St.Albans, Hertfordshire May 2018

Phil and I met when we were both working in the Operating theatres of hospitals down south. Hemel Hempstead and St. Albans were sister hospitals which became a trust, and we worked in both.    This was back in 1987 through to about 1992 or thereabouts when Phil had to come back up North.  We’ve often spoken about going back to visit our old haunts, and at the beginning of May we had a weekend down there doing just that.  Of course, I took the Fuji, but also took the Minolta Riva Mini and some Fujifilm Experia 400.  We stayed in St.Albans and as well as old haunts we visited places we never got to see while living there. One such place was St.Albans Cathedral, but I shot that in digital and there’ll be a report on the Universe blog about that eventually, but I deliberately shot St.Albans town with the Riva.

The History Bit

St.Albans, of course, is possibly more famous as Verulamium in the days when Romans ruled over Britain and Boudicca decided to raze it to the ground and sack the place in AD60. This was in retaliation for the subjugation of her tribe the Iceni, the rape of her daughters and of her being flogged, though that’s a really short version of the story. A few traces of the Roman city remain visible, such as parts of the city walls, a hypocaust – still in situ under a mosaic floor, and the theatre, which is on land belonging to the Earl of Verulam, as well as items in the excellent museum. More remains under the nearby agricultural land have never been excavated and were for a while seriously threatened by deep ploughing. (That’s plowing to my USA readers 🙂 )

The Anglo-Saxons took over when the Romans skedaddled and changed its name to Wæclingaceaster (“the former Roman fortification of the Wæclingas, who were the next tribe along the line.”) I’m pronouncing that as “Wake-ling-acaster- in my head but I have no idea what Anglo-Saxon words sound like!

St.Alban was already dead and saintified before this, but I’ll go into his story when I post the cathedral shots over on the Universe blog. It was the anglo-saxons who founded St.Albans Abbey on the hill outside the Roman city where it was believed St Alban was buried.

Then we get to the medieval era and enter Abbot Ulsinus (known as Wulsin). Now he was like a mega-builder and architect as well as being a churchy guy. He was the Abbot of St.Albans Abbey, and also founded St.Albans Market, built churches at the three entrances to the town, and diverted Watling Street, which linked St Stephen’s and St Michael’s churches, in order to bring traffic through the town centre (the abbey owned the market rights and also charged tolls). He set up market days on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, and they still go on today.  He also founded St.Albans School in 948, and guess what? That’s still going too. It’s not only the oldest school in Hertfordshire but also one of the oldest in the world.

 

The Market Place (without the market 🙂 )

Between 1403 and 1412 Thomas Wolvey was engaged to build a clock tower in the Market Place. It’s a square building of four stories of flint rubble with stone corners. (They’re called quoins apparently.) It’s the only medieval town belfry left in England now.  It contains two bells, the larger of which bears the mark of one of two London founders, William and Robert Burford, who were working at Aldgate between 1371 and 1418. It has an inscription in gothic capitals

MISSI DE CELIS HABEO NOMEN GABRIELIS.

Which I think means something like “my name is Gabriel” as it was named after Archangel Gabriel, and it weighs a ton. Literally. The bell, not the angel. Though I really don’t know how much Archangels weigh. The bell was rung every night after its insertion, at 8pm and I know it was a bit annoying to the people nearby, as eventually they whinged about it in 1861 and that stopped. Even more annoyingly it was also rung at 4am to get the townspeople up for work. I personally would have climbed the tower and chucked the ringer off the top of it.

 

 

The Clock Tower seen from French Row

 

French Row

 

The side door of the Clock Tower

 

Founded by Wulsin, nothing remains of the original Saxon building and no records exist of St Peter’s Church for nearly 200 years after its foundation. It was during the 13th century that the church assumed the form which it retained until the early 19th century. Then a chap called Lord Grimthorpe, (read about him here)or if you want his full title, Edmund Beckett, 1st Baron Grimthorpe, QC (12 May 1816 – 29 April 1905), known previously as Sir Edmund Beckett, 5th Baronet and Edmund Beckett Denison, who was a “lawyer, mechanician and controversialist” as well as a noted horologist and architect, came along in 1893 and took it upon himself to restore St Peter’s at his own expense.

St.Peters

It was a lovely churchyard to wander around, with some seriously old graves.  In the good old days our landed gentry and aristocrats were quite philanthropic, not so much these days.

In the evening we went for our evening meal at a pub who’s name escapes me,

Hubby waiting for dinner and ignoring the footy 🙂

but it had a lovely outdoor area

and that’s the end of the film shots I took around St.Albans.

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28 thoughts on “St.Albans, Hertfordshire May 2018

  1. Reblogged this on fraggle and commented:

    Back in 2015 I made a blog to archive my old film shots. It doesn’t have many followers as it’s a quiet little blog, but as I’m shooting a fair amount of film again these days, I’ll be doing some film special Reports over on it now and again, and here is the first….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must have missed this one. I know St. Albans well, as Julie lived not far from there, in Abbots Langley. We used to go to St. Albans market, and for meals in the town. There are some good Roman remains there too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I must have been there in the past as it seem strangely familiar, that or it has featured in some TV series?
    I always find it a little weird when I return to past haunts, the changes hit you all at once and its hard to put it into context with the time past.
    Lovely pics as ever 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice that you both got to go back to where you met! It looks like a pretty place. 💖 … Is it sad that My brain got stuck on the “Deep ploughing” being ploughing? So… If DEEP ploughing to you, is ploughing to us… Then what is ploughing to you?? (did I just break your brain and make you shake your head?? In my defense… It’s 6am here. Ha ha!) 💖🍻

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is something special about shooting with film, both with respect to the capturing process as well as the final result. St. Albans Fraggle looks like beautiful place, perfect for capturing on film. Such beautiful images.

    Liked by 1 person

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