Area Guide: The pretty village of Colney Heath
- Credit: Archant
The village of Colney Heath lies between St Albans and Hatfield, just off the A414.
St Peter’s Rural Parish was split in 1947, making Colney Heath a civil parish in its own right, a charming counterpart to its larger neighbour London Colney.
Semi-rural Colney Heath is part of the St Albans District. The North Orbital Road (A414) and Colney Heath mark the southern boundary of St Albans and Hatfield aerodrome marks the northern limit.
Properties in the area are distinct and diverse, ranging from pretty period cottages to more modern new-builds. The village mostly contains substantial semi-detached properties with spacious leafy gardens. According to Rightmove, the average selling price for a property in Colney Heath was £457,679 during 2016; prices were up 15 per cent on 2015 and 22 per cent on 2014.
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Colney Heath lies south of the A414 and the M25 is easily accessible, with an interchange less than two miles away. Bus routes connect Colney Heath to St Albans, and St Albans City and Hatfield stations offer direct rail services to London.
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Colney Heath JMI School is located on the High Street, in the heart of the village. The latest Ofsted report praised the school with a ‘good’ rating and recognised its impressive ability to serve the community well.
Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School is one of the closest secondary schools, located across the A414 on Colney Heath Lane. The co-ed school opened its doors in 1963 and is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted. Nicholas Breakspear shares its sixth form provision with John Henry Newman Catholic School in Stevenage, providing students with a broader education experience.
Other nearby secondary options include Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School (‘outstanding’) and Onslow St Audrey’s School (‘requires improvement’) in Hatfield.
Sports and leisure
The recreation ground, situated behind the primary school, is home to Colney Heath Football Club. Founded in 1907, the ‘Magpies’ play in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Premier Division.
Green fingered locals can rent allotment plots in Gloucester Park, just off Hill End Lane, Highfield, from the parish council.
Shopping, eating out and other amenities
Featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for over 20 years, The Crooked Billet on High Street is one of Herts’ oldest free houses.
The Chalkdrawers Arms, situated to the east of the village on Roestock Lane, is a reminder that chalk was once extracted locally.
Other village amenities include a newsagent, a post office, a hairdresser and The Rice, a popular takeaway, offering Bangladeshi, Indian and vegetarian food.
To the west end of the High Street is St Mark’s Church, which describes itself as “an all age family on a journey of learning to learn from Jesus”.
Landmarks and history
Colney Heath was once a busy trade route into London. The three coal posts - two on the Common and one in Coursers Lane - are historically significant. They are among some 36 coal posts in south Hertfordshire which mark London’s ancient customs boundary and thus the limit of Metropolitan Police authority. Coal tax was introduced in the 17th century to help pay for the cost of rebuilding London after the Great Fire in 1666. Duties on coal were levied until 1897.
The Mill House, situated on Coursers Road, is an impressive Grade II listed historic building. It was originally a smock corn mill in the 1850s and was converted for residential use in the early 2000s. A 60 acre Hertfordshire Heritage site can be found bordering the River Colne. Once owned by the Abbot of St Albans Abbey, until the dissolution of the monasteries, it is the last remnant of the old manorial lands of Tyttenhanger. Sir Thomas Pope acquired the land in 1547, sustaining local people with Common rights to graze. During the mid-18th and 19th centuries, the Heath became the haunt of highwaymen and was renowned for prize fighting, cock fighting and card gamblers. Over the years, the area diminished due to land enclosure and losses, such as the Mill in 1862, to make way for residential development.
The Parish Council have adopted an active management strategy, involving zoned mowing, to maintain the biodiversity of the site. Today, there is open public access to the Common. Visitors can enjoy a good network of footpaths; the Alban Way and Smallford Trail are particular local favourites.
The village is twinned with Boissy sous Saint Yon in France since 1982. Colney Heath Parish Council chose Boissy because it was the same size as Colney Heath and the same distance from Paris as Colney Heath is from London. The Town Twinning Association hosts many social events in the Village Hall. On the outskirts of the village, on the way to St Albans, are two new roads, St Yon Court and Boissy Close, named after Colney Heath’s French twins.