Monday, June 26, 2006

SalvoFAIR: Christian brick reclaimers of St Albans

St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK - MARK McGowans progress to Knebworth would not be complete without a visit to St Albans Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery built by Paul of Caen using reclaimed bricks collected by Ealdred and Ealmer, abbots in the 900's, from the ancient Roman town of Verulamium.

Here is what Encyclopedia Britannica says:

Shortly after the martyrdom of St Alban, probably in 303, a church was built on the spot where he was slain, and in 793 Offa, king of Mercia, who professed to have discovered the relics of the martyr, founded in his honor a monastery for Benedictines, which became one of the richest and most important houses of that order in the kingdom. The abbots, Ealdred and Ealmer, at the close of the 10th century began to break up the ruins of the old Roman city of Verulamium for materials to construct a new abbey church; but its erection was delayed till the time of William the Conqueror, when Paul of Caen, a relative of Archbishop Lanfranc, was in 1077 appointed abbot. The cathedral at Canterbury as built by Lanfranc was almost a reproduction of St Stephens, Caen; but Paul, while adopting the same model for St Albans, built it on a much larger scale. The church was consecrated in 1115, but had been finisl~ed some years before. Of the original Norman church the principal potions now remaining are the eastern bays of the nave, th~ tower and the transepts, but the main outlines of the building are still those planned by Paul. It is thus one of the most important specimens of Norman architecture in England, with the special characteristic that, owing to the use of the flat broad Roman tile, the Norman portions are peculiarly bare and stern.

TV and radio companies have begun to take an interest in Mark's travels, and Channel 4's Richard & Judy film crew is planning to catch up with Mark on Tuesday at St Albans to make a short film, scheduled to appear on their Wednesday programme. Hopefully the message will be broadcast that the reuse of reclaimed bricks was a well-established Christian acitivity, and that Roman bricks reused a thousand year's ago in an Early English abbey are still performing sterling service in the year 2006. The UK government is very keen to crush old bricks, for no useful purpose, instead of reusing them.

Footnote: Every 12 bricks embodies the energy of a gallon of petrol. The UK makes 3,000 million new bricks a year and destroys 3,000 million old bricks a year. The total embodied energy destroyed in the UK by wasting old building materials is enough to heat 10 million homes. Architectural Salvage Source in London Colney, a stone's throw from St Albans, are today's brick reclaimers . . . and they will be selling reclaimed bricks at this year's Salvo Fair at Knebworth.

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