St Alban’s Cathedral, London, 3pm
On a pale Sunday afternoon after I arrived in the United Kingdom, I decided to ignore my raging jetlag and take a little sightseeing trip. I settled for the quaint town of St Albans, just north of London from Kings Cross and the site of one of the oldest Roman settlements in the UK.
The story goes that in the third century a young Roman man named Alban came across an itinerant Christian priest in his town of Verulamium. He was impressed by the priest and decided to convert to Christianity – which in Roman times was a pretty risky thing to do. A short while later, the Roman Emperor came searching for the priest and in protection of his new friend, Alban decided to impersonate the priest to save his life. Unfortunately for Alban, the Emperor wasn’t overly sympathetic to his heroic display and Alban was taken up to the hillside in Verulamium and executed.
Over the centuries, legend grew of this brave man and in 1077, when William the Conquerer wanted to show why the ‘Conquerer’ part of his name was relevant, he knocked down the Saxon monastery in Verulamium and built a large church in honour of Alban. Since then, the church has been expanded and modified countless times to transform into the cathedral that stands there today.
I have often suffered from ‘church viewing fatigue’ on previous European holidays, but I just couldn’t help but share a few photographs of this stunning historic building.
I was spellbound by the beauty of the Lady’s Chapel which was used as the local grammar school for nearly 300 years
St Alban’s tomb which contains his shoulder bone (no one is sure where the rest of him is)
The original Norman archways are relatively simple compared to the gothic features which were added a few hundred years later
A reverend reads the prayers listed on the board
My thanks must go to John, the guide who spent over a hour walking me through the Abbey and answering all of my convoluted questions.