Date = 21st Oct 2018
Run Number = 1823
Venue = The Hare & Hounds
Location = St Albans
Hare/s = Mr X
Beer = Otter; Otter All Black; Wiezen
Runners = 20
Virgins = 0
Tour Guide & Party= 9
Visitors = 0
Newies = 0
Aprčs = 0
Hounds = 1
Total = 21
Membership = Respectful Poppy Runners!
First of all Mr X would like to begin by thanking everyone who took part in the combined Hash/Poppy Run. After a couple of months of planning, advertising on Herts Hash’s social media, & endlessly trying explain (to some) the concept of having a Herts Hash Run combined with a Royal British Legion ‘My poppy Run’, to the extent that Mr X thought that herding cats would be a far easier prospect!
Since we couldn’t get enough members of the Hash Pack all together in one place at the same time to partake in one of the RBL organized ‘Poppy Runs’ in October & November, it was decided we would hold our own with all funds raised going to the Poppy Appeal. So, time had come for the Hash to pay its respects to Family, Friends, 2nd Lt A.S.I Gispert (the Hash House Harriers Founder) & of course all of those who have fallen in conflict.
An earlier than normal start time for the Pack, the reason for this being that Hertfordshire’s only City would be busy by 11:00Hrs & main roads through the centre would be closed, as well as the fact that the Trail would lead up to the Memorial Service up at the War Memorial on St Peter’s Street, there the Pack to pay their respects at the Remembrance Service & partake in the two minutes silence.
After Fliptop was reminded of his duties as GM, he welcomed the Pack to the correct Run Number the Hear was then called forward to explain what the Pack could expect out there.
The Hare began by stating that the Trail had been set using five bags of flour, to which there was a collective groan as the Pack looked on in disbelief! Mr X then said that two of these were used up the day before & these markings that were obliterated by the torrential rain, a downpour that made the Hare abandon his Saturday Trail setting to take shelter in safety of a nearby Hostelry!
In total contrast, the weather was now bright & the sun was out, blown away were the grey clouds that were threatening when the Hare set off early this Sunday Morning to lay the Trail again!
Mr X went on to explain that this Hash Trail was a special one, for it would visit each of the ten ‘St Albans Abbey Parish’ War Memorials, each is a unique plaque set in the walls of homes & dedicated to the Men who lived there, or an adjoining street, who were killed in action in World War I. Beneath would be a red & green stencilled Poppy CHK for the Pack stop at, where members of the Pack would place our own Hash dedication as the Hare handed out ten RBL wooden crosses to the Keenies, each dedicated “Never Forgotten” from Herts Hash House Harriers to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Hare went on to add that three quarters of the way around setting the Trail, he began encountering one of groups of the British Legion girls going around placing RBL Wreaths on all of these St Albans Abbey Parish Memorials. It is rather heart-warming to see that in these days of busy life-styles that these often passed by & overlooked unique backstreet memorials are still remembered in the hustle-bustle of modern life.
The Tail began with the Pack being directed out of the car park to head up Albert Street. Toward the western end of this single lane Victorian road, set in the wall between the small terraced homes of 34/35 Albert Street was the first simple memorial, here Wanktlers placed the first of the wooden crosses inside the wreath already hung there.
The Keenies ran further westward only to find a Bar CHK, normal Hash Rules applied [There are no Rules! – Ed] My Lil’s local knowledge meant he led the way back to Prince’s Mews, with three small homes on three levels to come out on to Pageant Road. Heading eastward along more rows of terraced homes on a street named after a famous Pageant once held there. [Ask Sparky for details! – Ed] Near the end of the road, at No.11, the next Plaque was found.
