Alricheseia, Alriceseia (xi cent.); Ailricheseye (xiii cent.); Alrilseye, Arleycheseye (xvi cent.); Arlesey, Aldrichsey (xvii cent.).
Reputedly one of the longest High Streets in the country, at around three miles long, Arlesey sits in the valley of the river Hiz. Its meandering High Street roughly follows the river on its travels north towards Biggleswade from Hitchin and Ickleford.
Originally three distinct ‘manors’ – Etonbury to the north, Arleseybury (a royal manor) more central and Lanthony further south, Arlesey has always been predominantly a farming community.
Arlesey’s past is varied with four mentions in the Doomsday Book of 1086, a huge train crash in December 1876, the site for major brick-making and cement works plus a huge self-contained hospital/asylum to the east built in the late 1800’s.
St Peter’s Church sits to the north of the parish, with its earliest parts dating from the 12th century, is documented as having a market close by. One of only 10 listed buildings in the village the church was originally built by the monks of Waltham Abbey.
At one stage around 20 public houses served the population with a concentration around the brick-works and cement-works.
Boasting two railway stations on the Great Northern Railway, around two miles apart, from the opening of the railways in 1850 these also served the surrounding villages, brick-works and cement-works plus visitors to the large Three Counties Asylum. Both stations were victims of the Beeching cuts in the 1960’s, but in 1988 one was re-instated to the north, giving Arlesey its rail links back.
The War Memorial stands proud at the north of the High Street on triangular junction with Church Lane and House Lane. With its statue of a First World soldier facing south in the reverse arms ceremonial stance, it bears the names of the fallen soldiers from both the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
Today Arlesey has grown to a population of almost 6000, and is set to increase with the adoption of a new masterplan for over 1300 houses.