Area Guide: The historic St Michael's area of St Albans
Herts Ad Property team
- Credit: Archant
With its quaint period cottages and lush green spaces, picture perfect St Michael's village is arguably the prettiest residential area in St Albans.
Just a short stroll from the historic Clock Tower and Abbey, the walk to Verulamium Park via Fishpool Street is packed with pretty properties, a handful of pubs and plenty of history, which make this upmarket enclave a great place to explore.
Chocolate-box character doesn’t come cheap, and there are few property bargains to be had in St Michael’s. Homes currently on the market in the area include a three-bed Grade II* listed terraced house on Fishpool Street for £1,150,000 and and a two-bed Victorian cottage on Branch Road for £535,000.
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One of the three churches founded by the Abbot of St Albans Abbey was St Michael’s, parts of which are believed to date back to the 10th century. Built on the Law Courts of the Roman City of Verulamium, it contains many interesting features, including the monument to Sir Francis Bacon, who had asked to be buried in this historic church.
Verulamium Museum is the perfect place to learn more about St Albans’ history, with its recreated Roman rooms, collections of coins and large-scale mosaics.
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There were once 11 inns and public houses on Fishpool Street alone, as well as several factories which assembled straw hats, the parts of which were plaited by local women.
Verulamium Park is made up of over 100 acres of land and contains some of the remains of the third largest city in Roman Britain, including large parts of the historic city wall.
As well as the educational attraction of the park, visitors may also choose to visit the nearby Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre or the adiZone outdoor gym. For those with young families, the splash park and recently revamped play area may also appeal.
St Michael’s C of E is a small primary school with a proud Christian ethos. Spread between two sites on St Michael’s Street, the school recently increased its Reception intake to 30 children. It was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.
Secondary schools serving local children include Marlborough ('good') St Albans Girls' School ('outstanding') and Verulam, a boys' school taking girls in the sixth form ('good').
St Albans School and St Columba's are local independent alternatives.
Food and drink
St Michael’s Manor Hotel on Fishpool Street is one of the most highly regarded places to eat or stay in St Albans. The four-star hotel is set in five acres of grounds, and comes complete with 30 bedrooms and its own lake.
The original house is more than 500 years old, and was first converted into a hotel in the 1960s. The Lake Restaurant is open to non-residents, and offers breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner in its grand indoor setting, or outside on the terrace, in the garden or by the lake.
An abundance of eating and drinking options can be found in the winding streets of St Michael’s, all of which fit in with the intimate feel of the village.
The Six Bells is a proudly dog-friendly pub on St Michael's Street. Dating back to the 15th century, it offers a fine selection of ales (plus pub grub five days a week), best enjoyed beside the fire or in the beer garden.
The Lower Red Lion is a 17th century pub and B&B on Fishpool Street, with seven rooms available for overnight stays and a menu of hearty homemade food on offer daily.
The Waffle House is a more recent addition to the village, dating back to 1978, though its Kingsbury Watermill home originates from the 16th century. The menu consists of a variety of sweet and savoury dishes, and long queues are a regular sight on weekend lunchtimes when a ‘first come, first served’ policy applies.
Verulamium is also home to the Inn on the Park café which provides light meals and snacks in a family friendly environment.