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Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban Also known as St Alban's Cathedral

 

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  • St Alban's Cathedral is built on the spot of where England's first christian Martyr died, killed by the Romans at around 250 A.D.
  • A church existed on the site from about 300 A.D but was destroyed by the Saxons in 586.
  • The abbey was founded in 793 and despite being sacked by various invaders remained standing. After the Norman invasion it was incorporated into what is today the cathedral. The earliest part of this is part of the south transcept.
  • The work of the Normans started in 1077 and cruciform abbey was the largest built in England at that time, it had a chancel of four bays, a transept containing seven apses, and a nave of ten bays - fifteen bays long overall. The remains the only 11th century great crossing tower still standing in England.
  • The Normans were originally heavily dependent on bricks from the Roman town which can be seen from the part of the church that includes the tower. They are original Roman bricks. The limestone which was later used is identical to that used in Lincoln Cathedral.
  • The tower originally contained a spire of an unknown height which was then reduced in the 15th century. Today the roof of the tower is completely flat.
  • The abbey suffered greatly following the reformation and by the end of the 18th century was in such bad condition it was threatened with demolition. The Great Storm of 1703 in particular had created havoc to the point that the north wall was eighteen inches from vertical, and that the roof timbers were decayed to the point of danger.
  • The 19th century saw repair schemes lead by Sir George Gilbert Scott which gradually restored the building to a useable condition again.
  • In 1877 the first Bishop of St Alban's was appointed and the Abbey became a cathedral.
  • The Gothic styling visible today was actually added during Victorian 'restoration' when many cathedrals were transformed into what the Victorians believed they had originally looked like. In reality St Alban's was much starker, reflecting it's Anglo Saxon and early Norman design.
  • A chapter house for the cathedral was built in 1977-82 following a public inquiry containig imitation half a million Roman bricks.
  • The nave is the joint longest in the world today, a titled shared St Peters in Rome and held ever since its construction. It is 106m.

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Developer
Diocese of St Alban's
Renovation Architect
George Gilbert Scott

Reference Data

Reference No.
431
First Uploaded
19-02-2006
Last Editorial Date
15-05-2015
 

Building Location

Address
Sumpter Yard, St Albans. AL1 1BY
Council
City of St Albans
County
Hertfordshire
Region
East Anglia
Country
United Kingdom

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Building Specification

Status
Complete
Construction start date
790
Completion date
1982
Heritage Status
Grade I

Roof Height (AOD)
141.54
Roof Height (AGL)
44.00

Market Data

Primary Use
Place of Worship


Metres > Feet