Wednesday, 15 May 2013

River Ver. Verulamium

River Ver
The River Ver flows south-eastwards.

Blacksmiths Lane
It is possible that there was a blacksmith working here up to the 1950s. The road is said to have a ‘planned Victorian layout’ with some listed buildings. The Old Forge is adjacent,

Bluehouse Hill
The extension of the hill from St. Michael’s Church to Batchworth Roundabout dates from the 1960s.
St. Michael’s Lodge.  19th house at the entrance to the Gorhambury Estate.
Foundations of a Roman town house, a secret shrine and a row of Roman shops are associated with the site of the Roman theatre

Branch Road
Branch Road dates from 1826 when an existing lane was rerouted.
Kingsbury Lodge. The Lodge was built as the manager’s house for Kingsbury Brewery in the 19th. The house has high double gables and flint panels set within painted brick walls. The garden wall is also brick and flint plus yew hedging
St Michael’s Memorial Hall. This was designed by Percival Blow in 1925 and is set back from the road. It is in plain, red brick,
3 house from 1831 in brick and flint
Kingsbury Manor. This is the former farm house and it is behind a 17th-18th red brick wall. Kingsbury was a manor here connected to monastic foundation which controlled the fish ponds and maybe a defence structure. The site of the house is outside the Roman walls and the Roman road to Colchester lies underneath it. It is also thought that the site of a Roman bridge over the Ver may lie beneath the front garden. The house looks very different from the front to the back and was thus built in many phases and is probably a rebuilding of previous houses since it postdates the adjacent barn. At the back the original house appears now as an extension but it is a hall house dating from about 1419.  The hall was altered in the 16th making it two stories and later still panelling was inserted. In the 17th a new house was built alongside and in the 18th they were joined together and constant changes and renovation continue.
Kingsbury Barn.  A monastic aisled barn - tithe barn dating from the 1374.  One aisle destroyed. It is built on the site of a Roman building, alongside the Roman Road to Colchester – which was diverted in the middle ages to go round the site. It is one of a number of barns built by St Albans Abbey, under Cellarer/ Abbot John Moote maybe as a way of upgrading the farm after The Black Death. It was part of the Kingsbury Manor farmyard used for processing animal feed for estate farm on the Gorhambury Estate.  After when the Manor was sold in the 1960 it was used by Express Dairies. It was sold to a developer but following local objections it has now been restored.
Barn. This is 18th and weather boarded
Express Dairy. This is the front of an early modern building from the 1930’s converted to housing. This had been Kingsbury Dairy leased bit Express Dairies in the 1950s.  They continued here, became Dairy Crest, but sold the site in 2004.

Camlet Way
The name refers to the Roman road which ran through St. Albans on its route between Colchester and Silchester.
Houses built in the 1970s on a green field site in a mock Georgian style.

Fishpool Street
The street was once the main North West coach route to Chester out of St Albans and follows the high ground on the north bank of the Ver. The western end of the road is part of the Roman street pattern. Its name relates to the nearby medieval fishponds and the road is documented from 1250 part then known as Salipath referring to willow trees.
Fishpool was a great pool which stretched from St. Michaels to Holywell. Aelfric, the seventh abbot, drained it meaning that local livelihoods were lost as well as the fish.
120 This was once the Cock and Flowerpot Inn and is now housing
122 Bank House, wide and square proportioned red brick Georgian frontage. The large plot behind which has recently been used for two new houses
137 a 16th Wealden style house with an 18th front.
142-148 three 17th houses.
145 The Blue Anchor.  Late 18th and one of a number of inns dating from the road as a coaching route
150 17th house with an 18th front
152-158 17th timber framed buildings with traces of jetted fronts
160 17th house with an 18th red brick facade
162 & 164 17th house rebuilt in the 19th in red brick
166 & 168 16th timber framed house. Plastered, with traces of pargetting, 166 has a Tudor arch with decoration.
170 17th house with a 19th front
172 17th house with a 19th rebuilding
174 – 176 19th houses probably by George Smith, with flint walls and red brick dressings.
194 this was the Unicorn Pub and is now housing
196 - 198 Black Lion. Pub in red and blue brick of around 1700. The name refers to the badge of Queen Phillipa who was the consort of Edward III. It is one of a number of inns dating from the road as a coaching route but has now been converted to housing.
St Michael's Manor House. This is a late 17th building which may include an older building which can be traced to 1530 but on medieval foundations, which can be traced back to the 11th. It is said some of the original flooring are still in the cellars... Inside is some 19th plaster decoration and some dated 1586. The house was built by John Gape in 1585, a tanner and prominent city figure. It was owned by his descendants up until it was purchased by the current owners. It has a large garden extending to the park and the river. It was converted into a hotel in the early 1960s by the Newling Ward family.