After the dedicated wooden Cross was set in the Wreath by My Lil’, the Trail resumed & Whatever She Says asked “Is that it then?” as the Pack arrived back at the car park from the start, it wasn’t the end as the Pack were then led up a cut-through at the end of Keyfield Terrace to cross the main London Road, before taking to upper Marlborough Street, then once over the crossroads it would lead on up Victoria Street to turn off on to the west bound snicket through by the magnificent medieval Waterend Barn to come out via the Civic Centre to a Held CHK.
The Pack then all walked up to the main Remembrance Service up at St Peter’s Street, by the main War Memorial beside St Peter’s Church.
The RBL Poppy Run T-shirts received a lot of attention from the general public, Mr X had a conversation with a Lady who turned out to be the RBL coordinator for Hertfordshire. TBT OBE also briefly explained the Hash to some of the crowd around him, mentioning the Hash Father, 2nd Lt. A.S.I Gispert being killed in action at the fall of Singapore, he then pointed out that Mr X, in front of him, was the Hare for the Trail & he lifted up his Poppy Run T-shirt to revel the strikingly bright day-glo orange Hare’s Shirt to confirm the fact!
Then it was on to the serious stuff as the service began, the Last Post was sounded by a member of the Salvation Army, the crowd were exemplary when it came to two minutes silence, it was all rather serene while reflecting on the past, for this area is normally busy all day being situated on the crossroads on one of the major junctions in the City.
With the main Service over, Parades & Padres were left behind as the Trail resumed, heading back over St Peter’s Street to the west side of the shop façades, there the Trail would lead through pedestrianized end of Adelaide Street, for the Keenies the Trail would continue on over Drovers Way to the road section of Adelaide Street.
Someone asked where TBT OBE was, the Hare pointed out that he was already heading away around the end of the candy-cane shaped road to run on to Catherine Street. The Dust then had the FRBs changing tack again coming around on to Worley Road, where the Hash took to the cobbled alleyway that heads southward.
The Trail passed over the dead end of Upton Road, continuing on the next section of alleyway, now walled-in on one side by a Victorian red-brick wall to the left, behind which now sit a series of garages & parking areas. The Short Trailers came out on to Verulam Road to meet the Keenies, just a short way after re-joining the main Trail, on the wall of the Georgian House of number 40 Verulam Road, this road was un-usually quiet due to the road closures for the Remembrance Services, it allowed Mr X & then TBT OBE to cross over to take photos.
TBT OBE was told by the Hare to stay on the south-western side of the road, as the rest of the Pack would use the pedestrian crossing a short way further along, the Trail now lead the Pack down Lower Dagnall Street, more cobbles on another Georgian Street as it drops down toward the Farrier’s Arms [Where CAMRA began – Ed] a Held CHK was found on the corner of a side street.
Once the Pack was back together, the Hare pointed out the original Plaque that at some time in the past was defaced by the home owners of Number 31, the names removed & a hanging basket bolted to the centre of the stone.
However, the St Albans City Council made all such monuments grade II listed, so a couple of doors further down a new memorial with the original servicemen’s names was set & rededicated in the archway of a now bricked in front door, where two homes had been knocked in to one.
The newer memorial had a small group of civilians outside of it, they were with an official tour guide who was explaining the story behind the plaques. The Hash all wearing their ‘Poppy Run’ Shirts soon caught the attention of the tour guide & tourists, she asked what the pack were doing & they all approved at this combined Run for the RBL Poppy Fund.
Mr X then asked if he could explain about the replacement for the defaced original, the tour group agreed & so he told that the original one had a very poignant message inscribed on it. Mr X impeccably read The Bishop of St Albans words from the original dedication.
“As they have won the war, they have left us to win the peace.
These tablets you see have been placed where they will be seen, and should be seen by those who will pass by in future years through the streets where these men once lived. Each of these tablets we are unveiling today bears the words ‘For Remembrance’.
