Restoring the Dell

The Dell – A dramatic place in the woods

In the early days of Welwyn Garden City, the residents used a natural swallow hole in Sherrardspark Wood as a theatre, this became known as the Dell. A number of plays (mainly Shakespeare), choral, music and other events took place until 1951. Since then, The Dell has been left to nature and ‘lost’ to the public.

We are working with the Local Authority and the Sherrardspark Wood Wardens to restore The Dell as a place accessible for all which can be enjoyed once more for community activities for which there has been much public enthusiasm.

History

The Dell is a natural hollow which pre 1858 was in a field to the south of the boundary of Sherrardspark Woods, part of Upper Handside farm. Originally it was never part of the wood, the original woods boundary is still visible to the north of the Dell and follows the old Digswell Parish boundary. In 1858, the railway to Luton and Dunstable was built which cut through the field leaving the Dell ‘isolated’ though accessible, via a farm track over the railway (now the bridleway between Bridge Road and Roundwood Drive). In 1901, Lord Cowper (the owner of the wood and farm land) planted Larch trees in the ‘isolated’ field, to be known as Reddings Plantation, thus effectively expanding Sherrardspark Woods to the railway line. By 1925 when construction of WGC was underway, the Dell was a young wood with grassy floor which is when, among others, Sir Theodore Chambers (Chairman of the WGC Company) suggested using the Dell as a place for drama and music.

The first production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream took place in 1925.

Meet the Team restoring the Dell

Photo of Robert Gill

Robert Gill