Saturday 27 August 2022

Woad Mead to the S4 bus


Woad Mead to the S4 bus!

I’m finding more interesting stuff about Sopwell while working on the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society (SAHAAS) St Julian’s project. At the moment, I am researching the history of a fascinating piece of land called Woad Mead which you can see on this extract of a medieval map of St Albans. Its position, just above Eywood Lane, maybe gives a clue as to what is there today – the Griffiths Way Retail Park (Sainsbury’s) and before that, the gasworks. I will be publishing an article on it hopefully and will then write a post on the website. Woad probably grew there at one time. It was used to dye wool proving Sopwell had a wool and textile industry in medieval times.

Last week I had the privilege of visiting what is probably the oldest house in Sopwell - if we don’t count the Sopwell House Hotel. Glebe House in Watling Street is a grade 2 listed property with lots of wonderful old features like wood panelling, an inglenook fireplace and an old cellar. It has a large garden which once extended to the footpath opposite the Marlborough Academy. Have a look at my post on Sopwell Memories. I was really interested in this house as it once backed on to the old vicarage garden. The vicar was a neighbour when there was a vicarage,

Unfortunately another of my interviewees, John Buckingham, has passed away, John was very special. I first met him on the S4 bus! John had so many memories to share including: what Cottonmill Lane was like years ago; his schooldays at St Peter’s school; his Dad’s allotment and loads of stories about the railway. He also shared fascinating stories about his Dad’s jobs at the gasworks and the stables/kennels opposite the Nunnery ruins. John remembers playing in the river, catching crayfish and walking all the way to the Park Street watercress beds. I had to have two interview sessions and several phone calls to cover all his tales! What is so wonderful is that these memories have been captured and won’t be forgotten. They can all be found on Sopwell Memories  and in our book Sopwell, a history and collection of memories. [Still available to purchase via the website] I went to his funeral, the church was packed. I am so pleased I overheard him talking on the S4 bus!.