I do not suppose that any of you who have lost a husband, son or brother will ever be likely to forget, but there could be others, as the years pass by, who will forget, or indeed who never knew, the price that was paid in those terrible years for what we believed to be the peace of the world.” Dr Michael Furse - Bishop of St Albans
It does seem that for a time, the Remembrance wasn’t deemed so important & had lost its reverence, but with education, recent major anniversaries & the ability to research family histories on-line, awareness has grown again, with the Royal British Legion, the BBC, Imperial War Museum & Commonwealth War Graves Commission all promoting this for free.
The tour group were kind enough to take photo’s of the Pack, then the Trail resumed, southward to head off as the roadside walkway began to rise above the old lane below on the left, obviously this area was prone to flooding for the homes to have such a high front doors, no doubt being so close from the Old Fishponds the Abbey Monks used for keeping their fish didn’t help.
Outside of number 52 Lower Fishpool Street another group of Civilians were found, they were also good enough to take a couple of photos as the Pack explained who they were & that this was an RBL Poppy Run, again this met with the local’s improvement, though they didn’t meet up afterwards in the Hare & Hounds as invited there by the Pack at the end of the Trail.
The Keenies were now led on a loop via an alleyway to Abbey View, Gemma, Sparky, Tent Packer, Fliptop, My Lil’ & No Eye Deer were all among those going the extra mile [Well it would be almost two by the end of the Hash! – Ed] as they made their way on to Mountpleasant then around by the old dairy to come back on to Lower Fishpool Street.
The two trails re-joined by the Blue Anchor & the Black Lion, sadly each has the words ‘The Former’ written over the original Pub-signs still adorning their frontage. The road turned southward into St Michaels Village, an area of St Albans that is cut off from the main City by Verulam Park to the east, so it retains the rustic feel of a small village.
Just after crossing the River Ver, Gemma mentioned the Waffle House that now resides in the old Mill, this is a popular place at weekend, with queues stretching in to the car park, & even this early on this morning a queue was building up! It’s a popular place indeed. Meanwhile TBT OBE pondered on what the name Verulamium meant, turns out that it is derived from the Celtic for ‘Settlement over the marsh’. [So now he knows! – Ed].
Spotted Dick went off to search Veralum Park from the CHK point by Mill Lane, but calls of “On!” up beyond the Rose & Crown, led the Hash southward by the Six Bells, a few recalled a Hash from the latter as there was a band playing in the garden that day. At the end of the ‘village’ the Pack followed the Trail out through the car park of the Local Museum, a place where at one time all local school kids in Hertfordshire had to undergo a compulsory pilgrimage to see the Roman hypocaust & ruins of the Roman City.
Mother & Fliptop both popped into the Museum’s facilities to answer the call of nature, leaving Lemming hanging around outside the toilets. Wanktlers, Gemma, Tent Packer, My Lil’ & TBT OBE all headed off to the south as the Trail was picked up along the western edge of the park, dust led them behind the long line of trees separating a smaller Bell Meadow section from the larger eastern playing fields area, where one parent could be heard constantly yelling to one of his offspring “Leave the Ref alone!” as his darling child obviously didn’t approve of the man in black’s decision.
Sludge, Whatever She Says, & Ewok took up the offer of the shorter Trail option, running eastward beside the lakes, this would save them the extra mile & a half loop, but Fliptop, Lemming & Mother would opt to take to the Long Trail. For the FRBs, having made their way up the long stretch of the rising Bell Meadow behind the avenue of trees along the northwest edge of the park, a CHK was found in the eastern corner.
It was at this vantage point that the FRBs glimpsed the splendid vista of St Albans Cathedral sitting up on top of the opposite, significantly higher Holywell Hill. On this clear, sunny morning the flags could be seen flying at half-mast, in the distance the peel of various Church bells could be heard & thankfully the scaffolding on the west end of the Cathedral could not be seen from this position!
Trail was discovered over the green space on a line over from by the King Harry Lane tree-line to the tip of the wooded area of autumnal looking broadleaf trees, this was once a part of the earthen rampart of Roman City of Verulamium. The Trail rose & fell as it made its way to the southern tip of the park, even Sparky & TBT OBE both survived the multitude of potential trip hazards of gnarled old tree roots on the first section of embankment.
