St Albans Heritage Open Days
9 to 12 September 2010
Heritage Open Days celebrates England's architecture and culture by allowing free access to interesting properties that are not normally open to the public, or would charge an entrance fee. Heritage Open Days also include tours, events, lectures and activities that focus on architecture and culture. For the majority there is no need to pre book* and they are all FREE* (*unless otherwise indicated!). Download brochure (pdf)
1. Abbey Gateway, St Albans School
Conducted tours by St Albans School pupils of the 14th century Abbey Gateway, one of the few intact medieval gateways in England. Built in 1365, it has served as the liberty Gaol until 1868, and part of St Albans School since 1811. Open Sun 10am - 3.30pm. Tours every half hour from 10am. Each tour last 35-40 minutes and is limited to 20 visitors. Parking at St Albans School. Some very steep steps. No disabled access. 01727 855521.
2. Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban
From its elevated situation on the site of the execution and burial of St Alban, our first British martyr, the Cathedral has dominated its surroundings for over 900 years. It is a building of contrasting architectural styles from the Saxon period through to the great Victorian restoration and a 20th century Chapter house. Open Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun 8.30am - 5.45pm. Tours: Thu & Fri 11.30am & 2.30pm, Sat 11.30am & 2pm, Evensong at 4pm, Organ Recital at 5.30pm (free, all welcome), Sun 2.30pm, 3pm (ancient graffitti), 6.30pm Evensong. Disabled parking provided, Induction loop, Touch & Hearing Centre, Braille guide plan. 01727 860780.
3. Clock Tower
Built between 1403 and 1412, the Clock Tower is the only medieval town belfry in England, and has its original bell. The tower is 19.6 metres high and has 94 steps to the top via a narrow spiral staircase giving fine views of the Cathedral, Roman Verulamium and the City. The Tower and its fine bell have survived 600 years of use. Open Sat & Sun 10.30am - 5pm. No disabled access.
4. Court and Convicted Exhibition
An exhibition on some of the trials held in this perfectly preserved Regency Court Room in the Old Town Hall, entry via Tourist and Information Centre. Open Thu to Sun 10am-4pm. Partial disabled access. 01727 864511.
5. DagnallStreet Baptist Church
Built in 1885, the present church stands on the site first used by St Albans Baptists in 1720. A number of features are unusual for a Victorian-era Free Church. Adjoining coffee shop open 10am-2pm. Open Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 2-5pm for viewing and information. Exhibition of the Church's history. No parking at the Church. Full disabled access via Cross Street coffee shop entrance. 01727 846891.
6. Giant Monopoly Event
Game of Giant Monopoly, taking in some of the sites and attractions of the St Albans District. Starting point at the Old Town Hall. Sun 12-4pm. Routes will have easy access to public car parks throughout the district. Partial disability access. Run by SAASH. 01727 827667.
7. Kingsbury Barn
Kingsbury Barn was built by the Abbey in 1374 and has recently undergone a comprehensive programme of conservation. Also on display will be an exhibition 'Domestic Architechture in Fishpool Street' featuring the photography of John Bethell. Open Thu & Fri 10am-12noon & 2-4pm, Sat & Sun 10am-5pm. Directions: Kingsbury Barn is inside Kingsbury Mews on Branch Road. Disabled access and parking only. 01727 838965.
8. Museum of St Albans
The story of historic St Albans from the Romans to the present day is told through lively displays using the museum's collections. Please note that the downstairs galleries will be closed for refurbishment. The museum also has a wildlife garden. Free admission. Open Thurs to Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 2-5pm. Disabled access to ground floor and toilet available. 01727 819340
9. Redbourn 900 Celebrations
Redbourn's St Mary's Church was founded in 1110. Redbourn 900 is a series of events to celebrate the 900th anniversary. The final events will take place over Heritage Open Days. Sat 7.30-9.30pm Canticle Chamber Choir - "Music in Praise of Mary" St Mary's Church, Redbourn. Booking required. Sun 10.30am-12noon Patronal Festival Eucharist St Mary's Church, Redbourn, Sun 10am-6pm Redbourn 900 Village Finale Celebrations Redbourn Common including celebrity cricket; dress in hats; Redbourn's heritage; hat competition; Mr Marvel; Mad Hatter's Tea Party; Hog roast; Guinness Record attempt - Hats on the Common; grand raffle draw; Finals of Redbourn's Got Talent. Parking on Redbourn Common. Full disabled access to all events.
10. Redbournbury Mill
Fully restored 18th century working watermill and artisan bakery producing and selling stoneground organic flour and bread, available from the shop. Open Sun 2-5pm. Parital disabled access, toilet and disabled parking. Off A5183 Redbourn Road. 01582 792874.
11. Roman Mosaic (Hypocaust Building)
In Verulamium Park lies the Roman Mosaic - part of a suite of rooms in a large town house built around AD200. Beneath a fine mosaic, there is an under floor heating system, a hypocaust. It is a precursor of modern central heating - the Romans had no intentions of enduring a climate they found unpleasantly cold in winter! Open Thu to Sat 10-4.30pm. Sun 2-4.30pm. Disabled access. 01727 751810.
