Area Guide: Childwickbury
- Credit: Archant
A colourful driveway leads to the immaculate hamlet of Childwick Green and the estate of Childwickbury. This was - and still is - a private estate situated about three miles to the north of St Albans.
Property examples available currently in the area include Childwick Green Cottages (to let) for £381 p/w (a period 2 bedroom cottage with original features and a private garden) and Foxwood Lodge, the former Horse & Jockey pub, named for the nearby horse races that used to run behind the house where the golf course is now situated (to buy at £1m). Both available through Savills.
Childwick means ‘The dwellings by the well’ and the Manor of Childwick was the 14th part of a Knights fee given to St Albans Abbey, assigned to provide bread and ale for the monastery. From the 13th Century through the 19th Century it was owned at different times by a bailiff of St Albans, a St Albans MP, the Mayor of the city and the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire. The latter two owners were members of the Toulmin family, who provided and funded a school in the late 1850s and in 1866/67 built the church of St Mary’s on Childwick Green. Author Mary Carbery, was also born at the house.
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In 1883 the Manor was bought by John Blundell Maple of ‘Maples Fine Furnishing’. He donated Clarence Park and The Sisters Hospital to the citizens of St Albans and is interred in the family vault in St Mary’s churchyard.
Around 1895 the old domestic houses on Childwick Green were pulled down, replaced and extended. Estate houses appeared at Shafford, Beesonend Lane, Ayres End Lane and Maple Cottages adjacent to Harpenden Common.
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The Manor’s imposing entrance lodge with its Scottish baronial style turret and wrought iron gates was built in 1897. As was ‘Childwick Green House’ the Jacobean style house on the main entrance drive.
In 1906 Jack B Joel, a diamond and gold merchant, purchased the estate. His son Harry ‘Jim’ Joel inherited the estate after his death. In July 1978 the estate of 1100 acres was bought in its entirety by a property company who re-sold it in lots at an auction held in City Hall, St Albans. Cheapside Farm was bought by the Luton Hoo Estate and nearly all the estate houses went into private hands.
The Manor was purchased by film director Stanley Kubrick. ‘The Shining’ was finished at the Manor and ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ were started and completed there, the latter starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Kubrick lived there until his death in 1999. His widow, Christiane Kubrick, still lives in the manor house.
Very little has changed since the stud’s beginnings in 1888, and the great charm and character is still captured in its historic traditional buildings. John Blundell Maple indulged himself in what became the grand passion of his life - breeding and racing horses - and built up Childwick Stud Farm into the largest horse breeding establishment in Britain.
In the 1890s, Childwickbury Stud was described by Racing Illustrated as ‘one of the most complete and beautifully arranged of its kind’. In 1967 leading owner Jim Joel saw his Derby win with ‘Royal Palace’. He was a popular face at the races and both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II visited on occasion. In 1993 the Marquesa de Moratella purchased the estate. She had many notable winners including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner ‘The Fellow’, the Prix Morny winner ‘Chargé d’Affaires’ and in 2011 ‘Tin Horse’. He, and his dam ‘Joyeuse Entrée’, were bred at Childwickbury Stud.
In 2011 Mr & Mrs Flatt bought the stud, and since then it has undergone an extensive refurbishment programme.
Elizabeth Harris developed wonderful fresh, zesty goats cheese on the Childwickbury Estate some 20 years ago and has been making it to great acclaim ever since (despite passing the reigns on now that she is retired). The goats are a mixture of Alpine, Saanen and Toggenburg goats, described as the cheese makers as charming and naughty. The end product is a delicate, fresh, smooth cheese, flavoured with a touch of lemon as well as delicate floral notes.
Childwickbury Arts Fair
In 2003 the Childwickbury Estate first opened its gates to a new art event for St Albans. It has since grown into a hugely popular 3-day fair for both visitors and participants. It consists of marquees housing over 60 artists, live music, fresh and healthy food, a licensed bar, education and activities for everyone. All artists and craftspeople demonstrate their skills on site. The relaxed attitude of the fair creates the perfect environment for visitors to approach artists and ask them questions about how they work (or to indeed purchase original pieces of art).
Exhibits include glass workers, illustrators, jewellers, painters, potters, woodworkers, printmakers and sculptors showcasing their works. There are painting classes in oil and watercolour on offer at Childwickbury with Christiane Kubrick, Katharina Kubrick and Camilla Clutterbuck. Held in a Victorian stable block the tuition is in colour mixing, composition, technique and personal style.
St Mary’s Church, Childwick Green
St Mary’s Church, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, was built in 1867 by Henry Joseph Toulmin who also built the adjoining schoolroom, where he and his wife Emily held a night school for their tenants - many of them elderly, teaching them how to read and write. In 1881 when the eighth of their fourteen children was born, the Toulmins decided they could no longer afford to live at Childwickbury and moved to the Pre in St Albans. The Faith, Hope and Charity windows in the Chancel are in memory of the family.
The schoolroom was re-opened for evacuees during WWII. The Maunday money was given to Edwin May, a chorister and church warden of St Mary’s, by the Queen when she distributed the Royal Maunday in St Albans Abbey in 1957.