Since moving to St Albans, we have spent many afternoons in Nature as a family. This park stands on what was once Verulamium, the third largest city in Roman Britain; it’s ruined city walls, constructed in around 270 AD, dominate the landscape. It covers over one hundred acres, offers magnificent views of St Albans Cathedral and is surrounded by many ancient and picturesque houses.
Huge oak and willow trees are planted in rows along the length of the central lake within a wide-open tranquil setting. They are perfectly reflected in the water, the contrasting shades of their green leaves swish in the breeze.There’s a harmonious sense of proportion and plenty of open space to watch your dogs running around on the grass. We used to enjoy rolling down the hills or feeding the ducks and watching them diving for food when our daughter was little; these days we prefer a game of badminton or Frisbee.
As well as Roman ruins and an ornamental lake, there is a café, a crazy golf area, tennis, basketball and netball courts. The toddler splash park is a delight for children while the park is the perfect setting for a leisurely walk or a jog. The lake is a haven for wildlife and rich in biodiversity. There is talk of placing aquatic plants on the lake’s fringes to soak up the pollutants, clean the water and reduce the silt levels. It is home to a number of water birds such as herons, swans, and ducks. Then of course there are the Canada geese, step a little closer if you dare, they’ll steal your lunch and pin you to the ground!
In 1929, when the park was still agricultural land, the Earl of Verulam sold it to the council. In the thirties, the lake was dug out and extensive archaeological excavations by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and his wife Tessa, were undertaken. Amazingly, the remains of a theatre along with a hypocaust were uncovered, along with many everyday roman artifacts.
On quieter colder days, the park becomes a peaceful sanctuary. I enjoy the tranquillity, taking in the beautiful views and breathing the crisp clean air. I feel as if I am eons away from the hustle and bustle of the marketplace and always leave the park feeling restored and refreshed.