Rotary Tour to St Albans (3-7 December 2018)

Thank you Rotary St Albans Verulamium

Rotary tour to St Albans 2018.

If it was history we were after during our visit, St Albans has it in bucketfulls.

It was great to renew acquaintances with the Rotary St Albans Verulamium and their members went out of their way to welcome us, both before and at their evening dinner meeting.

The Verulamium club, we learnt, takes it name from the early Iron Age settlement of the same name and Rotarian/historian Steve Potter regaled us with unique insights and amusing anecdotes, into the St Albans history. Starting with the major centre of the Catuvellauni (20 BC and later destroyed in the rebellion of Boudica) through the Roman occupation when St Albans was the third largest town after Londinium and Colchester, right up to the present day.

We could all learn something from St Albans which is a past master of multi usage buildings. Starting with our hotel which was the office of businessman/philanthropist Samuel Ryder, of Ryder Cup fame and past mayor.

The totally renovated, fantastic new museum, previously the court house, with a coffee shop surrounded by the “dock”, original furniture, fittings and holding cells and a beautiful function hall overlooking the square. Not least of all, the magnificent Abbey Cathedral which houses the shrine of the first British Christian martyr, St Alban. They now have Anglican, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox services with a “roll away” alter and lectern to create a concert stage.

The Christmas Markets, were a disappointment, even more so for the locals than for us. (a story for another day) However, the Christmas spirit prevailed with the unique letter boxes. “Post your letters and make a donation” at the same time and the street lighting.

With the more recent film The Imitation Game fresh in our minds, our visit to Bletchley Park was all revealing. To think that although after the publication of the book The Ultra Secret in 1974, for 70 years the story of the thousands of unsung heroines (including Kate Middleton's grandmother) during WW2, was unknown.

St Albans is spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants and as usual it was wonderful to get together in the different “themed” restaurants every evening - the photos tell it all!

A really memorable visit.

Hopefully we can now all look ahead to the District Conference next October and join others in the Fellowship of Rotary.

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