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WELWYN & DISTRICT HISTORY SOCIETY
The traveller on his journey north from London to, maybe, York would have come along the High Street and turned right at St. Mary’s Church along North Road (Church Street). But had he carried straight on past the Church he would have been on another of the important roads connecting Welwyn with the outside world -
Just past the Wellington, one of the old coaching inns, the road towards Hitchin passes some interesting buildings such as Ivy Cottage, home of a small school ran by Caroline Applegarth and where, reputedly Ann van Gogh, sister of the famous Vincent taught in 1870s. Vincent is said to walked from London to visit her as he was too poor to travel any other way.
A little further along this road brings us to one of the fine houses of Welwyn, Guessens. This was once a farm house and for the period 1730 -
The Grange boasts a very impressive garden famed for it’s cedar trees planted by Edward Young.
Before leaving the modern day village, the traveller would pass one more fine house, The Grange. Also once a farm house this house was home to a number of Welwyn worthies including Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, a former Lieutenant Governor of Ceylon, and Guy Molesworth Kindersley MP. For many years the house was a boarding school, closing in the 1970s.
As we leave the village now along the Codicote Road we pass the Link Road, a relief road completed in 1972 between the Codicote Road and the Clock Roundabout, to divert the heavy traffic which previously had to travel directly through Welwyn. Before then the road continued uninterupted through Codicote to Hitchin passing some of the outlying parts of Welwyn.
Along this road were three last chances to have a drink before Codicote, The Queen’s Head, The George and The Horse and Groom, as well as the site of the original Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, all now closed.
Ivy Cottage decorated for the 1902 Coronation
The Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital ca. 1905
Guessens from the rear 1905