- St Albans
infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= St Albans
population= 64,038 [ [http://www.hertsdirect.org/infobase/docs/pdfstore/tabKS01sett.pdf Office for National Statistics, 2001 Census, Key Statistics for HCC Settlements #. Crown copyright. Table KS01 Usual resident population (numbers)] ]
shire_district= St Albans
region= East of England
constituency_westminster= St Albans
post_town= ST ALBANS
postcode_district = AL1, AL2, AL3, AL4
St Albans is the main urban area of the
City and District of St Albansin southern Hertfordshire, England, around convert|22|mi|km north of central London. It was a settlement of pre Roman origin named "Verlamion" by the Ancient British, Catuvellaunitribe. It became the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Streetfor travellers heading north and became the Roman city of Verulamium. St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was beheaded sometime before AD 324 and gave it its modern name. It is an historic cathedral and market town, and is now a sought after dormitory townwithin the London commuter belt.
Apart from its historic core, St Albans is highly
suburbanin character, with much of its housing stock built in the inter-war years and during post-war expansion. Now entirely surrounded by the Metropolitan Green Belt, it is seeing significant 'infill' development and pressure to relax the Green Belt restrictions.
St Albans District (which also includes
Harpenden) has house prices considerably above the national average. The most recent figures give an average house price of £328,820 [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/uk_house_prices/html/26ug.stm BBC News—UK House Prices] — 3 December 2007] against a national average of £199,184. St Albans city, according to figures from Nationwide Building Society, is currently considered to be the most expensive place to live in the UK outside Central London. [ [http://www.nationwide.co.uk/mediacentre/PressRelease_this.asp?ID=930 Nationwide—2006 City Movers and Shakers] — 1 January 2007] ibid] This is largely due to fast commuting to London, especially the City, by train. The local road transport network is another factor: St Albans is at the meeting point of the A5183 (the old A5 or Watling Street) and the A1081 (the old A6); the M25 runs east-west just south of the city; and both the M1, only a few miles to the west, and the A1(M), five miles (8 km) to the east, can provide fast connections to London and the north.
The council estimates that 20% of the working population travel to London to work, while local business provides 46,000 jobs of which around 46% are filled by inward commuters. The local economy is made up mainly of offices, small enterprises, retailing and tourism-based enterprises, 80% of which employ fewer than 10 staff. In the working population, 33% are employed in professional and managerial occupations. Self-employment in
Hertfordshireruns at 15% of the workforce, compared with a UK average of 12%. There are two railwaystations in St Albans. The City Station is about 820 yards (750 m)The imperial figure was calculated from an original value given in metric.] east of the city centre and is served by the Thameslinkrailway line, with trains (operated since April 2006 by First Capital Connect) to Bedford, Luton, London Luton Airport, London, Sutton, Wimbledon, London Gatwick Airport, and Brighton. The Abbey Station is about half a mile (1 km)as above] south of the city centre and is served by the " Abbey Flyer", operated by London Midland. A single train runs between St Albans and Watford Junction, starting a new round trip every 45 minutes during most of the day. This line is a historical accident, the result of the Earl of Verulam refusing to sell land to the railway company then driving North from Watford. Until 1964, there was a third station, St Albans (London Road), which served a former branch line to Hatfield. East Midlands Mainline 'intercity' services run through at speed from places such as Leicester, Nottingham, Lincoln, Sheffieldand Leeds. They do not stop so connections have to be made at Lutonor St Pancras International. Uno buses route S4and Green Line route 724are the city's major busservices.
There is easy access to
London Luton Airportby both rail and road. London Heathrow Airportis around a 30 to 45 minute road journey.
GCSE results for District schools show 63% of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades, against a national average of around 46%. Schools include St Albans School,
Francis Bacon School, St Albans High School for Girls, St Albans Girls' School(generally referred to as STAGS), Sandringham School, Beaumont School, Loreto College, Verulam School, Nicholas Breakspear School, St Columba's College and Townsend School.
