St Albans - History and Facts | History Hit

St Albans

St Albans, England, United Kingdom

St Albans is a wonderful market town and the site of the execution of Britain’s first Christian martyr (209 AD).

Amy Irvine

06 Jul 2021

About St Albans

The historic town of St Albans has something for everyone, from Roman ruins to the shrine of St Alban, along with many medieval and Victorian sites.

History of St Albans

Originally a Celtic British settlement known as Verlamion, the town was conquered by the Romans and re-named Verulamium. Despite suffering great destruction during the revolt of Boudicca in 60-61AD, the town was re-built and became a thriving settlement.

St Albans has been witness to many key moments of English history, including part of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The city was also the site of two battles in the Wars of the Roses – the first battle (on 22 May 1455) and the ‘Battle of St Albans’ (17 February 1461) when Henry VI was captured by Richard’s army.

St Albans today

Spanning so many historical times and events, there are a wealth of sites for those visiting St Alban’s today, such as its famous historic Roman remains, including those of an impressive Roman theatre. Excavations which took place in the 1930s revealed a wealth of additional evidence from the Roman town including a hypocaust, mosaic flooring and roman walls which can all be seen in Verulamium Park. Many Roman artifacts can be seen in Verulamium Museum. The park also boasts what is said to be one of England’s oldest pubs, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

The impressive site of St Albans Cathedral contains the shrine of St Alban – a Roman convert to Christianity who became Britain’s first martyr after he was executed for sheltering a Christian priest. The historic site has seen several incarnations – a Norman building replaced a Saxon monastery and even incorporated some Roman bricks which can still be seen in the building today. Significant restoration work was carried out in the 19th century by Gilbert Scott and Lord Grimthorpe.

There are a number of other attractions to see in the city and around the area, including a medieval clock tower and the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre and Mosquito Museum. The Museum of St Albans on Hatfield Road tells the story of the medieval and Victorian history of the city and the social history of the area.

Getting to St Albans

St Albans is approximately 20 miles from London. By train, the journey from London St Pancras to St Albans City takes between 17-27mins. If travelling by car, the journey takes approximately 1hr 12 mins via the M1. Hemel Hempstead is the closest large town to St Alban’s, approximately a 15 minute/6 mile drive via the A4147.

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