The charming, cobbled, old but vibrant city of St. Albans is one of the best little-known gems of the UK and well worth a visit. It is located in south-east England in the valley of the river Ver, about 20 miles northwest of central London, 20 minutes by train. Guests can enjoy the historic sites, shops, traditional markets, food stalls, bars, pubs, restaurants and spas.
There are many regular and lively markets, at least two per week, some of which have existed for hundreds of years. They run from Market Place north-east up St. Peter’s Street to the junction with Catherine Street.
St. Albans was originally founded as Verlamion, a settlement home to the Catuvellauni, a Celtic tribe of southern Britain. It was subsequently transformed into the Roman settlement of Verulamium from where it grew into a municipium around AD 50. The city became known as St. Albans around the 4th century AD with the martyrdom of Saint Alban who was buried close to the Cathedral. The Verulamium Museum unravels the rich history with interactive displays, finest original Roman mosaics and wall plasters. Nearby, you can explore more Roman history at the original Hypocaust and Roman Theatre.
The gorgeous Cathedral is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England. Though it was likely founded in the 8th century as a Benedictine monastery, it was predominantly built in the 11th century by the Normans using materials from the abandoned Roman city of Verulamium just across the river Ver from Torrington Hall. It was partially restored in the 19th century following a collapse. At 85 metres long, it has the longest nave of any cathedral in England. Its Welcome Centre and exhibition reveals the many treasures and stories the Cathedral has to share.
It is open daily from 8:30-17:30 and entry is free.
Learn more about the city from an expert by signing up to a walking tour by St Albans Tour Guides.
Built by the Longmire family in 1882, Torrington Hall was intended for the retirement of John Chapple, the Mayor of St. Albans at that time. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to enjoy it.
It was home to the scientist Eleanor Ormerod (1828-1901). An expert in economic entomology (the study of the economic impact of insects), she pioneered studies into the negative effects that insects can have on animals and crops, helping to improve farming processes. Despite living in a time when women were not encouraged to pursue academia, she was extremely passionate, dedicated to her subject, and successful. In 1900, Edinburgh University made her the first woman in the world to be awarded an honorary degree for her contributions to science. She lived in Torrington Hall with her sister Georgiana from 1887 until her death. Torrington Hall bears a plaque in her honour.