The Shrine of Britain's first saint, contrasting architectural styles, spectacular stained glass and more await you at St Albans Cathedral. Find out more about some of our must sees below. You can find out about all of these and more on one of our guided tours.

The Shrine of Saint Alban

Saint Alban is known as Britain’s first saint and was buried on this site 1700 years ago. There has probably been a shrine here since then.

A new shrine was built in 1308 but was destroyed when the Abbey was closed down in 1539. Pieces from this shrine were used to restore the shrine in 1872 and again in 1993.

There is also a small memorial chapel underneath the main shrine chapel. This belongs to Duke Humphrey of Gloucester (d. 1447), the only royal to be buried at St Albans Cathedral.

This part of the Cathedral continues to be a place of pilgrimage, prayer and reflection.

The Longest Nave in England

At 85 metres, the Cathedral has the longest Nave in England. The word ‘Nave’ comes from ‘navis’ – the Latin name for ship since medieval people thought the ceiling looked like an upside down ship.

The pillars in the Nave are decorated with stunning medieval wall paintings. The best preserved collection in any English Cathedral.

A screen with carvings and statues was added to the Nave in the 1300s. The original statues were destroyed during the Dissolution. Today this screen is home to statues of seven martyrs, which represent different Christian traditions.

The Quire

The Quire was the main monastic area during the medieval period. This is where monks would have sung their services.

Services still take place here every day. Why not time your visit to enjoy the beautiful voices of the Cathedral Choirs at Evensong. Find out more about services here.

The Norman Tower

 

St Albans is the only major church in England with an 11th century great crossing tower still standing. It is also the only cathedral tower
in England to be built using Roman bricks.

In some places, the walls of the tower are seven feet thick and the whole structure weighs 5000 tonnes.

The tower can be explored on one of our regular tower tours.  

The Watching Loft

The Watching Loft was constructed in c. 1400 and is the only surviving medieval wooden watching loft in England.

Monastic officials would sit in here and keep an eye on pilgrims visiting the Shrine.

Stunning Stained Glass

We have some spectacular stained glass windows around the Cathedral, including the magnificent Rose Window. The colourful design you see today was added in 1989, replacing an earlier Victorian plain glass window.

Our stained glass windows date from between 1376 and 2006 and include a nod to royalty, a tribute to those who fought in the First World War and more.