WHEN you start to delve into St Alban’s history you start to unravel 2,000 years of incredible human endeavour.

The cathedral city is Hertfordshire's first town, and it is the perfect mix of a modern amenities, lovely green spaces, historic landmarks and great commuter links.

Its origins began as an Iron Age settlement before it became called Verlamion, a name that means 'the settlement above the Marsh'.

After the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, it became one of the largest Roman towns called Verulamium.

The wood built town was burnt down during the revolt of Boudicca in AD 60-61. When it was rebuilt it featured many town houses and buildings and it was encircled by gated walls.

The town fell into decline when the Roman Army left in AD 410.

The ruins were later put to use as building materials to create the new monastic and market settlement of St. Albans which grew on the hill, close to the site of Saint Alban's execution.

According to stalbans.gov.uk, Abbot Ulsinus founded St Albans Market in 860 to generate income for the Abbey and to form the centre of a new town.

As part of the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII closed the Abbey in 1539 and took possession of the market, it remained a crown property for the next fourteen years.

In 1553, Henry’s son Edward VI sold the right to hold the market to a group of local merchants and landowners. In the letters patent which recorded the sale, he also granted them the right to form the borough of St Albans. The Market has belonged to the Borough and its successors ever since.

These days big community events include St Albans Beer & Cider Festival which is organised and staffed by volunteers, and all of our proceeds go towards campaigning and local charities. I will return next year for the 27th year.

The city has amazing commuter links and trains from St Albans City station take just 20 minutes to London St Pancras International and 25 minutes to Farringdon.

Property prices are steep and according to rightmove.co.uk properties in St. Albans had an overall average price of £636,725 over the last year.

The majority of sales in St. Albans during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £567,483. Semi-detached properties sold for an average of £710,139, with flats fetching £304,705.

With so much to do and so much to learn about the historic city, its no wonder it has remained a desirable location for so many decades.

Great British Life: Verulamium Park. Credit: St Albans City and District Council Verulamium Park. Credit: St Albans City and District Council

Exploring the town

The thriving city also boasts a wealth of beautiful green spaces to explore.

Visit Nomansland Common to see wildlife and rare plants, like Dwarf Gorse and Heather which can be seen on the heathland on the north side of Ferrers Lane.

Clarence Park is a Green Flag park at in the heart of the city which is set out in a Victorian style and covers an areas 25 acres.

Then there is the award winning Verulamium Park which holds both the Green Flag and Green Heritage Site award. It is set in 100 acres of beautiful parkland close to the city centre and is a popular attraction throughout the year with a wide range of facilities. The park is named after the Roman City of Verulamium on which it stands and the city walls and outline of the London Gate can still be seen. While you are there visit the fascinating Verulamium Museum.

Ongoing projects include a five year regeneration project fir The Wick Local Nature Reserve which is seeing The Countryside Management Service working in partnership with St Albans City & District Council to develop the area.

It is worth paying a visit to St Albans Museum and Gallery which is set over three floors in the former Town Hall. There are 2,000 years history as well as contemporary works to delve into.

Take a trip to the Cathedral which has the Shrine of St Alban, the longest nave in England.

Alban Arena opened in 1968 and continues to offer a programme of national touring shows, rock and pop concerts, comedy, films and Christmas pantos.

Theatre lovers are spoiled for choice with The Maltings Theatre, the Sandpit Theatre and Abbey Theatre.

There is also The Odyssey, St Albans’ very own independent, vintage cinema, perfect for snuggling down in a comfy seat to watch a movie.

Great British Life: Fishpool St and Lower Red Lion. Credit: St Albans City and District Council Fishpool St and Lower Red Lion. Credit: St Albans City and District Council

Eating and drinking

St Albans is a city where people love a good pub. There are plenty to choose from, whether it’s a fancy gastro variety or a more traditional olde worlde establishment.

Pubs don’t come much nicer than The White Lion in Sopwell Lane. You will find beautiful décor, independently sourced beer, wine and spirits, and only the best seasonal, British produce when it comes to pub food classics, bar bites and Sunday Roasts.

For a lively drink with friends, The Peahen on London Road is the place to go. The dog friendly pub has roots dating back to 1480 and beyond and continues to be a place to relax for customers to this day.

For coffee or brunch there is Hatch at Christopher Place. They serve brunch, burgers , waffles, coffee and cocktails, what more could you ask for?

For lovely views of the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban head to George St Canteen and for stunning views of open countryside head to The Potting Shed Café.

Just off the High Street, overlooking the Vintry Gardens is the popular Lussmanns restaurant. They serve up a fantastic array of dishes with sustainability at its core.

For a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere head to THOMPSON. The 3 AA rosette restaurant has a tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu.

Another great place to visit is The Hub on Verulam which has an open kitchen serving up food, coffee and cocktails. They show live sport, community events and comedy in their two screening rooms and host live music.

Great British Life: Charter Market. Credit: St Albans City and District Council Charter Market. Credit: St Albans City and District Council

Shopping in the town

For shopping there is the upmarket Christopher Place shopping centre where you will find stores such as Hobbs, Jigsaw, Whistles, The White Company and more.

On the high street there are many shops including Jane and Dada, The Dressing Room, Raindrops on Rose, Keech, Waterers men store, Chloe James Lifestyle, Olivia Rose Fairtrade, Village Arcade.

On Holywell Hill you will find COSITAS homeware store, JEN'S on the Hill, Books on the Hill, The shop on the Hill, Simply French Fashion Boutique and more.

Market Place reveals Anthropologie, Chesca, Reiss, White Stuff St. Albans, Jo Malone London, Sweaty Betty and more.

The Maltings Oliver Bonas, Exquisite Peacock, Trespass, H&M, FatFace and more.

For great market finds there is The Charter Market and a farmer’s market on the second Sunday of each month. The St Albans Antique and Vintage Market in St Peters Street is full of some of the very best traders in antique and vintage. It will have it's next market on Sunday January 21.

Case study

Matthew Howeson, a software engineer, first moved to St Albans in 1999.

As a family, Matthew, his wife and two children love nothing better than exploring the local area.

“My favourite place to be in nature is Heartwood Forest if local, or the Austrian Alps when we travel abroad. We are lucky to have a lot of great coffee shops in St Albans, for me the best place to go for coffee is the Potting shed at Carpenters."

Daughters, Olivia and Lucy, make the most of the local ski centres in their competitive skiing, which has seen them compete at international children’s level for the GB team.

“When it comes to leisure pursuits as a family we’re all about sports. There is St Albans cricket club in Clarence park which is a home from home. It is arguably the best place to live in the UK for skiing! With Gosling dry ski slope and the indoor snow centre in Hemel Hempstead both 10/15 minutes away for us. Our girls have found a passion for the sport that has seen them compete successfully at international children’s level for GB.”