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Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, as well as a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. According to the 2011 census, the town has a population of approximately 26,000. The River Lea joins the Rib, Beane and Mimram rivers at Hertford to flow east and then south toward the Thames as the Lee Navigation, after Hertford Castle Weir. Hartham Common is a valley where the Lea and the Beane meet, and it provides a large park to one side of the town center running towards Ware and located below Bengeo Hill.
St Andrew Street still has its medieval layout, with many timber-framed buildings hidden under later frontages. Despite a bypass passed by the town centre in the 1960s known as Gascoyne Way, Hertford still suffers traffic problems. There have long been plans to connect the A10 with the A414, bypassing the town completely. Nevertheless, the town still retains a very country-town feel, despite being only 19.2 miles (30.9 km) from Central London. Its proximity to larger towns such as Harlow, Bishop’s Stortford, and Stevenage, where modern development has been concentrated, aids in this.
Hertford has been the county town of Hertfordshire since the Saxon period, when it was governed by the king’s reeves. By the 13th century, the reeves were replaced by a bailiff, elected by the burgesses. According to the charters of 1554 and 1589, there was a common council of eleven chief burgesses and a bailiff. An additional charter from 1605 changed the bailiff’s title to mayor. The ratepayers of Hertford elected twelve councillors, who in turn chose four aldermen, with the council composed of aldermen and councillors.
Hertford has been part of the East Hertfordshire district of Hertfordshire since 1974. Hertfordshire County Council is headquartered at County Hall in Hertford. There is also a Hertford Town Council based at Hertford Castle.
The town is largely centered on County Hall (Hertfordshire County Council), Wallfields (East Hertfordshire District Council), and McMullens Brewery, which is one of the few remaining independent breweries from before 1970.