The Bowling Green adjacent to Hitchin Road and the North Roads was the most popular meeting place for people in Stevenage for over 800 years, where people came to hear proclamations, to celebrate, or to remember the dead. Famous writer and MP Samuel Pepys visited to play bowls in 1664, one of the many times that he visited Stevenage. Eventually the Bowling Green was replaced in 1913 when the urban district council approved plans for the ‘conversion of premises on the Bowling Green known as The Dovecot into a hall for use for cinematograph exhibitions’ which was the start of the Publix Cinema.
Whitney Wood used to be much larger by the 19th century than it is now, nearly filling the whole triangle of Hitchin Road, North Road and Corey’s Mill Lane. In the early 13th century, which is the furthest that the name can be traced back to, it is known as ‘Wytehey’ which is thought to mean ‘at the white enclosure’ Later on in 1370 it is referred to as ‘Wyteneye’ and ‘Whetneye’. The woods gained some notoriety after a highwayman, Jacobus Whitney, became famous when stories of his exploits were widely circulated. His adventures came to an end after he was caught and sent to prison in Newgate Prison near St. Paul’s in London. He was executed on the 1st February 1693.