St Albans architect: Percival Blow

Life and work of St Albans architect Percival Blow celebrated in new book

Architect Percival Blow, who made a huge contribution to the built landscape of St Albans, is the subject of a new book entitled St Albans Architect Percival Blow: from Arts and Crafts to Gothic Revival and Art Deco. The full colour, fully illustrated book is available from Waterstones (St Albans), price £8.99.

The publishers are the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society and the authors are Patricia Broad, Sue Mann and Jonathan Mein. The book includes original drawings, plans and contemporary and current photographs of the numerous residential, commercial, institutional and municipal buildings designed by Percival Blow in a career spanning just over 40 years from 1897 to 1939.

Five of the buildings he designed in St Albans are Grade II listed, including two Gothic Revival style buildings for St Albans School, adjacent to the medieval Abbey Gateway, the former offices and striking Art Deco exhibition hall for Ryder & Son on Holywell Hill – now a hotel and restaurant, respectively, and the neo-Georgian former Barclays Bank in the High Street, which is also now a restaurant. Many of his other buildings are locally listed included the attractive Arts and Crafts houses in Hall Place Gardens.

Percival Blow was born and raised in St Albans and attended St Albans School (then known as St Albans Grammar School). He studied architecture at King’s College, London, and was articled to Watford architect Charles Pryor Ayres.

After qualifying and becoming an Associate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Blow set up in practice in St Albans where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Whilst the bulk of his work can be found in the city, Blow also designed a range of buildings in Harpenden, Luton and further afield. Clients included Sainsbury’s for whom he designed some eight stores, including the St Albans branch, formerly in St Peter’s Street. Waterstones, the book stockists, occupy another former grocery store in St Peter’s Street, designed by Percival Blow for Oakley & Co in 1920.

The book was published on Monday 2 September, 2019.


About the authors:

This is the second collaboration for authors Patricia Broad, Sue Mann and Jonathan Mein. They were members of the team that researched and wrote the Hertfordshire Publications book St Albans: Life on the Home Front, 1914-1918 and Sue and Jonathan were also editors of the book, published in 2016.

About the publishers:

St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society has a membership of over 500 and is joint publisher of the journal Hertfordshire Archaeology and History. For further information visit

For further press information please contact Sue Mann via