St Albans has a long history connected to London. It was once a day’s ride from London, so became a major stop for the coach trade. Today at about a half hour by train, it’s become a charming bedroom community. But the history here is longer still, being the site of an ancient Roman town and the first Christian martyr from Britain.
St Albans is home to the only remaining 15th century clock towers in England. This tower, pictured above, was apparently something of a snub to the nearby monastery clock tower also visible from the town. The locals were basically saying we run our own lives here. It was nearly demolished in the 18th century but was saved and restored and stands today as a museum in the center of town.
The church in the photo above known as the Abbey to the locals, although it’s actually in current times a cathedral of the Anglican church. There have been a succession of buildings in this general area dedicated to St Alban. The original roman town was in fact relocated to be nearer this place because of its heritage as the site of the death of St Alban. He was martyred in this area sometime before 324 AD and became the first Christian martyr in Britain. For years this was a site of pilgrimage, hence the relocation of the village to be nearer the visitors (and their trade). The tower at the rear of this picture is what remains of the original Norman structure from 1077. The rest is romanticized Gothic from a 19th century restoration. The wealthy benefactor fancied himself an architect and chose the style of the restoration, apparently not in keeping with what had been there. This shot includes an interesting atmospheric anomaly. As you can tell by the light on the church, the sun was behind me, but there was some sort of reflection/diffraction of light in the cloudy sky, so truly a unique photo of this old church!
For more photo prints of Britain, please check out my British prints gallery.