BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in June 2006We've left it here for reference.More information

30 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
threecountiesthreecounties

BBC Homepage
England
»BBC Local
Beds, Herts & Bucks
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Neighbouring Sites

  • Berkshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Essex
  • London
  • Northampton
  • Oxford
  • Related BBC Sites

    England
     

    Contact Us

    Like this page?
    Send it to a friend!

     

    Features

    The Archbishop of Canterbury
    The Archbishop of Canterbury

    Albantide 2006

    Ian Pearce
    After last year's triumph, could the Albantide Pilgrimage get any better? With more costumes, lions, chariots and the Archbishop of Canterbury; the answer was a resounding yes.

    Last year was spectacular. The solemnity of the traditional Albantide Pilgrimage was shattered with the aid of giant puppets and colourful costumes.  A procession which was a fusion of traditional church liturgy and the colour of carnival retraced the last steps of Alban from Verulamium to his execution at the top of the hill.

    This year was even better. The puppets and costumes from last year were brought out again. But added to the procession this time were two lions and two brilliant chariots complete with horses and riders.

    a legion of youthful Romans
    The young soldiers were new this year.

    A whole Roman legion of children wearing costumes they made themselves looked very effective, while the angels had gained new wings made the Guild of Silk Painters.

    Last year the Bishop of St. Albans was slightly disappointed by the number of pilgrims. This year he could have no complaints. Thousands of people, many from churches named after Alban across the country swelled the ranks, so much so that the procession passed on both sides of the lake. The costumes and colour reflected beautifully in the still water.

    Ian Pearce talks to Doctor Williams
    Ian Pearce speaks to Doctor Williams

    The smell of incense filled the air as the clergy brought up the rear of the procession. This year the very last place was taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor Rowan Williams.

    One ingredient remained from last year . They still couldn't detach Alban's head, but as legend has it, this year the executioners eyes popped out.The eyes were also in the procession - two giant eyeballs on sticks.

    The pilgrims then made their way into the Cathedral for a solemn Eucharist. It was a chance to see the superb statues made by the young people of the Cathedral. They reflect Martyrs through the ages and replace statues destroyed over for hundred years ago when Alban's shrine was also smashed to pieces.

    the puppet of Alban
    Will Alban lose his head this year?

    The congregation nearly lifted the roof singing special hymns telling the story of "Alban - England's Rose".

    After lunch the entertainment continued in the "circus minimus" in the orchard. Here the lions were duly tamed and the chariot racing began. Teams of  four "horses" pulled three special racing chariots around the course. The site of the clergy in their cassocks charging around the track pulling chariots was a site to behold.

    Then it was back to the Cathedral for Evensong where the Archbishop of Canterbury was the preacher.

    ceremonial chariot
    The ceremonial chariots were brilliant.

    Last year was good - this year was brilliant. Well done to everybody involved in an event which combines the tradition of the church with the sheer enjoyment of carnival.

    As the country vanishes under a sea of St Georges flags, this was a great way of raising the profile of Alban the first Christian Martyr.

    Next year will be even better. Just be part of it.

    See our photo galleries of the Festival here:
    Albantide Gallery One >
    Albantide Gallery Two >
    last updated: 26/06/06
    Have Your Say
    Your name: 
    Your comment: 
     
    The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.
    SEE ALSO
    home
    HOME
    email
    EMAIL
    print
    PRINT
    Go to the top of the page
    TOP
    SITE CONTENTS
    SEE ALSO

    BBC Religion
    Diane Louise Jordan

    Podcast

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Religion & Ethics
    Pic
    Discover more about Faith:
    [an error occurred while processing this directive]




    About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy