|Population||5,378 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
Buntingford is a market town and civil parish in the district of East Hertfordshire and county of Hertfordshire in England. It lies next to the River Rib and is located on the historic Roman road, Ermine Street. As a result of its location, it grew mainly as a staging post with many coaching inns and has an 18th-century one-cell prison known as The Cage, by the ford at the end of Church Street. It has a population of 6,844, as of the 2020 UK Census.
Despite popular belief, the name of Buntingford does not come from the bunting bird. Instead, it likely originates from the Saxon chieftain or tribe Bunta and the local ford running over the River Rib. Buntingford was the name of the ford and its surrounding areas, with Bunting being the name of a village located six miles to its north, which is translated from Old English as "place or people of Bunta". The earliest forms of the name Buntingford are Buntas Ford and Buntingeford, both of which date back to 1185. The modern form Buntingford dates back to 1255.[a] This roughly translates to "Ford of the people of Bunta".
Buntingford was first recorded in an 1185 Knights Templar land document. Henry III designated it a market town by royal charter in 1253. Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, relocated her market in Chipping to Buntingford in 1360, under permission from Edward III. She then gave the market to the town's residents, turning it into one of England's first community owned markets.
Buntingford was located traditionally within the parish of Layston – St Bartholomew's Church (Layston), previously derelict and now a house, lies about half a mile to the north-east of the town. St Peter's Church, formerly a relief chapel, is the Anglican church in Buntingford and is an almost unique brick building from the age of the 17th-century Puritans. St Richard's serves the Roman Catholic community. There is also a United Reformed Church in Baldock Road. Queen Elizabeth I is claimed to have stayed at Buntingford in a building now called the Bell House Gallery, on a coach journey to Cambridge. Just up the High Street, The Angel Inn, now a dental surgery, was a staging post for coaches travelling from London to Cambridge. The town has an annual firework display at The Bury, presented by Buntingford Town Football Club. The Prime Meridian passes to the east of Buntingford. The town has many Georgian and medieval buildings, such as Buntingford almshouses, Buntingford Manor House and the Red House. Buntingford was a stop-over on what was the main route between London and Cambridge, now the A10.
Buntingford is in East Hertfordshire, a shire district in the county of Hertfordshire, and the parliamentary constituency of North East Hertfordshire (formerly North Hertfordshire), a Conservative safe seat represented by Sir Oliver Heald since 1992. Previously, between 1983 and 1997, Buntingford was located in the constituency of Hertford and Stortford, which at the time was represented by Conservative Bowen Wells.
Hertfordshire has three-tier local government, meaning responsibilities for local government are split between county councils, district councils, and parish councils (including town councils). Buntingford is managed by Buntingford Town Council, East Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council. Buntingford is represented on the district council by Stan Bull and Jeff Jones of the Buntingford Conservatives, the local branch of the Conservative Party founded in 2015. Jones also represents Buntingford in the county council. The district and county councils are headquartered in Hertford, while the town council is headquartered in Buntingford. The town council is based from Buntingford Manor House and elects councillors every four years. The Town Clerk is currently Jill Jones and the Town Council Officer is currently Alexander Georgiou. Town Mayor Graham Waite was elected in 2018 and is serving with his deputy, Steve Bowman.
Before the creation of East Hertfordshire on 1 April 1974, Buntingford was part of the Braughing Rural District, which was abolished on 31 March 1974. The district was headquartered in Buntingford and Bishop's Stortford and was formed from the merger of the Hadham and Buntingford Rural Districts on 1 April 1935. Buntingford Rural District evolved from Buntingford Rural Sanitary District, existing between 28 December 1984 and 31 March 1935.
Market day is Monday, and early closing Wednesday. The Buntingford Carnival is held every other year. There is also a classic car event held in the town each year, on the first Saturday in September. The town has a number of public houses – The Brambles (formerly The Chequers), The Fox and Duck, The Black Bull, The Crown and The Jolly Sailors. The 'World Sausage Tossing Championship' has taken place at The Countryman Inn, in Chipping near Buntingford, every August since 2014.
Buntingford railway station, opened in 1863, was closed in 1964, under the Beeching cuts. This was the terminus for the Buntingford Branch Line. Recently it has been redeveloped into housing.
Buntingford is home to various independent shops, restaurants and pubs mainly located in the town's high street. Buntingford has a Co-op food supermarket and a Sainsbury's Local. Just outside the town are two fuel stations one at each end of the bypass. One is operated by BP , the other by Esso that opened in 2022. The town was previously home to the Sainsbury's Anglia Distribution Centre, but this was vacated and eventually knocked down for housing in 2014. The site had previously been used as a Royal Army Ordnance Corps munitions factory, known locally as "the Dump". Team BMR and Triple Eight Racing, two major UK auto racing teams, are based in the town.
Buntingford is one of two towns in Hertfordshire using a three-tier school system (the other being Royston). In this system, children are educated in first schools until they enter middle school in Year Five, after which they join upper school in Year Nine, remaining there until the completion of sixth form. This system was enacted in Buntingford in 1969 by order of the county council.
There is currently one middle school and two first schools, with a third opening in September 2022:
Buntingford currently has one upper school, Freman College (formerly Ward Freman School). The school is a mixed upper school and sixth form with academy status, situated at Bowling Green Lane, Buntingford, under the control of its own single-academy trust. It was established in either 1970 or 1971 as an 11 to 16 comprehensive school, replacing the Buntingford Secondary Modern School which was established between both world wars. It was named after Bishop Seth Ward and Elizabeth Freman of the Freman family as both were benefactors of Buntingford's old grammar school that closed in 1900. Previously a foundation school, Freman converted to academy status in 2011, being one of the first schools to do so. It has had an Ofsted grading of good since 2006 and has a student population of 961, with a capacity for 903.
A grade II listed house situated at Layston Court 20, High Street, was formerly used as the building and master's house for Buntingford Grammar School until 1877. Buntingford Grammar School was Buntingford's first secondary school, having been built by its endower, Elizabeth Freman, between 1630 and 1633 for 25 schoolboys and a master. It was a two-storey building, with the attic being added at a later date sometime before 1830. The school was endowed again in 1684 by former pupil Seth Ward, who had become the Bishop of Salisbury, and Lady Jane Barkham. After its disuse in 1877, the building was modified into a house. The Town Council took ownership of the rest of the school's site and have preserved it as a park. The school itself survived elsewhere until 1900.
The Beehive, a pub situated at Hare Street, Buntingford, is featured in the 1981 television adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series. It reappears in the series' 2005 film adaptation as the Horse and Groom, which is named the "last pub in the world".
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)