St. Albans Cathedral

t. Albans did not become a cathedral city until 1877, but the history of the site of the cathedral church goes along way back in time. The site of the church was sacred even before Augustine arrived in Britain in around 597. A young Roman called Alban gave refuge to a Christian priest who was being hunted because of his religion. Alban helped the priest escape by pretending to be the priest himself. Alban was captured and beheaded, his head being buried. King Offa founded a monastery at the site and Benedictine monks built an abbey in the memory of St. Alban. This abbey and the surrounding area was attacked by Vikings in 930. After the Norman Conquest William the Conqueror appointed Paul of Cean, a Norman bishop, who began the construction of a new church. Some sections of Paul's early Norman church still remain today. He died before he could see its completion and consecration which took place in 1115. In 1119 Geoffrey de Gorham became abbot. His appointment should have occurred earlier but due to a hold up while travelling from his home in Maine he arrived at St. Albans and found that the position of abbot had already been filled. He became a teacher at Dunstable and waited for a post to become available. An unfortunate event took place when for a play he was performing he borrowed the sacred cloaks from the abbey and the night after the play had been performed his house and all the cloaks were destroyed by fire. To make amends for this he became a simple monk at the abbey. But his abilities soon meant he rose through the ranks to become the abbot at St. Albans.

St. Albans Cathedral has the longest nave of any cathedral in England. It is 106 metres or 348 feet in length.

930   St. Albans attacked by the Danes
 The abbey church at St. Albans was attacked and damaged by Vikings.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1077   St. Albans Cathedral building begins
 Work began on St. Albans Cathedral. (More Information to follow) 
1115   St. Albans consecrated
 The church at St. Albans was consecrated. 
1195 - 1214 Alteration to the West End
 Modifications to the west end of the church were undertaken under the direction of the abbot John de Cella. The plan was to add an extra three bays to the existing structure. Progress was slow due to mismanagement of the funds and when John de Cella died not much progress had been achieved. The work was completed under the direction of the next abbot, William of Trumpington.[1] 
1250 Qtr 4  Earthquake shakes St. Albans Abbey
 Matthew Paris, the medieval historian, reported that an earthquake shook and damaged the church at St. Albans. Earthquakes are unusual in this area.[1] 
1257   Building work at St. Albans
 Sections of the Norman apses at the eastern end of the church were damaged during the earthquake of 1250. It was decided to knock these down and replace them with a plan based on work that had been carried out at Westminster Abbey. The work took over sixty years to complete due to periods when funds were lacking.[1] 
1308 - 1326 Lady Chapel built at St. Albans
 A Lady Chapel was constructed at St; Albans Abbey.[2] 
1323   Sections of St. Alban collapses
 Parts of the ceiling of the church collapsed when several columns in the nave fell down. 
1356 Oct  King John at St. Albans
 King John of France was held prisoner at St. Alban's monastery after being captured at Poitiers.

Episode: Edward III - The Hundred Years War  


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