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Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 11/A summer day at St. Albans

Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/324 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/325 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/326 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/327 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/328 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/329 among the lingering relics of the walls of Verulam, the old abbey in the full glory and perfection of its buildings on the opposite hill, the long slope of which, from the summit to the very edge of the little river which washed the base of its outer wall, was covered to a wide extent with the quadrangles, the gateways, the chapter-house, the halls, the towers, the turrets, and every variety of form and feature suitable to the position and destination which they held in the systematic arrangement of the entire plan. Above all this goodly array of architecture arose, as its crowning feature, the stupendous abbey church in its full proportions, with its three noble towers, the central one augmented in height and in beauty of appearance by its lofty octagonal lantern tower and tapering pinnacles.”

In 1856, a public meeting of the nobility and gentry of the county was held at St. Alban’s, to take into consideration the best means of obtaining a bishop of St. Alban’s. Mr. G. Gilbert Scott made a careful survey of the abbey, and furnished a thorough report as to the state of the building. He estimated that the sum of 18,000l. would suffice to put the abbey into thorough repair, and fit it as a cathedral. It was determined to petition the Government on the subject, and make the offer on the part of the county to supply the cathedral, if Government would give the bishop. A committee was formed, of which a deputation had an interview with Lord Palmerston, but his reply was not favourable, and the subject gradually dropped. About 4,000l. has, however, been laid out in substantial repairs, and a very fine new organ has been erected.

As we quit the ruins and wander back in meditative mood towards the station by the meadows below the old abbey, and look up at its tower as it stands out in relief against the evening sky, the thought comes up once and again, why is not this noble abbey restored in a style worthy of its ancient grandeur, and erected into a bishop’s see? The diocese of London has already grown far beyond the powers of a single individual to manage carefully: then why should not the rural districts of Middlesex be withdrawn from the jurisdiction of London, and joined to Hertfordshire, and made into a separate diocese with St. Alban’s for its see? Is it too much to hope that the necessary funds, both for the fabric and for an endowment, would be forthcoming in six months from private and public sources, if Her Majesty should be advised to create at Verulam a new episcopal see, as was done at Ripon in 1836, and at Manchester even more recently?

E. Walford.