The centre of the city suffers significant road traffic congestion because of the city's many small surrounding streets, high car use, inadequate roads, poor take-up and provision of local public transport, to persuade motorists to drive around rather than through the centre. The council estimates that 75% of traffic entering the city is through-traffic. From 2004 the problem was heavily exacerbated by a bungled series of road works, prompting severe criticism of
Hertfordshire County Council's "Hertfordshire Highways" agency. In 2006 the Agency received further criticism for their incompetence and lack of accountability in the multi-million pound overspend and late delivery of works to the St Peter's Street area.
street marketis held in Market Place and St Peter's Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays, as it has been for many hundreds of years. There is also a monthly farmers' market, normally on the second Sunday, and a French market every four months.
St Albans is one of several places that, by repute, has the most
pubsper square mile in the country ( Edinburgh, Norwich, Nottingham, Otleyand Rochdaleare other claimants). It also claims to have the oldest pub in England (in which Sir Walter Raleighis said to have stayed), named " Ye Olde Fighting Cocks" (Nottingham again providing a counter-claimant in " Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem").
The main free local weekly newspapers are "The Herts Advertiser", and the "St Albans and Harpenden Review". The sister title of the "Review" is the paid-for "St Albans Observer", which also has an edition for Harpenden. The "Herts Advertiser" celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005.
The St Albans area has a long history of settlement. The Celtic
Catuvellaunitribe had a settlement at Prae Hill a mile or so to the west. The Roman town of Verulamium, second-largest town in Roman Britain after Londinium, was built alongside this in the valley of the River Vera little nearer to the present town centre.
After the Roman withdrawal, and prior to becoming known as
St Albans, the town was called "Verlamchester" or "Wæclingacaester" by the Mercian Angles.
The mediaeval town grew up on the hill to the east of this around the
Benedictinefoundation of St Albans Abbey. This is the spot where tradition has it that St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was beheaded sometime before AD 324. It was, at one time, the principal abbeyin England and the first draft of Magna Cartawas drawn up there, reflecting its political importance. The Abbey Church, now St Albans Cathedral(formally "the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St Alban" but still known locally as "The Abbey") became the parish church when it was bought by the local people in 1553, soon after the priory was dissolved in 1539. It was made a cathedral in 1877 when the City Charter was granted. There is evidence that the original site was somewhat higher up the hill than the present building and there had certainly been successive abbeys before the current building was started in 1077.
St Albans School, a public school which occupies a site to the west of the Abbey and which includes the 14th century Abbey Gateway, was founded in AD 948 and is the only school in the English-speaking world to have educated a
Pope(Adrian IV). It numbered amongst its buildings until comparatively recently a converted former hat factory, a link with the town's industrial past. Nearby Lutonwas also a notable centre for the hat making industry.
The road between the Abbey and the school, running down to the
River Verand Verulamium Park(on part of the site of Roman Verulamium), is called Abbey Mill Lane. On this road are the palaces of the Bishops of St Albans and Hertford. "The Fighting Cocks" public house is at the Verulamium Park end of this road. Also on the River Ver, at the St Michael's Village end of the park, is Kingsbury watermill, which is now maintained as a museum with a waffle house attached.
The growth of St Albans was generally slow before the 20th century, reflecting its status as a
ruralmarket town, a pilgrimage site, and the first overnight coaching stop of the route to and from London- a fact which also accounts for its many inns, many dating from Tudor times. In the inter-war years it became a popular centre for the electronicsindustry. In the post- World War IIyears it was expanded significantly as part of the post-War redistribution of population out of Greater Londonthat also saw the creation of new towns.
The city today shows evidence of building and excavation from all periods of its history and it is a tourist destination. Notable buildings include the Abbey and the early 15th century Clock Tower (pictured). The clock tower is one of only two similar towers in England; it is also the site of an
Eleanor cross, which was pulled down in 1703 due to neglect, replaced by the town pump. A fountain was erected in its place in 1874, now relocated to Victoria Place. The popular singer Donovanis rumoured to have learnt to play the guitar outside the Clock Tower.Fact|date=January 2008
Running into St Albans from the south is Holywell Hill (generally pronounced "holly-well hill"), its name taken from the story of St Alban: legend has it that his severed head rolled down the hill from the execution site and into a well at the bottom (some versions have a well springing from the site at which the head stopped).
The mixed character of St Albans and proximity to London has made it a popular filming location. The Abbey and Fishpool Street areas were used for the pilot episode of the 1960s' ecclesiastical TV comedy "
All Gas and Gaiters". The area of Romeland, directly north of the Abbey Gateway and the walls of the Abbey and school grounds, can be seen masquerading as part of an Oxford college in some episodes of " Inspector Morse" (and several local pubs also appear). Fishpool Street, running from Romeland to St Michael's village, stood in for Hastingsin some episodes of " Foyle's War". " Life Begins" was filmed largely in and around St Albans. The Lady Chapel in the Abbey itself was used as a location for at least one scene in Sean Connery's 1995 film " First Knight", whilst the nave of the Abbey was used during a coronation scene as a substitute for Westminster Abbeyin " Johnny English" starring Rowan Atkinson. The 19th century gatehouse of the former prison near the mainline station appeared in the title sequence of the TV series "Porridge", starring Ronnie Barker. The 2001 film " Birthday Girl" starring Ben Chaplinand Nicole Kidmanwas also partly filmed in St Albans.
More recently, several scenes from the upcoming film "Incendiary", starring Michelle Williams,
Ewan McGregorand Matthew Macfadyen, were filmed in St Albans, focusing in particular on the Abbey and the Abbey Gateway.
St Albans is twinned with:
In addition, there are "friendship links" with:
St Albans has a thriving cultural life, with regular concerts and theatre productions held at venues including St Albans Abbey, The Maltings Arts Theatre, [ [http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/mat/ The Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans] ] the Alban Arena, the Abbey Theatre [ [http://www.abbeytheatre.org.uk/ Abbey Theatre, St Albans] ] and St Saviour's Church, given by numerous organisations including St Albans Bach Choir, [ [http://www.stalbansbachchoir.org.uk/ St Albans Bach Choir] ] St Albans Symphony Orchestra, [ [http://www.saso.org.uk St Albans Symphony Orchestra] ] St Albans Chamber Choir, [ [http://www.stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/ St Albans Chamber Choir] ] St Albans Chamber Opera, [ [http://www.hertsdirect.org/comdirectory/comvol/hobbi2y/hymusi3y/operasoc4/808260 St Albans Chamber Opera] ] The Company of Ten, [ [http://www.hertsdirect.org/comdirectory/comvol/hobbi2y/hydram3y/amdramstalbans/514749 The Company of Ten, St Albans] ] and St Albans Choral Society. [ [http://www.choralsociety.com/ St Albans Choral Society] ] There is also STARTS, [ [http://www.starts.org.uk/ STARTS - St Albans Arts] ] a registered charity dedicated to raising the profile of all the arts in St Albans and enriching the city’s cultural environment.
In December 2006,
Sport Englandpublished a survey which revealed that residents of St Albans were the 9th most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 26.8% of the population participate at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. [ [http://www.sportengland.org/index/get_resources/research/active_people/active_people_survey_headline_results.htm Sport England—Active People Survey] ]
St Albans is home to one of the country's oldest and finest indoor
skateparks, the Pioneer Skateparkin Heathlands Drive, next to the former fire station. Its ramps are available to all skateboarders and inliners. A new outside mini ramp was built in March 2005.
The local football team is St Albans City FC: its stadium is on the edge of Clarence Park and the team won promotion from the
Conference SouthLeague in 2005-06. It played in the Nationwide Conference Division of the Football Conferencefor the 2006-07 season, but finished at the bottom of the table and was relegated. [ [http://www.footballconference.co.uk/Table/FC_League_Table_Page/0,14387,,00.html Football Conference—Blue Square Premier Table] ] St Albans Centurions rugby leagueclub play at Cotlandswick, St Albans. They play in the Rugby League Conference Premier South division. There is also the Old Albanian Rugby Football Club, a rugby unionclub which has a large facility known as the Old Albanian sports complex or the Woollam Playing Fields to the north of the city centre and which is also the home of the Saracens A team and Zurich A League and OA Saints Women's Rugby Club (formally St Albans Women's RFC). St Albans RFC play at Boggymead Spring in Smallford, and Verulam Rugby Club (formerly Old Verulamians)] play in London Colney.
