St Albans Clock Tower opens for new season

PUBLISHED: 12:21 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:11 02 May 2017

The Clock Tower. Credit: Catherine Gill

The Clock Tower. Credit: Catherine Gill

(c) copyright

Enjoy unparalleled views of St Albans city centre as the Clock Tower opens for the new season.

One of the hatches the bell was lifted through when it was installedOne of the hatches the bell was lifted through when it was installed

Thousands of visitors are expected to climb the 93 steps to the top of the 15th century landmark.

The Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Frances Leonard, officially opened the attraction for 2017 and said: “St Albans Clock Tower is a unique building full of character and charm.”

Charm dating back to the 1400s, when former Royal Mason Thomas Wolvey was commissioned to build the tower in St Albans’ market place.

The structure was originally intended as a protest against the dominance of the church.

The mechanism behind GabrielThe mechanism behind Gabriel

The two bells, one to signal the start and close of the market, the other to signal the curfew, were tools of emancipation, allowing the peasants to set their own workday, free of influence from St Albans Cathedral.

The bells were also used to alert the people of St Albans to a fire or fray - most famously used during the First Battle of St Albans, during the Wars of the Roses in 1455.

The original bell, Gabriel, is still in place. It weighs one tonne, and required a gang of men to lift it through hatches throughout the building for it to be installed.

Since its construction, the Clock Tower has been used as a shop and as a government semaphore station during the Napoleonic War.

The graffiti around the door at the top of the Clock TowerThe graffiti around the door at the top of the Clock Tower

Now, the Tower, which is owned by St Albans district council, is operated as a tourist attraction during the spring and summer.

This year, there are a variety of events planned to attract visitors.

It will be the starting point of the Civic Day on Saturday, June 17, which will included guided walks by the Civic Society.

The Clock Tower will also be part of Heritage Open Days from September 7 to 10, and will run events on an LGBTQ theme.

A panoramic photo taken at the top of the Clock TowerA panoramic photo taken at the top of the Clock Tower

Also, there will be an artist in residence exhibition by a young local artist.

The Clock Tower costs £1 to visit. It is open every weekend until the last weekend of September, and on Sunday November 26 it will reopen for the Christmas lights switch-on.

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