St Albans: Wikis


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Coordinates: 51°45′18″N 0°20′10″W / 51.755°N 0.336°W / 51.755; -0.336

St Albans
St Albans is located in Hertfordshire
St Albans

 St Albans shown within Hertfordshire
Population 64,038 [1]
OS grid reference TL148073
District St Albans
Shire county Hertfordshire
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ST. ALBANS
Postcode district AL1, AL2, AL3, AL4
Dialling code 01727
Police Hertfordshire
Fire Hertfordshire
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament St Albans
List of places: UK • England • Hertfordshire

St Albans (pronounced /sənt ˈɔːlbənz/) is a city in southern Hertfordshire, England, around 22 miles (35 km) north of central London, which forms the main urban area of the City and District of St Albans. It was a settlement of pre-Roman origin named Verlamion by the Ancient British, Catuvellauni tribe. It became the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north and became the Roman city of Verulamium. Saint Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was beheaded sometime before AD 324 and gave it its modern name. It is a historic cathedral and market town, and is now a sought-after dormitory town within the London commuter belt.



The 15th century Clock Tower
The west end of the Cathedral & Abbey Church
Remains of Roman wall

The St Albans area has a long history of settlement. The Celtic Catuvellauni tribe had a settlement at Prae Hill a mile or so to the west. The Roman town of Verulamium, second-largest town in Roman Britain after Londinium, was built alongside this in the valley of the River Ver a little nearer to the present town centre.

After the Roman withdrawal, and prior to becoming known as St Albans, the town was called Verlamchester or Wæclingacaester by the Mercian Angles.

The mediaeval town grew up on the hill to the east of this around the Benedictine foundation of St Albans Abbey. This is the spot where tradition has it that St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was beheaded sometime before AD 324. It was, at one time, the principal abbey in England and the first draft of Magna Carta was drawn up there, reflecting its political importance. The Abbey Church, now St Albans Cathedral (formally the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St Alban but still known locally as The Abbey) became the parish church when it was bought by the local people in 1553, soon after the priory was dissolved in 1539. It was made a cathedral in 1877 when the City Charter was granted. There is evidence that the original site was somewhat higher up the hill than the present building and there had certainly been successive abbeys before the current building was started in 1077.

St Albans School, a public school which occupies a site to the west of the Abbey and which includes the 14th century Abbey Gateway, was founded in AD 948 and is the only school in the English-speaking world to have educated a Pope (Adrian IV). It numbered amongst its buildings until comparatively recently a converted former hat factory, a link with the town's industrial past. Nearby Luton was also a notable centre for the hat making industry.

The road between the Abbey and the school, running down to the River Ver and Verulamium Park (on part of the site of Roman Verulamium), is called Abbey Mill Lane. On this road are the palaces of the Bishops of St Albans and Hertford. The Fighting Cocks public house is at the Verulamium Park end of this road. Also on the River Ver, at the St Michael's Village end of the park, is Kingsbury watermill, which is now maintained as a museum with a waffle house attached.

The growth of St Albans was generally slow before the 20th century, reflecting its status as a rural market town, a pilgrimage site, and the first overnight coaching stop of the route to and from London - a fact which also accounts for its many inns, many dating from Tudor times. In the inter-war years it became a popular centre for the electronics industry. In the post-World War II years it was expanded significantly as part of the post-War redistribution of population out of Greater London that also saw the creation of new towns.

The city today shows evidence of building and excavation from all periods of its history and is a tourist destination. Notable buildings include the Abbey and the early 15th century Clock Tower (pictured). The clock tower is one of only two similar towers in England; it is also the site of an Eleanor cross, which was pulled down in 1703 due to neglect, replaced by the town pump. A fountain was erected in its place in 1874, now relocated to Victoria Place.

Running into St Albans from the south is Holywell Hill (generally pronounced "holly-well hill"), its name taken from the story of St Alban: legend has it that his severed head rolled down the hill from the execution site and into a well at the bottom (some versions have a well springing from the site at which the head stopped).

