Area Guide: The historic cathedral city of St Albans

PUBLISHED: 08:58 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 18:58 09 January 2019

George Street, St Albans, home to Suckerpunch Bar, among other attractions. Picture: Jane Howdle

George Street, St Albans, home to Suckerpunch Bar, among other attractions. Picture: Jane Howdle

Archant

Central St Albans is home to a winning mix of period properties, with picture perfect Fishpool Street arguably the most attractive of the lot.

The war memorial on Fishpool Street - arguably St Albans' most beautiful street. Picture: Danny LooThe war memorial on Fishpool Street - arguably St Albans' most beautiful street. Picture: Danny Loo

Living somewhere this appealing doesn’t come cheap, however – according to Rightmove, the overall average price for homes sold in St Albans during 2017 was £580,734, an increase of 5 per cent on 2016’s figures.

History and culture

Romeland Hill, St Albans. Picture: Jane HowdleRomeland Hill, St Albans. Picture: Jane Howdle

The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, and the heart of all things historic in the city. It was built over the burial site of St Alban, Britain’s first Christian martyr.

St Albans Abbey is said to have been founded in 793 by King Offa of Mercia and the principal Abbey was used by the Benedictines. However, the Abbey was not made a cathedral until 1877.

The first draft of the Magna Carta was drawn up in St Albans in 1215.

Verulam Road, St Albans. Picture: Matt AdamsVerulam Road, St Albans. Picture: Matt Adams

Education

There is a range of excellent state secondary schools across St Albans, though a move further out of town may be required to guarantee a place at the ‘outstanding’ and over-subscribed Sandringham, Beaumont or St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS). Loreto College, an ‘outstanding’ catholic girls’ secondary school, is centrally located on Upper Lattimore Road, while state primaries with the highest Ofsted ranking include Maple and St Alban and St Stephen infant and junior schools.

St Albans School, St Albans High School for Girls and St Columba’s College are popular independent alternatives.

The Odyssey cinema on London Road, St Albans. Picture: Danny LooThe Odyssey cinema on London Road, St Albans. Picture: Danny Loo

Transport

St Albans is under 20 minutes from London by train. The Brighton to Bedford service runs through St Albans City station, calling in central London, while St Albans Abbey station provides direct links to Watford Junction.

The groundkeeper's house in Clarence Park, St Albans. Picture: Danny LooThe groundkeeper's house in Clarence Park, St Albans. Picture: Danny Loo

There are also many bus routes between St Albans and the neighbouring villages, and the M1, A1(M) and M25 are a short drive away.

Shopping

Liverpool Road, St Albans. Picture: Jane HowdleLiverpool Road, St Albans. Picture: Jane Howdle

St Albans hosts a market every Wednesday and Saturday with a variety of different stalls from fabrics, clothes and handmade items to a vast selection of baked goods. The market dates back to the 9th century and today spans the length of St Peter’s Street.

The Maltings is a popular shopping centre with many high street stores. Christopher Place is tucked away off the main high street and hosts a range of shops such as The White Company and L.K. Bennett.

Dining

This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches)This area guide is sponsored by Frost's, who have offices in St Albans, Marshalswick, Wheathampstead and Harpenden (www.frosts.co.uk/branches)

St Albans is home to vast range of restaurants and eateries, with countless cafes and bakeries such as The Pudding Stop and Nkora, which are ideal for picking up a coffee or a sweet treat. Restaurants such as Bill’s, Loft, Loch Fyne and the newly-opened The Ivy Brasserie offer a range of options, from brunch to afternoon tea, plus delicious dinners.

Entertainment

There are numerous options for entertainment in central St Albans. From cinema to nightclubs, there is something for everyone.

The Odyssey is a popular art deco cinema which hosts a multitude of films throughout the year ranging from new releases to timeless classics, while the Abbey Theatre hosts a diverse range of performances.

The Alban Arena is located in the centre of the city and provides the opportunity to see pantomimes, concerts, films, the annual beer festival and local school-led events.

There is also a variety of nightlife in the area such as Club Batchwood, Club Veeda and Havana.

For an evening of drinks or cocktails, the options are endless, with the Waterend Barn, The Snug and Suckerpunch Bar catering to a range of tastes and budgets.

There are also various pubs across St Albans which host live bands, including The Horn.

As well as the Verulamium Museum there is the St Albans Museum + Gallery, which opened in June 2018.

St Albans Fashion Week is a big attraction inside the cathedral and St Albans Film Festival hosts outdoor film screenings and workshops across the city.

Sport

There are many opportunities to take part in sports in St Albans. Cancer Research’s Race for Life is held at Verulamium Park every year, while the annual half marathon is also based there, aiming to raise money for local charities and organisations.

There are also many sports clubs, gyms and leisure centres across St Albans. Old Albanian RFC is situated at Woollam Playing Fields and hosts teams for men and women including mini, junior and senior.

St Albans Gymnastics Club was founded in 2005 and provides recreational classes and competition training, and St Albans Cricket Club also has a variety of teams for different age groups.

St Albans City FC is based at Clarence Park and plays in the National League South, the sixth tier of English football.

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