I have lived in St Albans for 20 years. At the moment it remains a lovely Cathedral city, surrounded by green belt countryside, but it is under considerable threat from developers and has lost many amenities in recent years.
St Albans is built on the site of Roman Verulamium, and a nice quirk is that the remains of the city are said to exist under Verulamium Park- untouched and undiscovered. Many Roman remains can still be seen around the city, including the Roman Theatre, the Roman Wall and the Roman Hypocaust (located in a controversial modern white building in the middle of Verulamium Park and often mistaken for public toilets). The Roman Museum is also located in the park and houses one of the largest and most complete Roman Mosaics in the country - the Shell Mosaic, AD 150.
The museum is open every day of the week (but only from 2pm on Sundays). The costs are:
Adults - £3.50 , Children, Senior Citizens & Concessions - £2.00, Family (2 adults + 2 children) - £9.00.The Roman museum is very good for young families, with hands-on Roman coin handling, interactive videos, Roman bodies in coffins, and exciting re-creations of Roman life.
In addition there is an excellent Museum in the centre of town. The Museum of St Albans charts the history of the city and has free entry, although visits must be booked in advance.
St Albans Cathedral is another tourist attraction - beautifully situated in Verulamium park, it is of average interest and boast the longest nave in England as well as the remains of the first Christian Martyr (St Alban).
It may be more fun to climb up the famous Clock Tower in the market place. Built around 1400, entry is 80p for adults and 40p for children and open Sat, Sun and Bank holidays. The view from the top is great, and sometimes they let children ring the bell at the top to traditionally open the market.
St Albans is full of cafes, restaurants and fantastic old pubs. Visit the small roads around the cathedral for lovely pubs. The shopping centre has deteriorated in recent years, the hospital has disappeared as has the cinema, and the swimming pool is becoming more and more derelict. On the M1 and M25 and only a 20 minute train journey from London many people commute to work.
Having said this, St Albans is still a very popular although expensive place to live.
I have grown up and lived in St Albans for almost 20 years, and absolutely love it! I have only recently moved out, because I have got my own place and cannot afford to buy there (purely because it is so nice, the house prices tend to be quite high).
The city is a real mix of modern city life and historic Roman city. There are plenty of shops to keep you occupied, and a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is even a French market around once a month, and I think they have started to host an Italian market as well now. There is an abundance of places to eat and drink in St Albans, from the very posh restaurants, to cafes, to reasonably priced cafes to pubs. You can't really walk five minutes in any direction in St Albans without coming across a pub of some sort!
Parking can be a bit tricky sometimes, but that's mainly because its so popular. It is also quite expensive to park, around £2-4 for under 5 hours, or £7.50 for over 5 hours, unless you head for parking in the outskirts.
I would say that this city is definitely worth a visit, if only for the amazing restaurants and shopping! The Roman ruins and museum at Verulanium are well worth a trip as well, and take a walk around the lake.
Wow i never knew there was so much to do here in st albans , until my mother in law had to have a knee replacement done at one of the hospitals . We spent lots of time visiting her , it was very nice and clean hospital so no complaints there.
As we drove through the town to get there we noticed what a vast array of shops they have got . So one weekend we decided to make a day of and go shopping , parking was a little difficult , especially if you don''t know st albans very well.
with the morning gone we found a sign in the town centre with a map of st albans on it and it had all the local tourist attractions on it , so what was we going to choose was it the cathedral or the museum or even the farm village , no we decided to go to the verulamium museum . i knew st albans had roman history behind it but i never knew how much till i went here . you can learn about every day life as a roman living in britain , with lots of people dressed up as roman soliders and women re enacting what happened back then. It was a great day out.
This is a company located in St. ALbans. They let so many flats but generally they don't like to make contracts. Cos' they let their own flats, since they don't make contracts, they don't pay anything to goverment. But they don't hesitate to get percentage out of rental payment, even though they, themslef, own the flats. They have always put preassure on students. Since they don't make contact, they always chase you to get the payment. and They think they can do anything just because if you're student. Never ever rent any flat from this company. Never ever!!!
Having grown up in this ancient city, it's easy to forget that it's also a place with several historic tourist lures. Layers of it's history are visible, from Roman Verulanium's amphitheatre, through the Medieval Abbey and Clocktower, the two battle grounds of the Wars of the Roses, through to the contemporary Gardens of the Rose (show place for the National Rose Society). Perhaps when I next go home I will re-visit some of these sites and write more detailed ops of them, but as a whole St Albans has much to recommend it to travellers and day-trippers from London, so long as they are interested in history.. Located about 25 minutes by train North of London, and on the way to London Luton airport, it's an easy day trip from London. The return fare is approximately £10 on Thameslink, depending on time of day, and if you have any travelcards etc. However, the station does not have left-luggage facilities, which might make things difficult for travellers intending to take a detour on their way back to the airport. Compared to London cabs are ludicrously cheap though, so it's not an insurmountable difficulty. The top end of the city centre, capped by the supposedly haunted St Michael's church, is the less historic end, and now mainly chain stores and building societies, although on Saturdays and Wednesdays in is filled with the street market. This sells everything from food to clothes, antiques and crafts, and it's licence goes back to the late medieval period. Walking down the main street, past the Old Town Hall, an ornate neo-classical building, you come to the smaller brick and timber terraced Tudor streets, now home to several small traditional pubs, and more up-market and independent shops. Continuing through French Row you come to the Medieval Clock Tower built largely of brick recovered from the Roman city. The tiny side door leads up a tight spiral staircase to see the inner working of the clock, and learn more
of it's history. Continuing down the narrow passage directly in front of the clock tower brings you out, rather suddenly, in the shadow of the Abbey itself. The warm red brick wall beside you shelters the walled cloistered garden of the monastery that once served the Abbey. The Abbey building itself is something of an architectural mismatch, grandly renovated by a wealthy Victorian who imposed his own taste on much of it's insides. Medieval frescos have fairly recently been discovered, beneath a layer of 'restorative' plaster, for example. Walking through the graveyard brings you round to the impressive entrance to the cathedral, with it's three huge Gothic arches in red brick and cream stone. The open slope leading away from the Abbey was once the monks' orchard, and a site towards the top has been excavated as the probable site of St Alban, the first British Martyr was executed. Walking down the hill will bring you to The Old Fighting Cocks, the oldest pub site in St Albans, and thence to Verulanium lakes. Beyond these man made lakes, in the open park, are several Roman remains - parts of the old city wall, and some mosaic floors, as well as Verulanium museum, and beyond that, the remains of the Roman theatre - the only one so completely preserved in the UK. Further afield there are also the attractions of Hatfield House, home and beautiful prison of the Princess Elizabeth until her coronation, and the National Rose Societies Gardens of the Rose. The latter, at least, is best reached by car. The gates to Hatfield House face immediately on to Hatfield station, so arriving by public transport is no hardship. St Albans other main claim to fame is having the highest number of pubs per head of population of anywhere in the UK - which means throwing out time on a Friday night may not be the best time to see the city. But it does mean you are almost guaranteed a good pub lunch and a beer - there is a reason
CAMRA has their head office there! Information for potential visitors can be found at http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/tourism/ The websites of the local papes are also a good way to get an idea of what is going on. http://www.stalbansobserver.co.uk/newspaper/ and http://www.hertsad.co.uk/
St Albans, just 30 minutes by train from central London, is an ideal day trip destination. Roman ruins, an attractive medieval city and Abbey, 15th century pubs and an open market held since 948 are in easy walking distance. The city takes its name from Britain's first Saint, the martyred Alban, and his shrine can be seen in the magnificent Abbey, dating from 1077. Alban was a Roman soldier executed in 209 for his beliefs and for hiding a Christian priest. At that time the city was known as Verulamium and was a grand Roman city, the third largest in Britain. It had been built on the site of the capital of an ally British tribe's city. The tribe was rich and powerful but couldn't prevent the Roman legions conquering England. They allied themselves with the Romans and adopted their ways. You can walk along their enormous defensive ditches, still some sixty feet deep in places 2000 years later. Verulamium prospered, despite being burned to the ground by Queen Boadicea's army and later by accident, until Rome withdrew her legions 400 years later. The new town was built of brick and flint with massive defensive walls and fortifies gateways. It straddled Watling Street, the main road from London to the west. The city was built on a plain alongside the river Ver navigable by sea going ships. But as Christianity became the major religion a new town slowly grew around Alban's shrine housed in a small wooden church on the hill overlooking Verulamium. A monastery was built and people gradually abandoned the Roman city. The fine Roman buildings decayed and were used as a source of materials for the new city of St Albans. If you look up at the Abbey you'll see thousands of thin orange roman bricks used to build the tower, plus an occasional section of statue and pillar. And as you walk around St Albans looking at old buildings you'll spot bricks and flints taken from Verulamium. Because St Albans was built alongside Verulamium, much of the Roman city survived, but except for some long sections of high city wall, the remains are underground. A public park and farmland cover the area. Every summer a new section of the park is excavated. Just under the grass where nowadays people play football and cricket are streets, the stumps of walls and superb mosaic floors. One spectacular floor has been roofed over and may be visited free of charge. You can walk around the mosaic and observe the raised floor under which hot air from fires was wafted by brick ducts. Nearby are the ruins of Verulamiums theatre. It is unique in northern Europe for having a stage and proscenium. Next to it are foundations of town houses and an underground temple to Mithras. Verulamium Museum in the park contains much discovered in the ruins, including more mosaic floors, skeletons, reconstruction's and is a visit is not only essential to appreciate the site and its importance, but is really enjoyable in its own right. The town of St Albans spread out from the monastery built around the Abbey of St Alban. The monastery was all-powerful and owned all land for miles around. Many local inhabitants depended on it for a living by working as farm labourers. The start and end of the working day was measured by tolling the Abbey bells. The suspicion that the monastery cheated by ringing the end of work day bell later and later during the summer caused locals to build their own clock tower which they placed in the town centre facing the monastery. You can climb this unique curfew tower on weekends in the summer and gain a birds eye view over the roofs and streets which have retain the same pattern for centuries. Two major battles of the Wars of the Roses were fought in these streets, and you can follow the path of both sides as fighting ebbed and flowed. There is so much history packed into a compact are
a. Next to the clock tower is narrow French Row where King John of France was held as prisoner of war in 1356. Three churches founded in 948, the oldest pub in England, many superb 15 century timbered buildings, and a waffle shop in a working water mill are just some of the sights also to be seen in a short walk through St Albans. For an enjoyable day out do visit my home town - historic St Albans - Verulamium. How to get to St Albans. By Train - St Albans City station is well connected north and south on the Thameslink line which goes from Bedford south to Brighton, with many stops including Kings Cross Thamslink, St Pauls, Blackfriars and London Bridge in the centre of London, and Gatwick airport to the south and London Luton airport to the north. The journey should average 30 minutes from Kings Cross Thameslink St Albans City Station is about 10 minutes walk from the centre of the city. There is a taxi rank at the station. Rail timetable at www.railtrack.co.uk By Car:- St Albans is at the junction of the M25 (London outer ring) and M1 motorways. Take exit 21A or 22 on the M25, exit 6 on the M1. Or consider driving from London's Hyde Park on the old roman road, Watling Street, named Edgware Road at the London end. By Plane:- London Luton airport, served by EasyJet and Ryan Air is the closest airport, about 20 minutes by car or use Thameslink train. Gatwick airport is about 90 minutes away bt Thameslink train. Stay Overnight St Michaels Manor hotel backs onto Verulamium Park in historic Fishpool Street. Less expensive accommodation may be found in the same street in the Red Lion pub. There is a Comfort Inn hotel in the old Ryder Seed Merchants Hall in the center of town, plus many B+Bs and small hotels. To make a booking contact the tourist office on 01727 64511 Can't Do Without The St Albans Mapguide is a
full colour booklet containing a concise history of St Albans and the most detailed map you'll ever see. Professional mapmaker Michael Middleditch photographed St Albans from the air then walked every road and lane. His resulting map shows everything in fine detail. Buy it from the rail station bookstall or any St Albans bookshop of tourist office. ISBN 0-9513390-0-1 at £2.95 St Albans on the web http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/tourism/ If you have been, thanks for reading (April 2001)
St. Albans is a town of upper class and students. I don't know how the town manages to do it but it has a touch of class to it. The town is old and the houses are very expensive, there a few night spots like the 'Vintry' and 'The Bell' before venturing off to a nightclub, such as 'Batchwood'. Entering St. Albans, you will see signs that will lead you to the Verualem Rose Gardens, which cost £1.50 to get in, it's a lovely place to sit down and chill out, or if you want to get to know some history there are Roman sites here to investigate as well. The shopping is good for a little town, there is a little healing shop that sells crystals and candles, stones and all that weird and wonderful stuff, so that's a nice one to visit. On the whole, a few nice boutiques and the normal high street shopping stores. St. Albans is a lovely place and the rose gardens are defiantely worth a visit, the pubs & restaurants aren't too bad either!