The mixed character of St Albans and proximity to London has made it a popular filming location. The Abbey and Fishpool Street areas were used for the pilot episode of the 1960s' ecclesiastical TV comedy All Gas and Gaiters. The area of Romeland, directly north of the Abbey Gateway and the walls of the Abbey and school grounds, can be seen masquerading as part of an Oxford college in some episodes of Inspector Morse (and several local pubs also appear). Fishpool Street, running from Romeland to St Michael's village, stood in for Hastings in some episodes of Foyle's War. Life Begins was filmed largely in and around St Albans. The Lady Chapel in the Abbey itself was used as a location for at least one scene in Sean Connery's 1995 film First Knight, whilst the nave of the Abbey was used during a coronation scene as a substitute for Westminster Abbey in Johnny English starring Rowan Atkinson. The 19th century gatehouse of the former prison near the mainline station appeared in the title sequence of the TV series Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker. The 2001 film Birthday Girl starring Ben Chaplin and Nicole Kidman was also partly filmed in St Albans.

More recently, several scenes from the film Incendiary, starring Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor and Matthew Macfadyen, were filmed in St Albans, focusing in particular on the Abbey and the Abbey Gateway.




St Albans experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Climate data for St Albans
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9
Average low °C (°F) 5
Precipitation mm (inches) 50.7
Source: [2] 2009-05-23


St Albans is twinned with:

In addition, there are friendship links with:


St Albans has a thriving cultural life, with regular concerts and theatre productions held at venues including St Albans Abbey, Maltings Arts Theatre,[3] the Alban Arena, the Abbey Theatre,[4] St Peter's church and St Saviour's church, given by numerous organisations including St Albans Bach Choir,[5] St Albans Symphony Orchestra,[6] St Albans Chamber Choir,[7] St Albans Chamber Opera,[8] The Company of Ten,[9] St Albans Choral Society,[10] and St Albans Organ Theatre.[11] In addition, STARTS[12] is a registered charity dedicated to raising the profile of all the arts in St Albans and enriching the city’s cultural environment. The Sandpit Theatre is a theatre attached to Sandringham School which hosts a wide variety of plays throughout the year, mainly performances put on by the pupils of Sandringham School. The school also hosts Best Theatre Arts,[13] a part-time theatre school for children aged 4 to 16.


In December 2007, Sport England published a survey which revealed that residents of St Albans were the 10th most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 30.8% of the population participate at least 3 times a week for 90 minutes.[14]

St Albans is home to one of the country's oldest and finest indoor skateparks, the Pioneer Skatepark in Heathlands Drive, next to the former fire station. Its ramps are available to all skateboarders and inliners. A new outside mini ramp was built in March 2005. A second outdoor mini ramp was opened at Easter 2009.

The local football team is St Albans City FC: its stadium is on the edge of Clarence Park and the team won promotion from the Conference South League in 2005-06. It played in the Nationwide Conference Division of the Football Conference for the 2006-07 season, but finished at the bottom of the table and was relegated.[15]

St Albans Centurions rugby league club play at Cotlandswick, St Albans. They play in the Rugby League Conference Premier South division. In 2007 'The Cents', as they are known, became National Champions of the RLC Premier Divisions. There is also the Old Albanian Rugby Football Club, a rugby union club which has a large facility known as the Old Albanian sports complex or the Woollam Playing Fields to the north of the city centre and which also hosts the main offices of the Guinness Premiership club Saracens (however, Saracens train in Hatfield and play home matches in Watford). A team and Zurich A League and OA Saints Women's Rugby Club (formally St Albans Women's RFC). St Albans RFC play at Boggymead Spring in Smallford, and Verulamian Rugby Football Club (formerly Old Verulamians)] play at Cotlandswick in London Colney.

St Albans is also home to St Albans Hockey Club,[16] based in Clarence Park. The club is represented at National league level by both women's and men's teams, as well as other local league competitions. The club's nickname is The Tangerines.

Clarence Park also plays host to St Albans Cricket Club.[17] The club currently runs four Saturday sides, playing in the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League and also two Sunday sides in the Chess Valley Cricket League. In 2008 the club's 1st XI won the Hertfordshire League Title.

