Area Guide: The picture perfect St Michael’s area of St Albans
PUBLISHED: 09:03 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:55 21 January 2020
St Michael’s is an historic area of St Albans, situated to the north-west of the city centre.
It is the home of many landmarks, the most prominent one being St Michael's Church. The Grade I listed structure has been dated back to the 10th or early 11th century, making it arguably the most significant surviving Anglo-Saxon building in the country.
The nearby Gorhambury Estate, located on the opposite side of Bluehouse Hill, is rich in Roman, Elizabethan and 18th century history, encapsulated by the Old and New Gorhambury Houses, as well as the Roman Theatre of Verulamium. The latter which was built in around 140AD and is the only example of its kind in Britain, being a theatre with a stage rather than an amphitheatre.
Properties currently available in upmarket St Michael's include a three-bed town house on Fishpool Street for £900,000 and a four-bed detached house on Branch Road for £1,250,000.
The only school located in St Michael's itself is St Michael's C of E VA Primary, which was rated 'good' by Ofsted at its last inspection. Marlborough Science Academy ('good') is the closest state secondary school.
The private St Albans School, which takes boys aged 11-18 and girls in the sixth form, is conveniently located on Abbey Mill Lane, while St Columba's College, an independent Catholic school for boys aged four to 18, is also close by on King Harry Lane.
Food and drink
There are several culinary highlights in St Michael's. One is The Waffle House, a family-run business since 1978, located in the 16th Century Grade II listed Kingsbury Watermill on St Michael's Street. They specialise in sweet and savoury Belgian waffles individually cooked to order. Another is The Six Bells on St Michael's Street, which offers a wide range of pub grub, as well as regular events, such as pub quizzes.
St Michael's Manor on Fishpool Street is a popular hotel and wedding venue.
St Michael's is well placed for most transport links. The M1 and the M25 are close by and there are two train stations a stone's throw away - St Albans City, which can get you to London in under 30 minutes, and St Albans Abbey, which acts as a shuttle between St Alban and Watford.
If history is your thing, then St Michael's is a goldmine. Right on your doorstep is Verulamium Park, which is steeped in Roman history. Take a nice walk around the lake or pay a visit to the Verulamium Museum.
In the museum you will not only find Roman artefacts, but also materials from the Abbey excavations, Sopwell Nunnery and the medieval town that underlies modern St Albans.
Nearby Old Gorhambury House was constructed between 1563-68 by Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and was subsequently passed on to his son, Francis Bacon, who served as Lord Chancellor to King James I.
The house fell into disrepair and was replaced by Gorhambury House, which was commissioned by James Grimston, the 3rd Viscount Grimston, and constructed in 1777-84 by Sir Robert Taylor.
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The Grade II* listed house is built in a neo-Palladian style; it houses an impressive selection of historic and academic collections, including Bacon and Grimston family portraits and other articles collected from the Grand Tour.
Further highlights include 17th century painted glass windows, commissioned by Francis Bacon and salvaged from Old Gorhambury, and the earliest English pile carpet.
The estate itself boasts breathtaking scenery and is the perfect place to take a leisurely walk. Bring the family and make a day of it, just be sure to follow the guidelines set out by the estate owners, which can be found at the entrance.
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