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The Standard Bearer

Stevenage’s history dates back to Roman times.

1 The Plaza, Town Square, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 1PF

Although Stevenage is a new town, it has an ancient history. The Romans settled here. Today’s High Street follows the line of a Roman road, along which centurions once marched behind their standard-bearer, now remembered in the name of this Wetherspoon pub. The Saxons gave their village a name meaning ‘the strong oak’. In the 18th century, the present High Street was known as the Great North Road and was a busy coaching route, making Stevenage famous as a coaching town.

Prints and text about The Standard Bearer.

The text reads: The name of this J D Wetherspoon pub recalls that while Stevenage is known as a ‘New Town’, its history dates back at least to Roman times. The High Street, once a Roman road, has had many legions march along it, led by the standard bearers’ eagle emblems. The traces they left include pottery pieces, as well as a lost cache of thousands of silver coins. They also left their dead. The ‘Six Hills’ beside what became the Great North Road are 2,000 year old burial mounds.

During the period 43-410 AD most of Britain was part of the Roman empire, and known as Britannia. The first official Roman presence in Britain was that of Julius Caesar in 55-54 BC. In 43 AD Emperor Claudius invaded. The island was subsequently occupied, and the Roman army built forts, camps and a network of roads.

The end of the Roman Britain came after a series of empire-wide crises. In 401-2 AD the last of the Roman troops were withdrawn from Britain. After the Romans had left, new invaders, this time from northern Europe, settled close to the Roman road through Stevenage, in a place they called Stithenac. This name probably refers to the ‘strong oak’ where they held meetings.

Photographs and text about Thomas Alleyne’s School.

The text reads: Alleyne’s School was founded in 1558 by the Reverend Thomas Alleyne (Rector of Stevenage) who left money in trust for the foundation of a grammar school for boys.
Pupils were to be literate and equipped to learn Latin. However, in 1560 Alleyne’s School agreed to share premises, known as the Old Schoolroom, with Pettis’ School, which was founded to teach English.
The school has undergone many changes over the centuries. In the past 50 years it has been reborn from a Boys’ Grammar School to a comprehensive school, then to a mixed school and most recently to a Specialist Science College.

Above left: Alleyne’s Schoolhouse in 1800
Above right: The Grammar School, c1900
Left: The interior of the Old Schoolroom in 1905
Right: The School’s Christmas production, 1949.

Photographs and text about Lewis Hamilton.

The text reads: Lewis Hamilton was born in Stevenage in 1985. At the age of ten, he approached Ron Dennis, team principal of the McLaren team and told him, “I want to race for you one day … I want to race for McLaren.”

Less than three years later McLaren and Mercedes-Benz signed him to their Young Driver Support Programme. He won his way through all the levels of motor racing until he made his Formula One debut in 2007, 12 years after his first encounter with Ron Dennis.

He finished second in his first season by just one point. The next season he won the World Championship by the same margin.

Above left: Lewis with Nelson Mandela
Above right: Lewis in his new cart before his first race
Left: Meeting Murray Walker, 1995
Right: With Prince Charles at the McLaren factory.

Photographs and text about the Six Hills.

The text reads: The Six Hills are a collection of Roman barrows situated alongside the old Great North Road, close to this Wetherspoon freehouse.

The Six Hills probably mark the cremated remains of a wealthy local family. Over the years, the Hills have all lost over 4 feet (1.2m) in height. They are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and form the most complete group of Roman barrows in the country. Travellers along the Roman road (later the Great North Road) passed these six large mounds for almost two thousand years.

According to legend they are clods of earth thrown by the Devil at passers-by. He missed six times and threw a seventh clod over his shoulder, hitting the spire of Graveley Church. The spire is crooked to this day.

Top: The Six Hills in 1724
Above and left: The Six Hills, c1905.

Prints of the triumphs of Caesar.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

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