St Albans Cathedral marks 900th anniversary

Dedication 900

Dedication 900


St Albans Cathedral stands over the place where Alban, Britain’s first saint, was buried after his martyrdom more than 1,700 years ago, but the building visitors see today was actually only completed 900 years ago and dedicated in 1115.

The Cathedral will be celebrating this historic anniversary with Dedication 900 events throughout the year, including the installation of seven new statues on the medieval screen in the Nave, a fascinating series of lectures and exhibitions and the annual Alban Pilgrimage on June 20, attended this year by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Rouen, Mgr Jean-Charles Descubes.

The building of the present church was begun in 1077 by the first Norman abbot, Paul of Caen. It was the largest church in the land at the time, replacing an earlier Benedictine abbey founded by King Offa in 793.

The second Norman abbot, Richard d’Albini, saw the construction through to completion and had the finished building dedicated in great splendour and in the presence of the King and Queen.

That year the royal court was held in St Albans for Christmas and the magnificent dedication ceremony took place on December 28 1115.

Kicking off the Dedication 900 events programme is a special series of lectures by the Cathedral Study Centre, focussing on three of the martyrs soon to be depicted in the new statues on the Nave screen.

The first of these talks examines the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero, an outspoken champion of the poor and an icon for the movement of liberation theology, who was murdered in 1980.

Adult learning officer, Dr Clare Coombe, said: “We are very excited to be hosting this lecture by Jan Graffius, whose work conserving Oscar Romero’s relics has given her a unique perspective on his life and death.”

Blood and Sweat: the Witness of Oscar Romero’s Life and Death takes place on Monday March 23 at 7:30pm in the Cathedral Crypt.

Tickets cost £5 and are available to book by emailing Dr Clare Coombe on or by calling 01727 890205.

For full details on Blood and Sweat and other lectures in the series visit

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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