The Ver flows south eastwards
Post to the east St.Albans
Abbey Mill End
The road dates
from the 1960s when detached houses were built with gardens sloping down to the
north bank of the river. The road is accessed from Abbey Mill Lane is south of
the Abbey Orchard.
2 Thatched house and Little Thatch
Site of the Abbey
Abbey Mill Lane
leads down to the river and there are some 19th houses.
Fighting Cocks. Cock fighting used to take
place in the bar there and it is said that the site is still in evidence. There are claims that it is the oldest inhabited
licensed building and it is also claimed that
the foundations incorporate part of the
Palace of Offa, King of the Mercians and dating from around 793, It is said it was
‘built before the Flood’ and been on its
present site since at least 1600. What you can
see now dates from 1890. It could originally have
Abbey dovecote, built on the foundations of a gate house and perhaps moved from a different site after the
dissolution. It may have been used as the
Abbey fishing lodge, since it is near the river and in the 19th was
called The Fisherman for a while. . It is also said that there are secret
tunnels underneath going to the Abbey. It became an inn at the dissolution and
called The Round House. It is an octagonal, timber-framed
house on a brick base and an original bread-oven is next to one of the fireplaces.
Abbey Mill. Excavation has shown that an oven and a barn preceded
the mill here and Evidence of a barn granary, adjacent mill and fishponds and a
grain processing oven, dating 1300-1450 were found. At first it was used to
grind grain, but by 1381 it had been converted into a silk mill. The current
building is 18th and is in brick. A City of London based
entrepreneur. Charles Woolams had built much of the mill in the later 18th
as a silk mill which opened for work in 1802.
It was owned and managed by successive family members and other mills
opened Hertfordshire. The business was sold in 1906 but continued under other
ownership until 1938.
York House and
Salisbury House are the two surviving Mill buildings, and thought to be 18th
but could be later. They are big three storey building in red brick, both are
Abbey Mill Lodge
House. At the mill entrance, Gothic
cottage set into the slope between the two arms of the lane
9 World War I
street war memorial on the wall
Cottage. This lies between two roads. It is a red brick cottage with blue brick
patterning, dating from 1818.
25 early 19th
house, with a painted ashlar façade
Abbey Mill House.
Dates from c.1830 with a stuccoed front
Abbey Orchard Entrance.
The Abbey Orchard, is the site of the cloisters and other monastic buildings,
and is crossed by well used footpaths. There
is a current project to plant fruit trees here. A tree is thought to have been planted 'half way down Abbey Orchard':
in memory of Elsie Toms, who was a mayor of St Albans and wrote ‘The
Story of St Albans’ in 1962.
The road was built
in the late 19th in a linear form roughly following the original
burgage plots and subsequent inn yards. Houses are 19th and gaps between
them reflect the sites of old inn yards. There was a bakery here connected with
Sopwell Mill in the 1920s
61 Garibaldi Pub. Back-street local, acquired by Fuller's in the
1980s. It is named after the Italian patriot of the 19th.
Pearce’s Walk. 20th
Ryder Seed Mews.
This 20th housing development is in an old inn yard area which was later a
Postal Sorting Office land. For a while it had been part of the Ryder’s Seeds
20th local authority housing scheme,
19th red brick mansion. Behind a high brick wall.
Flats. These were
built in the 1960s in the grounds of Torrington House
Sycamores. This is a 20th housing scheme
Albany Gate. This is 20th housing.
This was built in the 1930s together with a rifle range which were both part of
the sports area of St. Albans School. Now the site of Albany Gate
Belmont Works. This
was on the site of what is now Albany Gate and was used by the British
Cardboard Box Machine Co. The firm has not traded since 1989.
A 4-storey office on the site of the former Mercers factory which was what
was then Eyewood Road.
This was once called Green Lane but the name
changed when a mill was built making cotton candle wicks.
St Peters School. The original schools were
in Old London Road and have been converted into residential accommodation. It
was then two schools, catering for children over and under seven and opened in
1851. Eventually in 1931 they became together St. Peter's Primary School and
some older children went elsewhere. After the Second World War it became a
County Primary School and moved to another building. They moved again to the
present site in 1975
City of St. Albans. Cottonmill swimming pool.
This baths was built in 1905 by George Ford with Mr Bushell, a builder. It
closed to the public in the 1970s and taken over by a sub-aqua/canoe club. It
is not open to the public. The Sub Aqua club plans to restore the building to
its original condition
Cottonmill. The Cottonmill itself is said to
have been sited alongside the current allotments and swimming pool. It was
there from the late 18th to the late 19th century and Used for diamonds,
cotton, candlewicks, wool and grain. It is also thought that thus could be the
site of the 12th Stankfield Mill.
There is also a suggestion that in the late 18th there was a “Water
House” here which provided piped-water to the town
De Tany Court
Richard de Tany was a local medieval
The former formal
gardens of Holywell House were taken over as school playing fields. The playing
fields were finally developed in the 1980’s as housing. This is a courtyard
Remains of the
“Holy Well” are in a small enclosed green space among the houses. Each of the four sides has a small staircase leading
down to a central recess where there is a square well housing. There were all
sorts of stories about a spring connected with the martyrdom of St. Albans and was
often mentioned in historical documents from the 13th onwards. It is said that Sopwell Priory nearby had
some connections to it. In the 17th it became a feature in the
garden of Holywell House when Lady Spencer arranged for a cover. Later the land
was acquired by the St Albans School for Boys as a playing field and it was
concreted and turfed over. In 1984 there were plans to build a hotel over the
site and local residents set out to find the well. A row with planners ensued. Eventually
housing was built and the well preserved as a feature. Nothing was found there earlier than the 19th.
An early mayor of St. Albans was a John
This road marked
the line of Eywood Lane an ancient lane along the line of the borough boundary.
It became a street in the early 20th and has now been obliterated.
Thomas Mercer Ltd - Mercer Gauges were in Eywood Road which was on this site. They were
established in 1854. Thomas Mercer came from Liverpool and was a chronometer
maker in Clerkenwell. He set up a factory here in 1874 and died in 1900. The
company closed in 1984
Abbey View. Trading estate on the gas works site. This includes contrasting brick details. A
corner clock tower and a statue of a Roman centurion. The blocks are Abbot
House and Brutus on the frontage and Claudius at the rear.
The St Alban's Gas and Water Company was
formed in 1852 based on an existing private concern which had been operating since
1824. In 1870 the water and gas undertakings separated and the gas undertaking
incorporated as the St Albans Gas Company. In 1930 it amalgamated with the
Watford Gas and Coke Company. Construction works was undertaken in this works
in 1864 –
which is likely to mean that the works was moved here at that date and that
there had been an earlier ‘gas house’ nearer the city centre.. Four gas holders were in use by 1903. The works closed
in 1971 and the buildings were blown up in 1975. Two holders remain on site.
A crescent off Holywell Hill. It was built
as a bypass
round Holywell House but became redundant when the house was demolished.
Abbey Church of England Primary School. In 1848 the Abbey Parish
opened a National School which expanded and the school was in Spicer
Street. The Abbey School remained there
becoming a primary school in 1933. It moved to Grove Road in 1970 and is now a
Church of England voluntary-aided primary school.
Old Bridle Lodge.
This may be the one remaining house which was not cleared when the Duke of
Marlborough diverted the road away from Holywell House and cleared the houses.
Built in the late
19th in a linear form roughly following the original burgage plots
and subsequent inn yards. Named after the White Hart Inn
The road runs straight down to the river Ver
from the top of the town. It is predominantly, but not entirely, 18th
and 19th but many of the 18th fronts conceal earlier structures.
