Things to do: London to St Albans, Discover Cathedrals, Saints and Martyrs

St. Albans Cathedral on a Lovely Spring Day

St. Albans Cathedral showing the 19th century west front
St. Albans Cathedral showing the 19th century west front | Source

The Shrine of Saint Alban

In a poll carried out by the BBC, the shrine of St Alban, in St Albans Cathedral was named one of the UK's top five favourite spiritual places.
In a poll carried out by the BBC, the shrine of St Alban, in St Albans Cathedral was named one of the UK's top five favourite spiritual places.
St. Alban's Cathedral is a contrast of styles from different times.
St. Alban's Cathedral is a contrast of styles from different times. | Source

Saint Alban Holding a Cross

Death of St. Alban shown in stained glass at Cathedral

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The Martyrdom of St. Alban, from a 13th century manuscript.

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Visit St. Albans Cathedral

According to Samuel Johnson, "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

If you're planning a visit to London, you're in for a real treat. You will need sufficient time to appreciate all that the capital city has to offer, and when the excitement becomes too much, well.. you'll want to slow the pace down just a touch by visiting some of the 'must see' surrounding areas, like St Albans in Hertfordshire.

For many visitors, the trip to St. Albans Cathedral is a Christian pilgrimage, for others, a chance to appreciate the contrast of architectural styles, from the Saxon period through to the Victorian restoration and 20th century Chapter house.

The Cathedral is an easy day trip from London. The train from king's Cross St. Pancreas heading north towards Bedfordshire, takes approximately 25 minutes. If you choose to go by car, a few miles drive up the M1 motorway to Hertfordshire is where you'll discover the ancient city brimming with history, that is St Albans.

St Albans is situated in Hertfordshire, less than 20 miles from London, as the crow flies. I've lived in the district of St. Albans for nine years, and I'm ashamed to say, although my husband and I fully intended to spend some time looking around the impressive world famous Abbey/Cathedral, that dates back to Norman times, we never did so while living in the area.

Why is it, that we so often take for granted some of the most extraordinary things that are right on our door-steps? Some of the most incredible national treasures are ignored by the people who are living right next to them.

Although we've walked passed the Cathedral more times than I'd care to remember, We often, put off visiting, believing we will always have time enough to fully appreciate it later. But of course, yes... you've guessed it, we never visit the Cathedral until we had moved away from the area. So I decided not to allow procrastination to get in my way any longer.

Today is the day, equipped with camera, a supply of memory sticks one husband and a dog, we headed out to the Cathedral, which is all of 20 minutes drive away, still pretty close, despite the move from Hertfordshire to Bedfordshire a few years ago.

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Abbey, now St Albans Cathedral is the oldest site of continuous Christian warship in Britain. The Abbey stands on the hill where Alban, Britain's first Christian martyr was buried. There is no accurate documentation of when Alban was born, his death, the date of his execution has never been established and continues to be the subject of much debate.

Traditionally, Alban's death was placed at around 305 AD, but some historian believe that his execution must have taken place earlier, possible 209 AD. Historians suggests, that the date was in point of fact, 22nd June 209 AD, as mentioned in 'Acta Martyrum ( Acts of martyrs, accounts of the suffering and death of a Christian martyr or group of marytrs). The discrepancy exists, because these accounts often vary in authenticity.

Alban is believed to have been a Romano-British citizen of the Roman town of Verulamium, now St Albans, around the 3rd or 4th century.

He gave his life for his faith. A pagan, Alban famously gave shelter to, and was subsequently converted to Christianity by an itinerant Christian priest who was later named as Amphibalus, also the Greek word for 'coat.'

Although the priest existed, the name Amphibalus may have been attributed to him retrospectively.

Alban was so impressed by the priest's piety, he famously cast off his pagan beliefs and became a Christian himself.

Amphibalus was a citizen of Caerleon in South Wales during the religious persecution of Emperor Diocletion. The travelling priest took refuge in the home of Alban for a few days, eluding the Roman soldiers searching for him. When the Romans eventually found the priest, the soldiers attempted to seize him, but was duped by Alban who exchanged and wore the priest's cloak and gave himself up to the Romans for martyrdom in place of Amphibalus. The priest would be later caught and also martyred.

Despite being bound and tortured, Alban refused to renounce his new faith, or give up his friend, he was sentence to death and beheaded on Holywell Hill, (formally Holmhurst Hill). St Alban became known as the patron of Converts and refugees.

To get to the place of execution, Alban and the Roman soldiers must first cross the River Ver, but the bridge over the river was blocked by large numbers of town folks who came to witness the execution. Alban and the soldiers were unable to cross the river.

Wishing for a quick death, legend has it, Alban raised his eyes to the heavens, and the river dried up, allowing for a dry passage over land. When the executioner, a Roman soldier, saw this, he was so moved that he cast down his sword and fell at Alban's feet. The soldier prayed that he would suffer with Alban, or be executed instead of him, twice he refused to carry out the execution.

Alban became thirsty as they ascended the hill, he prayed for water to quench his thirst, and a spring appeared at his feet. A second executioner was called to replace the first, and Alban was beheaded, as was the executioner who refused to execute Alban. But the story did not end there, apparently; after delivering the stroke that severed Alban's head from his body, the eyes of the second executioner who did the dastardly deed, fell to the ground with Alban's head.

The judge who ordered the execution of Alban, was so affected by the miracles, he ordered the executions stopped, and began to honor the death of saints.

When Alban's burial place was later revealed to King Offa (King of Anglo-Saxon England, 759-796), a shrine was erected over the remains where the Cathedral in St. Albans now stands.

Alban's head is said to have rolled down the hill from whence he was executed and a well sprang up where it stopped. A well still exists today, the road to the cathedral is known as Holywell Hill. Amphibalus was captured four days after Alban's execution and was stoned to death. His body is believed to have been discovered at Redbourne, in 1178.

St Albans Abbey has been the scene for many ghostly sightings over the years, including some well documented cases. In 1944 a fire watcher named Basil Saville reported a sighting of two hooded figures, heard the organ playing of its own accord and witness procession of ghostly monks.

St Alban himself apparently appeared at night to a monk by the name of Robert in 1178, he indicated that he wanted to make known the location of the remains of Amphibalus.

Robert rose, and was led to Redbourne and the burial place of Amphibalus and his fellow-martyrs. Healing miracles is said to have occurred on the spot, many bodies were found, but one in particular fitted the manner and circumstances of Amphibalus death. What was believed to be the remains of Amphibalus were fittingly moved to a shrine in the Abbey Church of St Albans.

In 1323, a section of the Abbey's roof collapsed damaging Amphibalus' shrine, which was then moved to a temporary home.

Around 1350, he was given a more permanent home in the 'Saints chapel.' However; the shrine was later destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry Vlll, and the relics scattered and lost. The remains of the stone shrine was discovered in the 19 th century, during renovations, it was reassembled in 1872, under the direction of George Gilbert Scott, and can now be seen in St Alban's Cathedral.

Facts About St. Alban

  • Patron of Converts and refugees

  • Memorial Day/Feast Day: June 22nd

  • Born in the Roman town Verulamium (St. Albans in Hertfordshire, UK)

  • Represented in Christian art with a sword and a fountain
  • Laid down his life for another


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Some Famous People from St Albans

  • Stephen Hawkins born (1942), physicist, educated at St Albans school
  • Donovan, born (1946), songwriter and folk singer, lived in St Albans in the 1960s
  • Stanley Kubrick (1928- 1999) film auteur, resided in Childwickbury Manor, from 1978 until his death.
  • Tim Rice (1944) lyricist, attended St Albans school
  • Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) philosopher, scientist, and statesman, lived at Old Gorhambury House
  • Nicholas Bacon (1509-1579) Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Queen Elizabeth l, built Old Gorhambury House.

