About Walkern History Society

by janet on 26 November 2011 · 12 comments

Dovehouse 2013 May 05 Hubert Adam 01No matter what area of history you are interested in, be it social history, archaeology, family history, mediaeval history, local history, wartime, pre-history, buildings, the Victorians, we will have something for you to enjoy.

Walkern History Society was formed in 2012 after three history enthusiasts in the village got together over a cup of coffee. The aims of the society are to inform, foster and promote interest in the history and heritage of the village of Walkern.

Left: Walkern’s iconic, octagonal
dovehouse, adopted by WHS
as its logo

In 2013 WHS won a Heritage Lottery Fund award allowing us to produce six history boards, conduct history tours in the village, and to publish the book Medieval Walkern and Magna Carta. A History Hounds scheme was also set up to encourage children’s interest in local history.

Soon afterwards WHS was awarded a second Heritage Lottery Fund grant
of £29,700 to help raise awareness of the 01 procession to church 27 06 2015 Peter Ravilious 07village’s link with Magna Carta, culminating in 2015 with events marking the 800th anniversary of the 1215 sealing of that momentous document.

Right: Procession through the
village of Walkern’s Magna
Carta tabard and Great Helm 

Several other village groups have formed through WHS projects: 2014 saw the Walkern Players form as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War; Walkern

has twinned with Lanvallay in Brittany through our Magna Carta connection, and a French conversation group meets regularly; An embroidery group is also part of the legacy of the Magna Carta celebrations.

2017 Walkern Gallery test pit 01Current projects include archaeological test pit digs, “House Detectives” which researches Walkern buildings, and “Life Stories” which records oral histories of village residents. We have a range of publications written by our members, including Walkern School Log Book 1862-1900, A History Tour of Walkern, and our souvenir book Walkern, a Magna Carta Village.

WHS holds regular monthly meetings with talks by local or guest speakers, and these attract members and non-members alike, (non-members pay at the door). Exhibitions of Walkern’s history are held at every opportunity, e.g. open days at our parish church of St Mary’s, at the United Reformed Church, at Walkern Fair and at other community events. WHS coordinated archive material and memories for the River Beane Restoration Association, and WHS members have given talks at the Hertfordshire Association for Local History and at other Herts groups.

Speaker meetings are held on the last Thursday of the month at Walkern Sports & Community Centre starting at 7.30pm. Archaeological test pit digs take place during summer, guided by Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews of North Herts Museum. We also organise a summer outing: past outings have included visiting Bletchley Park, Verulamium Museum and Flag Fen.




{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

les handley March 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm

hello to you all, i wonder if anyone can help me, i remember reading a book written by a man who was evacuated to walkern with his brother i think and its of their memories of staying there how they played and what they got up to ,i have not been able to find the book for years ,i hope someone can help me , thank you , les


Anthony Camp August 11, 2020 at 11:12 am

I was sad to see that Les Handley’s 2015 query about so important a book in Walkern’s history should have gone so long unanswered. It was James Birdsall, “The Boys and the Butterflies; a wartime rural childhood” (1988; Pavilion Books Ltd, ISBN 1 85145 185 4 Hardback or 1 85145 294 X Paperback), which he dedicated to his brother Timothy Birdsall, the well known cartoonist who had died aged 27 in 1963 and is buried at Walkern. Mary Spicer the local historian of Shephall wrote to me in 2005 that she was enjoying every page again and Ronald Blythe called it “a gentle enchanting book” with its invocation of the village as seen through the eyes of the child evacuees who came here in 1940. I immediately made an index to the various locals and events mentioned.


Jim September 28, 2020 at 10:10 pm

Hi Les,
The book you are looking for is “The Boys and the Butterflies”, by James Birdsall.
The cartoonist Timothy was his brother. He drew for the Spectator and Private Eye.
I’m absolutely amazed no one form the History Society answered you as it’s a well known book in the village. One of the members lives next door to the house they describe in the book! The house still has the notches on the sitting room post from where their father marked the boys height at Christmas. The book is often in the free lending library in the park opposite the house. If not ebay sometimes have them second hand. Many of the county libraries still stock them. Happy reading, it’s a lovely book. After that you might want to read the sequel, Moths in the Memory. Similarly uplifting. Do enjoy. Best wishes, Jim.


John Turton May 21, 2014 at 9:25 am

Hi. As a traditional longbow archer I’m extremely interested in finding out more about your new archery group. I’m planning to attend your introductory meeting at the Yew Tree (how appropriate)!tonight, but wondered if anyone can let me have some more information on the groups’ planned activities (i.e. target, clout, roving) and whether or not a shooting ground has been identified? Look forward to hearing from you on this. Kind regards, John :o)


janet May 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

That’s great John! Looking forward to meeting you tonight – I’ll be there as an observer and taker of photos. We have got a couple of potential shooting grounds in mind and I think it will be target shooting, at least to start with. Paul Thompson, who is the experienced archer among us and who will be leading the group, will be able to answer all your questions properly at the meeting.
Kind regards


kelvin moore April 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

could anyone help me with some info relating to a bottle i found which has the words
‘S.Wright & Co’ Walkern Herts, I suspect it is an old cider bottle as a bottle collector i found it close to a bottle the same with Axminster cider writen on it, the farm worker who would have thrown it in the hedge was proberbly a cider drinker of old, any ideas
many thanks kelvin moore


Patricia Peterson April 11, 2021 at 9:26 am

Hi, I grew up in Walkern during 50’s & 60’s, Wright & Co, employed quite a few locals, & delivered it’s Cider to towns & pubs all around. They went out of business in the 70’s I believe


Polly Macmillan (Pauline) October 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Hi. May I suggest that it is made possible to view the small photos that pop up on the right hand side of the first page. I would love to see the photos close up!!

Thank you for a superb website that keeps me in touch with Walkern.
Polly (Pauline) Macmillan


Julian Evan-Hart March 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

To all concerned congratulations on establishing such a vitally important society. I have been engaged in local history for over 30 years, as well as being a dedicated metal detectorist both of which have resulted in the publishing of 14 books to date. One that may be of interest to you is War Torn Skies Hertfordshire, published by Redkite books. This has a chapter dedicated to the collision of two B17 bombers over Weston in 1944. In the last two years I have had two American families come and stay to see the site where their family members were sadly killed in this incident. I have worked with numerous TV channels and organised the first ever archaeological excavation of a Zeppelin, along with a Time Team episode. Currently I have just written my first novel and am awaiting its publication later this year, a time line based tale of wartime spies, metal detecting and the greatest of all buried treasures yet to be found in Britain. If I can be of any assistance to your society it would be an honour. I also do talks and presentations. Kind regards
Julian Evan-Hart.


Janet Woodall March 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Dear Julian
Many thanks indeed for your comments and for letting us know of your publications – I’m sure they will be of great interest to many of our members. We would be very pleased indeed for any help with the WHS, especially as we are so new, and so new to it all! It would be especially appreciated if you would consider coming along to give us a talk.
With kind regards


Laura Whitford February 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thank you all for making a newbie feel so welcome! I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone again.


Janet Woodall February 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

It was great to meet you Laura. Thank you so much for coming to the meeting and for joining the committee!


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