Ayot St Lawrence is a small village in Hertfordshire. It lies between Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City. It is mainly known as the home of George Bernard Shaw from 1906 until his death in 1950. For a time it was also known as the home of England's only silk farm, housed at the Georgian Ayot House, but that has moved to Dorset.
'Ayot' may means a 'gap' or an 'island'. When it rains heavily over the winter and the single-track approach roads flood, it still maintains that feeling. The village has one ancient pub, two churches and about 150 people. For a time it has provided a home for Douglas Fairbanks and golfer Nick Faldo but it is mainly visited because of the home of Shaw.
Travelling by car from London, leave the A1(M) motorway at Welwyn (this lies to the north of Welwyn Garden City) and head west on the country roads.
- 1 Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, near Welwyn, AL6 9BX, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. mid-March to the beginning of Nov: W-Su noon to around 5PM. Shaw's Corner was built in 1902 as the Rectory for the village. However, the Church of England decided that the house was too large and it was let to Bernard and Charlotte Shaw from 1906. They bought it outright in 1920. The Shaws changed very little inside the house but they installed a generator so that electricity could be provided and built a large garage and greenhouse. In the quintessentially English garden is the hut where Shaw wrote many plays. Inside the house the clothes in Shaw's wardrobe, the typewriter, glasses and dictionary in his study and the collection of hats in the hall, as well as the 1938 Oscar for Pygmalion, give you the sense that he has just left the room.
- 2 Old St Lawrence Church. A church dating back to the 12th century which has been a ruin since it was partially demolished in 1775.
- 3 New St Lawrence Church. Worship once per month, on 2nd Sunday at 11:30.. Impressive Palladian (neoclassical) church, built in 1778.
Eat and drink
- 1 Brocket Arms. Country inn from the 14th century. Low ceilings, oak beams and fireplaces. It was built as the monastic quarters for the Norman church. Legend has it that a priest was hanged there and that it has been haunted ever since.
- Brocket Arms. Six refurbished double rooms from £85-120 per room per night.