Area Guide: Bernards Heath
PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:06 23 August 2016
Bernards Heath is an attractive, family-friendly area of St Albans, with a strong community spirit.
Sandridge Road runs through its centre, with clusters of Victorian cottages at the town end, and larger, more modern properties towards Marshalswick Lane.
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. Much of it has been common land ever since.
The Heath was once the site of clay pits, and the local economy was strongly dependent on brick building during Victorian times.
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 in Bernards Heath, on Fontmell Close.
There are two local convenience stores on Sandridge Road, while the parade of shops on Beech Road offers a wider range of options, including a Tesco Express, a laundrette and a newsagent, with a Shell petrol station next door.
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.
Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School, and the nearby Bernards Heath Junior School, were rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ respectively by Ofsted. Other nearby schools include Maple (‘outstanding’), Alban City and Garden Fields (both ‘good’). The closest high schools are the very popular St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS) and Sandringham (both ‘outstanding’). Heathlands, a special school for deaf children, is on Heathlands Drive (‘outstanding’).
Leisure and sport
The Heath has a children’s playground with play equipment and a basketball post, as well as an open field and wooded area 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.
Leisure facilities, including a pool and gym, are available at nearby Westminster Lodge, at the bottom of Holywell Hill.
Food and drink
The Jolly Sailor and the King William IV pubs are at either end of Sandridge Road, and the Ancient Briton – part of the Harvester chain – is on the corner of Beech Road and Harpenden Road. All three offer food.
Devdas, at the start of St Peter’s Street, is a well-loved local Indian, 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 Peters Street end of Bernards Heath, while Marshalswick’s Quadrant shopping centre is also close at hand.