St. Stephen's Church, St. Albans

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St. Stephen's Church, St. Albans
St. Stephen's Church, St. Albans
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Broad Church
History
Dedication St. Stephen
Administration
Parish St Albans
Diocese St Albans
Province Canterbury

St Stephen's Church in St Albans, England, is a parish church in the Church of England.

Background[edit]

It is, based upon the writing of Matthew Paris, believed to have been originally founded in AD948 by Abbot Ulsinus of St Albans. Although there are now some questions about the exact date of its foundation (and the date of Abbot Ulsinus), it is reasonably clear that, together with St Michael's and St Peter's churches, the church was built at about that time to receive pilgrims and to prepare them for their visit to the shrine of St Alban within St Albans Abbey. The three churches, all of which still exist as active places of Christian worship, stand on the three main roads into St Albans.

The Anglo-Saxon building was originally 34 feet wide by 38 feet long, and was probably divided into two rooms. It thought that the church did not at that time have a tower. Little now remains of the original building, but the small window, deep set in rough masonry by the door to the Parish Centre, has been dated to around AD950.

About 50 years after the Norman conquest of 1066, the church was enlarged during the abbacy of Richard de Albini. The new building was consecrated by Gilbert, Bishop of Limerick. From documentary evidence it would appear that a north aisle was added in about 1170 whilst Robert de Gorham was abbot.

During the middle of the fifteenth century many works took place. A belfry was formed over the western bay of the south arcade. The height of the nave walls was increased and windows inserted at high level to allow more light to penetrate the interior of the church. This window feature is known as a "clerestory". The chancel was enlarged and the wooden framework of the chancel arch dates from this time.

The building today is largely medieval, but was restored from near-ruinous conditions in the 1860s. The present spire, replacing a "Hertfordshire spike" on the tower, dates from this time. The pews and ornamental woodwork are Victorian, and the present pulpit and canopy date from 1936. The eagle lectern is a copy of a much earlier famous Dunkeld Lectern, which until recently stood in its place.

The church is still active today.

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Coordinates: 51°44′30″N 0°20′54″W / 51.7418°N 0.3484°W / 51.7418; -0.3484