A visit to Hertford, where Alfred Russel Wallace lived as a child

Here are a few Wallace-related sites I visited in the Hertford area today September 5th, 2021.

1) One of the two monuments in Hertford which commemorate Wallace (there were also two others but they have been removed). This sculpture also illustrates the history of the town. The part related to Wallace is the image of Wallace's Flying Frog. The sculpture is located behind Sainsbury's supermarket near Hartham Common. 

2) St Leonard's Church, Bengeo.

Wallace calls it the "old church" in his autobiography My Life. It was built in the 12th century. This is the paragraph in which he mentions it "Few small towns [Hertford] (it had then less than six thousand inhabitants) have a more agreeable public playground than Hartham [Common], with the level valley of the Lea stretching away to Ware on the east, the town itself just over the river on the south, while on the north, just across the river Beane, was a steep slope covered with scattered fir trees, and called the Warren, at the foot of which was a footpath leading to the picturesque little village and old church of Bengeo."

3) The River Beane, where Wallace nearly drowned. He says in his autobiography: "Here, too, in the river Beane, which had a gentle stream with alternate deep holes and sandy shallows, suitable for boys of all ages, was our favourite bathing-place, where, not long after our coming to Hertford, I was very nearly being drowned. It was at a place called Willowhole, where those who could swim a little would jump in, and in a few strokes in any direction reach shallower water. I and my brother John and several schoolfellows were going to bathe, and I, who had undressed first, was standing on the brink, when one of my companions gave me a sudden push from behind, and I tumbled in and went under water immediately. Coming to the surface half dazed, I splashed about and went under again, when my brother, who was four and a half years older, jumped in and pulled me out. I do not think I had actually lost consciousness, but I had swallowed a good deal of water, and I lay on the grass for some time before I got strength to dress, and by the time I got home I was quite well. It was, I think, the first year, if not the first time, I had ever bathed, and if my brother had not been there it is quite possible that I might have been drowned. This gave me such a fright that though I often bathed here afterwards, I always went in where the water was shallow, and did not learn to swim, however little, till several years later."

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith