Graham Greene, one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers was born in Berkhamsted in 1904 and lived here until 1922 when he went up to Balliol College, Oxford. Charles Greene, Graham’s father, taught at the Boy’s school for many years before being appointed Headmaster in 1910.
Berkhamsted and its pubs feature in a number of Greene’s early novels including ’The Ministry of Fear’ which has been described as a phantasmagorical study in terror. It is set in the torn landscape of the blitz and the author, through the character of Arthur Rowe, makes repeated references to memories of the dances held in the barn behind the inn: " …this time he was in the main street of a small country town where he had sometimes, when a boy stayed with an elder sister of his mothers. He was standing outside the inn yard of the King’s Arms, and up the yard he could see the lit windows of the barn in which dances were held on Saturday nights.". In August 1974 Graham and his brother, Sir Hugh Carlton Greene, came back to the King’s Hall - once the inn's stables, to give a talk about their childhood in the town.
Berkhamsted’s mediæval High Street is part of the Roman Akeman Street linking Verulamium (St. Albans) with Akemancester (Bath). As such, it was a major staging post for travelers westwards towards Windsor, as well as to the north and south. The eighteenth century King’s Arms became the principal inn of the town with a capacity to stable up to forty horses. Ostler turned highway man James Snooks worked at the inn. He is believed to be the last person to be hanged in England at the scene of his crime. He held up the post boy along Westbrook Hay and escaped to London, where he was apprehended, tried and sent back to Berkhamsted for execution. Snooks’s memorial stone can still be seen in a field on Boxmoor Trust land.
In December 2010 The King’s Arms was finally unveiled after an extensive £1.2m refurbishment which has transformed it into an elegant and stylish Restaurant, Bar and Rooms. As this is the King’s Arms, one would naturally expect the splendid arms displayed on the pub to be those of a King. In this case perhaps the exiled King Louis XVIII of France who was a frequent visitor and fond of the landlord’s daughter, Polly Page. Instead, the arms on the sign are those of Queen Anne.