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St Albans Heritage Open Days

8 to 11 September 2011

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. 

This year, Heritage Open Days will run from 8th - 11th September. Please see below for a brief list of what's on during the period. For a more detailed view and times please see the brochure (pdf 1mb)

STOP PRESS: The Odyssey cinema will be screening Grease Sing-a-long on Sat 10 Sept at 7.30pm. Tickets £15 (adults), £5 under-12s on 01442 877759. More info here.

1. Walks

Crime and Punishment

Local crimes ranged from murder in the Cathedral to theft worth two pence, and the punishments were often disproportionately harsh. This walk will take place in the 1831 Courtroom, the two buildings that were prisons in times past and point out the site of such niceties as the stocks and the pillory. Not to be missed for the stout-hearted!

Successes, Failures and Lessons Learnt

St Albans Civic Society Fiftieth Anniversary Walk. Join the city watchdogs on a 75-minute, circular walk as they reflect on half a century of action in St Albans.

The Heritage Tree Walk

A 90-minute walk looking at the heritage trees planted to mark 2000 years of special people, places and events; from the pine nuts found at the Roman triangular Temple to current community victories.

Verulamium in a Nutshell Walk

This walk explores Verulamium Park - site of Britain’s 3rd largest Roman town and the only complete Roman Theatre. We also explore the remains of the Roman Walls, foundations of the London Gate and a superb mosaic.

Aristocrats, Paupers & Philanthropists

This enjoyable stroll round the St Peter’s area features the great and the (sometimes!) good of St Albans and the various buildings and charitable institutions they generously gave to the city. Their stories are all quite fascinating – but then some were among the most powerful people in the Kingdom!

A Round With Sam Ryder

A journey tracing the remarkable events of one of St Albans most prominent citizens, we walk the length of a golf course - his passion; we sow the seeds of respect for his entrepreneurial flair - his business; we look into his commitment to civic duty - his politics. Then after 18 holes, we finally understand and know the man. A family man, a caring employer, a churchman, a Mayor and yes - the man behind the Ryder Cup.

A Taste of St Albans

Looking at just one small area of the city centre, this guided walk lasts an hour and gives a taste of the rich and varied history of St Albans.

Coaching Inns

St Albans was, for many years, one day’s journey from London to the North West and the numerous inns that lined the main roads in the town provided food and accommodation for travellers and stabling for their horses. But that is only part of the story - on this walk you will hear about other events that took place in these historic inns and of some of the people who stayed in them!

2. Abbey Gateway

The most complete medieval gateway in England. Tours from 10:00 to 15:30 every half hour. Tours take 35-40 minutes.

3. Alban Arena

A rare opportunity to view this Roman double mosaic dating from the late 2nd to the early 3rd century, excavated in the 1930’s from a building in Verulamium Park and installed in the then newly built City Hall in 1968. With the advent of the main foyer extension in 1990, the mosaic has remained covered in order to protect it.

4. Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban

St Albans Cathedral is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. The building itself is a blend of architectural styles spanning a millennia and contains recycled Roman bricks from Verulamium. Of special interest are the 13th century wall paintings, a rare watching loft and the shrines of Saint Alban and Amphibalus.

Abbey by Night ToursTake an atmospheric tour of this amazing building by candlelight. Maximum 20 people per tour. Tickets available from the Information Desk at the Cathedral from Friday 2nd

Tower Tours This spectacular tour takes you up 193 steps to the roof of the Norman Tower. Tickets available on the day of the tour.

Explore The Exterior Tour  - Join an expert guide who will explain the complex architecture of this ancient building and how it has changed over the centuries.

Fun Family Trail - Someone has been ringing the Cathedral bells in the middle of the night – Follow the clues around the Cathedral and find out who.

5. 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.

6. Court and Convicted Exhibition

Courtroom, Town Hall, Market Place, St Albans

An exhibition on some of the trials which took place in this perfectly preserved Regency Court Room.

7. Dagnall Street Baptist Church

Upper Dagnall Street, St Albans

Built in 1885, the present church stands on the site first used by St Albans Baptists in 1720. There are a number of features unusual for a Victorian-era Free Church. 

8. Giant Monopoly

Join the St Albans Arts, Sport & Health Team in a game of Giant Monopoly, played across areas of the city centre
and through Verulamium Park. There are 2 routes to choose from: the 2.5 mile Yellow Route and a 4.5 mile Blue Route. A great day out for all the family, taking in some of the sites and attractions of the district.

9. Kingsbury Barn

Kingsbury Manor, St.Michaels Street, St Albans

Kingsbury Barn was built by the Abbey in 1374 and was recently restored using traditional materials
and methods. Also on display will be an exhibition featuring the photography of John Bethell.

10. Museum of St Albans

9a Hatfield Road, 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. The museum also has a wildlife garden. Free admission.

11. Radio Verulam 92.6 FM studios

11 Hatfield Road (above Courtyard Café), St Albans

Studios of Radio Verulam 92.6 FM, the Community Radio station serving St Albans and West Herts. All our activities are undertaken by volunteers. The premises are quite small and live programmes will be being broadcast at the time so access will be limited to small groups of maximum six people. Radio Verulam are holding a Your Questions Heritage Special on 13th Sept.


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