St. Albans is a city in Hertfordshire. It gained city status in 1877, having previously been a town and borough. It comprised four ancient parishes: St. Albans Abbey, St. Albans St. Michael's, St. Albans St. Peter's and St. Albans St. Stephen. The three parishes of St. Michael, St. Peter and St. Stephen each had their church in the town but included extensive rural areas beyond the town - St. Michael to the northwest, St. Peter to the east and St. Stephen to the southwest. In 1894, when rural and urban districts were introduced nationwide, the rural parts of each of these parishes were established as parishes in themselves and were named
The parts of St. Michael Rural and St. Peter Rural most adjacent to the town were merged with the original St. Albans Abbey parish in two installments in 1913 and 1937 to form the modern city. Sandridge, a suburban parish to the northeast, was also separated into urban and rural sections and absorbed into St. Albans in the same fashion as the former ecclesiastical parishes.
Since 1974 and the formation of the St. Albans District, the rural parishes have been renamed and, in one case, reorganized.
The Municipal Borough of St. Albans was abolished on 1 April 1974. It became an unparished area within the City of St Albans non-metropolitan district. City status transferred to the entire new district by letters patent dated 9 July 1974.
The expansion in area of the Municipal Borough brought with it population growth.
St Albans (Lat. Villa Sancti Albani or Villa Albani) is a city and unparished area in southern Hertfordshire, England. It was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north and became the Roman city of Verulamium. It is a historic market town and is now a dormitory town within the London commuter belt.
St. Albans lies just east of Hemel Hempstead and west of Hatfield. It is located about 19 miles (31 km) north-northwest of central London, 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Welwyn Garden City, and 11 miles (18 km) south-southeast of Luton. Since 1974 it forms the main urban area of the City and District of St. Alban's.
The St Albans area has a long history of settlement. The Celtic Catuvellauni tribe had a settlement at Prae Hill a mile or so to the west. The Roman city of Verulamium, second-largest town in Roman Britain after Londinium, was built alongside this in the valley of the River Ver a little nearer to the present city centre.
The mediaeval town grew up on the hill to the east of this around the Benedictine foundation of St Albans Abbey. This is the spot where tradition has it that St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, was beheaded some time before AD 324. It was at one time the principal abbey in England and the first draft of Magna Carta was drawn up there, reflecting its political importance. The Abbey Church, now St Albans Cathedral (formally the Cathedral & Abbey Church of St Alban but still known locally as The Abbey) became the parish church when it was bought by the local people in 1553, soon after the priory was dissolved in 1539. It was made a cathedral in 1877 when the City Charter was granted. There is evidence that the original site was somewhat higher up the hill than the present building and there had certainly been successive abbeys before the current building was started in 1077.
St Albans School, a public school which, since 1871, occupies a site to the west of the Abbey and which includes the 14th century Abbey Gateway, was founded in AD 948 and is the only school in the English-speaking world to have educated a Pope (Adrian IV). It numbered amongst its buildings until comparatively recently a converted former hat factory, a link with the city's industrial past. Nearby Luton was also a notable centre for the hat-making industry.
Two battles of the Wars of the Roses took place in or near the town. The First Battle of St Albans was fought on 22 May 1455 within the town of St Albans itself, and the Second Battle of St Albans was fought on 17 February 1461, just to the north.
The growth of St Albans was generally slow before the 20th century, reflecting its status as a rural market town, a Christian pilgrimage site, and the first coaching stop of the route to and from London - a fact which also accounts for its numerous inns, many dating from Tudor times. In the inter-war years it became a popular centre for the electronics industry. In the post-World War II years it was expanded significantly as part of the post-War redistribution of population out of Greater London that also saw the creation of new towns.