Once part of the nearby Gorhambury Estate, the Batchwood Estate was created in 1874 following the sale of the land to Edmund Beckett Denison who became the 1st Baron Grimthorpe. In the 1930s the Estate was purchased by St Albans City and District Council. A golf course was built and later a Sports and Tennis Centre. To this day Batchwood provides leisure facilities to the local community.
Within the area of the golf course there is a 12-acre wood, which is largely managed by Friends of Batchwood on a voluntary basis. A survey conducted by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Consultancy in 2007 identified the wood has at least 20 species of birds and around 100 species of plants and trees – alongside foxes, badgers and muntjac deer.
Although the land has been shaped by the building of Batchwood Hall and later the creation of the golf course, surveys have identified many species, including bluebell, wood anemone and yellow archangel which indicate that this in ancient woodland,
The wood is a bluebell wood, usually at its best in this respect in April and early May. As well as bluebells, there are a number of plant species present, such as dog’s mercury, which are indicator species for ancient woodland.
Photograph reproduced courtesy of Jeff Jones.
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The house was designed by Lord Grimthorpe in a ‘Queen Anne style’ and built in 1874 by William Longmire. These two men also lead restoration work on St Albans Abbey in the 1880s.
Lord Grimthorpe was a barrister and his wide range of interests included architecture and horology, or clock making. He was known as formidable, combative personality but well-respected for his ingenuity and skill. As an horologist he designed the clock of the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as Big Ben. A prototype of the mechanism used in the Palace is in the more modest clock tower of the Hall.
In the 1970s Batchwood Hall became a night club, and was a rite-of-passage for many local young people until it closed in 2020. Most recently the Hall was used as a Covid vaccination centre. The Hall will continue to be a hospitality venue with new tenants to be named in late 2023.
Golf and Sports Centre
The facilities were upgraded by Everyone Active who have operated the centre since 2022. Activities include the golf course, a gym, the tennis centre, bowls, judo and an exercise studio. You can find out more here.