St Albans is additionally home to a community of traceurs from around Hertfordshire.[18]

St Albans was once home to the then most prestigious steeplechase in England. The Great St Albans chase attracted the best horses and riders from across Britain and Ireland in the 1830s and was held in such high esteem that when it clashed with the 1837 Grand National the top horses and riders chose to bypass Aintree. Without warning the race was discontinued in 1839 and was quickly forgotten.


The secondary schools in the area are:



St Albans is the location of two campuses of Oaklands College and of a campus of the University of Hertfordshire.

Notable people


  • The Royal Navy has used six vessels with the name HMS St Albans. As the current vessel is a Duke Class Type 23 frigate, its name is taken from the Duke of St Albans, rather than the city.
  • The first meeting of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was held in St Albans on 20 November 1972, at the Farriers Arms pub which has a blue plaque commemorating the event. The organisation still has its head office in Hatfield Road. The local branch holds an annual beer festival in St Albans. In recent years this has been a four day event starting on a Wednesday near the end of September.
  • An experimental water tank was built alongside London Road, St Albans for the Vickers shipbuilding company in 1912 on a site measuring 680 feet (210 m) by 100 feet (30 m). Three years later in 1915, the first private wind tunnel was also built here, but moved to their Weybridge works shortly after the First World War. From December 1918 the test tank was used in developing fuselage profiles for amphibious aircraft, such as the Vickers Type 54 Viking, completed during 1919.
  • The 1957 April Fool's Day spoof edition of BBC documentary series Panorama, which dealt with the fictitious Swiss spaghetti harvest, was filmed partly at the (now closed) Pasta Foods factory on London Road, St Albans.
  • The 2001 film Birthday Girl, featuring Nicole Kidman and Ben Chaplin, is set in St Albans.
  • From 1808 to 1814 St Albans hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain which connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships in the port of Great Yarmouth.
  • Chiswell Green, directly south of the City, is home to the Royal National Rose Society.
  • A number of places across the world are named after the City of St Albans, most notably in Australia, New Zealand & the United States.
  • St Albans was the name of a planet in the cult science-fiction television series Firefly.
  • In September 2007, St Albans replaced Mayfair as the most expensive square on a special UK Here and Now Edition Monopoly board, having won an internet vote.
  • St Albans is noted for having the most pubs per square mile in Britain.
  • The National Pharmacy Association the trade association for all of the UK's community pharmacies, is based in St Peter's Street, St Albans.
  • Enter Shikari's song 'All eyes on the Saint' (B-side of Juggernauts single) tells the story about St Albans.

Photo gallery

See also

Nearby towns & villages


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

St Albans is an English cathedral city, located to the north of London, in the county of Hertfordshire.

St. Albans Cathedral seen through the Roman wall.
St. Albans Cathedral seen through the Roman wall.
The hypocaust and mosaic.
The hypocaust and mosaic.

St Albans [1] started life as the Catuvellauni settlement of Verlamio, renamed and developed by the Romans as Verulamium. Ruins of portions of the Roman wall, the theatre and a hypocaust [2] can be visited today. The Cathedral, originally founded as the Abbey Church of the monastery on the site, is built partially of stones taken from the old Roman town.

Get in

By car

St Albans is close to the M1 (Junction 6 for the A405) and M25 motorways (J21a for the A405, J22 for the A1081). The short M10 also links from the M1 (J8 southbound).

By train

St Albans is easily accessed via the First Capital Connect railway which runs from London St Pancras and connects with London Luton Airport.

The city's second railway station, St Albans Abbey Station, is located to the south of the city centre, and is the terminus of the local line to Watford Junction.

