A brief history of The Goat Inn
This picturesque and cultured pub has been offering real ale, food, and accommodation
for some centuries now. It was built at the end of the 15th century and is thus
steeped in history. What was clearly once a fine house had become an pub by 1587.
It is even rumoured that this historic site was once the oldest brothel in St. Albans!
At the height of the coaching age in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, The
Goat Inn was well known for having the largest amount of stabling in St. Albans,
as well as the finest ale. In 1756 The Goat could accommodate seventy-two horses
and yet it could only sleep ten people.
The Goat was on the old coaching route from London, with coaches entering Sopwell
Lane from Old London Road, then travelling up Holywell Hill and into the High Street.
In 1921, by which time the horse was redundant, The Goat slept 54 people as a common
lodging house. The character of the building has been retained through the ages
and even the old carriage arch can still be seen today.
About St Albans
St Albans is a busy little market town which
is a popluar choice for those who wish to commute to London, only a 20 minute train
ride away. As well as being home to the cathedral of St Alban and the roman ruins
of Verulamium, St Albans boasts a grade II listed town hall, and a clock tower which
dates back to the turn of the 15th century.
The town has been the birth-place or home to quite a few notable people: philosoper
Francis Bacon, Ali G and Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen, Pope Adrian IV, singer
David Essex, physicist Stephen Hawking, comedy actor Benny Hill, film director Stanley
Kubrick, lyricist Tim Rice, and founder of The Ryder Cup Samuel Ryder.
If golf is your game then you certainly won't be disappointed. The town is surrounded
by top quality courses, with the Verulam Golf Club being only a 10 minute walk from The Goat
If you like shopping, as well as a wide range of stores, St Albans has an open air
market which takes place every Saturday and Wednesday on St Albans' central
Avenue - St Peter's Street. Or you could be on London's famous Oxford Street in
The Roman Ruins of St Albans
The modern town of St Albans lies to the east of one of the most important sites
of Roman Britain. As the third largest Romano-British city in the country, Verulamium
remains largely undisturbed by later building work and, with less than 40% of its
200 acre area having been excavated, much still remains undiscovered. The first
occupation of St Albans Roman City appears to have been a small military outpost
set up to protect a crossing on the River Ver. This soon developed into a municipium,
or a self-governing community, and is the only known British example. A rebellion
led by Queen Boadicea in AD60 brought the community to a swift end when it was savagely
raised to the ground.
It was almost two decades before St Albans
Roman City recovered, with a new forum and basilica being dedicated in AD79. Misfortune
again hit St Albans Roman City in AD115 when a serious fire destroyed a large part
of Verulamium. After the fire the majority of buildings were re-erected in stone,
many of which were floored with fine mosaics. The theatre was built at this time,
together with an adjacent temple and two monumental archways on Watling Street,
one facing London and the other facing Chester. Town walls, still in evidence at
various points around St Albans today, were constructed in the 3rd century, and
the projecting bastions were added early in the 4th century. St Albans Roman City
appears to have prospered well into the 5th century before finally being abandoned.
Exploring the remains involves a leisurely stroll around part of the modern town,
a public park, and the museum. Beginning at the museum gives the visitor a good
understanding of the St Albans Roman City's history, as well as having the opportunity
to view the considerable artefacts displayed that have been found during excavations.
On the opposite side of the road from the museum is the Roman Theatre (not to be
confused with an amphitheatre), which is the only visible example in Britain. Constructed
in the middle of the 2nd century it underwent several phases of re-building before
being finally abandoned in cAD380, when it was used as a communal rubbish tip. Marked
in concrete adjacent to the theatre is the site of some shops from the original
town destroyed by Boadicea, these shops constituting the earliest known Roman ground
plan in the country.
From the museum car park, there are signs showing the way to the hypocaust. A modern
bungalow now covers the remains of the bath house, the hypocaust of which has been
exposed. Following the Roman trail towards St Albans cathedral, several isolated
fragments of the city walls can be seen. One stretch, now tree-lined, is very substantial
and the defensive
ditch is still clearly visible to some depth to the left of the wall. The foundations
of the massive London Gate can also be seen at the beginning of this section of
wall, a model of which is displayed in the museum. Discovering the remains of the
Roman city of Verulamium, now preserved within a public park among lakes and wildfowl,
makes for a very pleasant and educational way to spend a couple of hours.
Courtesy of St Albans Museums.
Visit the St Albans Museums
St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church
The cathedral is built on what is believed to be the site of the martyrdom of St
Alban. The hill upon which it stands overlooks the valley of the river Ver, beyond
which lie the buried
ruins of the Roman city of Verulamium. The shrine of St Alban is documented
from early times, and it is recorded that St Germanus of Auxerre visited the site
in 429. Early in the 8th century, Bede wrote of the 'beautiful Church worthy of
all Alban's martyrdom where miracles of healing took place.' The monastic structure
of this church was re-ordered by King Offa of Mercia in 793 and a new order and
discipline introduced by St Oswald in the 960s. The availability of huge amounts
of building material from the ruins of nearby Roman Verulamium was put to good use
in the Norman era, from which time many of the features of the building date.
The shrine of St Alban
Restoration was completed in 1993 and the shrine was rededicated in the presence
of HM The Queen Mother in that year. The shrine is a site of national pilgrimage
and 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. The
Purbeck marble pedestal was relocated in various locations in the Abbey in more
than 2000 fragments. The niches in the shrine may well be healing holes. The altar
and iron-work around the shrine, designed by Mr George Pace, a former Cathedral
Architect, were dedicated in 1967 as memorial gifts. Photograph used with the kind
permission of The Fraternity of The Friends of St Albans Abbey.
Coutesty of St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church.