Exploring the history found all around us at St Albans Heritage Open Days
- Credit: Archant
St Albans Civic Society, supported by the Herts Advertiser, is delighted to be promoting this year’s Heritage Open Days from September 10-13 and putting St Albans on the map for this national event.
Meet St Albans’ Trees - September 13, 2pm, Tourist Information Centre - Meet St Albans trees and discover their historical connections, led by Kate Bretherton, author of The Remarkable Trees of St Albans. Call 07901 945920 for more information.
St Albans Tour Guides - Free guided walks over the weekend. Discover places you haven’t noticed before and hear tales of events and characters from the past brought to life by the guides. No booking required. Most walks start in the town centre, in front of the Old Town Hall. For details on different walks call the Tourist Information Centre on 01727 864511 or visit www.stalbanstourguides.co.uk
Civic Society Walk - September 10 6pm, September 12 11am - A guided tour of the Cathedral Quarter celebrating a heritage worth cherishing! Meet by Tourist Information Centre. Tickets are free in advance from the Tourist Information Centre, or just turn up and join in if numbers allow. Call 01727 830521 for more information.
PLACES TO VISIT
Cathedral Tower Tours - September 12 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm; September 13 3.15pm and 4.30pm. Tickets on the day from the Cathedral Box Office, on a first-come, first-served basis. No children under 11.There are 193 steps in a steep and narrow medieval staircase, and visitors need to be fit enough to manage such a climb. The Cathedral reserves the right to refuse visitors admittance to the tower and roof spaces. More information from 01727 860780.
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Abbey Gateway Tours, St Albans School - September 13 throughout the day. The most complete medieval gateway in England including a museum relating to the history of St Albans School, which was founded in 948AD. No booking required. Disabled access to ground floor only. Narrow spiral staircases with steep steps. Call 01727 855521 for details.
British Legion Mitchell Hall, 85 Verulam Road - Hall and original Nissen hut open from 11am-3pm on September 12 and 13. Refreshments available. Copies of the updated book on the street plaque war memorials of the Abbey Parish available for purchase.
Clock Tower, Market Place - September 10 10.30am-4.45pm, 7.30-9.30pm, September 11 to 13 10.30am-4.45pm. Opened by volunteers from the Civic Society and Arc & Arc. The only medieval town belfry in England, built in 1405, with 93 steps to great views. Includes display of photos of the Clock Tower from the past 200 years and grand balloon race at 10.30am on the Saturday. No booking required, call 01727 864511 for more information.
Dagnall Street Baptist Church - open September 12 from 10am-6pm, September 13 from 1-5pm - Lofty Victorian Baptist church built above a lower hall circa 1885, with features including the Baptistry, located in the Apse, the mosaic floor of the choir and the Bevington organ. The building has an interesting stained glass window, unusual for non-conformist churches of the time. There will be a display of archive material. No booking required.
Kingsbury Barn, Branch Road - open September 12 and 13 from 2-4pm. Built by the Abbey in 1374, just after the Black Death and standing on a Roman building once by the road to Colchester. Restored in 2009, it has escaped conversion and the soaring wooden interior is belied by its apparently modest exterior. For more information call 01727 838965.
Marlborough Road Methodist Church - September 12 10am-4pm - A fine late 19th century Methodist church noted for the extensive woodwork. Come and see the pews before they go with the imminent refurbishment A self-led trail explains the key features. There will be special displays outlining the history of the church from its origins in a baker’s outhouse in 1793. No booking required.
St Peter’s Church - September 13 2-5pm, tower tours at 2.15pm and 3.15pm - Historic displays, tower tours, subject to weather conditions, offering possible views of Wembley Arch and Canary Wharf. No under 9s on the roof due to steepness of last ladder. Large churchyard with orchard, wildflower meadow, and Garden of Hope with Tree of Life memorial sculpture. No booking required.
Redbourn Village Museum, The Common - Open 2-5pm on September 12 and 13 - Built on the site of a former silk mill and tea factory, the museum features displays of artefacts plus archive films and slideshows, discovery drawers for children and outdoor activities if weather permits. Call 01582 793397 for details.
Redbournbury Mill, just off the A5183 between St Albans and Redbourn - Open 9am-1pm on September 12, 12-5pm on September 13 - 18th century restored working watermill, producing organic stone-ground flours and bread. Museum, milling demonstrations and artisan bakery on site. No booking required. No children under five. Call 01582 792874 for details.
Ryder House, Clarion Collection Hotel, Holywell Hill - Open 9.30am-5.30pm September 10-13, subject to availability. The Samuel Ryder building is a Grade II listed landmark built in 1911 to house the business of his successful seed company. The building retains many original features including leaded light room screens, a sweeping staircase and a magnificent mahogany and stained glass dome. The Samuel Ryder Room, his office, still has the original fireplace surround, complete with hand carved initials. Call 01727 848849 for details.
St Albans Signal Box, Ridgmont Road - Open 10am-5pm on September 12-13 - Come and ring the bells, pull the levers and send the trains from Harpenden to Napsbury. Live steam engine in the car park, with rides. Great fun for all. Enjoy tea and biscuits on the lawn in the signalman’s garden. Ample parking. More details from 01727 836131.
Verulamium Museum, St Michael’s Street - The Sandridge Coin hoard consists of 159 gold coins dating from the 4th century, the very end of Roman Rule in Britain. The hoard was discovered in 2012 and will be going on display in September. From 2-3pm on September 12, curator David Thorold talks about the design, history and manufacture of the coins. Please book in advance by calling 01727 751810. Then on September 12 at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm are three special performances of the family show Two Roman Citizens Brace Themselves - Step back in time to the late Roman period and meet a mosaicist and a wealthy landowner. Discover why the landowner is burying his money. Show lasts approximately 20 minutes. Children must be accompanied by an adult. No booking required.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT
Charter Market - With a Royal Charter granted in 1553, but dating back to the ninth century, the Saturday market remains an established feature of St Albans’ tree lined St Peter’s Street area. It is well worth exploring from end to end.
St Michael’s Church - Normally open Sundays to Fridays from 9.30am-5pm and sometimes on Saturday afternoons. Contact the parish office in advance on 01727 835037 if you wish to visit.
St Stephen’s Church - If you wish to visit, the parish office will be very happy to let you in at a mutually convenient time. Ring 01727 862598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Heartwood Forest, Sandridge - The Woodland Trust bought the site in 2008 to preserve the existing areas of ancient woodland, such as Langley Wood. It is now in the process of connecting them by planting hundreds of thousands of new trees interspersed with wildflower meadows making it the biggest wood in the country.
Every effort has been made to ensure these details are accurate at the time of going to print. If in doubt, please check with the venue direct or the Tourist Information Centre on 01727 864511.