After finding a Bar CHK, the Pack made their way down in to the wooded ditch, before the trail rose up to turn on to outer rampart. The desire-line snaked its way on top of the earthen rampart, which soon became reinforced on the east side by the remains of the old Roman wall as it headed northward back through Verulamium Park
The lofty narrow path terminated with a careful climb down the slippery end of one section of flint wall, everyone was surprised that both TBT OBE & Sparky managed to successfully negotiate all of the tree roots, fallen leaves, patches of Shiggy, old iron stumps then finally old flints & rocks on this stretch!
These City walls were constructed after the original wooden defences were destroyed when Boudicca ordered the Roman City sacked & burnt by the Iceni in 61 AD, excavations have shown a dark ash layer sits in the soil for that time period.
A north-easterly trot now ensued, with the Keenies making their by the isolated ‘London Gate’ section of Roman wall run down toward the Ver in the park area, a couple of CHKs were thrown in along the way to the River, the Hare was pleased to see that My Lil’ was among those who were caught out, as his experienced knowledge of the area failed him into being lured in to running into the Westminster Lodge area where no Trail existed.
The pack-bridge allowed the Hash to cross the Ver by the old Mill & the mill stream, then to follow Dust by the front of Ye Old Fighting Cocks, the Herts’ Claimant for being the country’s Oldest Pubs, to find a CHK at the western corner of the Park below St Albans Cathedral. Also famed for a draft of Charles I’s execution warrant being drawn up there, a copy of which is inside & has a scrawly signature that could well be Sparky’s!
The likes of Sludge, Spotted Dick, Custard, Paxo & Ewok [What? –Ed] who had a note from the RA as she had pulled a muscle or tweaked something the week before, they were all found waiting at the CHK there with the expectation that they were going in to Ye Old Fighting Cocks, but it wasn’t yet noon & the Hare shooed them away to search for the Trail.
Fliptop searched up Mill Lane on his own, everyone else looked out on the green space. Around halfway up the open green hillside calls of “On!” echoed back from up toward the Cathedral. Suddenly an arrow had the Trail switch to the west, leading from the dead-end of Orchard Street to the end of this where it joins Mill Lane, here the next plaque was found.
This memorial differed from the rest, for it was not crafted out of stone but was a simple metal plaque, & it was the smallest of them all. Two iron rings now adorned with RBL wreaths sit on either side of the two engraved names the plaque bears. Charles Javeleau’s name appears not only on this one, but also inscribed on the last one the Pack would visit.
The Hare placed his Herts Hash Cross in between the wreaths, which meant that No Eye Deer & Mother had yet to place theirs as a mark of respect. It now appeared that the ‘Non-competitive’ Hash was becoming slightly embroiled in one-upmanship. [Or one-upwomanship! – Ed] A French Student was kind enough to take photo’s of the Pack, before she resumed with her jogging. Again she was another who didn’t take up the offer on joining the Pack on the Trail.
The Trail would lead up by the Abbey School, passing through arch of the old stone gate house, on the opposite side from a CHK by the stone & flint wall of the Cathedral grounds, was a War Memorial behind the railings, this was a large stone cross is in a style of the more familiar War Memorials, it is inscribed with the names of Teachers & Students of the Abbey College who died in both World Wars. Oddly, though it sits within the boundaries, this isn’t classed as one of the Abbey Parish memorial. The Hash paid their respects here too.
The Abbey was said to have been founded by King Offa at the supposed site of the execution of St Albans, the First English (British) Martyr. St Albans School is famous for educating the only English Pope, Nicholas Breakspear (Adrian IV 1154 - 59) as well as the First draft of Magna Carta being drawn up there in 1214. Robert Runcie, former Bishop of St Albans, then Archbishop of Canterbury is buried within the ground of the Cathedral, his face is also immortalised as a Gargoyle on the south-western side of the roof.
