Area Guide: London Colney, one of Britain’s biggest villages
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Tucked neatly between the M25 and the A414 is the village of London Colney. We found out more about it.
Best known as the home to Willows Activity Farm and Colney Fields Shopping Park, London Colney also has a traditional village centre with a mix of pubs, shops and schools.
With a population of nearly 10,000, it is one of Britain’s biggest villages. It’s also rich in history: its High Street was once a main route to London and the Romans captured Alban in the London Colney area.
Landmarks and history
London Colney first appeared on a map of Hertfordshire in 1645. The village grew as the High Street became one of the main routes into London and an abundance of inns were set up to accommodate the incoming coachmen and their horses. The village itself was the area that the Romans captured Alban, before taking him to Verulamium for execution.
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The Chantry Chapel in the grounds of the Pastoral Centre is of particular interest in the village. Legend has it that it was actually the site of the home of St Alban before his execution (now named in his honour). The whole site is recorded in the Domesday Book.
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The area has a variety of property types, ranging from smaller cottages and converted stable houses to new-builds and manor house apartments. Some of the oldest and most attractive properties in the village are located in the picturesque Waterside area, overlooking the River Colne.
According to Rightmove, most of the sales in London Colney over the past year were terraced properties which on average sold for £430,620, while the overall average was £420,013.
Homes currently on the market in London Colney include a four-bed detached house in the gated Azalea Close development for £950,000 and a two-bed apartment on Eskdale for £210,000.
London Colney has three state primary schools: St Bernadette Catholic Primary, Bowmansgreen Primary and London Colney Primary & Nursery School were all rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at their last inspections.
The closest secondary schools to London Colney are both in nearby St Albans: Samuel Ryder Academy and Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School were both rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.
Sports and leisure
The village has proved a popular spot for professional football training. Arsenal FC have a training ground on Bell Lane, with 10 full-size pitches, an indoor facility and a medical centre. Watford FC also train in Arsenal’s old ground, just down the road. Cotlandswick Leisure Centre offers a 42-station gym, indoor soft play centre, tennis courts and Astroturf football pitches.
For keen gardeners, there are two sets of Parish allotments. One is accessed from Richardson Close (Glebe allotments) and the other is close to the playing fields in Shenley Lane.
Road links are excellent, with the M25 and the A414 both a couple of minutes away. There are also several bus routes connecting London Colney to St Albans town centre and station. From St Albans, there is a direct train to London St Pancras which takes around 20 minutes.
There are a number of independent food establishments in the area, including Carmelo’s, a family-run café restaurant with an array of breakfasts, brunches and bruschettas.
There are also four pubs in the village - The Colney Fox, a country bar with a rustic feel, The Bull, which offers home-made lunches and a lovely beer garden and The White Horse, which describes itself as “London Colney’s premier music venue”. Then there’s The Green Dragon on picturesque Waterside, described by one Trip Advisor user as home to the “best roast dinner in St Albans”. It also hosts monthly live entertainment.
Shopping and culture
Colney Fields retail park, located at Junction 22 of the M25, boasts a range of popular high street shops and supermarkets to browse, including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Next, Boots, Monsoon, Sportsdirect.com and New Look.
A high street with local amenities, such as a hairdressers, a small supermarket, cafes and a doctor’s surgery serves the village. Other independent shops are dotted around the locality, including a dog groomer, a tackle shop and an Indian bookshop.
Good for kids
Willows Activity Farm is a fun day out for the whole family, featuring plenty of friendly farm animals. An adventure soft play centre, inflatables and funfair rides are also included in the price. Special events throughout the year include a Pumpkin Festival in late October, a ‘Santa Spectacular’ during the festive season and an Easter Eggstavaganza in the spring, featuring Easter egg hunts, pig racing and farmyard fun with chicks and bunnies.
The de Havilland Aircraft Museum is the oldest aviation museum in the UK, opened to the public on 15 May 1959, and makes for a fascinating place to visit. It is mainly a “working museum”, with volunteers actively restoring de Havilland Aircraft.
The museum’s namesake is Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Company, which created such iconic aircraft as the de Havilland Mosquito – “The Wooden Wonder”, the Comet – the world’s first jet airliner, the Tiger Moth – the “backbone “of the RAF’s training aircraft in WWII and the Airspeed Horsa Glider – used extensively by our airborne troops in 1944 during D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing.