Sopwell street names

How did your street get its name?  Many of the Sopwell streets have interesting connections.

Cottonmill Lane

Cottonmill Lane was originally called Green Lane but the name changed in 1810 after a mill was established there which produced cotton for the wicks of candles.

Holywell Hill and De Tany Court

The water from the Holy Well was reputed to perform cures and John Churchill, of the Marlborough family, made it a water feature of his garden in the middle of Holywell Hill. The well was rediscovered when De Tany Court was built on the St Albans School Playing fields and can be seen today  through a grill not very far beyond the first pedestrian entrance to De Tany Court off Prospect Road. Richard de Tany (or Todenai) is famous for giving land near Tyttenhanger for the benefit of the Priory.

Gorham Drive

is named after Geoffrey de Gorham.  Abbot Geoffrey de Gorham - the name Gorham comes from Gorram Castle in France -was abbot for 36 years and he founded many cells. These were small religious houses that remained under the protection of the abbey one of which was Sopwell Priory. He also founded the St Julian's leper hospital (which was situated on Watling Street), Cell Barnes and St Mary of the Prae (Praewood).

Mentmore road

is named after Michael de Mentmore who was Abbot from 1336 to 1349.

Sadleir road

is named after the Sadleir family. Sir Ralph Sadleir married Ann the daughter of Richard Lee who owned the Sopwell Priory lands after its dissolution in 1537 by Henry VIII.  Ann had a son called Richard Sadleir.

Abbots Avenue, Nunnery Close, Nuns Lane, Monks Close, Martyr Close, Priory Walk and Priory Park

also owe their names to the Priory.

Berners Drive 

A famous inhabitant of the nunnery was one Dame Juliana Berners sometimes said to be the prioress, although her name is not on the list of prioresses. It is said that she  wrote the Boke of St Albans which was first published in 1486 (a later facsimile copy of the book, can be seen in the Hatfield Road museum).  The first edition covered the subjects of Hunting, Hawking and Heraldry and a later edition included a section on Fishing.  It is alleged to be the first printed work  written in English by a woman.  It was one of eight books printed in St Albans.  Juliana Berners put Sopwell on the international map and there are many sporting organisations in the USA today which bear her name.

Boleyn Drive 

Henry VIII arranged for Anne Boleyn to take shelter at Sopwell and they allegedly met in secret under the old cedar tree in St Stephens churchyard. Also in practically every book that has reference to the Sopwell Priory mention is made of the fact that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII married there, although there is no confirmation of this and indeed other places make similar claims.


St Albans played a role in the Peasants Revolt of 1381: the peasants, led by a local man William Grindcobbe and Jack Straw, forced their way into the Abbey and demanded a charter for the freedom of St Albans from the Abbot ('Charter of freedom of the villeins of St Alban's forcibly obtained from the Abbot and Convent', 16 June 1381 ). Grindcobbe was tried in the Moot Hall (on the site of the present day WH Smith store, where a plaque commemorates the event) and adjudged a 'traitor'. He was hung, drawn and quartered in July 1381.

Wallingford Walk

is named after Richard of Wallingford (1292-1336). He was a mathematician who made major contributions to astronomy/astrology and horology while serving as abbot of St Albans Abbey. There was also a William Wallingford, the 36th abbot.

Butterfield Lane 

is named after the Butterfield family who were the last family to mill at Sopwell. Flour ceased to be milled there in 1931. Apparently, George Butterfield lost his sight after being struck by an icicle when he was chipping ice off the waterwheel but he was still able to continue milling relying on the feel of the flour between his fingers.

Coningsby Bank

is named after the husband of Sir Richard Lee's eldest daughter Mary called Humphrey Coningsby.

Pemberton Close

is named afterSir Richard Lee's daughter Mary second husband, Ralph Pemberton.

Riverside Road

Part of Riverside Road used to be called Longmire Road. Longmire Road was built on Priory Park land. This area was called Priory Park because of its proximity to the Sopwell Priory land.

Cornwall Road

A family called the Bennetts bought much of the Priory Park land. They came from Cornwall – hence Cornwall Road.

Approach Road 

is so called because it was the entrance to the Priory Park estate.

Mercers Row

Is named after the firm of Mercer's Chronometers, a local company, who occupied the site where the Centrium office block now stands.

Trumpington Drive

is named after William de Trumpington, the 22nd abbott.


is named afterThomas Ramryge, the 37th abbot.

Doggetts Way

John Doggett was a mayor of St Albans in 1675 so it may be named after him.