St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, UK

show route and directions
A markerBricket wood -
Bricket Wood, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL2, UK
[get directions]

B markerGorhambury House -
Old Gorhambury House, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3, UK
[get directions]

C markerRedbourn -
Redbourn, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3, UK
[get directions]

D markerSt Albans Cathedral -
The Cathedral & Abbey Church of Saint Alban, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 1BY, UK
[get directions]

Source

Visit the Verulamium Museum St Albans

A Guide Through St Albans Cathedral

Things to do in St Albans

What's on in St Albans

  • The Verulamium Park
  • Verulamium Museum
  • St Albans South Signal Box
  • St Albans Organ Museum
  • Museum Of St. Albans
  • Butterfly World Project
  • Parish of St. Michael
  • Westminster Lodge Leisure Center
  • St Albans Local Walks
  • Pubs
  • The Clock Tower

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A Pleasant Walk in Brickwood St Albans

Bricket wood, my previous home for nine years, where some of the most important wild life sites in Hertfordshire can be found.
Bricket wood, my previous home for nine years, where some of the most important wild life sites in Hertfordshire can be found. | Source

Spring in the Hertfordshire Country side

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Bricket wood

These are the stables where my neighbor and friend Caroline keeps the various horses she rescues.
These are the stables where my neighbor and friend Caroline keeps the various horses she rescues. | Source

Bricket wood In St Albans

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New Gorhambury House, Home of Francis Bacon.

This Building replaced Old Gorhambury house. Mandatory guided tour.
This Building replaced Old Gorhambury house. Mandatory guided tour.

Old Gorhambury Featured In The Haunted Earth Halloween Edition

The Remains of Old Gorhambury House, Once A Large Mansion Constructed In 1563-8 By Nicolas Bacon, Keeper Of The Great Seal To Queen Elizabeth l

German Folk Dancers Performed At St Albans Cathedral

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Have you visited St Albans?

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Things to do in London, Soak up the History With a Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum, founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, with a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. A must see for visitors to London.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, with a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. A must see for visitors to London. | Source

Experience London Through the London Eye

A Visit to the London Eye is free to children under 4 years of age, but a ticket is required. Children under 14 years old must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 years.
A Visit to the London Eye is free to children under 4 years of age, but a ticket is required. Children under 14 years old must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 years. | Source

Tate Modern, Famous London museum Of Art

Bankside Power Station built after WWll now houses the Tate Modern, one of London most famous museum of Art.
Bankside Power Station built after WWll now houses the Tate Modern, one of London most famous museum of Art.

Put Somerset House on your things to do in London List

Somerset House is a spectacular neoclassical building situated in the Strand London. It's a major  arts and cultural center and home of London Fashion Weekend.
Somerset House is a spectacular neoclassical building situated in the Strand London. It's a major arts and cultural center and home of London Fashion Weekend. | Source

Visit The British museum

Things to do in London Free or Affordable

London can be an expensive place to visit, especially for families, but it doesn't have to be. There are still many fantastic things to see and do without spending a fortune. London is a paradise for museum lovers, The Natural History Museum, The Imperial War Museum, The Science Museum and the British Museum are just a few all time favorites that are always well worth a visit and will keep the kids fascinated for hours.

A list of Attractions visitors to the Capital would hate to miss

  • Museum of London, tells the story of the world's greatest city and it's people, providing an unforgettable journey through the ages. From prehistoric to modern times. The museum is located at 150 London wall, London EC2Y 5HN, close to the Barbican Center as part of the Barbican complex. Many London Museums are free, there are hundreds to choose from.
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Royal Festival Hall
  • Royal Institute
  • Barbican Center
  • Guildhall art Gallery
  • Tate Modern
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National gallery
  • Bank of England museum
  • Speakers' Corner
  • Borough Market
  • Houses of Parliaments
  • National Maritime museum
  • Natural History museum
  • Science Museum
  • St Paul's Church
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Wallace collection
  • Serpentine Gallery
  • The London Eye
  • Buckingham Palace
  • The London Shard


© J. Alexis-Hagues April 16, 2014


Buckingham Palace, Full Documentry

The Shard: Get the London Perspective From The Top Of The Tallest Building In Western Europe

London; see it, Love It

What do think about London?

