Rural Heritage Society



The Rural Heritage Society was established in 1975 in response to a significant increase in building which served the selfish needs of greedy developers but was unsympathetic and detrimental to the environment as a whole. Today, little has changed. There are still many pockets of land which offer the opportunity to turn a fast buck but which erode, by development, the particular, unique charm of this beautiful village.

This society has developed a reputation as an additional voice of reason to join with the democratically elected members of the parish council and various local and national conservation groups to provide the planning authorities with additional input, so that they are aware of local opinion when they deliberate matters which affect our way of life.

In recent years, planning permissions have been granted which have resulted in amenities being destroyed and replaced with an urban sprawl which does nothing to serve the needs of the indigenous local community but merely extends the area as a dormitory of Docklands and the City with a nice profit for the landowner.

An increasing proportion of village residents is showing concern about the present threat to our rural peace and the Rural Heritage Society is the natural channel through which they can give voice to their feelings.

New residents as well as disillusioned established ones are welcome to join us and add strength to our efforts to persuade the authorities to respect the outstanding beauty of our environment. Find out how to join us on the "contact" page.

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Little Gaddesden, as we know it today, would appear to break all the rules of village planning. Its church, like the hand on the end of an arm reaching out towards the downs, is remote from the heart. The Green, rather than drawing in the dwellings around it, straggles for half a mile between farmland on one side and the massive presence of Ashridge on the other.

From Saxon days when Little Gaddesden and the adjacent villages were several separate manors, to the beginning of the twentieth century, development was slow and unplanned. Bits were added here and there to meet the demands of the increasing local population. However, the building retained the open spaces and, by so doing, created distant horizons, intermingled with some of the best examples of village architecture in the county.

This is the meaning of words like "character" and "charm" - it is unique in this part of Hertfordshire.

Yet the villages do have a heart, not neccessarily through their physical characteristics, but through their people. People who change through the centuries but who, strangely, remain constant in their loyalty, sense of belonging and affection for their homes here. People who have taken pains to protect their environment and leave us the splendid heritage we enjoy today. But, sadly, people whose descendants find it increasingly difficult to afford the escalating cost of setting up home in Little Gaddesden.

It is we, the present villagers, who are now responsible for handing down this heritage to another generation. It is we who hold the future of the villages in our hands.

A large proportion of the most attractive open land has been sold in small lots, either directly or indirectly to builders or developers. "Brown" sites have become ripe for profiteering. Colour them in on a map and it doesn't take much imagination to envisage a continuous urban sprawl of spec-builders "modern" architecture which adds little to the charm of the village.

We do not envisage that Little Gaddesden will never expand nor alter. Our aims are to stimulate people to see that we are not stripped of our amenities and buried beneath acres of illconsidered executive housing built for investment without consideration for the real needs of the area and that the whims and fancies of contemporary "town planners" do not overpower our bit of Hertfordshire.

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Our objectives are simple, generally to take an interest in any matters affecting the villages and, in particular, to promote, assist or oppose any proposals for future development, insofar as such proposals may affect the character and amenities of the district.

By the district, we mean Little Gaddesden, Ashridge, Ringshall and Hudnall. If you are a resident of these areas we would welcome you to join us.

We enjoy a reputation for organising regular walks in and around the area which are informative, educational and great fun - never too strenuous but a good way to get to know your environment and make new friends. Keep an eye on the village notice boards and, of course, the diary on this website, for advance warning of the next walk. Everyone is welcome whether you are a member or not and, usually, dogs are welcome too.

You can help for the future by becoming a member. Just ring the membership secretary (see the "contact" page). We will send a member of the committee to say hello and relieve you of your first yearly subscription and leave you with some recent newsletters to show you what has concerned us recently.

We are always on the lookout for new committee members to bring a fresh focus to our activities so, if you feel inclined, make yourself known to any member of the committee.

The society is a registered charity and operates on an informal basis. The membership fee covers stationery, fees for other appropriate societies and AGM costs including the production costs for the newsletters. A quorum for the committee is three and fifteen for the AGM which takes place every June and attracts a substantial crowd as a result of our guest speakers supported by wine and nibbles.

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