Though St. Albans is less than an hour away from London, it feels like you’re worlds away when you step off that train and make your way to the town centre. St. Albans brings to life it’s rich history, dating back to the Roman settlement of Verulamium. Roman walls are scattered around the town, and especially at the park which hosts it’s own archaeological museum – The Verulamium Museum, it houses artifacts found in the local Roman settlement, displaying everyday life in Roman Britain.
I fell in love with the Medieval architecture of St. Albans. Our first stop was at the clock tower. The clock tower, built in the fifteenth century, is one of the oldest examples of a Medieval town belfry in England. It was in use until the nineteenth century when the top of the tower was used as a semaphore station during the Napoleonic Wars.
For a £1 entree fee, you can climb all the way to the top, the best part being the fantastic view of St. Albans and beyond!
Next stop, St. Albans Cathedral. St. Albans Cathedral is a wonder of its own kind. The building is a mix of architectural styles dating back to the Normans. I felt at ease as the hours passed, walking along the aisles, soaking in every inch of history as it revealed itself to me through the walls.
The cathedral is named after the town’s patron saint, St. Alban, a Roman citizen of Verulamium who was martyred on the site of the building. St. Alban is famous for being Britain’s first Christian martyr. It is generally believed that he was martyred sometime between 205-304 AD.
This building is full of art historical significance and innovation. The tower is the only standing example of an 11th century cross tower in England.
This beautiful roof symbolizes both the Tudor and Stewart houses. One of the Battles of the Roses occurred on a site at St. Albans. Both roses were included in the Tudor decoration at the cathedral as the Bishop didn’t think it fair to show favor to one family over the other.
As we made our way out of the cathedral, towards the old Roman settlement of Verulamium, we passed what I was told is the oldest pub in England, the Fighting Cocks. I couldn’t help but feel that I had walked onto the set of a Lord of the Rings film. This absolutely charming little pub hosts a cosy and traditional interior with it’s own fireplace.
A short walk across the River Ver led us into the local park, in which we discovered Roman walls, mosaics and the Verulamium Museum.
No we didn’t step into a time warp, we were just lucky enough to visit St. Albans during the celebration of the Magna Carta, the negotiations of which began in St. Albans. We watched a re-enactment of the date in history as well as a Medieval battle.
So if you need a day away from London, make your way to St. Albans. St. Albans can easily be reached either from Kings Cross or Kentish Town overground stations. Tickets cost as little as £7.50 return so what are you waiting for?