  • the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban [3], which has the longest true nave in Britain.
  • the pubs!.... St Albans has the largest number of pubs per square metre in England.
  • The medieval Clock Tower, built in the early 15th Century [4]
  • St Albans market takes place on St Peter's Street, the city's main shopping street, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • The Farmers market takes place on St Peter's Street the second Sunday of every month.
  • the Museum of St Albans [5] - tells the story of St Albans from the time of the Romans to the present day. It puts on special exhibitions throughout the year, as well as arranging fun and educational events.
  • Verulamium Museum [6] - tells the story of the Roman city, and exhibits Roman mosaics, pottery and other artifacts.
  • the Organ Museum [7] - contains theatre organs, punch-card cafe organs and other instruments. It opens every Sunday afternoon, when visitors have the opportunity to see and hear the fascinating instruments.
  • Wagamama, Unit 6, Christopher Place, tel 01727 865 122 M-Sa 12noon-11pm, Su 12noon-10pm. trendy Japanese noodle restaurant located in the town centre. Prices are moderate (£10-15 / person) and the staff are well trained and friendly.
  • Pizza Express, 11 Verulam Road, tel 01727 853 020, [8]. Su-W 11.30am-11pm, Th-Sa 11.30am-12midnight. The local branch of the popular pizza restaurant chain.
  • Mat subs ,SUBWAY, 78, chequer street, st albans, 01727836375. The famous sandwich take away in the city and also famous for the splendid hospitality by the employees.Nowadays the albans nightlife is more centralised on the subway.  edit
  • the Fighting Cocks - Britains oldest pub that still runs today.
  • THANKAPPAN KALLU SHAP. Thankappans kallu shop, st peters street. The only indian take away in the city which serves traditional indian or kerala drink kallu which contains large amount of alcohol.It can be available in several forms like manavatty, anamayakki, suuper sarasu etc.. edit  edit
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun

St Albans


St Albans

  1. A town in Hertfordshire, England.

Simple English

File:St Albansmap
A map of St Albans from 1944

St Albans is the main urban area of the City and District of St Albans in Hertfordshire, England. It is 22 miles (35km) north of London. St Albans is the former Roman town of Verulamium.



It was originally named Verlamion by the Ancient British, Catuvellauni tribe, and Verulamium by the Romans. It was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north.

Many of the Roman walls were knocked down and used to build St Albans Abbey, otherwise known as St Albans Cathedral. The town has many notable buildings. Alongside the Abbey, there is also the Clock Tower, Ye Old Fighting Cocks, which claims to be the oldest pub in the UK, a Roman amphitheatre and hypocaust floor, a disused bear baiting square in Verulamium Park, and the imposing Rats Castle at the top of Hatfield Road.

The bones of St. Alban, the first English martyr, were kept in the Abbey in a shrine, but were stolen during the 19th century.

Now, due to the proximity to London, St. Albans is a commuter town.

St Albans School

St Albans School is a 'public school'.[1] It occupies a site to the west of the Abbey, which includes the 14th century Abbey Gateway.[2] The school was founded in AD 948 and is the only school in the English-speaking world to have educated a Pope. Adrian IV was the only Englishman to become Pope.[3][4]

Important people from St Albans

  • Nicholas Breakspear (or Breakespeare, c.1100–1159), later Pope Adrian IV, was born in Abbots Langley, and attended school in St Albans.
  • Nicholas Bacon (1509–1579), Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Queen Elizabeth I, built Old Gorhambury House.
  • Francis Bacon (1561–1626), noted philosopher, scientist and statesman, lived at Old Gorhambury House. Bacon was styled 'Viscount St Albans' from 1618.
  • Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660–1744), wife of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and close friend of Queen Anne, was born in St Albans.
  • Edmund Beckett, 1st Baron Grimthorpe (Lord Grimthorpe) (1816–1905), lawyer, amateur horologist, and architect; best-known locally for rebuilding the west front of St Albans Cathedral in 1880-1885 at his own expense, but also designed Big Ben. Lived at Batchwood Hall.
  • Cuthbert Thicknesse (1887–1971), 4th Dean of St Albans Cathedral 1936–1955, objected to the use of nuclear weapons in August 1945, and refused to let the cathedral's bells be rung on VJ Day.
  • Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999), film director, lived in Childwickbury Manor, to the north-west of the town, from 1978 until his death
  • Stephen Hawking (b 1942), theoretical physicist, educated at St Albans School.
  • Sir Stephen Lander (b 1947), former head of MI5, has lived in St Albans for many years.

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