Skip to main content

Saint Albans, Abbey of


Former English Benedictine monastery, at present-day Saint Albans (the ancient Verulamium ), Hertfordshire, England, about 20 miles northwest of London. There had been a church at the reputed site of the martyrdom of St. alban since the time of bede, but the Benedictine abbey was founded there only c. 794 by King Offa of Mercia in expiation for his murder of King ethelbert of east anglia. After the turmoil of the 9th and early 10th centuries, the monastic foundation at Saint Albans had to be refounded in 969 (?). A century later, the first Norman abbot there, Paul of Caen, a nephew of Archbishop lanfranc, rebuilt both the monastic buildings and the still-extant abbey church (107788). The abbey's

subsequent progress under a long line of distinguished abbots motivated the only English Pope, adrian iv, to grant Saint Albans episcopal exemption and to give it precedence over all English abbeys. For the next three centuries the abbey was one of the artistic and literary centers of England. Especially notable was its "school" of chroniclers, Roger of Wendover, matthew paris, William Rishanger, and Thomas walsingham, who were responsible for a continuous account of the history of the abbey, its abbots, and, in a sense, England. Abbot John Whethamstede (d. 1465) was one of the early English humanists. Saint Albans suffered much during the 15th-century War of the Roses. It was given in commen dation to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1521. In 1539 the abbey was suppressed under King henry viii. The above-mentioned abbey church escaped destruction and became a local parish church. When the Anglican See of Saint Albans was constituted in 1877, the abbey church became the cathedral, which it remains today.

Bibliography: w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London 165573); best ed. by j. caley et al., 6 v. (181730) 2:178255. The Victoria History of the County of Hertford, ed. w. page, 4 v. (Westminster, England 190214) 4:367416. l. f. r. williams, History of the Abbey of Saint Albans (London 1917). v. h. galbraith, ed., The Saint Albans Chronicle, 14061420 (Oxford 1937). r. vaughan, Matthew Paris (Cambridge, England 1958). d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (New York 1953) 75. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 9431216 (2nd ed. Cambridge, England 1962), passim. d. knowles, The Religious Orders in England, 3v. (Cambridge, England 194860) v.1, 2, 3 passim.

[m. j. hamilton]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Saint Albans, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 18 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Saint Albans, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (February 18, 2019).

"Saint Albans, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.