A stunning cathedral, with amazing and interesting architecture and features throughout. I was aprticularly taken with the new statues, all rather modern, and will be going back to see the finished version, as there were still works going on.
The actual experience of the Abbey was amazing - so big and the children loved wondering round too. There was a good shop area, with interesting books for sale, as well as a secondhand book sale as well.
Outside of the Abbey is a lovely green space, unfortunately rather littered when we were there, but would be perfect for a picnic in the shadow of such a majestic building.
St Alban's is one of England's oldest towns. There has been a settlement here since the 1st Century BC, and in AD 43 the Romans chose the site for their city of Verulamium, which became the Capital of the Roman province of Brittania.
The city owes its modern name to a Roman soldier, Alban. He became the first Christian to be martyred on English soil, around 303 AD, for hiding and aiding the escape of a Christian priest named Amphibalus. A shrine is recorded here in early times, and St Germanus visited the site in 429 AD.
An abbey was established in his honour by King Offa in 739 AD, and in 1154 its abbot became Archabbot of England, making it the premier abbey in the land. After the Reformation, the church became the Parish church of St Alban's, and was elevated to cathedral status in 1877.
Little remains of Offa's abbey, which was largely made of wood. The Normans began to rebuild it in 1077, and given the lack of building stone in the area, instead used Roman bricks recycled from the earlier town: the church therefore contains substantial amounts of fabric, if not architecture, dating from the 3rd and 4th Centuries. The south transept also contains stone columns from the earlier Saxon church.
The early Norman work is unusual in that the Roman bricks were too hard to carve, and the walls were therefore plastered and painted with geometrical designs. Much of this decoration survives, together with delicate frescoes dated from around 1220. The Nave is unusual in being over 300ft (100m) long, and but also shows a distinct change of style from the romanesque style of the Normans to the later gothic work: most of this is in a beautiful Decorated Gothic style, especially that in the Lady Chapel. The church was essentially finished in its present form in 1323.
As well as the frescoes, there is much of interest elsewhere in the church. Throughout the church are examples of impressive carving from the decorated gothic period, as well as fragments of mediaeval stained glass. The altar screen and painted ceiling in the sanctuary are both impressive works from the 15th century, and the floor contains a beautiful pavement of Victorian glazed encaustic tiles by Minton & Company.
Behind the Sanctuary lies St Alban's chapel. At its heart lies the 13th century marble shrine to St Alban, rebuilt from the original fragments after it was destroyed in the Reformation. It continues to be a major site of pilgrimage. To the north is a carved oak Watching Loft dating from 1400, and to the south the impressive Perpendicular monument of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and brother of Henry V, completed in 1447. Beyond the shrine is the beautiful Lady Chapel, completed around 1315.
The church has an excellent modern refectory, bookshop and a small gift shop. There are regular guided tours and wheel-chair access is available - see website.
A gorgeous cathedral than means a lot to me, I grew up in St Albans and have sung in it many times! Lovely acoustics. There are song great concerts in here, especially at Christmas, and it's a centre for organ performances!
There's a lot of great history around this abbey and there is plenty of information available inside.
Fantastic - The Abbey certainly sums up St Albans and the history of religion in England.
You simply cannot visit St Albans without visiting the Abbey.
It stands proud on the hill overlooking this wonderful city. There truly is a wealth of treasures inside.
We have visited several times and yet there is always more to take in.
If possible keep an eye out for Organ recitals or Choral performances as the acoustics are particularly good.
St. Alban, or Albanus, who has given his name to the town, was the first British martyr. He lived in the reign of Diocletian, and was beheaded on the site of the abbey raised in his honour. The Benedictine monastery which arose became the wealthiest and most popular in England through the fame of the saint. Most of the kings from Saxon times until the dissolution of the monastery in Henry VIII.'s reign, visited this shrine. In later times the Abbey Church was made parochial, and finally a cathedral.
The cathedral occupies the highest site of any in England. The square Norman tower owes its red hue to the Roman bricks used in its construction. One remarkable feature is the length of the nave, which is only exceeded by Winchester. Every style of architecture is represented in the interior from Early Norman to Late Perpendicular, and in the triforium of the north transept are to be seen some Saxon balusters and columns. The shrine of St. Alban is in the Saint's Chapel, with the interesting watching-loft on the north side. The west end has been very much renovated by Lord Grimthorpe.
The Chapel of the Persecuted (wrongly) amused me as for paranoid people. It is really to remember people today who are oppressed and martyred, often - like Alban - because of their faith.
Shrine of St Alban
People have been coming here for over 1700 years to honour Alban. This chapel is today a most holy place of pilgrimage, as it has been for so long. When the monastery was dissolved the pedestal you see was destroyed and has now been reconstructed.
There is a Refectory/Restaurant, a shop and helpful guides.
I always think the Abbey looks so impressive on film and photos but being there. to me, it felt austere and very monastic..rightly so I am sure, but I was not completely enamoured of it.
Apologies to dmj1962 for adding to his already excellent review.
One of the most impressive buildings in the country, St Albans Abbey is brim full of history and has some fascinating people running it. Ideal for summer weather as it is set in large grassy grounds with a huge duck pond and shady trees. On Sunday mornings they have coffee mornings to raise money for charity and they also have a small shop at the back of the abbey.
Very close to the city centre, it's great for walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.
I always like to drop by when I'm in and around the town centre. The building is very interesting and the history of how it's been built since the stones were dragged up the hill from old Verulamium is amazing.
Every visit always uncovers something you missed the last time.
I find it very welcoming, especially when I bring my daughter (who's 4) along - she always tends to put a new angle on the visit by pointing out something that a 'grown-up' would've missed.
This cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. It has actually been used in quite a few films, and you can see why. It is full of history, and to walk around it you just feel in awe!
There is a little cafe inside which sells relatively cheap tea and cakes. It is located in the middle of the town centre, and just a stones throw away from the lake.
Beautiful cathedral inside and out, with lovely grounds too.
good for school work.
quite interesting too!
This cathedral is magnificent on the outside and to a slightly lesser extent on the inside. It does not quite have the grandeur of the greatest cathedrals but is certainly worth a visit and contains many featres of interest. The shrine of St. Alban is particularly notable.
The first historical landmark in the UK that I visited as a student studying in neighbouring Hatfield. The cathedral is beautiful and majestic, both inside and out and its Gothic style architecture absolutely stunning. Its location (next to the breathtaking Verulamium Park makes a visit a complete, fun day out, weather permitting. To my delight, my graduation ceremony was also held in the cathedral, which makes this place extra special to me.
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