Historical and Literary Associations, Stevenage, UK
For a new town, there are plenty of historical and literary associations. Alleyns Grammar School dates from 1562 and retains a room with its original Tudor brickwork and timber roof. The novelist EM Forster spent his childhood at Rooks-nest in the old town and used it (along with the wych elm in the garden) as inspiration for Howard’s End of 1910.
The Church of St Nicholas has a set of misericords (brackets on wooden tipping seats in the chancel) with carved leaves and an angel. It also contains an impressive brass of a priest and a mutilated effigy of a woman with a wimple. Coming more up-to-date, the large Barclay School has a sculpture on its front by fellow Hertfordshire resident Henry Moore. His ‘Family’ depicts a man, woman and child.
Keep going down the road to Walkern and reach the village where, in 1712, local woman Jane Wenham was accused of bewitching a servant and causing the death of livestock. Taken to Hertford Castle and tried, she was convicted and sentenced to hang. This was commuted by a sympathetic judge who found the claims of her flying ridiculous – and sought a pardon from Queen Anne.
She was allowed her to live out the last fourteen years of her life in quiet seclusion and secrecy at the home of William Cowper. The witch craze was dying and Jane remains one of the last women to be convicted of witchcraft in England.