Leading back around outside of the north-western tip of the grounds of the Cathedral and Abbey Church, the Trail nipped up to a flagstone path in front of the single line of quaint cottages that look out over Tankerfield Place, arrows had the Pack turn the corner on to George Street, an uphill run on old slippery cobbles as the Trail rose to where this road joins the very short High Street. Here the Boys in blue pulled up in their car to ask the GM if the Pack were following the ‘White Dust’, he said that they were & off they went.
Herts Police are mostly aware of Hash Trails in the County, several years ago Mr X send in a detailed email explaining what the markings were to the Rural Policing Unit, after several scares stories appeared on Social Media & caught the eye of Pack members.
The Pack would again meet up with the tour party once again, just across from the Curfew tower - which often mistaken for being a Church Clock Tower. There on the front of the scaffold covered shopping parade, by the side of 15 the High Street, was the next memorial next to an old passageway, this is probably the most ornate & religious in appearance, with its Crucifix & shell carvings in what looks like a marble edifice.
So, once a quick snap was taken of the Memorial the Hash could leave the tour in peace, if only for a short while! ‘On!’ through the almost medieval passageway, passing by the olde worlde shopping arcade to come out a hundred yards further along to Waxhouse Gate, in the grounds of St Albans Abbey.
Flanders caught up with the rest of the Pack as everyone regrouped at a Held CHK near to the gate to the Abbey’s Vintry Gardens, by the First World War Black & Red Poppy metal seat cut with silhouettes of Soldiers & Poppies seat. The Hare announced that this was a ‘Rations’ Stop with two large bars of Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate, in the replica 1900’s packaging, suitably Spotted Dick was in charge of handing out one bar of chocolate.
Also as it was Noon, he produced a bottle of Pusser’s Rum in order to ‘Splice the Main-brace’ in order for the Hash to toast the fallen in front of the ‘Verdun Chestnut tree’. Mr X then explained that the Pusser's Rum was given to him by a late ‘Shipmate’ at the RNA who served on the Arctic Convoys in WWII, as it seemed fitting.
This Verdun Chestnut is now classed as a living memorial, an information board explains that the tree was one of 20 grown by a Reading horticulturalist from seeds from the only surviving tree on the French battlefield. It was planted on January 18, 1976, by 87-year-old Gordon Fisher, a local ‘Old Contemptible’, the term used by those in the British Expeditionary Force which served in Flanders within range of the enemy mobile artillery between August 5 and November 22, 1914
The Verdun Chestnut has been shortlisted for the ‘Tree of the Year’ 2018
On through the well-kept, peaceful Vintry grounds, more cobbles were run as the Trail led out of Sumpter’s Yard & on to Holywell Hill, a turn to the south would head down the hill until reaching 52 Holywell Road, this memorial set to the side by the gates to the yards beside the Cathedral Abbey grounds. Mother finally managed to dedicated her Cross here.
By now some must be wondering what the difference is between a Cathedral & a Cathedral Abbey Church? Well, simply put – unlike most Cathedrals, the Cathedral Abbey Church not only has a Diocese, it is a Parish Church as well – hence the Abbey Parish World War I Memorials.
For the FRBs of Gemma, Wanktlers, TBT OBE, My Lil’ it was back to running down the Hill then crossing over to the east side of the road to the very bottom of the Hill, where the Trail would cross over the River Ver before being directed by an arrow on a 90° turn taking to the footpath that runs along beside the Riv Ver, more Shiggy on the path before crossing a raised narrow metal footbridge to the north side of the river & then along to break way & follow the Trail through the 1990’s estate.
Meanwhile the SCBs followed the Hare to miss out the loop by the Ver, to intercept the Trail on a route that would take in No.1 Bardwell Road. Here Gemma dedicated her cross, which just left No Eye Deer with the last small wooden RBL cross.
