The Exploring Watford Study group was formed in 2016 and during 2016 and 2017 we did our best to look into Watford’s past and some of its present.
A number of the meetings were arranged in coordination with the Watford Museum which is a rich source of information about our town. We had three walks up and around the High Street, taking in the alms houses and the graveyard at St. Mary’s Church. If you look into the shop fronts, you miss the interesting part of the history, which is only obvious when you look up above the modern shop facades at the buildings above them.
We learnt for instance that the Metropolitan Line was supposed to finish in the High Street. A building was erected to act as the terminus but because the Earl of Essex would not allow the trains to run across his land, the railway terminated instead on the far side of Cassiobury Park. The original building is now a popular drinking establishment.
The Watford Museum also arranged a lecture in the museum dealing with Cassiobury Park, the old manor house and the Earls of Essex who owned it. On another occasion we took a guided walk around the park to see some of what remains of the old estate, which was very large in its hey-day.
Watford has two Grade 1 listed churches and we visited Holy Rood Church and were given a tour of the building and a talk on its history.
Our final event was a tour of the Palace Theatre followed by a performance of a play based upon Watford – Elton John’s Glasses.
The Exploring Watford Study Group has now been closed down, but I hope that in a few years, it will be resurrected and a new group of U3A members will learn that we live in an interesting town with a wealth of history.
Study Group Leader: Ron Duckling (Click on the name to email).