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Brief history of St Albans
The Catuvellauni tribe in the Iron Age originally called the town Verlamion, which is thought to mean ‘the settlement above the marsh’, but after the Roman occupation it became the first large town on Watling Street where travellers stopped when travelling north. It is here that the Romans built the town of Verulamium by the River Ver, which was only second in size to London. In AD 60/61 the town was ransacked in the Boudiccan rebellion.
The town was rebuilt over the years with fine buildings such as a theatre, temples, baths and private residences. At some point before AD324 the Christian martyr, St Alban, was beheaded for his beliefs on a hill where the imposing cathedral now stands. The town eventually fell into disrepair some time after AD400.
St Albans Cathedral, the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban
The Cathedral of St Albans was started in 1077 as a tribute to St Alban, but there is evidence that other abbeys to St Alban were on this site before the present Cathedral. At one point in time the Abbey was the main abbey in England and the first draft of the Magna Carta was produced here.
The old Roman town now lies under Verulamium Park and the old buildings of Verulamium were used to build St Albans . If you go to the Norman Abbey tower some of the well made Roman bricks can be seen.
St Albans grew up in the 12th century around the Abbey and the medieval street pattern is still there in many parts of the town along with some of the buildings from that time.
In 1381 St Albans there was disquiet in the town when the townsfolk wanted more control of issues in the town as opposed to being lead by the Abbots. The Peasants’ Revolt ensued and in 1403-1412 the Clock Tower was built symbolising the towns independence from the church.
St Albans inns
The town catered for people travelling through and numerous inns were created around the Abbey to cater for those stopping for a break or for a bed for the night. Many of these are Tudor inns which are timber-framed buildings and are still in existence in George Street , St Michael’s Street , Fishpool Street and Sopwell Lane, The White Hart Hotel in London Road and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, situated near the lake at Verulamium, reputed to be one of the oldest public houses in the country. Over the years we have carried out a number of pub surveys as well as many house surveys in this major Roman settlement which is also on Watling Street .
In Abbey Mill Lane the palaces of the Bishops of St Albans and Hertford can be seen and Some of the inns have changed use over the years and are now either offices or retail outlets or residential houses and some are hidden behind 18th century and 19th century frontages. At 1st Associated we carry out commercial surveys on public houses and business premises as well as residential properties and we have a particular interest in Listed buildings.
With the arrival of the railway in 1868 the coaching trade declined, but the railway with its links to London lead to further development in St Albans . In 1877 the town received a Royal Charter making it a ‘city’ and the Abbey Church was made into a Cathedral.
St Albans since WWII
The 20th century has seen a big expansion of the city and following the second World War the town grew to accommodate people moving out of London to the suburbs. The town also attracts a number of tourists due to its long and rich history.
Verulamium Park is a spacious area surrounding a large lake. It has the distinction of being a commuter town and house prices are certainly at the higher end of the market. In our experience it does have the advantage of being a beautiful market town with a stunning Cathedral.
Shopping in St Albans
The range of shops is from National High St shops to local retailers with the Maltings Centre just off the High St and St Christopher’s Place offering many places to shop and, of course, the market too which is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Historic buildings in St Albans
The city has a wealth of interesting historic buildings and in the High Street you can climb the medieval Clock Tower which was built at the start of the 15th century to enjoy a fabulous view from the top of the 93 steps in what was a lookout tower to warn the townspeople of fire or conflict. Just outside the city in contrast to the historic buildings is Willows Farm Village which is an all year round centre including indoor play areas as well as the farm animals set in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside.
Marshalswick Lane and Marshals Drive have some larger properties together with Park Street and Ragged Hall Lane.