River Ver. St Albans
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 Conventual Buildings
Abbey Mill Lane
The 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 been the 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 now flats.
Abbey Mill Lodge House. At the mill entrance, Gothic
1-23 19th cottages
8 19th cottage set into the slope between the two arms of the lane
9 World War I street war memorial on the wall
10-14 Lake 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 infill housing.
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 site.
Bardwell Court. 20th local authority housing scheme,
Torrington House, 19th red brick mansion. Behind a high brick wall.
Flats. These were built in the 1960s in the grounds of Torrington House
1-17 The Sycamores. This is a 20th housing scheme
Albany Gate. This is 20th housing.
Swimming pool. 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 benefactor
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 scheme
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 Doggett
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.
23-25 White Hart Inn. 15th range of timber framed buildings. On the ground floor is a neo-classical reproduction shop front.
27 Comfort 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 bulb
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.
36 corner 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
37 Crispin 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
40 House 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 fireplaces
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.
52-54 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.
68 Malvern House. 19th building with a balcony, and porch.
70 Ivy House. 18th house in red brick
76-106, Duke of Marlborough Pub
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 developed 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.
4 White Hart Tap. One-bar, back-street local. The pub was twinned with the Bar No l in Belgrade. This originally was built at the end of the property belonging to the White Hart Inn as its back entrance. It was a beer house.
The Beehive. Small 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
St Columba 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 been extended
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.
Leisure Centre. 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 planting
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 activities.
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 Orchard
2-34 19th 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
Primitive 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
Malthouse Court. Development by Meacher & Partners, 1966-7. It re-places a brewery malt house
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.
Churchyard. 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 line
4 Lodge. Single storey lodge house and arched gatehouse. Now a veterinary hospital and clinic.
Milepost between 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’.
‘Sumpter’ 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
Old 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 receptions
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.
Printers Court. 20th block of flats,
8-13 Trevelyan 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 neighbours.
8 Watling Cottage. Arts and Crafts details by Kinnear Tarte.
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 Lodge
This replaced St Stephen’s Hill House in the 1960s
British History On Line. St.Albans. Web site.
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Chelsea Speleological Society. News letter
English Heritage. Web site
Graces Guide. Web site
Legear. Underground Kent
Lidos in the United Kingdom. Web site
London Transport Country Walks,
Megalithic Portal. Web site
Meluenkamp and Wheatley. Follies
My Primitive Methodists, Web site
National Archives. Web site
Parks and Gardens. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. Hertfordshire
River Ver. Mills. Web site.
Salbani. Web site
Sopwell Residents Association. Web site
St Albans City Council. Web site
St.Albans History. Web site
St.Albans Nostalgia. Web site
St Albans Sub Aqua Club. We site.
St. Peter’s School. Web site
Walk-Talk. Web site
Well wishing in St. Albans. Web site
Whitelaw. Hidden Hertfordshire