Area Guide: The historic Gorhambury Estate
PUBLISHED: 19:06 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 19:06 12 July 2017
On the edge of St Albans, Gorhambury Estate lives up to the title of ‘best of both worlds’, with staggering views of the countryside and the nearby hum of city life combining to create the ultimate in tranquillity and convenience.
Gorhambury consists of three main sectors: Old Gorhambury, Gorhambury House and the Roman Theatre of Verulamium, and with these come a thousand years of colourful history and fantastic tales that remain part of the land to this day.
Gorhambury Estate is privately owned land, available to the public for historical and cultural education as well as scenic walks and exploration. Access to the Estate is permitted from Beechtree Lane and Redbourn Road, offering walkers and cyclists peaceful routes to the grounds. Enjoy the site of the remains of Old Gorhambury on a crisp winter’s morning or a lazy summer’s afternoon; all year round this place is breath-taking.
Nicholas Bacon built this mansion under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during the 1500s. When she visited, which she is said to have done on several occasions, she famously commented that it was a very small home. To appease his worries of structural inadequacy, Nicholas extended the property.
Old Gorhambury was then passed to Nicholas’ son, philosopher, statesman and Lord Chancellor to King James I, Sir Francis Bacon.
In the 1700s, after many years of hospitable service to the Bacon family, Old Gorhambury fell into disrepair and a new property was built on the grounds, Gorhambury House.
Today the remains of Old Gorhambury illustrate the landscape; a porch, chapel and clock tower are all available to view at the site.
Now home to the Viscount Grimston, also know as the Earl of Verulam, and Viscountess Grimston, Gorhambury House was built between 1777-84 by Robert Taylor and commissioned by James Grimston, 3rd Viscount Grimston, in a neo-Palladian style.
The grand manor was constructed using bricks from the body of Old Gorhambury and Sir Francis Bacon’s salvaged stained-glass windows.
Tours can be booked for a historical look into previous owners of the Estate, with portraits of Bacon and Grimston heirs adorning the walls.
The Roman Theatre of Verulamium
Excavations on Gorhambury Estate, beginning in the 1800s and continuing until the early 1900s, uncovered artefacts and buildings from our Roman predecessors.
The theatre was the most prominent structure discovered at the site, suspected to have been built in 140AD. Locals would have used the theatre for religious processions and dancing, or to watch gladiatorial combat and wild beast shows.
By 300AD the theatre had been extended and would have catered to 2000 spectators.
Excavations from the early 1900s also uncovered evidence of a row of shops, a Roman villa and a secret shrine - all at the Gorhambury site. Artefacts and treasures can be viewed in the nearby Verulamium Museum.
From quaint country cottages to converted stables, Grade II listed lodge houses and Victorian farmhouses, Gorhambury Estate offers a mix of properties for a wide range of tenants.
Gorhambury is fantastically positioned for commuters seeking the home-time tranquillity of rural life after a busy day in the city.
Available for renting, these properties reflect the character of their historic grounds, with high ceilings, wooden beams and views over the traditional parkland.
Just three miles away from St Albans City station, commuters from Gorhambury will reach London in 20 minutes. A short walk into St Albans is the ultimate convenience for anyone based at the Gorhambury Estate, offering shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment.
The M1, A1(M) and M25 all lie between a five and 15 minute drive of the Estate, making this the ideal spot for those who want to dip their toe in and out of country living.
With St Albans on your doorstep it’s easy to come across prestigious and respected schools, both primary and secondary. St Michael’s C of E Primary, Prae Wood Primary and Marlborough Science Academy are popular state options, all rated ‘good’ by Ofsted; St Columba’s College is a fee-paying school for boys aged 4-18.
You can’t pay a visit to Hertfordshire without coming to Gorhambury Estate, which has everything Hertfordshire prides itself on; history, culture and beauty.