narrow country lanes, which engender a private and secluded feel. Bovingdon village is surrounded by Green Belt farmland and HMP The Mount and the disused airfield to the north west. The Chiltern Way footpath runs to the south east of the village from the south east to the north east.
History and Built character
Bovingdon originally developed as a small hamlet between farmsteads including Bury Farm, Newhall Farm and Rentstreet Farm (now Darley Ash Farm). Records from the village date back to the thirteenth century and show straw plaiting as an important industry; the parish church of St Lawrence dates back to 1235, but it is thought that the current building dates back to the mid nineteenth century. Bovingdon’s best known landmark is the Ryder Memorial well-like structure, built in 1881 and located at the south eastern end of the village at the cross-roads of the High Street, Green Lane and Church Street. There are a number of historic buildings in the core of Bovingdon village, mostly situated towards the south eastern end, most noticeably the old Wheatsheaf Pub (now a dwelling), a heavily timbered building dating back to the 15th Century.
The residential parts of Bovingdon have developed around four principal roads – Chesham Road, High Street, Green Lane and Hyde Lane. These residential areas are characteristic of different architectural periods with much of it being fairly recent following significant expansion during the latter half of the twentieth century. Green Lane and Chesham Road/Hempstead Road and the Moody Estate offer clear boundaries to the village to the south east and north west and south west respectively. However, the village does have a rather sprawling character along roads to the east and south.
Key views and Gateways
The key view within Bovingdon is of the Ryder Memorial (the well) at the southern end of the village from both directions along the High Street/Chipperfield. This view is particularly important when entering the village from Chipperfield Road, with its open verges, as the dip and slight curve of the road create a significant view into the historical centre of the village. This also marks the southern gateway to the village, while the junction of Hempstead Road and the High Street is the northern gateway to the village.
Leisure & sports facilities
Bovingdon has no indoor leisure facilities, and has an overall shortage of outdoor leisure space, although it does have a football club with 2 full size pitches, a bowling club with a bowling green and a tennis club with 4 hard courts. The bowling green is located next to the Memorial Hall on the northern side of the High Street, while the football club and tennis club are located together off Green Lane. As well as sport, Bovingdon has a strong village community and a number of clubs and societies; the village also has a Memorial Hall which is very well used.
Open Space and Wildlife sites
It is recognised that for the size of the village that there is a lack of public open space. However, the King George V Playing Field situated behind the school, library and Memorial Hall in the High Street and bordered by Vicarage Lane and Church Lane is well used by the village. It provides a children’s playground and an open shelter for use by younger people and there is a small astro-turf area. There is also Bovingdon Green, a very pleasant open area where the cricket club play matches and on the perimeter is a recently restored pond, which provides an amenity area for people to enjoy. In 2012 Bovingdon Green obtained Queen Elizabeth II Fields status, which means it will be protected for ever as an open space. The village does not have any local nature reserves or wildlife sites. The Urban Nature and Conservation (UNCS) study points to some areas of high wildlife value around the village. These are the small parcels of grassland and woodlands that border the southern, eastern and northern edges of the village which contain a network of old hedgerows that are an important wildlife habitat. The Box Moor Trust also manages an area of the former brickworks as a wildlife habitat.
Bovingdon has a vibrant village centre concentrated along the High Street with a number of shops and other services, as well as a few pubs and restaurants. There are a range of shops with some every day convenience shops alongside some more specialist shops such as the hardware shop. The village shops provide for most day to day needs and are well used by both the local residents and visitors. Tesco Stores are proposing to build a new store with flats above on the former garage at the junction of the High Street with Hempstead Road.
Bovingdon does not have any designated employment sites, however the Bovingdon Brickworks is an important source of local employment, and is also an important part of Bovingdon’s heritage, having been on the site since 1920. The Brickworks site also houses two other local employers: EH Building Materials and Gilberts Motorcar showroom.
Bovingdon Airfield, HMP The Mount and the Market
Bovingdon Airfield is located on the north west edge of the village was built in 1942 as an RAF bomber station. It was used by the US Army Air Force (USAAF) from 1943 to 1947 when it was returned to RAF control until 1951 when it was returned to the USAAF. In 1962 it was returned to RAF use until it was shut down in 1972. In 1987 HMP The Mount opened on the site of a former RAF station connected to the airfield; the prison, which is a Category C prison houses in the region of 800 inmates. The airfield and the prison are important features of the village. Although the airfield is no longer in operational use, it is used for the Bovingdon Market on Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays, which attracts customers from far afield. Up until September 2008 the airfield was also used for stock car racing, although this use has now stopped. There are also small satellite sites related to the airfield outside the village.