The Frythe – A Brief History

During the preparation of the article posted about the Re-development of The Frythe, we uncovered many interesting details about its history, some of which we hadn’t known before. We feel you might enjoy reading this very brief extract, but for a more rewarding and detailed study, whether your interest is in archaeology, or genealogy, we recommend you do as we did, which is to pay a brief visit to Wikipedia as a first step, and then spend the next few hours surfing other related sites on the internet!

The Frythe comprises a Victorian House or Mansion, sitting within green belt parkland of 47 acres, south west of Welwyn village, P1050050 with access to the Great North Road (now B197). It has boundaries with Homers Wood to the East and South, with the Ayots and Whitehill to the South and West, and the Whitehill road which leads North West down past the Whitehill Car Park and The Acorn Nursery, before joining Welwyn Village via School Lane

The House was originally built for William Wilshere in 1846. It was sited centrally with a long drive, P1050032providing views over the Mimram valley, and surrounded by well laid out lawns and gardens, which were landscaped with many selected specimen shrubs and trees. The House is not listed, and neither are any of the original ancillary structures, greenhouses, stables, brew house, cottages etc. Many of the trees are protected.P1050058

The Frythe became home to successive generations of the Wilshere family, each of whom were benefactors of St Mary’s Church in Welwyn.  Various census returns show that sometimes the house was occupied by the principal family member alone, with up to 9 staff in attendance.

Following the death of the last surviving Wilshere in 1934, the Frythe became a Residential and Private Hotel, before being requisitioned at the start of World War II by the military authorities, and used by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for the design and manufacture of secret specialist equipment for military purposes. Items such as the ‘Welpen’ – an explosive weapon disguised as a fountain pen – was designed here, and then manufactured in quantity up the road at Aston House, which was SOE’s Secret Weapons Centre STATION 12 . The Frythe itself was code-named Station IX.

Post World War II, ownership subsequently passed to ICI, to Unilever and then to GlaxoSmithKline, and the Frythe was used for commercial research and development P1050039P1050034purposes. Many outbuildings, laboratories and offices were constructed over the years,

The site was closed in 2010 and subsequently developed for housing by Linden Waites Homes. The original Frythe Mansion has been retained and converted into apartments, and sales of a total of 196 ancillary dwellings commenced at the start of 2015. The site has been appropriately re-named Wilshere Park.




Planning Application: The Frythe

(The following Report is based upon research and analysis undertaken by Ron Oxley, WPAG Lead Member for Planning Applications).

The Frythe – Approval of Plans to Redevelop

The Frythe, just south west of Welwyn, was sold on 19th December 2010 to the development Company, Land Improvements. Although the 47 acre site is Green Belt land, it presents approximately 29 acres of Brownfield Development opportunity.

Land Improvements is a development company specialising in producing plans, obtaining planning approvals & organising pre-contract site preparation and management of the subsequent construction work.

On 20th December 2012, two years after the sale, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC) granted Full Planning Application to build 196 new homes, (to include Affordable Housing). Agreement was also given to convert the original Victorian mansion into 14 apartments.

The basic layout of the site was approved, with several distinct areas ‘designated’, or marked out, for housing development. Using this approach, eight areas (A to H) have been designated, allowing each to have a distinct identity.

The Planning Application includes the provision of roads and footways, car parking, drainage, pool improvement, soft and hard landscaping, play space and lighting, and a perimeter enclosure.

Demolition of the laboratories and offices is now complete, and the groundwork for roadways and services is under construction, preparatory to the next stage, which will be to draw up building works contracts.

The first market-driven housing completions are expected in the third quarter of 2014, with Affordable Housing following on in parallel with later market-driven completions.

Infrastructure for a Bus Service onto the site will be investigated. Continue reading

Welwyn Parish Plan – Your New Ideas needed

Wanted – your Ideas and Suggestions

The Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group, who are responsible for progressing the Parish Plan, are inviting suggestions for new projects in 2013.

The  Action Group is inviting new ideas and suggestions for projects of benefit to the Welwyn Community, to consider for adoption and taking forward in 2013.

Do you have a pet idea to make Welwyn a more attractive, convenient or sociable place to live or work? If you have – the Parish Plan Action Group would like to hear from you.


Where to send your ideas

Please send your ideas by post to the Parish Plan Secretary, 2 Wendover Drive. Welwyn AL6 9LT.

All ideas will be acknowledged and you may be invited to come along and tell us more!

Alternatively come to the Community Café at St.Mary’s New Church House on any Tuesday and speak to Shirley Butler or me.

Jon Green

Chairman Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group


The Welwyn Parish Plan – Progress Report

The following Report is from Jon Green, Chairman Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group


Over the 4 years the Plan has been in existence a range of initiatives have been launched, some large some small.

To give some examples, the Parish Plan Action Group has:

  • started and progressed the village centre traffic safety project in liaison with the Highways Agency and the Parish Council (remember the debate about a mini-roundabout?)
  • launched the Community Café in partnership with the St.Mary’s Church P.C.C.
  • published a free Guide leaflet of useful information and contacts
  • planted and continue to plant bulbs to beautify the road verges
  • organised four Art and Craft Fairs in 2012, with more planned for 2013
  • organised  several series of computer classes with the help of professional tutors
  • issued a transport information leaflet
  • persuaded the bus companies to include Queensway on the 314 route and to agree an additional Green Line stop
  • put up a community noticeboard at the entrance to the post office.

So you can see – the Welwyn Parish Plan Action Group has been quite busy since we started.

Current Activities

Our most far reaching involvement is about to become more visible with the emergence of Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Strategic Plan. As most people are aware the Council have recently published their proposals for housing development forward to 2029.

