Area Guide: The Childwickbury estate explored

Childwickbury.

Childwickbury. - Credit: Archant

Accessed via a grand gatehouse on Harpenden Road, the Childwickbury estate is a prime slice of idyllic Hertfordshire countryside with some Hollywood connections thrown in.

Described by local historian, Christine Aitken, as "an immaculate hamlet", Childwickbury is certainly easy on the eye.

A couple of the estate's characterful cottages

A couple of the estate's characterful cottages - Credit: Archant

The estate lies between Harpenden and St Albans and is best-known for its connection to film director Stanley Kubrick.

The American movie maker lived at 18-bed Childwickbury Manor with his wife, Christiane, from 1978 until his death in 1999. 

It was in the kitchen at Childwickbury that Kubrick convinced Steven Spielberg to collaborate with him on AI. He also finished directing The Shining there, while Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut were completed there in their entirety, the latter starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Childwickbury Manor

Childwickbury Manor - Credit: Archant


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Kubrick died in his sleep at Childwickbury and was buried in the grounds of the estate, beneath his favourite tree. 

Artist Christiane Kubrick remains at Childwickbury, where she runs painting classes. 

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History

Once known as "the dwellings by the well", the estate has a long and complex history that is still researched and studied today.

It's hard to believe that the bustle of St Albans and Harpenden is so close

It's hard to believe that the bustle of St Albans and Harpenden is so close - Credit: Archant

From the 13th to 19th century, Childwickbury Manor was owned by a St Albans bailiff, an 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 1867 built the church of St Mary's on Childwick Green.

John Blundell Maple of Maples Fine Furnishing, London, bought the manor in 1883. 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.

The first sight of Childwickbury from Harpenden Road

The first sight of Childwickbury from Harpenden Road - Credit: Archant

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.

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church on Childwick Green was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and commissioned by Henry Joseph Toulmin in 1867. The church is adjoined by a schoolroom, where Henry and his wife taught reading and writing to the tenants of the estate.

In 1881, when the eighth of their 14 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 and their dedicated work throughout the community.

Property

It's rare that Childwickbury homes come on the market, but when they do they're pretty special. Take Ladygrove: the six-bed, three-bath former gamekeeper's cottage to the estate changed hands for £4,750,000 in 2020, making it one of the most expensive homes to sell in Hertfordshire last year. It comes complete with equestrian facilities and a separate two-storey building housing a garage, gym and art studio. 

At the more modest end of the market (relatively speaking) a two-bed Childwick Green terrace is currently for sale with a guide price of £775,000. 

Schools

Nearby primary schools include Margaret Wix and Garden Fields (both rated 'good' by Ofsted), while secondary options include Townsend ('good') and St Albans Girls' School ('outstanding').

Events

The Childwickbury Arts Fair takes place every year in July. Picture: Archant

The Childwickbury Arts Fair takes place every year in July. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The estate opens its doors to visitors for two popular annual events, Childwickbury Arts Fair in July and Childwickbury Christmas Market in November (pandemics permitting).

Both events offer the opportunity to eat, drink and shop in a unique environment, within and around the old stable block. The Arts Fair was founded by Chirstiane Kubrick in 2003, and has grown considerably since then. The Christmas Market began in 2008.

The stable block is also home to monthly oils and watercolour classes, which are currently on hold due to COVID. They are taught by Christiane Kubrick, her daughter, Katharina, and Camilla Clutterbuck.

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden...

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches) - Credit: Archant


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