Do you know about these deserted Hertfordshire villages?

The church at Caldecote, Hertfordshire - an abandoned settlement

The church at Caldecote, Hertfordshire - an abandoned settlement - Credit: Geograph/Bikeboy

Over the centuries, Hertfordshire's villages and towns have grown and grown.

The Romans arrived in the county in 43AD, where they built Verulamium, southwest of the modern city of St Albans.

William the Conqueror built castles in Bishop's Stortford and King's Langley, and by the 14th century, Berkhamsted had become a royal residence.

More recently, New Towns such as Letchworth and Stevenage were designed to sit right at the centre of the county's modern economy.

But some places in Hertfordshire have vanished altogether, including:

1. Hainstone, near Royston

Nobody knows where Hainstone really was, according to Open Domesday.

It is recorded as being somewhere in the Hundred of Odsey, near Royston and Ashwell.

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Hainstone is among the smallest 40 percent of settlements recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book, with just 10 households.

The land was owned by Ralph de Limésy, a Norman magnate, and Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Earl of Essex who founded a priory at nearby Saffron Walden.

The village was worth 10 shillings to the local lord in 1086.

A Domesday Book folio from the section Hertfordshire with the listing for Hainstone

Hainstone is listed in the Domesday Book - Credit: Professor John Palmer/George Slater/opendomesday.org

2. Caldecote, near Baldock

All that remains of Caldecote is the St Mary Magdalene church.

The village was abandoned towards the end of the 1500s leaving space for the large house and six labourers' cottages which stand there today, the Friends of Friendless Churches said.

The church is still standing and the Friends of Friendless Churches look after the building.

The Friends' description of the landmark reads: "This diminutive church is a weather-beaten majesty incorporating embattled parapets, cinquefoil tracery and a rather regal south porch.

"All of these features hint at grandeur within."

St Mary Magdalene, Caldecote is still standing although the village has long disappeared

St Mary Magdalene, Caldecote is still standing although the village has long disappeared - Credit: Geograph/John Salmon

3. Temple Dinsley, near Hitchin

The Knights Templar - a Catholic Order - was given land at Hitchin to the value of £15 at Easter in 1147.

William Page's A History of the County of Hertfordshire notes that not much is known about the settlement nor the monastery which was built there for the Knights.

The Catholic church wanted to disband the organisation in the early 1300s, and after a series of arrests, many of the Knights' monasteries were abandoned - including the temple at Dinsley.

The settlement was soon rented out, and it fell into disrepair during the 1500s.

The manor house was rebuilt in 1714 and Temple Dinsley became a school in 1936.

4. Windridge, near St Albans

Windridge was home to five villagers and approximately 300 pigs in 1086, when the Domesday Book was written.

Most of the village was owned by St Albans Abbey.

Windridge was between St Albans and the modern-day hamlet of Potters Crouch.

St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire

The Abbey of St Albans, as it was then known, used to own lands at Windridge - Credit: Will Durrant

5. Stonebury, near Buntingford

Stonebury is another village which has disappeared almost entirely.

The site of the village is just south of Buntingford, which is now occupied by vast fields and working farmland.

All that remains is a bus stop and a farmyard called Stonebury Farm.

A Hertfordshire Intalink bus stop for Stonebury Farm

Stonebury is remembered only in the name of a bus stop and farmyard - Credit: Google Earth

6. Sapeham, near Buntingford

Sapeham is another village which historians have been unable to pin-point exactly.

In 1086, the village had nine households and several plough teams to tend the surrounding farmland.

William of Letchworth owned the land, and it was listed as being in the Hundred of Edwinstree in north-east Hertfordshire.

7. Hanstead, near St Albans

In the Domesday Book, Hanstead was listed as being owned by the Abbey of St Albans.

It housed 26 villagers, three smallholders, one slave, four Frenchmen and 1,000 pigs in nearby woodland.

Not much is known about Hanstead throughout the ages until the 1920s, when a mansion house was built on the 55-acre Hanstead Park.

It has since been separated into apartments as part of a redevelopment project which was completed in 2020.

A Linden Homes housing estate - called Hanstead Park - has been built nearby.

Hanstead House, Bricket Wood. Picture: Griggs

Hanstead House, near a former Domesday settlement in Hertfordshire - Credit: Supplied by Griggs