Harpenden is well-known for being one of Hertfordshire’s most affluent areas.
With house prices in the area fetching an average of £870,468 over the last year according to Rightmove, it’s perhaps no surprise it’s had brushings with the rich and famous.
The town, which is just outside the county’s only city, St Albans, has a population of around 30,000 and is popular with commuters (when we could actually visit our offices in person, if you remember what that was like).
Its high property prices – which are typically double the national average – are largely as a result of its location.
Harpenden is within touching distance of London, and the capital has undoubtedly contributed to its high living costs.
But despite the astronomical wages needed to afford to live in the town, the area has plenty going for it.
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After all, the gorgeous River Lea flows through the Batford neighbourhood while Poets’ Corner – which sees streets on the east side of the town named after illustrious writers such as William Shakespeare – is perfect for literary lovers.
A number of celebs have also been known to call Harpenden their home.
We all know the wages associated with Premier League footballers, so it’s perhaps no surprise that former Arsenal and West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere, as well as ex-Manchester United winger and full-back Ashley Young, have resided in the area.
Continuing the sporting theme, England rugby captain Owen Farrell is a familiar face in the town.
The Saracens fly-half moved to Harpenden when his dad Andy signed for the side in 2005.
Owen was 13 or 14 at the time and this was where he was given his first taste of rugby union.
The England ace, who led the country to a 2020 Six Nations win, attended St George’s School in Harpenden.
And if you need another glimpse into Harpenden’s affluence, the school is one of the UK’s top 100 state-funded institutions.
It was even named as the Sunday Times’ ‘Comprehensive School of the Year’ in 2019.
He later studied at the University of Hertfordshire.
Renowned composer Sir Tim Rice has also been proud to call the town his home.
The 76-year-old lyricist and author is arguably best known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber with whom he wrote shows such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.
He’s also worked with esteemed artists such as ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.
He was knighted by the Queen in 1994 for his services to music and also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Sir Tim is one of 16 artists to have won an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony in the US.
The 2020 Sunday Times Rich List valued Rice at £155m, making him the 21st-richest music millionaire in the UK.
Staying in the world of entertainment, John Eric Bartholomew lived in the town.
Eric is perhaps better known by his stage name – Eric Morecambe – and he was one half of the hilarious double act Morecambe and Wise, with the partnership lasting from 1941 until his death in 1984.
Morecambe took his stage name from his home town, the seaside of Morecambe in Lancashire.
The 1977 Christmas special of The Morecambe & Wise Show was viewed by over 28m people in the UK.
His influence will never be forgotten, and in 2002 he was named one of the 100 Greatest Britons in a BBC poll.
Morecambe and his family lived in the West Common area Harpenden from the 1960s until his death.
In December last year, it was announced the new culture centre is to be named after him. The centre is being built on the site of the town’s former sports centre in Rothamsted Park.
The comedian often referred to the town throughout his work and a band once appeared on the show named The Harpenden Hot-Shots.
In a Casanova sketch he introduced himself as Lord Eric, Fourth Duke of Harpenden “and certain parts of Birkenhead”.
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A sculpture of Eric Morecambe stands on the Upper Lea Valley Walk between Harpenden and Luton.
Meanwhile, Liverpool-born Craig Charles has also resided in Harpenden.
The Red Dwarf and Coronation Street star-turned DJ also presented Robot Wars between 1998 and 2004.
Original posted at www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk