All’s Well in Digswell

Digswell is an ancient Hertfordshire village, recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book. Part of the Digswell estate was sold at auction in 1922, to a group of the Garden City Movement, where much of the land was built on to become Welwyn Garden City. Digswell village these days is the 20th century residential area on the norther outskirts of the original parish, and is now part of the borough of Welwyn and Hatfield. However, the area’s valley is designated as a beauty area, and further development is prohibited.

Despite its decrease in size over the years, Digswell is still able to showcase its impressive grade II listed viaduct – an important local landmark just to the south of Welwyn North railway station. The 100ft high viaduct is a railway line over the River Mimram, and comprises forty arches, each with a span of 30ft.

The size of the viaduct needs to be seen to be believed. After officially opening it in 1850, Queen Victoria refused to travel across it, as she was too frightened of its height, and travelled the length of the bridge on the ground, by horse-drawn carriage!

Discharging into the River Mimram, is Digswell Lake, which is fed by underground springs. Made in 1810, it formed part of the Digswell House Park (part of the Digswell Estate), until it was sold by the Trustees of the 7th Earl Cowper in 1919, to Ebenezer Howard, the founder of Welwyn Garden City.

In 1957, seventeen acres of woodland and ornamental parkland was leased to Digswell Lake Society, who now own and maintain the lake and its surrounds, ensuring it remains an area of natural beauty and tranquillity for visitors, and as a nature reserve, providing a habitat for wildlife and plants.

Despite its small size, the area of Digswell is worth a visit. Once you’ve hired your vehicle from St. Albans Car and Van Hire, at least drive through the area to experience the sheer scale of the village’s impressive railway viaduct.

Posted on May 9th 2016

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