St Julian's Research Group

St Julian’s estate – from leper hospital to housing estate

The St Julian’s estate was centred on Watling Street, almost opposite St Bartholomew’s Church in St Stephens parish. At around 400 acres, it stretched down to the Abbey station on the one side and as far as Greenwood Park in Chiswell Green on the other. Originally a leper hospital attached to the abbey, it became a gentleman’s estate with a magnificent mansion house. Later it reverted to the status of a tenant farm for a wealthy family based at the Frythe in Welwyn.

St Julian’s Research Group currently has nineteen active members engaged on diverse aspects of the history of the estate, ranging from the medieval era of the Leper Hospital to the housing development in the twentieth century.

Research approach

Each phase of the history has a lead member of the group and work is ongoing with members drawn into pieces of research as appropriate to their interests, skills and availability. Meetings of the whole group take place from time to time and this is the opportunity for members to ensure no one is re-inventing the wheel, and other appropriate avenues of research are identified. In particular, we have the benefit of GIS skills which enable us to map the development of the estate over time and record changes in boundaries.

Original estate records

We also have original records for the estate, in particular the household account book of the tenant of the mansion across fifty years of the eighteenth century, which offers an insight into life then and life in St Albans specifically, though the lady also had a London home. The estate is closely linked with the centre of the parish of St Stephens and parish records have also already revealed a lot about the estate and its life. Though the mansion on the estate was demolished c. 1800, the farm remaining continued to operate until the new roads cut in the mid twentieth century limited its viability. We have the benefit of many records and first hand recollections of the farm over its last fifty years, which allows a very vivid history of that aspect of the estate to be written.

New members welcome

Input from other members with appropriate skills or interest is most welcome. Local knowledge and skills in transcription, research and writing up are particularly needed. Contact Kate Morris on kate@englishinfo.biz if interested.

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