12. Ryder Building
Now housing the Comfort Hotel, this was originally built as the headquarter of the Ryder Seed Company. Samuel Ryder is now best known for starting the Ryder Cup golf match, now played between America and Europe. On Saturday and Sunday there will a display by the City and District of St Albans Tour Guides exploring the life and legacy of Samuel Ryder in the Samuel Ryder Room. Open Thu to Sun 10am-9pm. Partial disabled access. 01727 848849.
13. Sopwell Nunnery
Visit the ruins of Sir Richard Lee's Tudor great house, built c1555 on the site of a 12th Century nunnery bought from Henry VIII. Open Thu to Sun. Partial disabled access - on common land.
14. St Albans Market & Farmers Market
Saturday: The Famous St Albans market,Sunday: As always on the 2nd Sunday in the month it is the St Albans Farmers Market. Open Sat 10am-4.30pm, Sun 10am-2pm. St Peter's Street. Full disabled access.
15. St Albans Odeon / Alpha
If you missed the first look in July, here's a second chance to see inside the old 1930's Odeon cinema, closed since 1995. Now under refurbishment, the building is being cleared. Visitors can see how work is progressing and hear about the 'dream', along with the chance to ask questions about the development. Open Sun 12-2pm.
16. Signal Box Preservation Trust
The Grade II listed Midland Railway signal box built in 1892 has been restored and is the only signalbox adjacent to an operational main line with public access. There will be signalling demonstrations, archive video, a slide show, museum of railway memorabilia, a steam model railway and steam engine rides. Open Sat & Sun 10am-4pm. Tea and cakes will be available in the garden. Partial disabled access.
17. St Leonard's Church, Sandridge
Norman village church at Church End, AL4 9DL whose architectural features range from recycled Roman bricks to 21st-century engraved glass. Open Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 2-5.30pm. Guided tours at 2.30pm on both days. 'Explore the church' trail sheet for children. Full disabled access.
18. St Luke's Church Sharing Stories Group
Memories of World War II Exhibition at St Luke's Church, Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans. A collection of the vivid memories of local people who lived through World War II and can remember evacuees, bombing and blackout as well as day-to-day life in school and at home. This exhibition uses their extraordinary words and photos to show what life was like then. Open Sat 10am-4pm. Free. 01727 865399.
19. St Michael's Church
Famous 1,000 year old church, built on the site of the basilica/forum of the Roman town of Verulamium where St Alban was tried and found guilty of not giving up his new found belief in Christianity. Open Thu to Sun 1-4pm. Parking (ticket machine) in car park by Verulamium Museum. Disabled access. 01727 835037.
20. St Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church was founded in 948 AD, successive restorations have given a wholly Victorian appearance to a church containing a largely 15th century nave. Visitors will be able to ascend the tower to see the ringing chamber and the bells and there will be explanatory displays to help you understand the history of this fascinating building. Depending on the weather, you will be able to go onto the tower roof, the highest point in St Albans (age restrictions apply). Open Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 2-5pm. Partial disabled access. 01727 855485.
21. The Independent Chapel
Grade II Listed non-Conformist chapel, off George Street, built in 1811. There are many original features and there will be an exhibition tracing its history back to 1650. Famous associations with poet William Cowper, hymn writer Philip Doddridge, and Samuel Ryder of Ryder Cup fame. Open Sat 12-5pm, Sun 2-5pm. There will be a lecture on the history of the Church on both days at 4pm. Partial disabled access. 01727 857044.
22. The RomanTheatre of Verulamium
Built in c.40AD, the Roman Theatre is unique in Britain, being a theatre with a stage, rather than an amphitheatre and is the only fully excavated example of its kind in Britain. The main ruins were unearthed in 1847 and subsequent excavations have revealed shop foundations, a Roman villa and a secret shrine. Open Sat & Sun 10am-5pm. Partial disabled access. 01727 853035.
23. Verulamium Museum & Legion XIIII
Situated in Verulamium Park, the Museum houses the vast collection of finds excavated from the site of Verulamium, one of the largest towns in Roman Britain. The finds range from large mosaics, amongst the best in this country, to the small objects of everyday life. Using recreated Roman rooms, hands-on discovery areas, touch screens and video presentations, the Roman town is brought to life. Open Thu to Sat 10am-5.30pm & Sun 2-5.30pm. Legion XIII will be on guard Sat at 2.30pm and 3.30pm, Sun at 3pm. On Sunday a coin specialist will be in the gallery, talking to visitors & helping them to identify coins. Admission free after 2pm Thu & Fri and all day on Sat & Sun. Full disabled access. 01727 751810.
24. Guided Walks
For a list of walks, visit the Tour Guides website. Some walks must be pre-booked.
25. Wheathampsted Old Railway Station
A partially restored platform and railbed which until 2009 lay overgrown by ivy and sycamore, disused and all but forgotten. Has Victorian and later features, now used as a picnic site and part of the Village Heritage Trail. Unmanned and open access. The station was on the Hatfield to Luton & Dunstable Line, 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of Wheathampstead station as a passenger line. Through volunteer help it now springs back to life. Open Thu to Sun. At Junction of B653 & B651. Free parking in East Lane. Access via 20 wide steps with hand rail only. Web: wheathampstead-pc.gov.uk.