5 St Albans suburbs that look exceptional in the winter
PUBLISHED: 11:32 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:32 05 February 2016
Â© steve collins photography
House hunting in winter isn’t always fun. It’s colder, wetter and darker, and properties might look a little less appealing under a gloomy sky, with their gardens severely lacking any colour. But that’s not the case when looking around these areas that come alive in the winter...
Last week, the Telegraph singled out Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire as one of 10 places to live rurally in the winter. This sounds a bit weird - if you’re going to have a home just for the winter, surely you’d pick a ski lodge in Aspen. Or, more likely, a tiki hut in Bali. What the article was getting at however was the idea that winter is a pretty dingy time to house hunt, so they’ve selected 10 towns that come alive in the darkest season of the year and boast a chocolate box feel. Even when Christmas has come and gone, they are still wintry wonderlands. A lot of this is based on how they look after a nice dump of snow. Glistening snow on the roof of the local Oddbins makes it look more idyllic than usual to me. But you have to give the Telegraph moxie for trying to put a nice spin on looking for somewhere to live in the bleak midwinter. The author of the piece covers an array of regions across the UK so as not to seem biased. But St Albans alone is surrounded by pretty hamlets and villages that are just as magical in the snow as anywhere the Telegraph might write about. There’s something very quaint about an English village in the snow, so I’ve picked my personal favourite local five:
Tyttenhanger is incredibly beautiful all year round, thanks greatly to the fact that it is enveloped by the land of the Tyttenhanger Estate, Tyttenhanger Park and the sweeping Highfield Park. While a brilliant green in the spring, frost-tipped grass lines the area, home also to the impressive Tyttenhanger House. Separating the manor house and Tyttenhanger Green is Willow Lake, stunning when frozen to ice.
It’s not too much of a shock that Shenley looks great under a blanket of snow, given that it sits on a spur of the Chilterns, and is positioned as high as the cross on top of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Prime position, therefore, for a good dusting of the snow we rarely get in this part of the UK. Contributing greatly to the picturesque feel of this village are the various hints of old Shenley, still there today: the old village lock-up called The Cage stands by the pond, the pond itself and Pound Lane and Pound House which are reminders of the old Pound near the Black Lion where straying animals were kept. Many of the old cottages and houses are still intact also.
Sandridge village is three miles from central St Albans on what was the Roman road from the city to Royston. Part of its charm is due to the fact that it is still very rural in its surroundings; and its hoped it will manage to retain its farmlands, woods, lanes and footpaths for many years to come. It was quite an established village at the time of the Domesday Book and, according to historians, there is evidence that some kind of settlement existed as far back as 54 B.C. In Saxon times it was known as Sandruage, so called due to the sandy soil; the ‘age’ part of the name was a nod to the bond tenants.
A spin off part of Sandridge, this is a stunning area of woodland that looks beautiful during any season. In spring it is awash with bluebells, over the summer it’s thick with greenery, in the autumn-time it boasts a rush of rusty colour in its trees and in the winter its bare branches sparkle with frost. The woodland adds to the attractiveness of Sandridge, to which the forest joins.
When snow touched down in St Albans a couple of weeks ago, so many of our readers sent in photographs of the scenes in and around Harpenden - proving that it really is a stunning area in the winter. The Common, with its cricket pitch and golf courses, is a visual treat under the white cover of snowfall. Close by sits Rothamsted Park with its mass of horse chestnut trees. In the heart of the village is Church Green where cattle used to come to drink from the pond. Rounding off the wintry scene are the numerous historic homes that line the Common.