Gorhambury Drive
The entrance to the Gorhambury Estate and the drive to the house
Roman Theatre. This is the site of one of the few true Roman theatres in Britain. It was built around AD130 and seems to be associated with two temples. It has banked seating for 2000 facing the stage, with a re-erected stage column. An extension was built around AD 180. It was identified in 1847 and excavated in the 1930s. It is on a privately owned site but open to the public

Kingsbury Avenue
Kingsbury.  In Saxon times this was a royal fortified settlement and a potential rival to the new town being built by the abbey. After the pond was drained the area declined and Canute let the Abbey demolish some buildings and the site was finally cleared under Stephen.  Kingsbury remained outside St. Albans’ boundaries until the 19th

Kingsbury Mews
This is housing built on the site of the Express Dairies which was part of Kingsbury Farm. In 2004 Express Dairies they left and the land was sold to Henry Developments who built 16 homes here.

Mount Pleasant
Gonnerston. Built 1963 as a layout of yellow brick houses, on a slope in groups of three or four. They have small enclosed gardens and open courts in front by Herbert, Cox & Gear.

Roman Wall
The ruins of the city wall reach to 12ft, are preserved and listed. This section runs from Bluehouse Hill to Goreham Block in woodland.

St. Michael’s Street
St. Michael’s ford over the river Ver.
St.Michael’s Bridge. 18th red brick bridge of three arches with a stone
parapet and square piers at each end and sloping approach ramps. It was
erected by the Turnpike Trust in 1765
6 plus outbuilding to Kingsbury Mill
8 17th building timber framed and plastered
10 Rose & Crown Pub. Probably 18th building, but could be older. An old coaching inn with timbering and a small garden
11 Oaken House. 17th timber framed house
14 17th timber framed building jettied front removed
Old forge. This is next to 14 and on the corner of Blacksmiths Lane. It is a 17th timber framed built with a furnace and chimney
16 The Six Bells Pub.  This was a coaching inn. It is thought that a 1543 entry in a local Estate refers to the pub. The building is 16th and in 1756 provided two beds for travellers and stabling for nine horses. It was named the Six Bells in the late 18th thought to reflect the bells in the nearby church. An archaeological dig found worked flints left by Mesolithic hunter gatherers in 6,000 - 4,000 B.C and fired clay moulds used in the production of Iron Age Celtic coins. The main find however was the remains of a Roman Bath House burnt down by the followers of Queen Boadicea in A.D. 60/61. The flint and brick public bath house had been built by the Romans near the "Colchester Gate”. Only a small part of the cold room is known but these included fragments of painted plaster including one with a picture of a tortoiseshell lyre and some plaster was stippled to imitate marble.
17 17th building with a weatherboard extension
18 St Germains. House built around 1800 with a jetted front taken from a much earlier building. It lies across the Roman road. The farmland on which some of the local area was built was called St. Germans. There had been a local oratory to St. Germain sited in this area.  Outbuildings include a former staff cottage. In the garden is a well of which nothing is visible but is believed to be Roman.
Outbuilding to no 18, an 18th building with weather boarded front and barge boards.
19 - 21 timber framed 17th building
29 17th house. Detached brick outbuilding known as The Old Bake House
37 outbuilding at Darrowfield House
St. Germain's Barn. 18th building with 20th weatherboarding over timber frame on a brick plinth. Inside is a threshing floor. It stood in the foldyard of St Germain's Farm
Jessamine Cottage. 19th house built on a church plan and similar to that on school nearby with flint walls
Darrowfield House. This was the Dower House of Gorhambury. It is in an 18th Queen Anne style in chequered brick - red and blue diapered patterned brickwork. It is sometimes known as "New House“.  The gates are in an Italian style.  The railings includes a GR post box and there are two deciduous trees on the frontage
Grebe House. Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. This is a timber framed building salvaged from Watford and relocated here in the 20th;
Roman Museum. This has a 1930s frontage which echoes the local flint walling and it has panels of knapped flint. It was extended in the 1990s in a neo Roman style and tree is also a visitors’ building of 2004 faced in white concrete embedded with crushed and whole shells, which protects and interprets Roman hypocaust and mosaic
The Waffle House. Kingsbury Mill now a restaurant, Mill buildings – this is a watermill known as the Malt Mill or St Michaels Mill and now Kingsbury Mill; it was once part of Kingsbury Farm. It is a brick and timber-framed building with an 18th front of three white weather boarded gables of different sizes. The origins of the buildings, which were on the Gorehambury Estate, are thought to be 16th. There was previously a malt mill belonging to St. Albans Abbey with origins which may go back to Domesday, since it is recorded in 1194. It is a two-storey mill, with bin floor in the loft. There is an internal undershot iron waterwheel, 12-foot diameter by 6 feet wide, iron pit wheel and wallower, and wooden great spur wheel. There are three pairs of stones. The machinery includes a bean kibbler and an oat crusher. Milling ceased in 1936. It is said there is a museum of farm machinery and a gift shop on site.
St Michael’s Church of England Primary School. 19th single storey school with flint walls.  It was founded in 1811 by the 2nd Earl of Verulam to provide an education for local poor children. It became a Church School in 1876 and, following the 1944 Education Act, became Voluntary Aided. The school has two sites in St Michael’s Street, Top School and Lower School.
St Michael’s Court, a set of narrow cottages set in an L shape away from the road, originally very small cottages for the working class.
St Michaels Vicarage. Thus was replaced in the late 1920s to a design by Percival Blow, in a vernacular style
St.Michael. The church was founded in the mid 10th by Wulfsin, the then abbot of St Albans one of three built on the approaches to the new town built away from the Roman site. It is in flint and Roman brick taken from the Roman ruins. This points to this being an early building - although the walls thick for an Anglo-Saxon church. It has been said it was built on the site of the Roman forum. The nave and chancel are 11th; the aisles 12th; chapel and clerestory are 13th when there was some rebuilding because of structural problems and there was once a 13th tower. In the 15th there were anchorites associated with the church and a squint may have been for them. The church was restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1866 and in the 1890s and much was removed including the box pews, 3 with their own fireplaces. Scott. It was remodelled again to designs by Edward Beckett, Lord Grimthorpe, a barrister and amateur architect, with a new vestry and a new tower built a new tower, embattled with a turret, a clock, and six bells   . It was restored again in 1934-5 by J C Rogers, and a vestry added in 1938. Inside it is plastered and painted and there is part a Doom painting showing the newly awakened dead rising from their coffins but mostly destroyed during the 19th restoration. There is a 15th door with original wrought iron strap work hinges and a, heavily carved late Elizabethan or early Jacobean hexagonal pulpit, with tester, book board and hourglass. There is a 17th altar with matching chairs and the Royal arms of 1660. There are several brasses, and a monument to Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor, d.1626, as a seated figure possibly sculpted by Nichols Stone. There was at one time a Museum here with Roman relics - jewellery, pottery, and a Mithraic token, household implements. There are traditional wooden church gates and Cedar trees in the church yard
Workhouse. In 1820, St Michaels had a parish workhouse opposite the east end of the church

Verulamium Park
(This square relates only to the northern section of the park)
The park covers about half of the area of the Roman town. In the middle ages chapels were sited here and the much of the area became St Germain’s farm. The land was bought by the City Council from the Earl of Verulam in 1929 for use as a park.
Toddlers Splash Park. This is on the site of the old paddling pool and has been built over the original pool to protect the buried roman remains. It opened in 2005.
The Inn on the Park
Lake. There are two lakes which were built in the early 1930s. They both have concrete edging and are no more than 1m deep. On the larger lake semi-aquatic vegetation is limited to the northern end. The lakes are fed by the River Ver through a sluice which does not let water to pass if the river is low.
River Ver. The Ver is canalised alongside the lakes which leads to a low flow level.
Boating Lake. Used for model boats
Site of St. Mary Magdalene Chapel.
Bell Meadow. This area was acquired by the City Council in 1934. It may once have been connected to the Six Bells Pub.

Verulam Road
Kingsbury Brewery. Three storey brewery buildings built around a large central yard in brick and knapped flint. It had been opened here around 1827 by Francis Searancke and had previously been in Fishpool Street.  It closed in 1898 when it was owned by Bingham and Cox, had 52 pubs and was sold to Benskins and brewing moved to Watford

Sources
Archaeology and History. Web site
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Go Historic. Web site
London Transport. Country Walks.
Pevsner and Cherry. Hertfordshire
Roman Theatre. Web site.
Six Bells web site
Society of St, Michaels and Kingsbury, Web site
St.Albans City Council. Web site
St.Albans History. Web site
St.Albans Museums. Web site
St.Michael’s Manor. Web site
St Michaels Primary School. Web site
Waffle House. Web site

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