Area Guide: The popular Hertfordshire village of Sandridge
- Credit: Archant
An attractive village with a rich history, Sandridge has a lot more to offer than the traditional shop and pub (for a start, it has three pubs!). We found out more about this charming community...
Ideally located between St Albans and Wheathampstead, Sandridge also benefits from easy access to Harpenden, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City.
As well as three pubs, The Green Man, The Rose & Crown and The Queen’s Head, Sandridge has a convenience store, Darby’s - The Old Village Store, and a popular café, Heartwood Tea Rooms.
The village hall is a handy community hub, offering a range of classes from pilates to quilting.
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According to Rightmove, the average selling price for a property in Sandridge last year was £460,357, more than £100,000 less than neighbouring St Albans (£571,504) and Wheathampstead (£580,718).
Homes currently on the market in the village include a five-bed detached house set in six acres on Woodcock Hill for £1,800,000 and a one-bed ground floor flat on Wheat Close for £170,000.
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Originally known as “Saundruage” (meaning a place of sandy oil serviced by bond tenants), the earliest recorded mention of Sandridge was in 796 when the parish was part of the revenue of the Mercian kings. It was given by Egfrith, son of Offa, in the first year of his reign to Abbot Eadric, the second abbot of St Albans Abbey, and his monks.
Sandridge was one of the earlier homes of the great English general, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and his infamous wife, Sarah. Quite the scandal surrounded Sarah, who was very close to the monarch at the time, Queen Anne.
Sarah was known to be overly confident with the men in her life, and with the Queen. This eventually led to her over-stepping the mark when her jealously of Anne’s friendship with another woman drove her to insinuate the Queen was a lesbian, ultimately leading to Sarah’s dismissal from the royal circle.
St Leonard’s Church was built in the 1100s. The eastern face of the church features carved shields with the saltire of St Alban and the cross of St George. The figure on the south, with a hood and long gown, holds a pair of beads. There are six bells, one from 1837 and the remaining five from 1887.
Between Sandridge and Wheathampstead is the famous Nomansland Common, named after the 15th century dispute between the Abbeys of Westminster and St Albans.
Coleman Green is a small hamlet on a branch road between St Albans and Wheathampstead. John Bunyan, the writer and baptist, is said to have preached, and occasionally lodged, there.
There are many interesting earthworks in the parish. Namely the Devil’s Dyke, which forms part of the boundary between Sandridge and Wheathampstead, a moat running parallel to it called the Slad, and Beech Bottom, another entrenchment.
Charles Boutell, the archaeologist, was at one time curate of Sandridge. He was secretary of the St Albans Architectural Society, founded in 1845.
In 1939 the first WWII secret Wireless Intercept Station was constructed at the top of Woodcock Hill. It was the first base dedicated to diplomatic interception with radio operators listening to the wireless traffic between Germany, Italy and Japan, among others.
Messages intercepted at Sandridge were sent to Bletchley Park for decryption. The results were vital to Winston Churchill.
Sandridge School is the village primary, situated on Woodcock Hill. A single form entry school, it was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at its last inspection.
Sandridge Rovers FC has three senior teams and a youth section. Formed in 1896, the club was a member of the Mid Herts League for several decades. Then, in 1967 the club was promoted to the Herts County League and by the 1969-70 season the Premier Division, where a team has played ever since.
Home matches take place at the Spencer Recreation Ground, which is shared with Sandridge Cricket Club in the summer months.
In 2008 the Woodland Trust announced plans to create a new forest north of Sandridge; Heartwood’s vast 858 acre site is now the largest new native forest in England.
In 2009, a Guinness World Record attempt was made for the ‘BBC Tree O’clock’ scheme to plant the largest number of new trees in one hour, with three woodland sites making the attempt. Heartwood came second, with 20,326 planted.
The ongoing project hosts tree planting and hedge laying events, among others, and is supported by an excellent blog (heartwoodforest.wordpress.com).