Medieval graffiti and mermen

By Llinos Thomas

Anstey Post Office
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
A view of Cheapside
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
The Parish Church of St George
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Anstey Mother's Union pictured in 1900
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Albert and William Bye with horse and cart, workers at High Hall Farm. c1920
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Anstey is a small village in north east Hertfordshire close to the borders of Cambridgeshire and Essex.  In the late 1960s the village was at risk when nearby Nuthampstead was considered as a site for the third London airport.

Medieval graffiti is visible on the walls of St. George’s church. The church dates from Norman times as does the font which has unusual carvings of four mermen. The lych-gate is 15th century but was altered in 1830 when one side was walled up to form the parish cage. It was used as a lock-up until approximately 1920. In 2000 a stained glass window was installed, dedicated to the 398th Bomb Group.

‘Anstey’ may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon for narrow path and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Anestige. The road known as Cheapside got its name from the booths that lined the road at the time of the annual St. Swithun’s Fair.

The Post Office pictured in the early 1900s. There are no shops at all in Anstey now and only one public house remains.

Folklore tells of the fate of local fiddler, blind George, who decided to explore the legendary underground passage which was believed to run from Cave Gate to the remains of the old castle. George set off playing his fiddle and onlookers followed the music above ground. Then the music stopped and screams were heard. George was never seen again but his dog emerged with singed fur and ran off into the night.

This page was added on 20/05/2009.

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  • Hi Where can I find this cave I’m intrested in taking my mate with me there because we have heard the tale and are thrill seekers and would love to know wether the tale is true thank you .

    By Brad (28/10/2017)
  • Hi – I maintain the National Register of Village Pumps and run the associated website Hertfordshire is not particularly well represented yet, although we have a dedicated “pump-spotter” currently in your area, and over the next week or two more Hertfordshire pumps will be featured on the website. I have a query: the “pump” at Anstey is like no other we know of, although identical to one which used to be on the green in Cottered. We’ve examined the structure quite closely and come to the conclusion that it may not have been a pump at all, but a well-head mechanism. Do you or any of your contributors know anything of the history of either of these structures please? We’d be very pleased to receive reports of pumps in your area, and there’s a report form on the website. By the way, congrats on your own website – we also use the same excellent Community Sites’ software at .

    By Richard Williams (23/04/2011)