It was in Hertfordshire, at Berkhamsted, that the English surrendered to William the Conqueror in 1066 - a turning point in the story of the kingdom. Ever since, the evolution of Hertfordshire has been influenced by the crown and capital. Proximity to London enabled its characteristic market towns to develop - to supply the inhabitants of the city with produce, and to provide sustenance and lodgings for those travelling to and from the provinces. This of course included the monarch, for as well as the royal residence at Berkhamsted there was a royal staging post at King's Langley. In more recent years, this close relationship has proved both a blessing and a curse. The level of urban development in Hertfordshire has rocketed as commuting has become the norm. However, this in turn led to the construction of the world's first garden city - Letchworth - putting the county at the vanguard of revolutionary social development. Furthermore, its unique position and character have also put it at the centre of popular culture, with Hertfordshire providing the setting for novels by Austen and Orwell, and more recently for blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Harry Potter, at the county's famous Elstree and Leavesden studios.