St Albans is also home to St Albans Hockey Club, [ [http://www.stalbanshc.co.uk/ St Albans Hockey Club] ] based in Clarence Park. The club is represented at National league level by both women's and men's teams, as well as other local league competitions. The club's nickname is "The Tangerines".
Clarence Park also plays host to St Albans Cricket Club. [ [http://www.stalbanscc.com St Albans Cricket Club] ] The club currently runs four Saturday sides, playing in the Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League and also two Sunday sides in the Chess Valley Cricket League.
St Albans is additionally home to a community of
traceursfrom around Hertfordshire. [ [http://www.hertsparkour.co.uk Hertfordshire Parkour ] ]
St Albans was once home to the then most prestigious steeplechase in England. The Great St Albans chase attracted the best horses and riders from across Britain and Ireland in the 1830s and was held in such high esteem that when it clashed with the
1837 Grand Nationalthe top horses and riders chose to bypass Aintree. Without warning the race was discontinued in 1839 and was quickly forgotten.
The secondary schools in the area are:
Francis Bacon School
*Loreto College (Roman Catholic, girls)
Nicholas Breakspear School(Roman Catholic)
St Albans Girls' School
*Townsend School (Church of England)
St Albans is the location of two campuses of
Oaklands Collegeand of a campus of the University of Hertfordshire.
Royal Navyhas used six vessels with the name HMS "St Albans". As the current vessel is a Duke Class Type 23 frigate, its name is taken from the Duke of St Albans, rather than the city.
*The first meeting of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was held in St Albans on 20th November 1972, at the "Farriers Arms" pub which has a
blue plaquecommemorating the event. The organisation still has its head office in Hatfield Road. The local branch holds an annual beerfestival in St Albans. In recent years this has been a four day event starting on a Wednesday near the end of September.
*An experimental water tank was built alongside London Road, St Albans for the
Vickersshipbuilding company in 1912 on a site measuring convert|680|ft|m by convert|100|ft|m. Three years later in 1915, the first private wind tunnelwas also built here, but moved to their Weybridgeworks shortly after the First World War. From December 1918 the test tank was used in developing fuselage profiles for amphibious aircraft, such as the Vickers Type 54 Viking, completed during 1919.
* The 1957
April Fool's Dayspoof edition of BBC documentary series "Panorama", which dealt with the fictitious Swiss spaghetti harvest, was filmed partly at the (now closed) Pasta Foods factory on London Road, St Albans.
* The 2001 film "
Birthday Girl", featuring Nicole Kidmanand Ben Chaplin, is set in St Albans.
* From 1808 to 1814 St Albans hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain which connected the Admiralty in
Londonto its naval ships in the port of Great Yarmouth.
Chiswell Green, directly south of the City, is home to the Royal National Rose Society.
*A number of places across the world are named after the City of St Albans, most notably in
Australia, New Zealand& the United States.
* St Albans was the name of a planet in the cult science-fiction television series "Firefly".
* In September 2007, St Albans replaced
Mayfairas the most expensive square on a special UK "Here and Now Edition" Monopoly board, having won an internet vote.
* Until recently, St Albans was noted for having the most pubs per square mile in Britain.
Kate Allan(b. 1975), author, lived in St Albans
Rod Argent(b. 1945), musician and songwriter. The Zombies(Argent with Colin Blunstone, Chris White, Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy) was formed while the members were at school in St Albans
Dean Austin, former Spurs footballer, lives in nearby Chiswell Green
Francis Bacon(1561-1626), noted philosopher, scientist and statesman, lived at Old Gorhambury House. Bacon was also styled "Viscount St Albans" from 1618
Nicholas Bacon(1509-1579), Lord Keeperof the Great Seal under Queen Elizabeth I, built Old Gorhambury House
James Lewis Baker(1976), record producer, artist and creative founder of Source Direct, born and lives in St Albans
* [http://www.discogs.com/label/Bam+Caruso+Records Bam-Caruso Records] was based in St Albans. This was the record company that issued the
William Henry Bell(1873-1946), musician, composerand first director of the South African College of Music
Steve Blinkhorn(b. 1949), occupational psychologist, has lived in St Albans for many years
Nicholas Breakspear(c.1100-1159), later Pope Adrian IV, born in Abbots Langley, attended school in St Albans
Cheryl Campbell(b. 1949), actor
Paul Cattermole(b. 1977), former member of S Club 7, was born in St Albans
Ralph Chubb(1892-1960), eccentric lithographer
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough(1660-1744), wife of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlboroughand close friend of Queen Anne, was born in St Albans
*Chris Clark, electronic musician, attended school in St Albans. His 2001 debut album was named Clarence Park after the St Albans park of the same name.
William Cowper, 1st Earl Cowper(c. 1665-1723), Lord Chancellor of England
Enter Shikari, British post hardcore rock band, all members born and raised in St Albans
David Essex(b. 1947), singer, lives in St Albans
Siobhan Fahey(b. 1957), singer from Bananaramaand Shakespear's Sister, attended Loreto College
Les Ferdinand(b. 1966), England footballer, lives in nearby Bricket Wood
Nigel Gibbs(b. 1965), former Watford, footballer was born in St Albans
John Gosling(b. 1948), former member of The Kinks, now teaches music at a school in St Albans
Edmund Beckett, 1st Baron Grimthorpe(Lord Grimthorpe) (1816-1905), lawyer, amateur horologist, and architect; best-known locally for rebuilding the west front of St Albans Cathedralin 1880-1885 at his own expense, but also designed Big Ben. Lived at Batchwood Hall
Willis Hall(b. 1929), playwright and TV script writer, lived in St Albans for many years and was for a while president of St Albans City F.C.
Tim Hart(b. 1948), musician and former guitarist in elelctric folk band Steeleye Span, lived in St Albans and attended St Albans School.
John Hartson(b. 1975), former Celtic and AFC Wimbledonfootball player, now playing for West Bromwich Albion, used to live in St Albans with his wife and daughter
Stephen Hawking(b. 1942), theoretical physicist, educated at St Albans School
Christopher Herbert(b. 1944), 9th Bishop of St Albans1995-
Benny Hill(b. 1924-1992), TV comic, lived in St Albans
Jimmy Hill(b. 1928), iconic TV presenter and football personality, used to live in St Albans
Ian Holloway(b. 1963), Plymouth Argyle manager, used to live in St Albans
Matthew Holness, English comedianbetter known as Garth Marenghi, lives in St Albans
Alan Hyman, English jurisprudenceexpert and academic was educated at Beaumont School in St Albans
Kurt Jackson, artist, lived in St Albans and attended Francis Bacon Schoolas a teenager
Jeffrey John(b. 1953), Dean of St Albans 2004-
Stanley Kubrick(1928-1999), film auteur, resided in Childwickbury Manor, to the north-west of the town, from 1978 until his death
Stephen Lander(b. 1947), former head of MI5, has lived in St Albans for many years
*Jules Levy (b. 1973), musician and songwriter. Lived and schooled in St Albans. Founding member of Bandwagon musical collective
*Christopher Lewis (b. 1944), Dean of St Albans 1994-2003
Philip Madoc(b. 1934), actor, lives locally and is patron of three local organisations: Best Theatre Arts, The Abbey Theatre and St Albans Movie Makers
John Mandeville(14th century), compiler of a singular book of supposed travels, allegedly born in St Albans
Nigel Marven, television wildlife presenter, notably on Discovery Channeland ITV, was bought up in St Albans and attended Francis Bacon School
Arthur Melbourne-Cooper(1874-1961), British film maker. Pioneer and innovator of the movie industry. Born in St Albans
Michael Morpurgo(b. 1943), author, was born in St Albans
Albert Moses(b. 1937), actor, producer and director, and star of British sitcom " Mind Your Language", lives in St Albans
John Motson(b. 1945), football commentator, lived in St Albans (now lives in Harpenden)
Herbert Mundin(1898-1939), Hollywood character actor, lived in St Albans from a young age and educated at St Albans School
Roger Neighbour, doctor, communication expert, author and former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners
*Mike Newell (b. 1942), film director (incl. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"), used to live in St Albans and attended St Albans School
Ayan Panja(b. 1973), media doctor and writer, presenter on Street Doctoron BBC1
Matthew Paris(c.1200-1259), Benedictinemonk, chroniclerof the history of St Albans Abbey
*Rupert Parkes (b. 1972) a.k.a.
