In a nutshell
In the center of St Albans, one of many UK’s smallest cities, is that this unintentionally eccentric new museum, half funded by the local people who helped convey it to life. The constructing was designed as a grand courthouse and its Georgian splendour has been restored to deal with a curious vary of galleries that chart essentially the most well-known and the lesser-known elements of the world’s historical past (from its origins as Roman Verulamium to its position within the printing trade), alongside fashionable artwork and reveals. Friendly and plentiful workers assist convey the constructing’s previous to life, displaying guests around the previous cells or whipping up mock trials within the courtroom, which doubles as a restaurant.
The Wars of the Roses started in St Albans and noticed preventing fill the slim streets in 1455. One of its protagonists, the Duke of York, will not be the Grand Old Duke of York however the man who impressed ROYGBIV mnemonic (“Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain”).
The founding father of golf’s Ryder Cup, Samuel Ryder, was an entrepreneur who made his fortune as a service provider and got here up with the thought of promoting penny packets of seeds from his home in St Albans within the 1890s.
On nearer inspection … a number of the museum’s artefacts
Best factor(s) about it
Being capable of stand (and accuse) within the docks appeared the massive ticket, although there have been loads of youngsters making an attempt to determine well-known native faces from the images lining the steps, together with Boudicca and Stephen Hawking. The St Albans on Demand gallery reveals reveals that change in response to native request, which can clarify why it at present contains the pinnacle and higher physique of half a taxidermy lion, in any other case often known as Arthur Lion (geddit?) and a 19th-century teacup designed for resting moustaches on.
The viewing hall that overlooks the higgledy-piggledy 14th-century buildings of French Row is testomony to the intelligent restoration structure, which is each bit as interesting because the museum’s content material. The programme of occasions, which contains calligraphy and virtual-reality workshops, appears like a great way to mix exercise and cultural engagement.
Wall of fame … photos of well-known native faces line the steps
What about lunch?
Affordable salads and quiches, plus the now-ubiquitous child’s lunchbox choice, can be found from round a fiver and might be eaten within the outside sq. patio that opens onto the town’s primary purchasing thoroughfare or within the courtroom cafe. Evening guests (for the Museum Lates which can begin quickly) can order wine, too.
Exit by way of the reward store?
The primary lobby incorporates a store promoting small mementos and a few Roman paraphernalia. Replica soldier’s helmets and museum-branded keyrings may draw their eye however it’s simple to keep away from and never pitched cynically at youngsters.
St Albans is 20 minutes from London St Pancras on the Thameslink prepare, which runs north-south between Bedford and Brighton.
Guilty pleasure … mock trials are held within the courtroom
Value for cash?
It’s free, so sure, however you couldn’t spend all day right here. Combine it with a go to to the historic cathedral, a five-minute stroll away, and the Roman ruins (and one other museum) in Verulamium Park – there are ice-cream vans en route if bribery is required.
Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday midday-5pm.
eight/10. This accessible tackle what may very well be fairly stuffy topics recognises the place youngsters’ hearts (and a focus spans) lie. A motive for locals to really feel proud.