Blue Plaques St Albans: our latest plaques
Edward (Ted) Warner, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery after he was killed in action in WW I. He is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium, and on the St. Albans war memorial. The plaque was installed at a special ceremony on 11th November 2022 at what was Edward Warner’s family home, 38 Cannon Street, St Albans. Read more about Ted Warner and further information on the installation here
Percival Blow has been referred to as St Albans’ forgotten architect but five of his many existing buildings in St Albans are Grade II listed. Among many of his designs we still have two Gothic Revival style buildings for St Albans School, adjacent to the medieval Abbey Gateway, the former offices and striking Art Deco exhibition hall (now a café) for Ryder & Son on Holywell Hill, the neo-Georgian part of a former Barclays Bank in the High Street (now a restaurant), and the imposing 1-7 Victoria Street built in 1915 for drapers W S Green. Read more about Percival Blow.
During the reign of Queen Anne, as her close confidante and advisor, Sarah Churchill became the second most powerful woman in Britain. Her husband’s military success led to the Queen awarding them the titles of Duke and Duchess of Marlborough plus the Manor of Woodstock, which became the site of Blenheim Palace.
John and Sarah maintained their connections with St Albans, returning regularly to Holywell House. They exerted political influence in the town and purchased land. Many streets in St Albans are named after her family, for example, Marlborough Road, Jennings Road and Spencer Street. In 1685 they enlarged their house, requiring the diversion of Holywell Hill to create space. Although the house is long gone, this diversion still exists today as Grove Road. One of her greatest legacies to the town was the Marlborough Almshouses, completed and transferred to a Trust in 1736 for 18 men and 18 women, primarily veterans of her husband’s battles and servants, at a cost of £50,000 (the equivalent of £4million today). The building was renovated in 1850, when new brickwork and the pediments were added. Read More about Sarah Churchill
Elsie Toms was a celebrated Albanian – Councillor, Alderman, Mayor, Magistrate, local historian and author – and Honorary Freeman of the city.
Prompted by the interest of new citizens of St Albans in their city, Dr Toms wrote her “The Story of St Albans” which was first published in 1962, and became ‘the’ book on the history of St Albans for many years. Later she also wrote “The New Book of St Albans”. She was one of the four founders of the St Albans Civic Society in 1961.
Nathaniel Cotton was an 18th century poet and doctor who developed a form of clinical psychology at a time when many with mental illnesses were being locked up in appalling institutions like the notorious “Bedlam”, London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital. Nathaniel established a sympathetic asylum, ‘Collegium Insanorum’, literally “a college for the insane”, on the corner of what is now College Street – named after his institution – and Lower Dagnall Street, St Albans. He died in St Albans on August 2 1788 and is buried in St Peter’s Churchyard. Stacey Turner, founder of the St Albans mental health awareness charity It’s OK to Say, unveiled a blue plaque on the site of Dr Cotton’s college on behalf of Blue Plaques St Albans to a sizeable gathering in March 2022. Read more about Nathaniel Cotton
The first plaque commemorates one of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. Although the Revolt was ultimately unsuccessful it shook the whole country and nearly caused the unseating of King Richard II. The tenants and townsfolk of St. Albans also rose up, broke into the gaol, generally caused mayhem and besieged the St Albans Abbey. One of the leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt was John Ball. He was an English priest who was famous for his revolutionary sermons where he preached equality and freedom from oppression, “When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men”. Following the failure of the Revolt John Ball’s trial was held in the Moot Hall in St Albans, which was near the present Town Hall building, and is now St Albans Museum+Gallery. Ball was sentenced to death, offered the chance to repent but refused, and he was hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of King Richard II on 15 July 1381. Read More about John Ball.
Read the BBC news coverage here.
ARTHUR MELBOURNE COOPER
Blue Plaques St Albans is supported by the following organisations
- St Albans Civic Society
- St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society
- Abbey Precincts Residents Association (APRA)
- St Albans City Tour Guides
- St Albans Cathedral
- St Albans Business Improvement District