Learning about St Albans
St Albans Text Trail
We had lived in St Albans for several years so it was fairly natural for us to select it as the second location we selected for a Trail.
Planning a route around St Albans
It made sense for us to start off by exploring the very center of the city and surrounding high street area, and we were amazed at how many new things we discovered. This partly amazed us because we'd lived in St Albans for at least 5 years and we'd walked through town most weekends, but more that that I remember being really really pleased.
This was exactly what we were hoping to achieve with Text Trails - our own exploration of the cit represented everything we were hoping to give to others when we decided to start our little business venture.
Exploring special places, Discovering secret sights, and Learning new things
We discovered so many new places (some hidden gardens and secret parks), we learnt lots of new things (stopping for the first time to read information boards and plaques on buildings), and properly exploring The Abbey (which I'm ashamed to say we had never properly done before).
We spotted lots of blue plaques when we were out exploring (with Google's help) but we were genuinely surprised at how few of them there were ... and also how niche some of them were!! I had assumed that a city with a history as vast and rich as St Albans' would have be scattered with blue plaques on every other corner. But for some reason there just weren't many of them.
Not that it mattered, there was more than enough interest from the main sights in the city centre!
Planning a day trip to St Albans?
If like us you're a St Albans' resident and think you know the city like the back of your hand then why not give our full length St Albans Text Trail a try and put your knowledge to the test? It takes under 2 hours to complete so is the perfect way to burn through a couple of hours on a spare sunny weekend. We guarantee that no matter how long you've lived there we'll help you spot new details!
On the flip sound if you live a little further away and want to spend some time exploring somewhere new then why not take a day trip to St Albans (come on a Saturday if you also want to wander around the Farmer's market) and use a Text Trail to get your bearings in a new place.
For those of you who don't want to be on your feet for that long you could also consider our shorter route which only requires 1.7km of walking in total but still allows you to explore the main parts of the city centre..
A few fun facts and trivia about St Albans
"I didn't know that!"
Where did the name Verulamium come from?
Most people know that St Albans was originally a Roman settlement known as 'Verulamium' - which literally translates to 'dwelling by a marsh' - but not as many know it was the second largest city in Roman Britain after Londinium. The Abbey was built in 1077 (by which time the city was known as St Albans), and was the principle Abbey in all of medieval England.
What famous food is associated with St Albans? Where did the Hot Cross Bun come from?
The Hot Cross Bun is said to originate in St Albans, the crossed pattern relating to the white cross on the St Albans coat of arms. Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th century Monk at St Albans Abbey, developed the original recipe and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday, starting in 1381.
History of the Ryder Cup
The prestigious Ryder Cup golf tournament was founded by Samuel Ryder who lived here in St Albans. He was an English entrepreneur and golf enthusiast, and is also famed for first introducing "folded seed envelope packets" for sale. Across the city are various buildings, streets and schools named after him, including a restaurant which stands today under a large glass roof which was once Ryder's greenhouse/seed hall.
Where did Stephen Hawking go to school?
Stephen Hawking spent much of his childhood in St Albans, including attending St Albans High School for Girls (!!)
The time Tom Cruise visited St Albans
Tom Cruise famously visited the Indian restaurant Veer Dhara, and ordered a lobster and chicken tikka massala. Rumour has it he enjoyed it so much that he ordered a second!
A Brief History of St Albans
For anyone who doesn't know, St Albans is a cathedral city in Hertfordshire, on the edge of the M25 close to London.
St Albans has a history spanning over 2,000 years and first become well known duringRoman times. It was the first major town on the Roman road of Watling St, for people travelling north and it quickly developed into the Roman city of Verulamium.
Currently with a population of 82,146 (at time of writing), it is the fourth largest settlement by population in Hertfordshire.
What does Verulamium mean?
Although commonly referred to Verulamium, pre-Roman etymology of this word actually stems from the word Verlamion. This roughly translates to "tribe of the broad hand".
It was the Romans in roughly AD50 who granted Verlamion "Municipium status" (latin for city) at which point 'ium' was added and the city became known as Verulamium.
It grew into one of the largest towns in the country and was an important strategic point on the routes into London - as such Boudica ransacked the city and had all the buildings burnt during her rebellious campaign across the country in AD61.
Where does the name St Albans come from?
St Albans takes its name from a man named Albanus.
Albanus lived in the roman city of Verulamium during a time wen Christian's were being persecuted. His paths cross with a Christian priest who was being chased across the country, and Albanus selflessly offered him shelter in his house.
The priest was was humble and well educated that he left quite an impression on Albanus, who decided to convert to Christianity as a result.
Soon after the authorities arrived at Albanus' house searching for the priest, but Albanus was so determined to do right by him he dressed as the priest when he opened the door and presented himself to the authorities instead of his guest.
Albanus was soon sentenced to execution unless he renounced Christianity, which of course, he would not.
We had so much fun creating each and every Text Trail that's currently live on our website, and our biggest wish is that other people have as much fun taking part in them as we did making them.
Happy Hunting!! 🔎