What's on this summer: Hidden gems to be found in historic St Albans
- Credit: Elyse Marks
The school summer holidays are upon us, which means one thing – scheduling a raft of activities to keep the family entertained.
After months of lockdown and isolation we are all dab hands at keeping little minds busy but as the country starts to open, so too does the opportunity to explore.
But you don't need to travel far to find things to do in St Albans this summer.
St Albans Museum + Gallery and the Verulamium Museum offer a multitude of activities that families can enjoy over the summer months.
Not only that, but they bring a mix of guilt-free fun since children will also experience an educative dose of arts and culture at the same time.
St Albans Museum + Gallery, located off the market square, opened in June 2018 but closed its doors in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Museums manager Farhana Begum said: “The museum is a treasure in the city’s historic crown and our approach to arts and culture is refreshing.
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"We aim to offer a new and exciting experience with every visit. We update our exhibitions regularly, so you’re bound to see something new each time.”
The museum in the former town hall caters for the whole family with its interactive and fun exhibits.
Upon arrival children are greeted with explorer buckets that contain magnifying glasses, colour filters and games which they can play on their way around the museum.
The café offers a tempting welcome too as you enter the museum – catering for all with delicious baked goods, lunches and refreshments, there is something for the whole family.
There are several exhibition spaces within the museum, but the toilets are a must-see, yes really!
The museum is built around the old courthouse and the toilets are located in the underground cellars that used to be holding cells for those going on trial.
The original courtroom today is a place to sit down and enjoy your coffee and cake – and perhaps revel in the historic tales that may have unfolded there.
What’s on in St Albans this summer?
St Albans Museum + Gallery has a range of exhibits and activities running over the summer – with many of the exhibitions being free of charge. Here's five events taking place this summer.
1. Behind The Mask
Trestle Theatre's Behind the Mask runs until September 5, 2021 in the Keeper’s Gallery.
Trestle turned 40 in 2021 and to celebrate, this internationally renowned theatre company is partnering with St Albans Museums to run an exhibit of some of its most famous masks.
On August 4, the museum is running a mask play workshop where children and young people of all ages can explore and create their very own marvellous mask.
Children will be able to create their own characters and learn about mask-making techniques through fun games and exercises. Book your child’s place at www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/crafting-characters
2. The Chroniclers
Running from July 30 to October 31, Chroniclers of History can be seen in the Weston Gallery.
During the medieval period, the recording of history, both ancient and modern, came to be seen as an important exercise.
The monks of St Albans produced a wide range of works taking in science, literature, and religious texts, but the monastery of St Albans became especially famous for the quality of its chronicles and their presentation.
The breadth of coverage and detail of knowledge meant that these chronicles formed the basis for the modern history of medieval England.
This exhibition brings together some of the finest examples of medieval manuscripts.
3. The Modern Scribe
On August 18 at 11am, St Albans Museums + Gallery is running The Modern Scribe workshop, aimed at primary school aged children.
This is a drop-in craft session for families with young children to learn how to brush-letter their names in a modern calligraphy style with St Albans artist Jen Roffe.
Book your place at www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/modern-scribe
4. Museum Minis and Tots Tales
Throughout the summer holiday, St Albans Museum + Gallery and the Verulamium Museum will be hosting their Museum Minis and Tots Tales sessions.
These drop-in sessions are targeted at younger children and are jam-packed full of fun crafts and storytelling activities.
5. Other activities
Farhana Begum added: “St Albans really is a fantastic location for families looking to plan a fun day out. The city is steeped in history and there is so much to explore.
"There is a wonderful activity trail that links many of the city’s key points of interest and you can collect your maps from the St Albans Museum + Gallery foyer.”
The Verulamium Museum in Verulamium Park also has an array of activities planned.
If the younger family members still have the energy, or as a separate visit, you could take in the medieval Clock Tower, where there is a ‘Count the Keys’ activity for a chance to win a chocolate treasure.
For more information about what is on visit www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on where you can view the full listings.