Area Guide: The family-friendly Bernards Heath area of St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Bernards Heath is a mostly residential area immediately north of St Albans city centre. We found out more about this popular part of town.
Head north out of St Albans via St Peter's Street and you'll reach Sandridge Road, Bernards Heath's main drag.
Clusters of terraced and semi-detached Victorian properties make up the bulk of the housing stock between Sandpit Lane and the Heath and, heading further north, the houses get bigger and more modern, with some huge homes dotted along Sandridge Road.
Properties currently on the market in the Bernards Heath area include a three-bed semi on Marshall Avenue for £400,000, a four-bed terraced house on Sandridge Road for £650,000 and a six-bed detached house on Marshalswick Lane for £1,650,000.
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There's a Londis convenience store - also known as the Hovis shop - on Sandridge Road, while the parade of shops on Beech Road offers a wider range of options, including a Tesco Express, a barbers and a pharmacy, with a Shell petrol station next door.
Food and drink
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Sandridge Road is bookended by two pubs, The Jolly Sailor and the King William IV.
The Ancient Briton - part of the Harvester chain - is on the corner of Beech Road and Harpenden Road. All three offer food.
The Little Coffee Shop on Sandridge Road currently opens from 9am-1pm on Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Devdas, at the start of St Peter's Street, is a well-loved Indian restaurant, while Beech Road has a fish and chip shop, Master Fryer, as well as a Pizza Hut and a Chinese, Gourmet Kitchen.
The town centre is just a five minute walk for residents living at the St Peter's Street end of Bernards Heath, while Marshalswick's busy Quadrant shopping centre is a convenient alternative for those living further from town.
Leisure and sport
The Heath has a children's playground with play equipment and a basketball hoop, as well as an open field and wooded area, both of which are popular with dog-walkers.
The Sandridge Road allotments are also well-utilised by locals, and can be accessed via Marshall Avenue.
The Friends of Bernards Heath is a local community group that works towards maintaining the heath for everyone's enjoyment. The Pioneer Club on Heathlands Drive is home to the oldest indoor skate park in the UK. It also has a live music venue, and both are available for hire.
The M25, M1 and A1(M) are easily accessible by car, and the City station is under 15 minutes away on foot from the Sandpit Lane side of Bernards Heath. The Abbey station, offering a service to Watford, is a little further.
The Heath is rich with history. It was a site of the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, and was originally gifted to the Abbey in 793 by King Offa of Mercia.
The Heath was once the site of clay pits, and bricks were made there for nearly 500 years, until the early 20th century.
Beech Bottom Dyke, on Beech Road, is also of historical significance, having been constructed during the Iron Age as a territorial boundary.
Until at least 1752, the Heath was the site for public executions in St Albans. It was also the home of Hertfordshire County cricket ground for a time in the 19th century.
A less celebrated claim to fame is that the St Albans sinkhole is located immediately north of the Heath, on Fontmell Close.
Residents are spoilt for choice where schools are concerned. Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School was rated 'good' by Ofsted at its last inspection, while the nearby junior school was ranked 'outstanding'. These three-form entry schools have an intake of 90 pupils per year. Nearby alternative primary schools include Maple ('outstanding'), Alban City and Garden Fields (both 'good').
Secondary options include St Albans Girls' School (STAGS) and Sandringham (both 'outstanding'), plus Verulam boys' school and Townsend Church of England School (both 'good').
Heathlands, a special school for deaf children, is on Heathlands Drive ('outstanding').