Area Guide: The St Stephen’s area of St Albans
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
St Stephen’s is adjacent to the southern boundary of St Albans, sitting between the bottom of the town centre, Chiswell Green and the St Julian’s area of the city.
St Stephen’s is a mostly residential area, centred on Watling Street’s historic St Stephen’s church.
Founded in 948AD, St Stephen’s is a picturesque place of worship with a lively community, including hall hire. It operates in partnership with the more modern St Julian’s Church on the Cottonmill estate.
Homes currently for sale in this part of St Albans include a four-bed detached house on Watford Road for £940,000 and a three-bed end terrace on Vicarage Close for £500,000.
Close to main routes north and south by car, St Stephen’s is within easy reach of the A1(M), M25 and M1.
Speedy train services from St Albans City station can get you into the centre of London in around 20 minutes while the nearby Abbey Flier runs to and from Watford Junction.
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Primary schools in the St Stephen’s area include Mandeville, Prae Wood, Killigrew and St Adrian’s Catholic primary, all of which were rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at their last inspections.
The Malborough Science Academy is a ‘good’ secondary school in Watling Street, which has an active community spirit, strong leadership and an exciting annual music festival.
For families looking to go private, St Columba’s College is an independent Catholic day school for boys aged 4-18, located on King Harry Lane.
There is a local grocery shop, hairdressers, launderette and dog grooming parlour on Vesta Avenue. St Stephen’s is also close to the Abbey View Retail Park, Griffiths Way, which has a Matalan, Halfords and Pets at Home, among other amenities. A large Sainsbury’s store is just across the road, while there’s a branch of Waitrose off King Harry Lane.
Food and drink
The row of shops in Vesta Avenue includes a handful of popular fast food outlets – a chicken shop, Chinese takeaway and a fish and chip bar. There is also a McDonald’s in Griffiths Way, while Sainsbury’s and DIY store Bunnings both have cafes.
The King Harry, aptly positioned in King Harry Lane, is a gastropub with a beer garden and snug, which offers everything from laidback lunches to hearty Sunday roasts.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks – arguably England’s oldest pub – is on Abbey Mill Lane, on the edge of Verulamium Park. The winner of the ‘best pub’ award at 2017’s St Albans Food and Drink Festival, it doesn’t serve fast food, instead offering “quality food as fast as possible”. Locals agree that it’s worth the wait!
Sport and leisure
There is a park with lovely trees and a play area off Wilshire Avenue, which extends to the back of St Stephen’s Church, while the space between St Stephen’s Avenue and King Harry Lane also has a playground.
It’s only a short walk to the city’s main park, Verulamium, which is situated next to the picturesque Abbey cathedral. The park has a play area, lake, cafe and museum, as well as tennis courts, a splash park for young ones and an outdoor gym.
Equally close by is Westminster Lodge, off Holywell Hill, with its swimming pools, fitness classes, climbing wall and soft play.