The Cathedral & Abbey of St Alban

The Brief

We have recently completed work on the first phase of a wider landscape ambition for the incremental rejuvenation of the entire Cathedral Precinct.

This phase focused on the area known as Sumpter Yard. The historic walled garden that forms the Cathedral approach, and which once provided the monastery with produce and medicinal herbs, has been sensitively reinstated following extensive research and stakeholder engagement.

The design draws on the site’s monastic heritage but rethinks this in order to create a modern productive landscape that’s attractive to both the local community and visitors and which can be used for a wide range of events and activities.

 

Client

Church of St Alban

Location

St Albans

Architect

J&L Gibbons

Size

6.5 hectares

Sector

  • Community
  • Heritage

Services

  • Cost Consultancy
  • Health & Safety (CDM)

The Challenge

The scheme includes the considered alteration and repair of the existing arrangement of hard and soft landscape works to compliment the newly built visitor reception building and the Cathedral, which sits in an area that has Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) status.

As the project was fully funded by fundraising the importance of achieving best value was essential. Our tailored advice to the Client and design team helped them to deliver a scheme that achieved this requirement without compromising the brief.

The Outcome

Drawing on our experience of both heritage and contemporary projects, we worked closely with the landscape architect to deliver a revitalised space that communicates the landscape’s rich history in a more compelling way. The improved access and pathways complement the unified planting scheme which forms a beautiful, welcoming garden.

The project supports multiple initiatives to make St Alban’s a ‘Green Pilgrim City’ and will raise the profile of the Cathedral nationally and internationally by improving biodiversity, accessibility and engagement.

Sumpter Yard was crowned winner in the “Excellence in Heritage Design” category at the 2023 Landscape Institute Awards, where the judges praised the seamless integration between new and old landscape and how it took into account the historical core of the Cathedral.

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Hectares
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Mature trees planted
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Norman Abbey founded
“This project skilfully integrates and considers historic fabric and setting, both visible and concealed while inserting new paving, planting and street furniture. Despite the modest scale and budget, the proposals will be enjoyed by anyone moving through this part of the city and will have added to the experience of those making a special visit to the Cathedral.”
The Landscape Institute

Other Projects We’ve Completed Include

White Eagle Lodge

The Rose, Campbell Park

Great Things Lie Ahead – Holborn House