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Around St AlbansAround St Albans

Kate’s St Albans local history research covers a broad range of topics. Her guidebook for St Albans In and Around St Albans, published by Pitkin Unichrome in 2000 can still be found on Amazon ISBN-13: 978-1871004717 and her commentary on the Frith collection of early photographs of St Albans is still in print St Albans, Photographic Memories or Around St Albans ISBN: 9781859373415

In addition to producing overviews and guidebooks, Kate researches the social history of places and their people over the 18th and 19th centuries, including the histories of individual houses and families.

She gained recognition for a now lost small community at the northern boundary of the ancient Borough of St Albans, and installation of a street nameplate for its thoroughfare through her research into the history of Snatchup, a group of cottages built on land which had formed the wide highway there. For an article about the history of this community and its strange name, visit www.stalbanshistory.org.

Her chance discovery of the origins of the building at 107 St Peter’s Street in St Albans, known as Ivy House and currently the offices of Debenhams Ottoway, solicitors resulted in a lecture on the premises which raised funds for the new St Albans Museum and Gallery. The will of Rev Dr Robert Rumney, vicar of St Peter’s Church 1715-1743 revealed that it was his mansion. Rumney bought the site on which had stood two houses and the Saracen’s Head Inn and erected a mansion for himself. She has also written an article on Rumney himself and other contemporary local clergymen - Reverend Robert Rumney - An eighteenth century St Albans Clergyman and his times in Herts Past and Present 3rd Series. No 31 Spring 2018.

Her overseas connections and linguistic background fostered an interest in the twin towns of St Albans and an article on St Albans' European connections including 20th century twinning with Odense (Denmark), Worms (Germany), Nevers (France), Nyiregyhaza (Hungary) and Fano (Italy).The town twinning experience in Hertfordshire appeared in Herts Past & Present 3rd Series. No 8, Autumn 2006, pp 27-31.

She has published a history of the National School at St Peter’s, St Albans on the local history website www.stalbanshistory.org and lectured on wider educational topics including the St Albans Academy, a commercially run boarding school for both boys and girls founded around 1780 and active until 1850 as well as charity schools run in the town.

A wider picture of life in St Albans 200 years ago emerged with the discovery of correspondence between gentleman antiquary James Brown, who lived in St Albans from 1799–1839, and John Nichols, editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine. A transcript of her lecture, jointly with colleague Julia Merrick, with quotes from the letters for the local society (St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society) is available from Kate or in local bookshops (ISBN 978-0-901194-19-0).

Kate has studied the community of St Peter’s parish in St Albans over the long 18th century through the records of this important churchyard and open space. From burial registers, monumental inscriptions, wills, censuses and newspaper reports, Kate reconstructed a slice of life in St Peter’s, portraying prominent citizens, merchants and mayors as well as dissenting clergymen and sextons caring for the churchyard. A parish community emerged which can scarcely be imagined today with roundabouts, traffic lights completely obscuring the village-like institutions of parish workhouse, pond, pump and squire’s residence.

St Peter's Church, 19th century
St Peter’s church from the South East (mid to late 19th century).

Her previous lecture to the Friends of St Peter’s providing an overview of the history of the parish can be found at www.stalbanshistory.org.

The Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road, much loved for its overview of the history of the city from medieval times to modern days, is now closed and reopens in May 2018 for changing exhibitions together with an exhibition gallery in the 1830s Town Hall building in St Peter’s Street. In support of the fundraising for this project, Kate has lectured on aspects of life in the town over the long 18th century. This period, though important for the town, has been largely ignored by historians, bar references to its coaching significance.

St Albans Town Hall and Courtroom, 1835
St Albans Town Hall and Court Room 1835. Photo courtesy of the St Albans Museum Service.

St Albans in 50 BuildingsLocal history researches have been extended beyond the borough of St Albans this year to the village of Redbourn, three miles to the north. Invited to lecture on the village in the eighteenth century in the national context, she produced a booklet in support which was available at the Redbourn Museum. In 2018 a further invitation brings that series up to the nineteenth century.

A general history of St Albans through its built heritage is published by Amberley Publishing. This follows Kate’s interest in buildings and their occupants and gives insights into the lives of many of the players in the town’s social history. Available from local bookshops or online. St Albans in 50 Buildings ISBN 978-1-4456-7739-2 See also the Yorkshire history page for more of Kate’s work.