Home   News   Article

Britain From Above: Rare aerial photos of Bishop's Stortford, Stansted Airport and surrounding areas

These recently released and more modern additions to Historic England's online photographic archives add to the pictures released last year from the 1920s, '30s and '40s.

The Britain From Above site enables visitors to see just what their city, town or village looked like going back through the decades to a century ago.

It offers free access to tens of thousands of images, providing a glimpse from the skies of moments in time captured forever on film.

Waytemore Castle, Bishop's Stortford

Apart from stationary traffic, Waytemore Castle is probably the town's best-known landmark. It is unusual for a motte and bailey design as its motte (mound) is built up 42ft from level, rather than taking advantage of a natural hill feature. The remnants of the wall seen in the picture are those of the keep that was rebuilt in 1214 by order of King John.

In these photos from April 2010 of the castle and its surroundings, you can spot some of the changes that have happened (and are still happening) in the heart of the town. The most notable are the old paddling pool and the Northgate End car park.

Stansted Airport

These wonderfully close-up pictures of the airport were taken on April 16, 2010 – the second day of widespread travel disruption caused by the volcanic eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. It meant the entire grounding of jet flights across the UK and most of Europe as volcanic ash circulated high into the atmosphere.

The iconic roof of the airport is made up of 187 canvas tiles supported by 32 concrete and metal trees:

The airport's surface is large and light enough that it can been seen from the International Space Station:

The planes wait for the ash to clear:

Matham's Wood

The woods are to the south-southwest of Bishop's Stortford, about half a mile east of Green Tye. The photo shows the full length of the woodland, with the bisecting road that passes Lancaster fishing lake. At both ends, the road joins Parsonage Lane, which out of the top of the picture joins the A1184/Cambridge Road that runs between Stortford and Sawbridgeworth.

To the top of the woods as they appear in this picture (darkened by cloud) is a National Heritage Scheduled Monument. The monument includes a rectangular 100m by 75m medieval moated site. The island is enclosed on three sides by a clearly defined dry moat averaging 1.5m in depth and 8m in width. The south-western arm of the moat is mostly infilled, partly as a result of the construction of the airfield perimeter road – RAF Sawbridgeworth – the surface of which has since been removed.

The moated site is identified with `Mathamesmaner' (the manor of the de Matham family) which was recorded in the hands of John de Matham and subsequently Geoffrey de Matham in 1249. The de Mathams held the property well into the 17th century.

The woods entered the national spotlight in 1966 after Harry Roberts used them as a hiding place while on the run for 96 days from police. Roberts, a notorious criminal, shot two police officers following an armed robbery in East Acton. Using his military experience he first hid out in Epping Forest, then in Mathams Wood. Finally, he was captured by a Stevenage traffic police officer, who found him hiding among bales of straw at nearby Blount's Farm. According to some locals he had been there for a while and even been drinking in the Queen's Head in Allens Green. Roberts was jailed for life and served 48 years, having been released in 2014.

St Giles Church, Great Hallingbury

There's been a church on this site since the 11th century, although the more modern version seen here is the result of a full restoration in 1874. All that clearly remains from the 11th century is the Chancel arch made entirely from Roman bricks and a small single window light at the western end of the south wall in the nave.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More