Area Guide: The Hertfordshire village of Sandridge
PUBLISHED: 15:31 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:47 30 January 2020
The geographical gap between St Albans and Sandridge is quite small these days, with only Jersey Farm Woodland Park standing between the village and the northernmost reaches of Marshalswick.
Wandering on and around Sandridge's high street, you will feel a world away from St Albans' (relatively) bright lights, however.
With its pubs, shop, church and tea rooms, a lot of amenities have been squeezed into the village's centre, most of them arranged around the pretty junction of High Street and House Lane.
This quaint spot has a solidly rural feel and Sandridgebury Lane feels even moreso, with farmland and a Scout hut located off the narrow road.
The Village Hall provides a community hub, while neighbouring Spencer Hall and its recreation ground are the centre for sport in the village.
Darby's tardis-like general store offers a friendly place to buy a paper or a drink or snack, while Heartwood Tearooms is open daily for hearty breakfasts and homemade soups. It's a family-friendly setting (children's menus are available) and afternoon tea is also an option, though must be pre-booked. There's no better place to warm up over tea and cake than by the cosy log burner - and dogs are very welcome.
The village is also home to three popular pubs: The Rose and Crown, The Green Man and The Queen's Head.
In 2008 the Woodland Trust announced plans to create a new forest north of Sandridge, transforming 858 acres of former farmland into what is now the largest area of uninterrupted woodland in England. Tens of thousands of volunteers have so far planted over half a million trees at Heartwood Forest.
Jersey Farm Woodland Park provides a further 55 acres of lush greenery, wildflower meadow and more, which connects the village to neighbouring Marshalswick and Jersey Farm.
Between Sandridge and Wheathampstead is the famous Nomansland Common, named after the 15th century dispute between the abbeys of Westminster and St Albans.
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The earliest recorded mention of Sandridge - or "Saundruage" (meaning a place of sandy oil serviced by bond tenants) - was in 796, when the parish was part of the revenue of the Mercian kings.
The settlement went on to be mentioned in the Domesday Book; it had a population of 29 households in 1086, placing it among the largest 40 per cent of settlements recorded.
Historic St Leonard's Church celebrated 900 years since its consecration in 2014. Parts of it date back to 796 however, while the main structure we see today was built in 1114.
In 1939 a secret wireless intercept station was constructed at the top of Woodcock Hill. It was the first base dedicated to diplomatic interception with radio operators listening to the wireless traffic between Germany, Italy and Japan, among others.
Messages intercepted at Sandridge were sent to Bletchley Park for decryption.
Famous former residents of the village include John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and his infamous wife Sarah, a friend of Queen Anne. Also, Dappy from N-Dubz.
Homes currently on the market in the village range from a six-bed detached property on Woodcock Hill, which has an asking price of £1.8m, and a studio flat on High Street for £200,000.
Located in spacious grounds on Woodcock Hill, Sandridge School is a one-form entry primary, ranked 'good' in all areas in its recent (March 2019) Ofsted inspection. It has a nursery class, breakfast and after-school clubs, and facilities including a purpose-built music studio.
Nearby secondaries include Sandringham and St Albans Girls' School (STAGS), both rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted.
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