Area Guide: The popular Bernards Heath area of St Albans
PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:38 06 April 2018
Bernards Heath is an attractive, family-friendly area of St Albans within walking distance of the high street and City station.
Follow St Peter’s Street north and you’ll soon reach Sandridge Road, which runs through the centre of this mostly residential area. There is a mix of housing, with clusters of Victorian cottages at the town end, and larger, more modern properties towards Marshalswick Lane.
Homes currently on the market in Bernards Heath include a three-bed Victorian terrace on Boundary Road for £765,000 and a five-bed detached home on Sandridge Road for £1.2m.
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.
The Heath was once the site of clay pits, and bricks were made there for nearly 500 years, until the early 20th century.
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 immediately north of the Heath, on Fontmell Close.
There are two local convenience stores and a small café on Sandridge Road, while the parade of shops on Beech Road offers a wider range of options, including a Tesco Express, a garage door shop, a barbers and a pharmacy, with a Shell petrol station next door.
Leisure and sport
The Heath has a children’s playground with play equipment and a basketball hoop, as well as an open field and wooded area, both of 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.
The Pioneer Club on Heathlands Drive is home to the oldest indoor skate park in the UK. It also has a live music venue, and both are available for hire.
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.
The many popular state schools in and around Bernards Heath are a major draw for families moving to the area. Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery School and the nearby Bernards Heath Junior School are both three-form entry schools, accepting 90 children each year. They were rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ respectively at their last Ofsted inspections. 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’).
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 Indian restaurant, 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 Peter’s Street end of Bernards Heath, while Marshalswick’s busy Quadrant shopping centre is a convenient alternative for those living further from town.