A Short History of Bernards Heath

The Peasants Revolt

... Namely, they and their successors shall have and hold in perpetuity a common of pasture [common grazing] from the town of St Alban's on the high road as far as Stone Crouche [Stone Cross, at the junction of Sandridge Road and Sandpit Lane], and thence on the road to Nodaissh [could this refer to a Node House, situated at the junction of Sandridge Road, Beech Road and Marshalswick Lane?], and also from the said town of St Alban's as far as Milayssh [Could this refer to a Mile House, on the 'high road'?], which is situated on the high road to Luton [Harpenden Road]; also in Barnetwode [Bernard's Heath, a wood or heath cleared by burning, i.e. a burn'd wood], in Frytwode [a coppiced wood?], and in Dernwellane ["deep well lane" possibly Everlasting Lane], on the whole of the path going to Oysturhille [Osterhills] as far as Kyngesbury [Kingsbury, now known to be on the site of Verulamium]; and from Kyngesbury going via Gounelstone [Originally Gunnar's tun, with many later variants, on Fishpool Street, near the Black Lion] into the said town of St Alban's. ...

Charter of Freedom of St Albans, 16th June 1381
From "The Peasants Revolt in Hertfordshire 1381" Hertfordshire Publications, 1981

During the Middle Ages there were many disputes between the Abbot and the people of St Albans concerning common rights. At the time of the Peasants Revolt in 1381 the citizens of the town presented a charter identifying the common rights that they believed they should have. As can be seen from the above the common land represented a large area from near St Peter's Church round to the ruins of Verulamium, including Bernards Heath and Osterhills. The Abbot signed the charter - but revoked it when the Revolt collapsed. One of the leaders was William Grindlecob. He was arrested and executed. It is not known where the gibbet was - but there is good evidence for a gallows on the Heath at a later date.

Next: The Second Battle of St Albans

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