Ayot St Lawrence
Ayot St Lawrence is a small village in Hertfordshire. It lies between Harpenden and Welwyn. 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 now 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.
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.
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