Area Guide: The popular Marshalswick area of St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Excellent schools and sought-after streets are just two of the things residents love about the Marshalswick area of St Albans.
Between Sandridge, Jersey Farm, Fleetville and Bernards Heath, Marshalswick is one of St Albans’ most popular residential areas. The Quadrant shopping centre is home to several stores, including a hairdresser, a newsagent, several takeaways and a public library.
Local resident, Ann, raves about the amenities on offer, with highlights including “good access to local shops, supermarkets, the pet shop, the best cobblers in St Albans, dry cleaners you can park outside, B Healthy and a new vet with the promise of M&S.
“It is close to the city centre which is 15 minutes away by bike or there is a bus service which runs regularly that passes the station.”
Churches include St Mary’s Church of England, Homewood Road United Reformed Church and Marshalswick Baptist Free Church.
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Wick House and 53 The Park – arguably the most famous homes in St Albans – are both in Marshalswick, located on two of the most sought-after roads in town, Marshal’s Drive and (obviously!) The Park. They, along with Faircross Way and Homewood Road, are considered by many to be the most sought-after streets in St Albans due to their access the Thameslink train line, the city centre and respected schools. These wide roads are known as ‘learner land’ on account of their popularity with local driving schools.
There’s much more to Marshalswick than just these four streets of course - properties currently available for sale elsewhere in the area include a two-bed flat on Malvern Close for £275,000 and a five-bed detached house on Nimrod Close for £1.15m.
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The celebrated local state schools are the area’s main draw. Sandringham School, which currently holds a rating of ‘outstanding’ from Ofsted, and Verulam School (‘good’) are two of the most popular secordaries in St Albans.
As for primary schools, there is St John Fisher Roman Catholic Primary school, regarded by Ofsted as ‘good’, and Skywood Primary and Nursery School, deemed ‘outstanding’, Wheatfields Infants’ and Nursery School (‘outstanding’) and Wheatfields Junior School (‘good’).
Marshalswick dates back to the 13th century. Its name comes from by John and William Marschal, who owned the land between 1271 and 1377, and ‘wick’, which is old English for ‘hamlet’, ‘town’ or ‘village’. The surrounding land and woodlands marks the original site of the house, Marshalswick Mansion. In 1796 Samuel Martin bought Marshalswick and it was later purchased by Charles Bouchier of Tyttenhanger - he later altered the mansion’s name to Sandridge Lodge. By 1888 the estate was said to be about 809 acres. The sale of the estate raised £22,000 and it led to the development of 127 acres of private houses. The mansion was eventually pulled down in 1927, the two lodges are now known as 1 Marshal’s Drive and 191 Marshalswick Lane.
The Marshalswick Murder
In 1888, Marshalswick farmer Edward Anstee was murdered. He was shot in the head and the case is well known for the Herts Advertiser’s vivid description of the crime scene. A notice was issued about a suspect, 5’ 1” high, aged 47, reddish complexion, light brown hair turning grey, a moustache and a speech impediment. The police arrested Henry Wheeler and his son George; Henry’s younger brother, Thomas, walked into the Pineapple and, after a few drinks, boasted about the murder, he was later arrested and brought to St Albans.
Thomas Wheeler was tried and found guilty at the Essex Assizes in Chelmsford. He was hanged on 29th November at the St Albans City Prison in Grimston Road.
Popular with dog walkers is the 3.4 hectare local nature reserve, The Wick. It was transferred by Sir Arthur Copson Peak in 1929, in the hope to keep area in its natural state. It consists of ancient woodland and semi-natural woodland; the main trees are oak and hornbeam; there is also a seasonal pond and historic field boundaries of bank and ditch.
According to Ann, Marshalswick’s best kept secret is Bentsley Spinney, a small area of woodland off The Ridgeway that many St Albans residents aren’t aware of.
Proximity to nearby Sandridge and Jersey Farm Woodland Park are further highlights, Ann says: “If you feel like it you can take the 15 minutes over the field to Sandridge and the Rose & Crown and the new tea shop, Heartwood Tea Rooms - but if you don’t, the walk on the common itself with the walk to the lake and swings - for familes - is delightful.
“It really makes you realise how near the countryside we are when you can pick sloe berries or blackberries and watch the wonderful selection of birds.
“There is also a bike/walk path that runs at the back of The Ridgeway which is great for young families.”