Area Guide: St Stephen's
PUBLISHED: 12:33 02 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:58 05 September 2016
St Stephen's is a civil parish adjacent to the southern boundary of St Albans, sitting between the bottom of the town centre, Chiswell Green and the St Julian's area of the city.
It is the area surrounding the historic St Stephen’s church in Watling Street, a picturesque place of worship with a lively community, including hall hire and groups for children. Caroline Thain found out more.
Close to main routes north and south by car, St Stephen’s is within easy reach of the A1(M), M25 and M1.
Speedy train services from St Albans City station can get you into the centre of London in around 20 minutes and The Abbey Flier is a special single-track train running to and from Watford Junction.
Primary schools in the St Stephen’s area include Mandeville, Prae Wood and Killigrew, all of which were rated ‘good’ by Ofsted at their last inspection. St Adrian’s, which is a Catholic primary, rated ‘outstanding’.
The Malborough Science Academy is a ‘good’ secondary school in Watling Street, which has an active community spirit, strong leadership and an exciting annual music festival. For families looking to go private, St Columba’s College is an independent Catholic day school for boys aged 4-18, located on King Harry Lane.
Food and drink
A row of shops in Vesta Avenue includes a handful of popular fast food outlets – a chicken shop, Chinese takeaway and a fish and chip bar. A new café is also opening there soon, which is welcomed by locals as a much-needed meeting point.
If you prefer a more commercial fast food experience, McDonald’s in Griffiths Way has a drive-through facility, as well as the classic eat-in burger restaurant.
Fans of home-cooked traditional food, real ale and fine wines can do no better than the two closest, classiest historic pubs. The King Harry is a gastropub with a beer garden and snug, which welcomes families with dogs and serves continental beers and ciders on tap - aptly positioned in King Harry Lane. And arguably England’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, on Abbey Mill Lane, is on the edge of Verulamium Park. It boasts fresh locally-sourced ingredients, a specials board to mix up the menu and reportedly serves the best Sunday lunches around.
There is a local grocery shop, hairdressers, launderette and dog grooming parlour on Vesta Avenue. St Stephen’s is also close to the Abbey View Retail Park, Griffiths Way, which has a Matalan, Halfords, Homebase, Argos, Pets at Home and the aforementioned McDonald’s. A large Sainsbury’s store is just across the road, while there’s a branch of Waitrose off King Harry Lane.
With St Albans’ city centre and its bustling shops, theatre and thriving market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) on your doorstep, you are never far from most shops, services and places to find fun, refreshment or entertainment.
Sport and leisure
There is a reasonable size park with lovely trees and a play area off Wilshire Avenue, which extends to the back of St Stephen’s Church and the kids’ play area in the park off Holyrood Crescent has recently been revamped.
Yet it’s only a short walk to the city’s main park, Verulamium, which is situated next to the picturesque Abbey cathedral. The park has a play area, lake, cafe and museum, as well as tennis courts, a splash park for young ones and an outdoor gym.
Equally close by is Westminster Lodge, off Holywell Hill, a council-owned gym with swimming pools, fitness classes and a climbing wall.