Church Street

The present George Street was known as Church Street because it led, via Romeland, to the church, not only the Abbey Church itself but also the parish church of St. Andrew - St. Andrews Chapel - situated against the north west corner of the nave of the Abbey church. There was a marked difference available for development on either side of the street. On the south the properties backed onto the precinct wall of the Abbey and by the second half of the 14th century encroachment onto the Abbey had become so bad that Abbot Thomas de la Mere employed the royal mason Henry Yevele to carry out a survey of the problem. The old stone wall was replaced by an "earth wall" i.e.. a bank. On the other side of the street the properties at the western end backed onto Dagnall Street and at the eastern end upto those stretching back from French Row. This difference accounts for the development of inns, which needed space for the yard and services on this northern side, while on the southern shops developed. Among those who held property recorded in the Yevele's survey was Richard Wallingford, sometime bailiff of the town and one of the leaders of the 1381 Revolt.
In 1431 the street was leveled and drained by William Bakere using beech wood taken from Eywood.

The Tabard

In 1235-60 Abbot John de Hertford "acquire a great house in a street called "Chirche Strate' very suitable for guests, is a corner house and common to the street which runs towards the east and that which goes to the north, it is before the Abbey Gate." This was the corner with Spicer Street where in later times the inn known as the Tabard (so called in 1545) was situated. This is the earliest inn recorded in St. Albans . These came into being in the 12th century and by the 14-15th. century were a popular way of reducing the ever increasing cost of hospitality borne by monasteries. Much of this inn was demolished in the 19th century but part remains in the shop bearing the old name. A 19th century illustration shows the view from the rear of the street showing a gallery of 14th-15th century date.

The Tabard in the early 19th century

21-22 George Street

These were perhaps both built around 1500 and have overhanging (jettied) upper storeys.

By George

The yard of this one time inn contains a two bay 15th century building, originally with a crown post roof. The two first floor windows are provided internally with shutter grooves which once held a sliding wooden shutter - there being no glazing. Fragments of the original tracery remain and the windows have been restored in a manner which makes the original features obvious.

15th century window at By George

The George Inn 

The George Inn seems to have been in existence in 1400 when it was known as 'The George upon the Hupe'. In 1446 it belonged to the Priory of St. Mary of Sopwell and was leased by John, Duke of Exeter, at that time Lord High Admiral of England, at an anal rent of 6 shillings (30p). In 1484 Thomas Hethnes was granted a license by the Abbot to use an oratory or chapel at the George for the celebration of low mass for the "benefit of such great men and nobles and others as should be lodged at the inn". The existing building was perhaps built around 1500. The George provided hospitality until the early twentieth century and provided the present name for the street 

The Tudor Tavern

Like its neighbour the George, this belonged in 1446 to Sopwell Nunnery and was then known as The Swan. The oldest part, (the range which now flanks Verulam Rd.) was built around 1400 and consists of a first floor hall with a fine (visible) crown post roof. Later in the 15th century the two storey, jettied, range along the street was built and seems originally to have contained unheated inn chambers. The ground floor windows are recent and most of the first floor was re-fenestrated in the 17th century but one of the original windows still survives.

The Tudor Tavern

Original Window

Tudor Tavern Roof

The Crown Post Roof

Cross section of the Hall


The Bear or Bell and The Peacock

To the east of the Swan St. Mary's Sopwell had another inn known as The Bear or the Bell. To the east again was the Pecock. In 1506 the rent of this property was paid to the Hospital of St. Julians. Both of these will have been more or less where Verulam Road is now.


The Cornerhall

On the corner with the Cross Market was an inn known as the Cornerhall, also in 1446 part of the possessions of St. Mary of Sopwell. In 1486 Dame Constance Cressey (of Rothamstead) left "10s of rent assyse goyng owte of the Inne now callyd the Lion sometyme called the Cornerhall". In 1349-96 John Gelus gave his "tenementum angulare" to the Kitchener of the Abbey and this was probably the same as the Cornerhall. In 1521 it was described as "Le Lyon" opposite the cross of the town and in 1539 as against the "Quenecross" between the Flower de Luce on the north and Chuch Street on the south. Eventually the Lion became the Great Red Lion.

go/return to Cross Market


No. 7 The Old Kings Arms

For many years a pub, this building originated in the 15th century as a shop, with living accomodation provided by a very narrow open hall set across the back of the building and two first floor chambers which jetty out over the street. The rafters over the hall are blackened by the smoke from the open hearth.


Possible reconstruction of the original building. The roof "cut away" to show the crown post construction


The central crown post