St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral


St Albans Cathedral is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. It stands over the place where Alban, the first martyr, was buried after giving his life for his faith over 1700 years ago.

The building's amazing mixture of architectural styles bears witness to the many centuries of its life, first as a monastic Abbey and now as a Cathedral. Down all those centuries countless pilgrims have come to honour Saint Alban's sacrifice and offer their prayers at his shrine.

The present Cathedral was begun in 1077, using Roman bricks and flint from the ruined city of Verulamium. Its massive 11th century bell tower is the only remaining example of its type. It has the longest nave in England where you can see outstanding 13th and 14th century wall paintings.

Visitors continue to flock to the shrine of Saint Alban. The shrine was rebuilt in the early 14th century. It was destroyed at the reformation, but rediscovered and rebuilt in the 19th century, and restored in 1993. A rare survival, it remains a centre of ecumenical worship.

St Albans Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of St Albans and serves the Diocese of St Albans in the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, the Borough of Luton and the London Borough of Barnet. The Cathedral is also a parish church with a large and active congregation. We hope you will want to know more at first hand. We warmly look forward to welcoming you.

St Albans Cathedral


The Shrine of Saint Alban

The Shrine of Saint Alban

Saint Alban is Britain's first Christian martyr and his shrine within the Cathedral is a site of national pilgrimage. It is used as a place of prayer and meditation by visitors every day.

Like many of England's shrines, it was demolished at the dissolution of the monasteries. In 1872, fragments of the Purbeck marble pedestal were recovered and it was reconstructed. The second restoration was completed in 1993 and the shrine was rededicated in the presence of HM The Queen Mother in that year.

Fascinating Medieval Wall Paintings

Fascinating Medieval Wall Paintings

St Albans Cathedral has the most extensive set of medieval wall paintings surviving today in any of the greater English churches. The paintings date from the late 12th century up to the sixteenth century and were created to teach a largely illiterate population about the Christian faith, and to stimulate meditation. The paintings were hidden after the Reformation under whitewash but were rediscovered in 1862 and are well worth seeing first hand.

Architecture that Spans a Millennia

Architecture that Spans a Millennia

St Albans Cathedral is the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain. The building's amazing mixture of architectural styles bears witness to the many centuries of its life, first as a monastic Abbey and now as a Cathedral. It is a building of contrast - visitors can see architectural styles from the Saxon period through to the great Victorian restoration and a 20th century Chapter house. Roman bricks are also evident in the fabric of the building - skillfully reused by the Normans.

The Longest Nave in England

The Longest Nave in England

At 85 metres, St Albans Cathedral has the longest nave in England. You can enjoy exploring the Norman and Early English architecture, as well as viewing the stunning wall paintings in the nave. The mid-fourteenth century stone rood screen is a rare survival - most such screens were removed during the Reformation.

A Unique Watching Loft (circa 1400)

A Unique Watching Loft (circa 1400)

This is the only surviving Watching Loft in England. It was used by the monks to keep watch on Saint Alban's Shrine below. The frieze of solid oak shows fascinating scenes of 15th century daily life, including bear-baiting and wrestling. The martyrdom of Saint Alban is also portrayed.

Admission & opening hours

The cathedral is open all year round.

Opening hours:
8.30am - 5.45pm

Tours & education

Guided tours

Our free guided tours provide an introduction to the history of the building, highlight the main items of interest and describe the Cathedral's ministry both past and present. They start at the west door and typically take about an hour. Tours run daily at the following times:

Monday to Saturday 11.30am
Saturday 2pm
Sunday to Friday 2.30pm

If your time is limited, try one of our popular Highlights Tours which take place daily at 1.05pm, meeting in the South Transept.

Tower Tours are available on selected weekends. Tours last one hour and cost £8 per person. For more information, please see our website.

Private group tours can be arranged to suit individual requirements, subject to fitting in with the Cathedral's programme of worship and events. There is a charge for these tours which can be booked through the Cathedral Office. Tel: 01727 890200. Email:

School visits

The award winning Education Centre at St Albans Cathedral brings all manner of subjects to life in original and surprising ways. From history, English and geology to maths, art and design, music and RE, our enriching programmes compliment the National Curriculum. Trained teachers lead small groups and instil a sense of wonder discovery and fun. We work with all ages, faiths and abilities and welcome schools and youth groups from all over the UK and overseas. For further information please see our website, telephone 01727 890212 or email

Amenities & facilities


Wheelchair access.

Lift access to the Shrine Chapel.

Toilets for disabled.


The Café is a popular meeting place, serving a delicious range of hot and cold home made lunches, afternoon teas, light snacks and drinks.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm
Saturday 10am - 4.30pm
Sunday 1pm - 4pm

Gift Shop

A wide choice of gifts and books is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop and Bookshop, including souvenirs, gifts for special occasions and CDs by the Cathedral Choirs.

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 1pm - 5pm


The Hudson Library is a modern theological lending library able to meet the needs of the general reader, teachers and students, clergy undertaking ministerial education, and people training for ordination or lay ministry. For more information please contact the Librarian on 01727 890222.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am - 2.30pm
Saturday 10am - 1pm

Local Interest

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Contact Details

St Albans Cathedral
Sumpter Yard
St Albans
Hertfordshire, AL1 1BY

+44 (0) 1727 860 780
Further Information
Worship time & details
Events at St Albans
Social Media

How to find us

Please see our Map for full details.

Plan your visit now.