The Parish Plan Action Group has been deeply involved, in partnership with the Parish Council and Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group. Our objective is to lobby the Borough Council for the most advantageous outcome for Welwyn parish, including Oaklands/ Mardley Heath and Digswell.

Future Planned Activities

Looking forward into the New Year we hope to launch a school holiday scheme in conjunction with the Borough Council to keep children occupied. This would be run by trained youth leaders.

New Ideas Wanted

The Parish Plan Action Group is managing a LIVING Parish Plan.

To help it breath we do need a constant flow of new ideas.

Please contact Jon Green at with your thoughts and suggestions.


What is – a Parish Plan?

What is a Parish Plan?

A Parish Plan is a community led plan that sets out a VISION of how the community wants to develop, and identifies the ACTION needed to achieve it.

A Parish Plan is produced by the community, and for the community. It is based on a detailed consultation involving the whole community. Based on the views and opinions of the people who actually live there, it sets out the needs and aspirations of the Parish

The Parish Plan identifies what actions the community would like to be taken, who should take each action forward, and what time scale should be set for each one.

A Parish Plan is a statement of how a local community sees itself developing in the future.

Who Creates and Manages a Parish Plan?

A Parish Council launches the Parish Plan process and supports the establishment of a Parish Plan Steering Group, formed of leading volunteer members of the community, who manage the process from then onwards.

The Parish Plan Steering Group may or may not include Parish Councillors, but it operates independently of the Parish Council.

The Steering Group organises and conducts public meetings, raises questionnaires within the community and analyses the responses. The Steering Group consults outside bodies as appropriate before drawing up a draft Parish Plan which the Parish Council formally agrees. The Steering Group then elects a Management Committee or Parish Plan Action Group to drive things forward from that point.

How long does a Parish Plan Last?

As and when actions are completed the Parish Plan will be updated .

The Parish Plan Action Group will continually seek to respond to the community’s needs and aspirations as they develop, and in this way the Parish Plan becomes a living document. Continue reading

Community Safety – Speedwatch Initiative

On Monday evening 28th January 2013 your local Police Neighbourhood Team, led by PC Ben Satchfield, is holding a short (approx. 30 minutes) meeting in the Welwyn Civic Centre at 7 p.m to brief residents of Welwyn on the Speedwatch initiative they are introducing. The Speedwatch initiative encourages residents to form local teams of six, to measure and, if necessary, report excessive road user speeds.

The expectation is that, at the very least, the very presence of ‘official’ monitors will help curb excesses.

Welwyn residents frequently worry about the apparently excessive speed of traffic on Welwyn’s roads. To take examples, concerns have often been raised about the B197 as it passes along the Welwyn by-pass, through Oaklands & Mardley Heath, to Woolmer Green. Concerns are also raised about the Welwyn Link Road B656 where the speed of traffic coming from Codicote around the Fulling Mill Lane roundabout is very often hazardous, not only at that point but at the access points to the Danesbury Estate too. And similar concerns are frequently expressed about many points in Digswell village.

Our Police Neighbourhood Team Co-ordinator, PC Ben Satchfield, is now offering residents a chance to form local Speedwatch Teams of 6 volunteers each, to monitor and measure these apparently excessive speeds for themselves.

All the necessary training and equipment will be provided by the Police Neighbourhoood Team, and PC Ben Satchfield will explain how the teams will be organised and controlled.

Are you a concerned resident – concerned enough to help do something as a Speedwatch team member and make Welwyn safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike?

If you are, then please go along on Monday evening 28th January at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre and see how you might help.

And tell your friends and neighbours.

If you need your community, then your community certainly needs you……



Online Newsletter – Edition No. 1 Published

The first monthly online newsletter (WPAG Monthly Digest) was published on Sunday 20th January at 8 p.m.

Did you get your copy?

Have you remembered to ‘subscribe’ on the Newsletter Subscriptions page?

Have you then followed the double-check procedure when asked to?

If you have done all these things but you have not received your January 2013 newsletter, please tell us in the Comment box below.

We do not want you to miss out on this new feature.

Subscribe today and keep up-to-date with what is going on




New Plan to Improve the River Mimram

David Cheek, of the Friends of the Mimram kindly submitted the following Report.

Plenty of projects planned to improve the River Mimram are about to start. Improving the quality of this rare chalk stream, the wildlife and our accessibility to enjoy it. From Jan 23rd see what’s happening at

The Friends of the Mimram, in conjunction with the Herts Middx Wildlife Trust have developed a Catchment Management Plan to improve the river quality to help meet EU Water Framework Directive guidelines and this is being presented as a dynamic website, which will evolve as the projects come to fruition. The projects have been developed in consultation with other local conservation groups, parish councils, Welhat Borough Council,   HCC and the Environment Agency.

One of the projects will start in Singlers Marsh this winter. Chalk streams should have crystal clear water flowing over gravel. After years of low flows, silt has built up to 2’ deep in the river at the top end and trees have overgrown keeping out the sunlight which stops vegetation growing. So HMWT have managed to get some funding for an Environment Agency plan to dig out the silt from a section of the river opposite the Vineyards and replace it with gravel, while also pollarding some trees to let in the light. The Friends of the Mimram will also clear some of the scrub away form the river bank and maintain a footpath along the river so that we can enjoy it. Meanwhile the Friends will also continue the work near Singlers Bridge to narrow the river slightly to increase the flow and achieve the same effect.

If the trial is successful, it will be extended upstream when more funds become available. More information on

All this assumes there will be water in the river – but we will have to keep on lobbying to achieve that.  See the latest on the Friends website