Hertfordshire Countryside





The Hertfordshire Countryside Magazine is a mine of valuable information about the county. It started as a quarterly publication in 1946 and later switched to a monthly and is still being published. The format has changed somewhat over the period but always contains articles on the county. Many of these articles relate to the county's history, while other refer to current matters and lifestyle issues. Articles range between one and four pages long usually including pictures. There are also many Readers' letters - which often contain personal reminiscences and other historical information. There are short news items and also book reviews.

Articles are written in a popular style, and while some of the articles are simply summaries of information elsewhere some are unique sources of information. For instance the issues copies contained an important series of articles on The History of Hunting in Hertfordshire by Major Douglas Neale which are essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. These stimulated correspondence in the Readers Forum, and some of these, such as Reginald Hine's letter about a pack of hounds in 1688, contain information unavailable elsewhere.

Bound sets of copies are available in the larger Hertfordshire Libraries.

It is clearly impractical for me to index all items of interest on the web site - but when I know of an article which contains useful information it is appropriate for me to include a reference, and perhaps a brief extract to encourage researchers to explore this valuable resource further. In some cases the link will be to a pdf file containing a copy of the original article.


I have access to a complete set from 1946 until the early 1980s, plus some later issues and I have decided to read through the early quarterly issues looking for articles of particular relevance to this site. These will be recorded as follows:

There will be a web page for each year which will contain pictures of the covers - which can be enlarged - as some bound copies in libraries do not include the cover.

Links will only be added to the contents list if there is significant relevant information on the target page - such as a specific note, or a picture. In particular, if an article title includes a place name in the place name menu a direct link is superfluous.

Links from other pages to the Hertfordshire Countryside contents page will only be added if there is significant added value. The Readers Forum has not been included - but often there are very helpful letters appearing in the issues immediately following a article.

Where the cover of the magazine contains the picture of a place, a thumb will be put on the place page so that a larger version of the picture can be seen.

A list of the issues so far detailed on this site, including some prepared before this page was created, is given in the menu on the left.

The End of Hertfordshire Countryside

The cover of the December 2012 issue of Hertfordshire Countryside is headed "End of an Era"  and after 67 years and 644 issues the magazine has bitten the dust. 

The magazine started as a slim quarterly in 1946, and was quite clearly a magazine of Hertfordshire with an emphasis on historical interests, and a few adverts to help support it. It was popular and later switched to monthly publication. It was a major source of information of relating to the history and traditions of the county and there is a ready second hand market for early second hand copies.
 However by the 1980s it was becoming more of a life style magazine with a Hertfordshire flavour. While to the end it still contained a small number of articles of purely historical interest there were also articles which were clearly written to support the adverts for hotels, restaurants and private schools, and others. 
The end comes with the retirement of the publisher, and in his farewell editorial he "looks at some Countryside milestones at the end of an era."  For many of the loyal readers the era started  in 1946 but he effectively dismisses the important role the paper carried out in its early years by failing to mention anything of the magazine's achievements before he joined the magazine in 1984! Perhaps the real reason the magazine has died is because it lost its original feeling for the heritage of the county in today's over-commercialized environment.
Having said this the last issue contains several interesting articles. The Spirit of the Stort looks at the history of navigation on the River Stort. There is an attractively illustrated article of The Ayots and another Warm Hearts in Cold Christmas - about Cold Christmas Lane and the villages of Wadesmill and Thundridge. There is also a biography of Abe Mitchell, Verulam's Golf Pro, who I recently mentioned in this newsletter.
February 2011   Magazine Web Site details added
December 2012   News of closure in the Newsletter
November 2017   Minor updates