Rural Heritage Society

RHS – The Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall, Hudnall and Ashridge

The Rural Heritage Society was established in Little Gaddesden in 1975 in response to a significant increase in building development in the area which was unsympathetic and detrimental to the environment as a whole. In the years since then little has changed. There are still many pockets of land around us which, if developed, would erode the particular, unique charm of this beautiful village and its surrounding areas. We provide an additional voice of reason to join with the democratically elected members of the parish council and various local and national conservation groups to give the planning authorities additional input, so that they are aware of local opinion when they deliberate matters which affect our way of life.


Our objectives are simple – generally to take an interest in any matters affecting the heritage of the villages and Ashridge Estate and, in particular, to promote, assist or oppose any proposals for future changes, insofar as such proposals may affect the character, tranquility and amenities of the district. In addition, the Society promotes the surrounding countryside in general. We enjoy a reputation for organising regular walks in and around the area which are informative, educational and great fun – never too strenuous but a good way to get to know your environment and make new friends, as well as ensuring that footpaths are used and not put at risk. Keep an eye on the village notice boards or in The Gaddesden Diary for advance warning of the next walk. Everyone is welcome whether you are a member or not and, usually, dogs are welcome too. We also publish an annual Newsletter with rural heritage news and articles of interest.


We have published three well-regarded books since 2002: “A Century Remembered”, a celebration of life in the village and its surrounding areas between 1900 and 2000, a combined volume of two books, “Little Gaddesden” and “The Dodo” by Vicars Bell, the village schoolmaster between 1929 and 1963, describing his career and his life in the village – the books were long out of print until re-published by the Society – and “Two Houses” by Frances Kerner about a long-lost house on The Green and its relationship to the Manor House. We also supply, free of charge to members, a footpath map based on the OS map, covering an area of approximately 50 square kilometres centred on the Manor House.

We have also published a version of Grey’s Map of the Ashridge Estate as it was in 1762, which can be tweaked to be centred and enlarged on any part of the Estate, including Little Gaddesden itself.


You can help by becoming a member (subscription £5/year/household) and adding strength to our efforts to persuade the planning authorities (and Luton Airport) to respect the outstanding beauty and tranquillity of our environment. Just ring the membership secretary, Lyn Hyde, on 01442 842267, or email A member of the committee will contact you to say hello and leave you with our most recent newsletter and a map.

George Godar, Chairman
01442 842274

Lyn Hyde, Membership Secretary
01442 842267

Header image: Andrew Sheard