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London, England UK

show route and directions
A markerThe London Eye -
London Eye, Riverside Bldg, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, London SE1 7PB, UK
[get directions]

B markerThe Shard, London UK -
The Shard, London SE1 9RL, UK
[get directions]

C markerVictoria and Albert Museum Kinsington UK -
Victoria and Albert Museum, Kensington, London SW7 2RL
[get directions]

D markerThe British Museum, London, UK -
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK
[get directions]

E markerThe Natural History Museum, London UK -
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington, London SW7 5BD, UK
[get directions]

F markerBuckingham Palace, London UK -
Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, UK
[get directions]

G markerThe Tower of London -
Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB, UK
[get directions]

H markerSomerset House, The Strand London UK -
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, UK
[get directions]

I markerNational Gallery, London -
The National Gallery, London WC2N 5DN, UK
[get directions]

J markerScience Museum, London UK -
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD, UK
[get directions]

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36 comments

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi peachpurple, yep, London is a pretty cool place to visit, lots of history for sure.

Always a pleasure, my best to you.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

london is so beautiful, the buildings remind me of harry porter school


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Kim, you'll love it! There's so much to see so plan your visit well, and give yourself sufficient time to take it all in. Thank you for checking out the hub. A pleasure to see you.


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Hi Jo. It is on my bucket list to visit England. I hope to do so in the next couple years. I found this quite wonderful and long to visit some of these fabulous places you have suggested. All the best. Kim


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Susan, The cathedral is certainly impressive, they really built to last back then. I'm glad I finally took the time to have a little wander around. I love St Albans, we still go back for the odd weekend walks around Bricket Wood since we're not too far away. Thank you for taking a look, much appreciated, best wishes to you.


Susan Hambidge profile image

Susan Hambidge 2 years ago from Hertfordshire, England

I live close to St Albans now and used to live in Marshallswick! I love the cathedral, museum and park as an afternoon out - and they're all free to residents! Lovely hub.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Theresa, when I write about things that I personally find interesting, I do tend to go on a bit. :) I should probably break the big subjects into smaller bites size pieces, but I don't think that will do the hubs justice. I'm so glad you enjoyed the read. London and St Albans are both very fascinating places. Always a pleasure to see you, I hope you're keeping well, my best to you.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

My heavens Jo. This is fabulous! You have covered everything and provided such good information and such fabulous pictures. This could be a small book. You know the British tourist industry owes you some money. What an a labor intensive, and beautiful Hub. :) Theresa


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Good morning to you Miss Dora, Yes indeed, London always look it's best when the sun is shinning, there is so much to see, I hope you'll visit soon. Thank you so much for the lovely comment, I hope you're keeping well, my best to you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Excellent article. I would love to visit London. The architecture is so inviting. Thanks for the historical details and the sight seeing. Voted Up!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Kim, I'm touched by you very kind comment. Thank you for stopping by and for taking a look, always appreciated. Take care and my very best to you.


ocfireflies 2 years ago

Jo,

Your skill as a writer continues to amaze me. This is such a great hub and presented so professionally yet in user-friendly way. V+ WAY UP/HP Awesome job my friend!

Kim


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Ruby, if you love museums, you will most certainly feel right at home in London. I loved the story of St Alban, " no greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends." No... this was no ordinary dude. :)

Have a great weekend and my very best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Rebecca, thank you so much for taking a look, much appreciated. London is waiting for you!! :)

I hope you will visit one day, I know you'll love it. Have a wonderful weekend, my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Frank, thank you for stopping by, much appreciated and so glad you enjoyed the hub. I hope all is well and you're having a great weekend.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Devika, glad you enjoyed the hub, thank you for stopping by, always appreciated. My best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi travmaj, such a pleasure to see you, thank you for taking the time. I just knew you would have already visited London, next time be sure to check out ST Albans you'll love it. Take care and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Faith, It's always a joy to see you. Sorry to everyone for the delayed response, we decided to spend the day in the New Forest and had to leave home quite early to avoid all the Easter weekend traffic, only just got back. Thank you for the wonderful comment, I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub. Bricket Wood is a beautiful place to live, but no longer practical, since I don't drive. I still miss it, although we're not too far away.

