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Visit to St Albans

Wednesday 13th April 2016


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On a warm and sunny day, ten members met up in the Chapter House cafe for refreshments before going next door to the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban where we met up with our guide. She ran through the history of the church which is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. It became a shrine to St Alban, the first English martyr who is reputed to be buried on the site. The site became an Abbey run by the Benedictines. Closed during the Reformation, the church later continued to function but by 1832 it was in a rather poor state of repair. Matters began to improve in 1835 when a magnificent set of medieval wall paintings on the pillars were discovered and which are now on view. The present building dates from 1077.


The guide then took us on a tour of the church pointing out the mix of architectural designs that have evolved over the centuries. Of significance is the fact the Church has the longest nave of any cathedral in the county. Other notable features are the stained glass window dedicated to the Allied countries who fought in WW1, the Lady Chapel, the reredos, choir stalls, organ and, not least of all, the tower. The tour finished at the shrine to St Alban which was built in 1305 on Purbeck marble supporting a modern red canopy. A very informative tour led by a knowledgeable guide with a good sense of humour. 


The party then took a leisurely and enjoyable lunch at 'Dylans at the Kings Arms' public house before setting out for Verulamium Park, a picturesque park of 100 acres. On the way there we were able to look back at an excellent view of the West side of the Cathedral. We visited the Roman theatre, the amphitheater of which can clearly be seen. The visit finished with a look around the Museum. A compact building, it portrays in a most interesting way the story of everyday life in the Roman city. Features are the recreation of Roman rooms and a display of some of the finest mosaics and wall plasters outside of the Mediterranean. 


Finally, our thanks to Dr. Martin Dudley for organising a very successful day.


                                                    Patrick Burke

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