Our client asked us to design the interiors for a new gift shop and welcome desk to be sat within the Cathedrals Welcome Center.
Located in the heart of St Albans town, only 20 miles from the centre of London you will find this magnificent Cathedral steeped in history. Little is known about St Albans Cathedral and what stood before William the Conqueror commissioned a new abbey to be built from bricks and tiles saved from the ruins of Roman Verulamium in 1066. 1539 the Abbey was closed and destroyed before it was slowly rebuilt by the locals and wealthy Victorians which was completed in 1877. What had previously been a local parish church became St Albans Cathedral as we know it today.
The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban now sits on the site of the execution and burial of Alban, Britain’s first Christian martyr and saint, and has been a site of worship and pilgrimage for more than 1,700 years – making it the oldest Christian site in the country by far.
Renovations started back in 2016 to undergo the mammoth task of refitting the existing welcome center as well as building a new center to enable the story of the Cathedral to be told in a more beautiful and interesting way. We designed all the fixtures and fitting within the gift shop and incorporated the new welcome area features, these included a timeline telling the story of the cathedral, a ‘Power of Pilgrimage’ exhibition, with activities for children including dressing up, brad rubbing and a cartoon telling the story of Amphibalus.
Sophisticated materials are used to sympathetically connect the main Grade I listed and Scheduled Ancient Monuments Cathedral together with the new Welcome Center.
We designed the spaces with flexibility in mind, so St Albans Cathedral can use the them in a variety of ways to respond to changing visitor needs and seasonal display needs.
There is a classic historical feel throughout. A key feature is the beautiful design and style of the fixtures that blend into the new and the old. It was also important to ensure we kept a continuity through the entire Welcome Center to ensure a consistent flow in design.
The new building has been designed to both “harmonise and sympathise” with both the 1877 abbey and the chapter house and Mr De Silva said the outside “carefully blends” with the original.