An awe-inspiringly beautiful cathedral, superbly adapted for wheelchair users
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Wheelchair, Powerchair
A flawlessly beautiful experience of a stunning cathedral, with all areas accessible to wheelchair users, thanks to a vast proliferation of excellent ramps and two platform lifts. Step-free access here has been thought through very thoroughly and implemented with superb skill. Winchester Cathedral could learn a lot from the team at St Albans Cathedral.
Transport & Parking
I arrived in St Albans on the excellent Thameslink service from London. The railway station, St Albans City, is about a mile from the cathedral. This station is easy for wheelchair users to use and has friendly and helpful staff.
If you enter the cathedral at its west end, you are at first confronted by a set of steps leading up to the nave. This looks very discouraging until you realise there is a good modern platform lift on the right-hand side which will take you up to the nave, and from there you can get to all parts of the cathedral without exception, because there are ramps of many different types absolutely everywhere - a hugely impressive and thorough adaptation of a very old and potentially intractable building. Top marks to the cathedral authorities for these top-quality adaptations. See my photos of some of the ramps - below.
There is an excellent modern accessible toilet in the new extension on the south side of the cathedral.
There was a charming, helpful, courteous gentleman at the west end entrance, who helped me use the platform lift and explained about the many ramps, and about the second platform lift at the other end of the cathedral. He couldn't have been sweeter, it was a great pleasure to interact with him. All other staff I met were similarly charming, friendly and helpful. Top marks all round.
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I was awestruck by the beauty and magnificence of this ancient cathedral. The central section is Norman, and the oldest parts of the building (c. 1077) were built using recycled ancient Roman bricks, so the fabric of the building is actually much older than building itself, which I find very intriguing. There are several medieval wall-paintings in the nave. Amazing survivals.