Exploring the memorials hidden on St Albans’ streets

The war memorial on the High Street

The war memorial on the High Street - Credit: Archant

A new edition of the book The Street Memorials of St Albans Abbey Parish has recently been published, commemorating those residents who perished during the First World War.

There are memorials on buildings across the parish, many of which go unnoticed by daily passers-by, and part of the book’s aim is to bring them back into public awareness.

The new edition is edited by Ann Dean, a member of the City of St Albans Tour Guides and achivist at St Michael’s Church, and John Cox, publicity officer for St Albans and Hertfordshire Architechtural and Archaeological Society.

The original book was written by Alice Goodman in 1987, and has been out of print for a long time.

Ann spoked to Alice before her death in 2000 about producing a new edition of the book.

Of the 110 men from the parish who died in the Great War there is information available for about 75; with very brief information for a further 30, but for four men no information whatsoever has been found.

So many of the men who joined up from the streets of the St Albans Abbey parish during the First World War were in work locally and using their spare time for the betterment of the community in which they lived.

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The majority appear to between the ages of 20 and 30. For instance, Walter Bell, whose family lived in Days Yard (no longer visible), just north of the White Hart.

He had been to the Abbey School and was an active member of the 3rd St Albans Boy Scouts. Before joining up he had worked at County Hall in St Peter’s Street which was part of the complex which included the much-loved local theatre “County Theatre” which existing behind the present Marks & Spencer store.

Jack Hillier, aged 25 from Queen Street played for St. Albans City Football Club and was a founder member of the Ver Tennis Club.

Before enlisting he was an apprentice, working for local dentist Dr Pearce and learning about the making of the delicate tools used in dentistry.

Another pupil of the Abbey School he worshipped at the Abbey. When he joined up he entered the Army Veterinary Corps which was based locally for a while before seeing service in France and in the Middle East. Unfortunately he contracted malaria and died from pneumonia in October 1918 and was buried in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.

Archibald and Percival Corley both died on the same day in different actions, one in Belgium and the other in France on September 25 1915.

Both men were from Albert Street in a family that had 11 children. Archie, the younger brother, had worked for boot manufacturers Lees, before enlisting while Archie was employed at Hill End Hospital.

These are just four of the men from one small area of St Albans who gave their lives during the First World War.

Now the memorials that their names are recorded upon have been listed as Grade II monuments by the Department of Culture Media and Sports on behalf of Historic England (formerly English Heritage).

Copies of the new book are on sale in the Cathedral, Tourist Information Office, Waterstones and in the SAHAAS Library in the Town Hall, priced £9.