White Hart Inn. 15th range of timber
framed buildings. On the ground floor is a neo-classical reproduction shop
Hotel. Now in Ryder House which was Ryder’s seed business office block. In the 1890s, Samuel
Ryder started to sell cheap packets of seeds through the post. He kept his
stock in the garden shed of his house assisted by his wife and daughter and
packets would be posted each Friday so that customers would receive them for
their time off on Saturday afternoons. Eventually they opened a large packaging
workshop on Holywell Hill, employing around 100 staff. He established a
separate herb business, Heath and Heather, with his brother James in 1922.
Ryder is famous for having founded the Ryder Cup, golfing trophy.
27A Café Rouge in the conservatory and seed
hall built around 1930 by Percival C. Blow for Messrs’ Ryder and Sons, seed and
merchants. It is in rendered brick, with a reinforced concrete and steel frame
with a patent glazed roof and a small central dome. There are classical details
and art deco type windows. It was built for Samuel Ryder the seed merchant, to
display the firm’s merchandise. It is said this was the site of the Bull Inn which was there in the
16th and said ‘to be the finest in England ‘which at the time of the dissolution was the property
of the Charnel Brotherhood
32A 18th built in red and blue brick and
19th shop front on ground floor
34 building of around 1700. There is a Royal
Insurance Company plaque on the first floor. There is a modern shop front on
the ground floor.
of Sumpter Yard 18th building
Abbey Court. A
three storey block of flats with a brick and pebble dash front. In the middle ages and later this site was
used by a string of inns. The 'Mermaide'
may have been here in in 1497 and next to it the Angel. In 1861 this may have
been the site of a cottage hospital which became St. Albans and Mid-Herts Hospital and
Dispensary. The building was then let to the
Church School Co Ltd and it became the first building of the St Albans High
School for Girls. It later became Russell House School
House, also known as The Old Hospice. This is also 2 Sopwell Lane. It was the
Crown and Anchor Inn, probably built as an early guest-house for pilgrims
visiting the shrine of St Alban. It was clearly the grandest inn in the street.
It is a long galleried partly jettied, with exposed timber frame. It has its
carriage entrance doors. The southern
range once had an open gallery which provided access to the first floor rooms.
It seems at one time to have been called the Crane later the Chequers and more
recently the Crown & Anchor. It is now housing
38 18th building
39 15th timber framed building, refaced with
plaster. There is a ground floor carriageway
built in 1785 Robert Taylor for Sir William Domville, later Lord Mayor of
London. It is a big four-square brick house. There are wrought iron lamp
holders. Inside are marble Adam
41 Holywell Lodge. Diocesan Resource Centre.
It has a 19th front on an older house. There was once a Malthouse
behind it which was owned by the St.Albans Brewery
42 this 17th building was once
the "The Trumpet"
44 & 46 originally this was a 17th
house with a modern shop front
47 Torrington House. 19th red brick house
48 this was once the Post Boy Inn.
this is now one house built around 1600
with a front of about 1820. There is a carriageway. Inside is panelling from
1700, Thick, oak plank floors and exposed beams. In one room is a plaster
ceiling with Caesar Augustus head. There is a timber framed rear extension. On
the wall is a 1914-18 war memorial tablet
56 19th front on a building of around 1600.
58 range of buildings one of which is 16th
with a timber frame and on the other side a 17th section. It has three 19th
shop fronts. It has been said that this building
has the characteristic form of a 15th century Medieval Guildhall.
61-67, 71-75, 77
Waterworks Buildings. A new waterworks was established and its frontage office
building which dates from 1911 has now been converted to a nursery school. Behind,
to the east, are two Edwardian red brick blocks which are still in water
company use. The water company dates from the 1860s with a site in the northern
part of the City. Holywell Pumping Station.
Malvern House. 19th building with a balcony, and porch.
70 Ivy House. 18th house in red brick
76-106, Duke of
Holywell House, The manor house was
originally called Hallywell and
was recorded in 1571. It passed through the Jennings family and Sarah Jennings
was born here in 1660. Sarah eventually bought the house and she stayed here with
her husband, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough this was a large mansion
belonging to the Spencer family and built before 1634. It stood across the
current line of the Hill next to the river and Grove Road represented a bypass
round it. The Duke undertook extensive
works to the grounds, with buildings and waterworks as well as greenhouses, orchards
and so on. His successor was the Earl of Pembroke whose interest in cock
fighting resulted in a path the Fighting Cocks. The last family resident was Georgiana,
Dowager Countess Spencer, who lived there rom 1783, She had the gardens
redesigned by Samuel Lapidge. It was demolished in 1837 when the road took its present route. A blue plaque marks where
the house is believed to have stood.
Playing field. Holywell
Meadows had been part of the grounds of Holywell House home of Lady Georgiana
Spencer, who died in 1812 the house was demolished in 1836. In 1852 it was
bought at auction by George Debenham and by 1883, the meadows had been reduced
by developments to the north and west. In 1886 Charles Woollam bought the
remainder and it was given to the Grammar School as a playing field. These were
in the 1980’s as a residential development called De Tany Court
Keyfield was north of Sopwell Lane and on
the south side of the boundary line at Tonman Ditch. It was here that the Duke
of Warwick's forces camped before the First battle of St. Albans. After the dissolution traffic which
wanted to access the town and its inns would go along this route and into the
back of inn yards rather than up the steep main road.
Hart Tap. One-bar, back-street local. The pub was twinned with the Bar No l in
originally was built at the end of the property belonging to the White Hart Inn
as its back entrance. It was a beer house.
scale 19th pub with front bays and mock half timbering. At right
angles to the road where it kinks at the medieval borough boundary.
King Harry Lane
College. This Catholic boys' school opened
in 1939, and was taken over by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, New England
Province, in 1955. It is now under lay management and there are sister schools
in Zambia and close associations with Brothers’ schools in North America
Invergeldie. This is now called Iona House and is part of
the main buildings at St Columba College.
Lady Spencer Grove
This is an avenue of horse chestnuts and limes between Abbey Mill Lane and
Holywell Hill and was Lady Spencer's
favourite route through from the Spencer home in Holywell Hill to Verulamium
and the Abbey. Lady Spencer undertook extensive tree planting and this walk is
one of the few identified remains of her work.
This was built in
the 1980s and encroached into St Stephens Hill open space. It is a development
of two storey houses in yellow brick arranged in pairs and blocks of four. It
is named for the Mercer Chronometer Co whose factory was close by.
This was once called Fullers Lane and land to the north was
used as tentergrounds for bleached drying cloth. It has since been called
Harley Street. Iron Age remains and those of Roman buildings have been
discovered here. There was also a medieval settlement. The area was used as
farmland up to the 20th and some farm field boundaries are still
visible between the College and the golf course. In the 20th land
was used for allotments and huts sited here were possibly for POW transit
during the Second World War.
Mud Lane Pumping
Station. Supplies drinking water from the chalk aquifer.
Abbey Theatre. The Company of Ten drama
group, set up in 1934, opened a theatre in 1955 in a barn at Abbey Mill. In
1968, the Abbey Theatre, designed by local architects Michael Meacher and
Partners, was built. Michael Redgrave laid the foundation stone and the theatre
was opened by the Queen Mother. It is in a dark red/brown brick and has since
Westminster Lodge water meadows. At the far
end of the hedge round the running track, is a circle of North American trees round an English oak. These trees were
planted to commemorate 75 years since the founding of Rotary International
in Chicago in 1905.
Before 1973 a Council swimming pool and leisure centre had been constructed in
a contemporary concrete and steel design, the service area disguised by zig-zag
sections of wall and panels of hit and miss painted timber fencing and tree
St Albans Sea Cadets. In Second World War huts plus a utilitarian
modern single storey building are currently used by air, army and sea cadets.
Westminster Lodge running track. The track
opened in 1988 and the home straight was resurfaced in August 2001.
Westminster Lodge Sports Centre. This is now
a replacement facility which opened in 2012.
Abbey View Golf Course. Nine hole course
with a club oriented towards retired people and which has other social
Old London Road
Following the dissolution traffic heading
for the town and its inns could not easily use Sopwell
Lane and so used this road. It was also a route by which he steepest part of
Holywell Hill could be avoided,
Orchard House Lane
At 64 Holywell
hill – this is an unmade road which gave access to Orchard House
Orchard House. A
19th house altered and extended.
Pickwick House. This is now divided into
two. It is 15th with much subsequent alterations. It is stucco,
scored as ashlar, with some timber-framing.
The name relates to the adjacent Abbey
cottages said to have been built for silk mill workers
Built in the late
19th in a linear form roughly following the original burgage plots
and subsequent inn yards. And named after the great pageant that took place in
St Albans in 1907. There is said to be a folly arch in one of the gardens
This short road dates
from 1937. The name Pondwicks refers to the ponds which were here following
canalisation of the Ver. “Pond Wicks” is shown here on a 1634 map. In the 20th
the area was divided into plots and a variety of house designs used for
individual owners. They are generally in the Arts and Crafts style and
architects included locals like Percival Blow
The road parallel
with the river and marked the southern boundary of the late medieval town. It had long
burgage plots running back to the ditch on the east side. Traffic reaching the
town and its inns Initially access to the inns in the medieval period came in via
the lane but after the Dissolution the Abbey’s lands here were in private hand
and this ceased,
104 The Hare and
Hounds. 17th or earlier timber framed and stucco building
Methodist Chapel. There were Primitive Methodists
in St Albans in 1841 and lack of a meeting place was a problem and it was decided
to open a chapel in 1844. They used it until 1875 and then moved out. The
building was used as a mission hall for the Baptist church and an extension
added by Percival Blow in the 20th. In 1934, it was purchased by the
St Albans City Band and they moved out in 200. .The building was sold in 2007
and is mow housing
Court. Development by Meacher & Partners, 1966-7. It re-places a brewery malt
37 Goat Inn.
A pub built on the old coaching route from London. It is a 16th timber framed building with an
overhanging upper storey. It had its old carriage arch with exposed timbers in
the walls. Many extensions and alterations since the 16th. When it
was built it was a medieval H shaped hall house with an open hall set between
wings. It was an inn by 1587
81 The White Lion pub. This is said to have
been built in 1594. It is a timber framed building with a weather boarded back.
Exposed beams inside.
Tonman’s Ditch –
part of medieval boundary of St. Albans - here followed a footpath called Green
Lane, a few yards of which survive behind this road.
St Stephen's Hill
The King Harry. 19th pub first recorded in the mid
16th which is a local landmark.
St Stephen's. This small church was founded by Wulfsin,
Abbot of St Albans and probably built in the 11th or early 12th
in flint rubble and Roman brick and consecrated around 1101-18. It is built on
the site of a Roman cemetery and is one of three churches originally built by
Abbot Ursinus in 948 at the gateways to the town. Thus it stands on Watling
Street south of the town. It has had extensions built in the successive
centuries including a wooden belfry with a peal of six bells. This is now
weatherboard and supported on steel arches since 1913. It was restored in 1861
by George Gilbert Scott who added the broach spire and again in the 20th. Parish rooms were added in 1989-91. The brass
eagle lectern is a copy of one found, buried in a tomb in 1750. It is thought
to have been stolen from Holyrood in 1544 and been buried during the Civil War.
There is an octagonal font dated 1350,
carved with the figures of angels between shields and saints on it.
A Roman milestone.
St Stephen’s Hill. Open Space previously been vicarage gardens, many
specimen trees within the space
Vicarage. 19th house
St. Albans Abbey
Station. This is the terminus of the
London Overground Line to Euston via Watford Junction. . The first railway came to
the town in 1858, a branch line from the London and North Western Railway at
Watford, terminating at St Albans Abbey Station at the foot of Holywell Hill. In
1865 another branch line, from the Great Northern Railway main line at
Hatfield, was also brought to terminate at the station. Thus is the earliest railway station in St Albans. It
was called St. Albans Abbey from 1924. Until
the mid 20th
this was a fully functioning station with two rail tracks, a ticket office,
sidings, coal yard, cattle pens and a goods depot. The Hatfield line closed to
passengers in 1951 and goods services were withdrawn from the end of 1968. In 1963 the station had been proposed as a Beeching
cut but this was not implemented. However tracks were ripped up, services cut, and buildings
demolished; only a single platform and track remains, and some gate piers at
entrance, the most minimal presence of a railway station. The remains of the branch to
Hatfield can be seen to the left of the single platform when looking down the
4 Lodge. Single
storey lodge house and arched gatehouse. Now a veterinary hospital and clinic.
10 and 12. This dates from about 1820. It is in triangular in cast iron d painted. It is inscribed ‘HATFIELD 6’,’WATFORD
7, READING 44’ and ‘ST ALBANS 1’.
means provisions and this was the main delivery area for the Abbey from the
main road. In 1987 it ceased to be a public highway and was landscaped
Rectory. An 18th, red brick house
Deanery, designed by Grimthorpe in 1878 as a rectory. A grand two storey brick building,
with an arched entrance which faces onto the Abbey Orchard
Barn is one of two
buildings used as offices,
Deanery garden – trees and lawns used for
Cedar tree planted by Sarah, Duchess of
Marlborough in 1803. Its shape was caused by vandalism when the tree was young.
This is the northern
part of a deep ditch, part of the defence work for the late Iron Age and Roman
settlement, which runs from King Harry Lane northwards
The road connects
Sopwell Lane with Belmont Hill.
20th block of flats,
House. This was previously Westminster Lodge and used by the YHA as national
offices, it is now flats. It is a red brick building with decorated chimneys
and a central roof turret. Westminster Lodge was built by an Isaac Newton, one
of a prominent local family, in the mid 19th; including stables and
a coach house but was bankrupt and moved away in 1888. In 1940 the London
printing firm of J Evershed & Co which h had been bombed out of their works
at Bow, and acquired the house for their head offices and stayed there until 1955.
It was then taken over by the Youth Hostel Association, who renamed it in
memory of their founder President, Dr George Trevelyan. Since they moved out
private housing has been built around and the house itself is also housing.
In 1961 the
Council bought an area of farmland east of the Roman town adjoining the south
bank of the river from Lord Verulam to protect it from residential development
pressure. It became a public park and various leisure developments followed
towards the southern boundary.
Lake. A main feature of the park is the ornamental lake
which was built in 1929 as a project to help the unemployed of St Albans during
the depression. The lake is fed by the river Ver.
Heron Island. Island built in the lake and
is a designated home for herons.
The line of Roman Watling Street continues
in a straight line from here across parkland to pick the road up again at St., Michaels
Lodge. Late in
the 10th Abbot Ulsinus blocked Watling Street at St Stephens’s
travellers to enter the town and the Abbey. To bypass the town it was necessary
to go down St Stephens Hill to the valley bottom and then up Holywell Hill and
in a loop round the Abbey to rejoin the Roman road at St Michael’s. This continued
as a route for pilgrims throughout the medieval period
2 St Stephen’s
House. An 18th red brick house set at an angle away from its
8 Watling Cottage.
Arts and Crafts details by Kinnear
Coach house. This
is on the corner and is a single storey red brick building now housing
Built in the grounds of what was Westminster
This replaced St
Stephen’s Hill House in the 1960s
History On Line. St.Albans. Web site.
Listed Buildings. Web site
Speleological Society. News letter
Heritage. Web site
Guide. Web site
in the United Kingdom. Web site
Transport Country Walks,
Portal. Web site
and Wheatley. Follies
Primitive Methodists, Web site
Archives. Web site
and Gardens. Web site
and Cherry. Hertfordshire
Ver. Mills. Web site.
Residents Association. Web site
Albans City Council. Web site
History. Web site
Nostalgia. Web site
Albans Sub Aqua Club. We site.
Peter’s School. Web site
wishing in St. Albans. Web site
Whitelaw. Hidden Hertfordshire