Great Amwell
Parish church of St John the Baptist, Great Amwell
Great Amwell is located in Hertfordshire
Great Amwell
Great Amwell
Location within Hertfordshire
Population2,353 (2011 Census, Parish)[1]
OS grid referenceTL365125
Civil parish
  • Great Amwell
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWARE
Postcode districtSG12
Dialling code01920
AmbulanceEast of England
List of places
51°47′38″N 0°00′50″W / 51.794°N 0.014°W / 51.794; -0.014

Great Amwell is a village and civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district, in the county of Hertfordshire, England. It is 1+12 miles (2.4 km) southeast of Ware and about 20 miles (32 km) north of London. In 2011 the parish had a population of 2353.


On a hill above the church there are some traces of an Iron Age hill fort, but more substantial remains of the earthworks were destroyed by landscaping of the Old Vicarage gardens in about 1840.[2] To the west, on the road to Hertford, is a large tumulus at Barrowfield.[3]

In the Domesday Book of 1086 Great Amwell and neighbouring Little Amwell were a single parish recorded as "Emmewell".[4] By the 17th century, the name of the village was recorded as Amwell Magna, Much Amwell or Great Amwell.[3] The name is probably derived from a spring to the northeast of the village called Emma's Well, which was used by Sir Hugh Myddelton as one of the sources of the New River in the early 17th century. It is believed to have been named after Queen Emma of Normandy, wife of King Cnut the Great.[3] A nearby white stone memorial is inscribed with verses from by the Quaker poet, John Scott of Amwell (1730-1783).[5]

The village stocks in St John's churchyard.

The Church of England parish church is a medieval building dedicated to St John the Baptist. The nave and chancel date from the 11th century with a Norman chancel arch. A bell tower was added in the 15th century and the building was restored in 1866. It is a Grade II* listed building.[6] The stocks in the churchyard date from the 17th or 18th century and were moved there from behind the George IV pub in 1887.[7]

The East India College was founded at the hamlet of Hailey to the south of the parish in 1806, for the education of young men intended for the civil service of the East India Company in India. It was built in the neoclassical style to the design of William Wilkins. When the company was abolished in 1858, the buildings were briefly used as a barracks by the army, but were converted into a public school, Haileybury College, in 1862.[3]


Great Amwell has three tiers of local government at parish, district, and county level: Great Amwell Parish Council, East Hertfordshire District Council, and Hertfordshire County Council.

Great Amwell was in the hundred of Hertford. The parish was included in the Ware Poor Law Union from 1835.[8] It therefore became part of the Ware Rural District under the Local Government Act 1894. Ware Rural District was abolished in 1974, becoming part of East Hertfordshire.[9]


The village has no railway station, the nearest being Ware or St Margarets both of which are on the Hertford East branch line which passes through the parish. There are a few bus routes, these are:

Notable people

Great Amwell has been the residence of some celebrated literary characters, among whom are:

Others buried in Amwell include:

Richard Warren (d. 1628), a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, who settled in Plymouth Colony and co-signed the Mayflower Compact, was married on 14 April 1610 at Great Amwell to Elizabeth Walker, daughter of Augustine Walker. Richard and Elizabeth are the ancestors of two U.S. Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

See also


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  2. ^ Moye, Stuart (August 2019). "EARTHWORKS AT GREAT AMWELL AND WIDBURY HILL" (PDF). Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Page, William, ed. (1912). A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 414–419.
  4. ^ Powell-Smith, Anna. "Great and Little Amwell". Open Domesday. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Emma's Well and Memorial Stone, Amwell Hill". Historic England. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  6. ^ "St John the Baptist (Great Amwell)". Historic England. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  7. ^ "STOCKS IN CHURCHYARD 23 METRES WEST OF TOWER, ST JOHNS LANE". Historic England. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  8. ^ Higginbotham, Peter. "Ware Poor Law Union". The Workhouse. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Great Amwell Ancient Parish / Civil Parish". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Arriva Bus Timetable". Route 310 Timetable. Arriva. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Arriva Bus Timetable". Route 311 Timetable. Arriva. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Intalink Bus Timetable". Route 351 Timetable. Intalink. Retrieved 8 February 2010.

Further reading