For an interesting and nostalgic walk through olde worlde St. Albans, seek out Fishpool Street. If you are in the town centre head for the Clock Tower and turn right down the High St. Follow the road to the left of the Tudor Tavern which becomes George St. and then Romeland Hill and you will see the Cathedral on your left. Continue down past the school and you will find yourself in Fishpool St. which gets it's name from a large fishpond located nearby in mediaeval times. It is a residential area that is a real treat, a mix of old and older properties, stepped entrances, wrought iron door knockers & boot scrapers, old gas lamps, cobbled pathways and ivy clad walls. Follow the winding road for more gems. Soon you will pass the Lower Red Lion, a 17th Century Coaching Inn and one of the best real ale pubs in St Albans. Another feature you will notice is the high pavements, ideal for alighting horse drawn carriages but not for the cars of today.
Further on you will see St Michael's Manor, an old manor house which is now a luxury hotel, and at the bottom, there are two pubs, the Blue Anchor and the Black Lion Inn. But don't stop there, follow the road a little further round to the left and over the bridge and you will find two lovely old pubs, the Rose & Crown and the Six Bells in St Michael's Village.
Fishpool St. also features in my travelogue of A Sunday morning walk through St Albans
This duke (1391-1447) wanted to be buried as close as possible near the remains of st. Alban so he donated a large amount of money to the abbey and got his wish. That is, he's buried almost next to the shrine. Though nobody knows whether the shrine does contain the remains. Since there are legends about the shrine being a decoy.
Anyway, this gentleman wanted to be buried here and he is there alright. His remains were (still) there when this tomb was renovated in 2000
During roman times, Verulamium was one of the most important places after London. The estimation is that a the moment the Verulamium museum has excavated around 5 % of all the roman remains that are left under the Verulamium park and surroundings. Since the current politics is to keep it all underground, there is no funding and even very hefty fines if the museum as much as opens the ground to verify a plan. So they know that there are several mosaics that were discovered in the 30's of last century but they have no means to check whether they're still there and in what condition. And they even know that there is a mosaic underneath the tennis court in the park!
This schematics of a villa where also drawn in the 1930's. One floor (in the right hand corner) is on display in the middle of the park (the Hypercaust).. They think the whole villa had 37 rooms. So it was quite extensive and obviously belonged to someone important. But in the archeology of that time it was done a bit different. The excavations were documented and well done for their time, but the plan was drawn assuming that some walls were there because they found parts a bit further and assumed there would be walls in between and drew these without verifying whether they were really there. And now there is no chance of doing so.
I’ve been to St Albans quite a few times but didn’t know that the Sopwell Nunnery existed until I saw it mentioned in the pages of another VT member (Willettsworld ). So last time I went I searched it out and found a real treat. It is set far enough away from the road to feel secluded yet is also quite easy to find. If you get there at the right time, and are lucky enough to be the only one around, it has a rather mystical quality to it as it appears out of the early morning mist like some magical ancient ruin. The fact that the local authorities keep the land around it naturally overgrown helps with the effect that you have stumbled across some previously undiscovered site.
The original Nunnery dates back to 1140 and was built by Geoffrey de Gorham the abbot of St. Albans. In the 1500’s it became part of Sir Richard Lee’s Tudor mansion but the Nunnery seems to be the only surviving building. There is enough of it left to get an idea of the size and layout and as you wander through the archways of the ruins it is easy to imagine you are going from one room to another or walking out into the courtyard.
It is a walk of around 15 minutes from the town centre but definitely worth the trip. Located off Cottonmill Lane, it is close to the end of Prospect Road which links Cottonmill Lane with the bottom of Holywell Hill near the Abbey Station and the entrance to the park. There is also a public footpath that runs beside the river that takes you there from the Verulamium Park.
This romantic ruin is all that remains of the Tudor mansion built around 1560 by Sir Richard Lee, a soldier and royal engineer, granted the land by Henry VIII in 1540. Lee's first house was built on top of the medieval nunnery, which itself dated back to 1140. It had been founded by the then abbot of St. Albans, Geoffrey de Gorham.
The new mansion followed the monastic plan, using the church for the hall and the cloisters became the courtyard. He even had the then London Road diverted away from the house. At the end of his life, it seems that he started a radical remodeling of the house to make it more fashionable and to add formal gardens.
Directions: SE of the cathedral off Cottonmill Lane near St Albans Abbey station.
I was very lucky that due to the fact there was a new building put in place over the hypercaust whiich needed a new power cable, that there was a very small trench that the archeologist was allowed to excavate. And i had even more luck, he had some time to tell me a lot about the tranch, what they had already found in the past and more. Like the possible road and a corner of a house that just needed 20 centimeters of trench more to make sure it really was a corner. 20 centimeters he wasn't allowed to dig up. I offered to ' accidentally' stand to close to the edge of the trench. But he admitted that he had actually already done so once and that it would be difficult to explain a second time..
The place where he thought there might be an old roman road was much yellower in colour then the surounding earth. It was also of different composition and if you looked closely you could see 2 places where there was a small impression. Like a place where many cart wheels had used the road. It all sounded very plausable and it was fantastic to have this all explained so well.
The Roman Theatre of Verulamium is across a busy road from the museum and signposted from there. Little more than a small hollow now, but is still impressive enough and gives a real sense of how these theatres would once have looked. Further excavation is underway nearby, revealing a house and several workshops.
The main section of the Roman wall in Verulam Park is enclosed by a fence, but if you walk directly up hill from the Hypocaust (worth a visit in itself, if you ignore the brutally ugly building which shelters it), you will come to a wood. Enter the end of the wood and follow the path. As the land around you falls away, you will realise you are walking on the top of the old wall.
After 200 metres or so, you will com upon the remains of a corner tower. Follow the wall round the corner, you are now on the exposed section of wall alongside the path into the park. Like a Roman soldier you can look down on the peasants below. You can walk right along to the ruined gateway, inside the fence. When you get to the end you will need to backtrack about 100metres to get out again.
This is an interesting little church. The design is outside is modern and inside very tastefully furnished. Unlike many of the churches in St. Albans, this one was built as recently as the 1960s. At the time there was an expected development of housing in the area. The local clergy thought that a new parish would be needed for worship. So in September 1962 they commenced building and completed it for Easter 1964. According to their website, the Roman Catholic Church here has approximately 700 regular worshipers.
The address of the church is :47 Vesta Avenue, St Albans, AL1 2PE
This is actually my favourite building in St. Albans. Located very close to the train station, it is a reflective glass building of offices. I got very excited as a child when I saw this building as I thought it looked like something out of the TV show Dallas, albeit a bit smaller ;) (Little things please little minds!).
It is a functioning office building, so you are not officially meant to go inside unless you have an appointment at one of the firms based here. Anyway, it looks a lot better on the outside than the inside.
Address : 25 Grosvenor Road, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 3AW