Looking forward to seeing you when you come to London. Take care and my best as always.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Flourish, so glad you've enjoyed the hub, writing it reminded me of all the things we take for granted, because we're so very close to all that history. London can be expensive so it's worth doing some research before visiting, there are always special deals depending on the time of the year, but most of the museums are free of charge and well worth a visit. Always a pleasure, my best as always.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Pamela, thanks for stopping by, I'm so please to know that you've enjoyed the hub. You will thoroughly enjoy London, there are so many things to see and do, so allow yourself enough time to take it all in.

Take care and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Nell, St Albans is waiting to welcome you, next time you come to London just keep heading North. :)

Thank you for taking the time, much appreciated. I must apologize for the long delay in responding to the comments, it was such a lovely day, we decided to take a day trip to the New Forest and only just got back.

Take care and my best to you.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Beautiful, awesome and interesting. I loved this hub! St Alban, what a wonderful man. I watched the Buckingham Palace video, extremely fascinating. I have always wanted to visit England. I would spend all my time in museums, that's my passion.. Thank you...


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I sure hope to visit London someday. The countryside looks beautiful, and there are so many historic sites to visit it is dizzying! Thanks for putting this together.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Audrey, we only live once, and there's so many wonderful things to see. Always a pleasure, have a great weekend.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

amazing, informative and packed with beauty thanks tobusiness for this wonderful share


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Incredible photos and so interesting about the Cathedrals. I enjoyed this informative hub Voted up, useful and interesting.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 2 years ago from australia

Visit London on a regular basis - love being there and never want to leave. Ashamed to say I have never been to St. Albans. It's now on the bucket list.

Such a well documented hub with wonderful pics.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Dear Jo,

Thank you so much for taking us along on an amazing tour of St. Albans and London! Really interesting and beautiful hub here. I just love all of the history and architecture. All of your photos are beyond beautiful and I especially loved the one of your previous home, Bricket woods. Such beautiful countryside all around.

I do hope I get to travel some in the next few years, and I know I want to visit London and St. Albans!

My daughter went to London on her College trip, but momma had to stay home : (

I am sorry I am getting here so late, as I arrive home a bit late this night.

Up and more and away!

Blessings dear friend,

Faith Reaper


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

What an awesome hub! I've been to London twice and could go back so many more times, I loved it so much. You have detailed the legend nicely and I liked the impressive list of affordable things to do in London. I love cathedrals and the history they often carry with them. Thanks for this gem.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States

Your wonderful hub described my dream vacation. I have always wanted to go to London, but after reading your hub I am really excited about the prospect. I loved your pictures and all the lovely descriptions. Excellent hub!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Beautiful hub Jo, would you believe I have never visited St. Albans? what am I thinking? lol! but London, I have been to many london museums and explored all over many parts of it, I am off to visit St. Albans now! lol!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Wonderful hub! On my list o places to go and see!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Jackie, there's a lot to see in this big old world of ours, I just wish I could see it all.

There are many places in the US I'd love to see one day. Thank you for stopping by, my best to you.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

So beautiful Jo; thanks so much for sharing so much of your world. You are just so full of history over there I know I would walk my legs off and never be finished! Up and sharing.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Bill, something tells me it won't be long now, one way or another you'll do it. Keep pushing that book, we will see you and Bev in London before you know it, we all need a dream my friend, and sometimes, they do come true. Take care and my best to you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Jo, you are killing me softly with this song. How I wish I could visit there. Sigh! This one hurt deeply my friend. LOL Such beautiful things to see...and all I need is fame and fortune for me to see them.

Well done my friend.

blessings always

bill

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