Photek, record producer and DJ, was born in St Albans
Allan Prior(1922-2006), TV script writer, co-creator of Z Carsand writer of "The Charmer" and father of Maddy Prior(b. 1947), lived in St Albans (and Maddy grew up here)
Chris Read(b.1978), England Test cricket wicket-keeper, lives in St Albans
Tim Rice(b. 1944), lyricist, attended St Albans School
Ian Ridley, chief football writer of " The Mail on Sunday", lives in St Albans and is on the board of St Albans City F.C.
Jim Rodford(b. 1941), musician, member of Argent and The Kinksand cousin of Rod Argent
James Runcie, author, film maker, and son of Robert Runcie, lives in St Albans
Robert Runcie(1921-2000), Bishop of St Albans1970-1980, later Archbishop of Canterbury1980-1991
Samuel Ryder(1858-1936), seed merchant, founder of the Ryder Cup
George Gilbert Scott(1811-1878), Gothic Revival architect, restored St Albans Abbey 1856-1877
John Sessions(b. 1953), actor and comedian, attended St Albans Boys' Grammar School (now Verulam School) and is a patron of St Albans Arts, along with Maddy Prior
Gilberto Silva(b. 1976), Brazilian footballer who plays for Arsenal FC, lives in St Albans
Jonathan Stroud(b. 1970), author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy, lives in St Albans
Cuthbert Thicknesse(1887-1971), 4th Dean of St Albans Cathedral1936-1955, objected to the use of nuclear weaponsin August 1945 by refusing to let the cathedral's bells be rung on VJ Day
*Ulsinus (fl. 10th century), Abbot of St Albans Abbey, reputed founder in 948 of St Albans School, and St Michael's, St Peter's and St Stephen's churches
Richard of Wallingford(1292-1336), Abbot of St Albans Abbey, mathematician, horologist and astronomer
*Charles Williams (1886-1945), writer and publisher, lived in St Albans 1894-1917 and attended St Albans School
Graham Frederick Young(1947-1990), the infamous "Teacup Poisoner", tried at St Albans Crown Court in 1972
Yevgeny Zamyatin(1884-1937), novelist, lived in Fleetville after the Russian Revolution. His 1921 novel "We", a story of a dystopian future which influenced George Orwell's " Nineteen Eighty-Four", Ayn Rand's "Anthem", and Aldous Huxley's " Brave New World", was influenced by his experiences in HertfordshireFact|date=August 2007
St Albans (UK Parliament constituency)
Nearby towns & villages
Notes and references
* [http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/ St Albans official website]
* [http://www.hertsad.co.uk/ Herts Advertiser newspaper]
* [http://www.stalbansobserver.co.uk/ St Albans Observer newspaper]
* [http://www.stalbansreview.co.uk/ St Albans & Harpenden Review newspaper]
* [http://arglist.com/photos/ Photos of St Albans]
* [http://www.stalbanscathedral.org.uk/ The Cathedral & Abbey Church of St Alban]
* [http://www.saso.org.uk/ St Albans Symphony Orchestra]
* [http://www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/ St Albans Museums]
* [http://www.starts.org.uk/ St Albans Arts (STARTS) - Official website]
Diocesan House, St Albans
Verulam House, St Albans
* [http://www.besttheatrearts.com/ Best Theatre Arts - theatre school for children aged 4-16]
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