Who doesn’t like street markets?
And while some European cities are ablaze with colour and lights, our favourite market is a much smaller affair – but one truly steeped in history.
The twice-weekly market at St Albans – an historic city in Hertfordshire, England – is documented back to the ninth Century.
In 1553, the street market was given a special Royal Charter.
Today, it draws large numbers of visitors and locals to the market stalls that run the length of St Peter’s Street, in the city centre of St Albans.
We visited the market to give it an ‘Age-Friendly’ Rating – and found a charming event in a delightful city.
St Albans can trace its roots back to an Iron Age settlement and the Roman city of Verulamium, the second-largest town in Roman Britain.
The city takes its name from Briutain’s first saint, who was executed by the Romans.
St Albans Abbey was the principal abbey medieval in England – and the first draft of Magna Carta was drawn up there. It became a a cathedral in 1877.
On our way to rate the market, we wandered past the city Cathedral and through the imposing Abbey Gateway.
This structure was built in 1365; was besieged during the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, and was used as a prison for many years.
Then, as we entered the market, we marvelled at the remarkable and historic St Albans Clock Tower – the only medieval town belfry in England.
Our Age-Friendly Rating
8/10: from our experience, the St Albans market on Wednesday and Saturday is suited to all ages. Small and quaint, the event is perfectly suited to its historic surroundings deep in rural Hertfordshire. It could be described as ‘“farmers market meets modern arts and crafts – with clothing stalls, a Mr Whippy ice-cream van, collectables and the occasional antique offering thrown in”. The markets are well advertised online; contain up to 160 stalls; are easy to find in the city centre; and contain ample room in the wide old street for stalls down either side. It attracts a big crowd, but there was no hint of a crush. One section of the market is set aside for food stalls, selling both hot and cold delicies.