Whilst looking for something to do for Valentines day this year, I came across a Groupon which seemed like a nice day out thing to do. Alas, when I paid for it and called to check availability, they only had two days left that I could actually do due to shift work and many people already taking up the Groupon offer (note for future self: call the place before buying your vouchers as some chances are the popular dates are already booked up and then vouchers may not be refundable!). Alas, the voucher was not wasted as even though i couldn’t take J with me due to conflicting schedules, on 8th February I took my Mum for a well overdue day out instead!
The thing that intrigued me about the offer to begin with, was not only the afternoon tea but also getting the chance to explore an area not so far from me that I hadn’t really visited properly before whilst also trying to actually somewhat stick to my 2016 goals here by visiting more places around the UK.
As soon as we arrived, although a bit wet and windswept, we were greeted by very polite staff who told us where we needed to go and was happy to answer any questions we had prior to starting. As we had a bit of time we warmed up with a cuppa tea and a nosy round the gift shop before starting the tour.
The tour (an optional part of the deal) was well worth doing and although the tour guide was relatively new to the role, she sure knew her history about St Alban’s and the Cathedral itself. The tour covered how the Cathedral came to be and every change it’s been through including its rulings and architectural changes throughout the centuries. There were opportunities to take pictures throughout, seats along the way (the tour was nearly 2 hours long!) and plenty of opportunities to have any questions we had answered. A very informative tour to say the least. They don’t currently charge for the tour itself (as it’s relatively new to the cathedral to try and attract more visitors) although I wouldn’t be surprised if this changed soon enough.
After the tour it was time for afternoon tea! We had picked our sandwich and scone preference before the tour and so pretty much came out prepared to us not long after sitting down. We also had the choice of a variety of teas to accompany our treats, which was a pleasant surprise. We had a look at the standard menu to find that the food on offer looked filling and reasonably priced for St Albans (where some places can be quite expensive to eat/drink at there) however we stuck with our more than expected afternoon tea dishes! The choices were quite standard (cheese/pickle, salmon/cream cheese and the like), however it was perfect for picky eaters such as my Mum and were actually pretty tasty.
What really made the experience even more, was the staff around the Cathedral and Abbots Kitchen Staff. Everyone was really accommodating and even the manager came to ask us what we thought of the tour/tea as it was a new venture for the Cathedral and wanted to gage peoples reactions to it, but also had a general conversation which made it more personal and not just for their benefit.
They’re really trying to bring more life into the Cathedral and I think this deal (although not much more expensive to do without Groupon anyway) has definitely worked in their favor as I would happily go back to this beautiful Cathedral now in a heartbeat.
To find out more about St Albans Cathedral and to plan your visit, you can visit their website: www.stalbanscathedral.org
Till next time!