Rack and Ruin


The town of St Albans dates back to Roman times (when it was called Verulamium), so there are some interesting ruins. The ruins above are part of the Roman town wall and are situated in Verulamium Park overlooking the lake. The ruins below are from a 16th century manor house, built on the site of the 12th century Sopwell Nunnery.

No Snoring Aloud

We also liked some of the details inside St Michael’s Church in St Albans. The wooden pulpit above dates from late 16th or early 17th century and has all mod cons, including an hour glass to ensure the sermon doesn’t go on for too long.

There is also a 17th century monument to the statesman/scientist Francis Bacon. He is supposedly relaxing, but looks amusingly like he is sleeping through the sermon.

Shoplifting is a Sin


This is Saint Alban’s shrine in St Albans Cathedral. It reportedly contains a shoulder blade from the saint. Nearby there is this watching loft (below), from which monks and townspeople kept watch over the shrine. Presumably they didn’t want pilgrims to take away a few lucky souvenirs. It dates from about 1400 and is the only medieval wooden watching loft in Britain.

Patron Saint of Refugees


The town St Albans is named after a 3rd or 4th century Christian saint who was martyred by the Romans. According to the Venerable Bede, he was beheaded in the Roman town of Verulamium – now known as St Albans.

That’s Saint Alban in the centre of the stained glass window above, in St Albans Cathedral. He was the first recorded British saint and is the patron saint of refugees, torture victims and converts. He must be a very busy saint!

Underneath the Arches


St Albans Cathedral underwent major restoration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The choir stalls above were replaced, but are still surrounded by Norman arches. The statues in the 15th century Wallingford screen below were also replaced, since the originals were destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries. Although the experts may quibble, the end result of the restoration is very impressive.