Again the Pack met up with the tour, they & the Pack were becoming good friends & had another laugh at bumping in to each other! Once the lady tour guide had finished her speech about two of the names both dying on the Somme, she asked where the Pack were going to next? The Hare said to the one on the street behind, so began a race to get there first, though the tour had a head start as the Pack stayed for photo’s!
It was on this home stretch that Lofty & Henry caught up, after they had a late start. Lofty was reluctant to get in the photo’s as she didn’t have a RBL Poppy Run shirt on, she was reassured by Paxo that it’s the taking part that counts!
The final memorial was the one set in the 80/82 Sopwell Lane just yards from the On Inn, again once the Tour had finished the Pack could pay their respects, finally No Eye Deer could set her Cross within the wreath, but without a little help from Wanktlers, as Ewok correctly predicted this would be the highest of the Memorials & out of her reach! [Someone being hightist there? – Ed]
This memorial was the only one the Hash visited that had stones painted with Poppies on, all set out beneath it
The Pack finished the Trail, settling in to the reserved area in the back Bar. Changing out of Poppy Run T-shirts, Hash t-Shirts were now adorned with the Poppy Run medals, which are solid & heavy enough not to want to run around with them hanging from your neck.
This week’s Trash’s cartoons were mainly from WWI, most of which were by Captain (Charles) Bruce Bairnsfather, who sometimes drew these while on active service in the trenches for ‘The Bystander’ magazine, his most famous creation about life in the trenches is ‘Old Bill’ a curmudgeonly old soldier [Sounds like he could be one of our Hashers! – Ed]
The Circle was called outside on the patio garden. Glasses Raised as the GM toasted the Hash, then it was time to award the Hare his pint for setting the Trail that morning & completing 10 miles! Then after he had finished, it was over to Mr X, he related the story of St Albans VC winner No. 7602 Private Edward Warner, 32, 1ST Btn Bedfordshire Regiment
‘For most conspicuous bravery near ' Hill 60 ' on 1st May, 1915. After Trench 46 had been vacated by our troops, consequent on a gas attack, Private Warner entered it single-handed in order to prevent the enemy taking possession. Reinforcements were sent to Private Warner, but could not reach him owing to the gas. He then came back and brought up more men, by which time he was completely exhausted, but the trench was held until the enemy's attack ceased. This very gallant soldier died shortly afterwards from the effects of gas poisoning’
Returning to his RAing Duties, Mr X was ready with the rest of the Down-Downs. The first out were awards, with Wanktlers receiving his 50 Run Bag, a stylish back pack & not one so large that Ewok could use it as a canoe! The next anniversaries were Tent Packer & Fliptop on reaching the 70 Club (Years not Runs) but Fliptop had to make do with a Virtual Herts 70th Polo as Sludge had left it at his home! So, Sludge was out for leaving this nice bit of haberdashery behind!
Mr X finished off the Circle by getting the Pack to raise a toast to Family, Friends, ASI Gispert & all those who have fallen in Service. Though Sparky didn’t hear the founder of the Hash’s name mentioned. Hopefully he’ll get a new Hearing Trumpet from Santa?
Returning to the Bar, Mr X thoughts turned to the left over chocolate, except there was none left, he thought that perhaps mice had been at it but My Lil’ said that he saw Ewok dipping in to the bag.
All in all it was worth all of the effort in registering Hashers, setting the Trail twice, completing 10 miles on the day, writing the dedication on all the crosses, stencilling the Poppy CHK points at each stop, preventing Sparky from shaking things on street corners, making sure he met at the right day of the 11th of the 11th, Mr X wouldn’t have had it any other way, though a career in Herding Cats does seem appealing.
in memory of friends, family, all service personnel & Hash House Harriers Found 2nd Lt A.S.I Gispert - who made the ultimate sacrifice.