Comment: St Albans London namesake and a lesson in home security

PUBLISHED: 11:00 30 January 2016

Home invasion: Goodwood House was broken in to last week

Home invasion: Goodwood House was broken in to last week

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Why is St Albans Grove called St Albans Grove? And how do you feel about home invasion?

St Albans Grove, in Kensington LondonSt Albans Grove, in Kensington London

Tenuous link alert:

Britain’s most expensive street has a house for sale this week. For a tidy £7.9m you can purchase a property on the corner of Victoria Road and St Albans Grove, Kensington.

Now, technically the most expensive street is meant to be Victoria Road (average house price £8m, with no-one having put a property on the market there since 2013) but St Albans Grove is sort of its younger, slightly less appealing sister.

That being said, this particular area features a cluster of streets that are known to collectively be the crème de la crème of the area - St Albans Grove included.

I did a little digging and found out some facts about this namesake street: It was originally called St Albans Road; it was one of the earlier London streets to have a sewer system installed (!); it used to be a rail track; Elizabeth Viscountess Bulkeley lived there in 1824; the builder responsible for constructing many of the homes in this prestigious area chose to live on St Albans Grove (John Ridgeway in 1842); the north side of the grove enjoyed favour among the Victorian artistic community and featured revolutionary examples of early Victorian urbanity; and finally, in the 1920s, building work and restoration was conducted there by Harrods.

I wonder though why it has been christened by the same name as our fair city? The answers to that question are particularly sparse. We all know why St Albans is called St Albans; but was there some sort of link to this particular London street, perhaps concerning prestigiousness? Or did someone simply just call it that for the hell of it.

It’s typical that road names with “Saint” or “St” at the beginning are called so because the land is in some way sacred. Without taking a trip to the national archives, I won’t be able to answer this question now (this column is due!) but if you fancy a London pad somewhere familiar sounding and can’t quite stretch to the £7.9m price tag on the corner of St Albans Grove, there’s a place up the same street going for £3.7m instead (much more reasonable).

Heists are going residential.

Last year it was Hatton Garden, this year it’s Goodwood House, Sussex. Last week Lord and Lady March of the Goodwood Estate were burgled overnight. Goodwood House is one of the country’s most treasured stately homes. The thieves stole around £700,000 in antique jewellery, which included a ring given by Charles II to his mistress Louise de Keroualle. The creepiest part of the story is that this was a home invasion right out of the movies – Lord March was assaulted and tied up while Lady March was “marched” to the safe containing the jewellery and forced to open it. She was then tied up with her husband, left there until 6:30am, and found by one of the household staff.

It’s odd, but for some reason I don’t often think about being burgled. But several people I know have actually experienced it. My grandparents were robbed when they were on holiday once; my aunt and uncle were robbed while attending a wedding one weekend; and a family friend has been burgled twice. The first time was on Christmas Eve when she was out for lunch, returning home to find all the presents under her tree had been taken. The second instance was when she was watching television in the living room, unaware that thieves had scaled the property, entered a window upstairs and were going through her things a mere few feet above her.

The stats are in and thankfully the Herts Ad’s patch has not been featured in the top 20 list of burglary hotspots in the UK. Coming in at numbers one, two and three respectively are South Tulse Hill & Dulwich, Clayhall and Redbridge. The remainder of the list is peppered with areas of both considerable wealth and of notorious roughness. So there’s not really any correlation. Areas known for crime are hotspots for...well, crime; but equally, sweeping estates in the middle of 17 acres are just as vulnerable, due to the solitude and the swag inside.

Just ask Lord and Lady March!

The lesson here - don’t be complacent about home security. No-where on the list of the 20 least burgled locations is St Albans or Harpenden. One of the places listed is Wallingford, Oxfordshire – and that’s a mile or so from two of the three burglary victims I mentioned earlier – one of them being my friend who was targeted twice.

While I am diligent about locking all my doors when I go out, I may be a little less fussy about shutting an ajar window or putting my laptop in a drawer, out of obvious sight. But whether you live in Harpenden or Dagenham - always practice safe security!

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