Making The Pilgrimage to St Albans

Sitting just outside London’s M25 motorway is the small City of St Albans.

The city is named for the first English Martyr, St Alban, who was executed by the Roman authorities in the year 209AD or thereabouts, on a hill outside Verulamium as the settlement was then known. The site of his martyrdom became an important Christian site, and today it houses a large Cathedral complex as well as the remains of the Benedictine Abbey. Remarkably, parts of the complex date from the 11th century, including large sections of the Cathedral as well as the clock tower at the centre. Directly under this massive structure you’ll discover something rather more delicate – St Alban’s thirteenth century shrine where pilgrims still pay their respects to the Saint. On one of the pillars next to the shrine you’ll also see fragments of the elaborate and colourful decoration that would have surrounded the shrine during that period.

Another notable part of the Cathedral is the Wallingford Screen, which was reconstructed in the high gothic style of the late Victorian period. While it might be considered to be a little ‘fake’ given the age of much of the rest of the site, its probably the Cathedral’s most beautiful feature – I doubt it  has an equal anywhere in the world.  The Cathedral’s circular rose window is also absolutely spectacular. You can see all of the photographs of my visit here.

These days it’s very easy to make the pilgrimage to St Albans, as the city is only 20 minutes or so from London’s St Pancras International if you take the fast train – make sure that you also take time to investigate the 15th century clock tower that sits at the bottom of the City’s main shopping street on your visit.

About Pete Stean

Pete Stean is a London-based writer and photographer. He can also be found on Twitter and on Google Plus.

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