Destination: St Albans, Hertfordshire
What did I know before I went there?
All I recalled was that it was the site of two battles during the War of the Roses. Not sure who won/died etc. Didn’t even know where it was geographically.
Things I learned about St Albans. (all warranting future elaboration)
Number one: This is the biggie! It’s really time for me to start writing regularly. I’ve talked about it, and friends have encouraged me… but they only way to become a writer is to….(Big reveal) WRITE! And this one trip gave me inspiration for a ton of blog posts. I plan to elaborate on each factoid, so check back for updates and hyperlinks! This is one of the things that makes travelling in Britain so mentally stimulating for me. Every little town and church has its own story and fascinating links to the past.
1. The abbey is huge!! And going strong. The first grave I spotted was of Runcie, recent Archbishop of Canterbury. The day I was there, the Herfordshire Chorus were having their final rehearsal before a performance that night of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. It was the perfect aural backdrop for my visit.
2. The legend of St Albans, first British Christian martyr.
3. French troops were stationed in town during the invasion of 1216. You forgot about that one, didn’t you?
4. Sarah and John Churchill’s favourite residence was here at Holywell House (now demolished).
5. Nicholas Breakspear, the only English-born pope, was educated at St Albans Abbey School. Oh, you don’t remember an English pope? He was inaugurated in 1154 as Pope Adrian IV. The school had already been established 200 years when he was a pupil.
6. St Albans was originally called Verulamium, and was the first major Roman town on Watling St as you head north of Londinium.
7. The marketplace was once the site of one of the 9 Eleanor Crosses.
8. There is a very cool Art Deco building housing a Rouge restaurant on the High St. Planning to return.
9. Duke Humphrey, one of Price Hal’s younger brothers is buried in the Abbey.
10. Unique local war memorials to local WWI soldiers.
11. The pub Ye Old Fighting Cocks claims to be the oldest pub in England. There is also another pub in town called the Cock Inn. Why in a town so small, have pubs with easily confused names? This can lead to a veritable cockup when you are arranging to meet someone for lunch. Ask me how I know.
Oh and about those War of the Roses battles… didn’t find out anything about them on this trip, I’m relying on Wikipedia when I say the first in 1455 was a Yorkist victory, with King Henry VI being taken prisoner. The second battle of St Albans only six years later was a victory for the Lancastrians. More research to follow!