Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
History of St Albans
The Romans leave
The post-Roman development of St Albans was in memorial to Saint Alban, the earliest known British Christian martyr, executed in circa 250 (the exact date is a matter of some controversy, with scholars suggesting dates of 209, 254 and 304). The town itself was known for some time by the Saxon name Verlamchester. A shrine was erected on the site of his death following Emperor Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. In the 5th century a monastic church was constructed.
The Abbey is founded
Another abbey was founded by King Offa of Mercia in 793. The settlement grew up around the precincts of another monastery, founded in AD 900 by Abbot Ulsinus (also known as Wulsin). He also founded three churches - St. Peter's, St. Stephen's and St. Michael's. Around 500 people lived in the town in 1086.
The cathedral was started in 1077 by Paul de Caen , the 14th Abbot and completed in 1089. It was 350 feet long with a tower and seven apses.
The head of the abbey was confirmed as the premier abbot in England in 1154. The abbey was extended by John de Cella in the 1190s, and again between 1257 and 1320 but financial constraints limited the effectiveness of these later additions. A convent was founded nearby in 1140.
A market was running outside the abbey from the 10th Century, it was confirmed by King John in 1202 and by a Royal Charter of Edward VI in 1553.
The Abbey came into increasing conflict with the people of the town of St Albans, who demanded rights of their own. This led among other things, to the construction of a large wall and gate surrounding the Abbey and the construction of the "clock tower" in the town.
During the Wars of the Roses two battles were fought in and around St Albans. The First Battle of St Albans in 1455 was a Lancastrian defeat that opened the war. The Lancastrian army occupied the town but the Yorkist forces broke in and a battle took place in the town centre. In 1461 the Second Battle of St Albans on Bernards Heath north of the town centre resulted in a Lancastrian victory.
Following the Reformation, the Abbey was dissolved in 1539 and the Abbey Church sold to the town in 1555. In May 1553, in response to a public petition, the first royal charter for the town was issued by King Edward VI, granting it the status of borough. The charter defined the powers of the mayor and councillors, then known as burgesses, as well as specifying the Wednesday and Saturday market days. The former Abbey Church became a protestant parish church for the borough.
During the English Civil War (1642-45) the town sided with parliament but was largely unaffected by the conflict.
An early transport hub
Three main roads date from the medieval period - Holywell Hill, St Peters Street, and Fishpool Street. These remained the only major streets until around 1800 when London Road was constructed, to be followed by Hatfield Road in 1824 and Verulam Road in 1826.
Verulam Road was created specifically to aid the movement of stage coaches, since St Albans was the first major stop on the coaching route north from London. This in turn is one reason the City has so many pubs (another being that it was, and remains, a major centre for Christian pilgrimage).
The railway arrived in 1868, off-setting the decline in coaching since the 1840s.
Growth was always slow and steady, with no sudden burst: in 1801 there were 6,000 people living in St Albans, in 1850 11,000, in 1931 29,000 and in 1950 44,000.
The City Charter
In 1877, in response to a public petition, Queen Victoria issued the second royal charter, which granted city status to the borough and cathedral status to the former Abbey Church. Lord Grimthorpe financed a £130,000 renovation and rebuilding of the then delapidated cathedral, which is most apparent in his generally poorly regarded Neo-Gothic style rebuild of the west front.
The football club was founded in 1880.
Ralph Chubb, the poet and printer, lived on College Street in St. Albans from 1892 to 1913, and attended the Abbey School. His work frequently references the Abbey of St. Albans, and he ascribed mystical significance to the geography and history of the town.
Between the wars
In the inter-war years St Albans, in common with much of the surrounding area, became a centre for emerging high techology industries, most notably aerospace. Nearby Radlett was the base for Handley Page, while Hatfield became home to de Havilland (later Hawker-Siddeley). St Albans itself became a centre for the Marconi company, specifically, Marconi Instruments . Marconi (later part of The General Electric Company) remained the city's largest employer (with two main plants) until the 1990s. A third plant - working on top secret defence work - also existed. Even Marconi staff only found out about this when it closed down. All of these industries are now gone from the area.
In 1936 St Albans was the last but one stop for the Jarrow Crusade.
The City was expanded signicantly after World War II, as government policy promoted the creation of New Towns and the expansion of existing towns. Substantial amounts local authority housing were built at Cottonmill (to the south), Mile House (to the south-east) and New Greens (to the north). The Marshalswick area to the north-east was also expanded, completing a pre-war programme.
In 1974 St Albans City Council, St Albans Rural District Council and Harpenden Town Council were merged to form St Albans District Council (part of a much wider local government reorganisation).
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details