Visit St Albans and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
St Albans, Hertfordshire. This ancient city, with its narrow, twisting, hilly streets, was once one of the largest and most important Roman towns ever established in the country. The abbey is visible from miles around, and the town is a fascinating place to visit, with a wealth of features dating from Roman times to the present day.
The remains of Verulamium, open to the public, were only excavated in the present century. When the Romans occupied this part of the country a British settlement already existed here, according to Julius Caesar, since he refers to it in his De Bello Gallico, when he tells of his invasions in 54 B.C. By the middle of the 1st century A.D. it had become so important that it was elevated to the status of a municipium, the only British city to attain such an honour, which accorded the inhabitants the right of Roman citizenship. In A.D. 61 the town was sacked by Boadicea, but after her defeat and death it was rebuilt and recovered its prominence. Remains of the walls, some reaching to 12 ft. can still be seen. The theatre, the only Roman one in Britain, has been excavated and restored. Semi-circular in shape, it is 180 ft across and provided for 1,600 spectators. Among the other remains to be seen are a temple, to the south of the theatre, and a mosaic floor, with the Roman form of central heating still intact.
In the museum are displayed jewellery, pottery, a Mithraic token, household implements and many other exhibits discovered during the excavations.
The cathedral, St Albans Abbey, was built on the site where the first British martyr, Alban, was beheaded in the 4th century., after being converted to Christianity and assisting a persecuted priest to escape. Constructed largely from brick and flint taken from Roman remains, its nave is nearly 300 ft long. The crossing tower, of great breadth, appears squat because of its massive size. The abbey dates from the 11th century, but every century has seen additions and alterations to it. The Lady Chapel, completed in the 14th century, was made into a grammar school at the Dissolution, the nave was lengthened in the 13th century, and the reredos erected in the 15th century. The rood-screen, separating the monastic choir from the nave, is of stone. The large circular stone pulpit in the nave has l3th-century diaper patterning and was given by Lord Grimthorpe, who in 1879 personally paid for the restoration of the cathedral, which had deteriorated greatly in the 19th century. The restoration is believed to have cost £130,000. The choir stalls were added in 1905, the font and cover in 1933. The watching loft of timber with a narrow staircase opens on to the Shrine of St Alban which was erected in the 14th century, later destroyed and rebuilt in the 19th century after its several thousand pieces were found. Because the construction was of Purbeck marble it was possible to identify the pieces and they were pieced together by Sir Gilbert Scott. On the south side, the upper part shows the figure of King Offa. A scene of the martyrdom is at the west end and in the base are several holes, supposed to be healing holes, since miraculous cures are said to have occurred at the shrine. The medieval paintings are said to be unique in England, and there are many monuments of importance, three of particular interest being the chantry chapels to the Duke of Gloucester, 1447, Abbot Wheathamstead, 1465, and Abbot Ramryge, 1519. There is also a large collection of brasses.
The early-15th-century clock tower, facing the High Street, has a bell which still strikes on the hour and is older than the tower itself. Nearby, the Victorian fountain replaced a market cross which was erected after the famous Eleanor Cross, commemorating Queen Eleanor's brief resting place as her coffin was conveyed to its burial, was pulled down.
Beside the clock tower is the narrow Market Place, in which stands the 19th-century. Town Hall, facing St Peter's Street, its pillared front with a massive portico resting on fluted Ionic columns. It was here that two fierce battles took place during the Wars of the Roses. French Row, west of the tower, is a reminder of French occupation in the early 13th century. In the Fleur de Lys Inn, considerably restored but with much of its original timber framework, King John of France was imprisoned after the battle of Poitiers in 1356. Several of the buildings in this street date back to the 14th century.
Nearby towns: Borehamwood, Harpenden, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Welwyn Gargen City
Nearby villages: Abbots Langley, Sandridge, London Colney, Bricket Wood, Smallford, Colney Heath, Wheathampstead, Redbourn, Abbots Langley, Elstree
Have you decided to visit St Albans or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a St Albans bed and breakfast (a St Albans B&B or St Albans b and b)
- a St Albans guesthouse
- a St Albans hotel (or motel)
- a St Albans self-catering establishment, or
- other St Albans accommodation