THE particulars of the life of St. Alban are but little known, except through the ecclesiastical history of the Venerable Bede, who, for want of better information, or from actual belief in the legends he had, recourse to, and for which credence the general sentiments of the times must be pleaded for his weakness, has afforded the following miraculous statement of the Saint's martyrdom:


Being yet a Pagan (or at least it not being known that he was a Christian), he entertained Amphibalus in his house, of which the Roman governor being informed, sent a party of soldiers to apprehend Amphibalus ; but Alban, putting on the habit of his guest, presented himself in his stead, and was carried before the magistrate. The governor having asked him of what family he was, Alban replied: 'To what purpose do you inquire of my family ? if you would know my religion, I am a Christian;' then being asked his name, he answered: 'My name is Alban, and I worship the only true and living God, who created all things.' The magistrate replied : 'If you would enjoy the happiness of eternal life, delay not to sacrifice to the great gods.' Alban replied : 'The sacrifices you offer are made to devils, neither can they help the needy, nor grant the petitions of their votaries.' This behaviour so enraged the governor, that he ordered him immediately to be beheaded. In his way to execution he was stopped by a river, over which was a bridge so thronged with spectators, that it was impossible to cross it ; when the Saint, as we are told, lifting up his eyes to Heaven, the stream was miraculously divided, and afforded a passage for himself and a thousand more persons. This wonderful event converted the executioner on the spot, who threw away his drawn sword, and falling at St. Alban's feet, desired he might have the honour to die with him: and thus the execution being delayed until another person could be got to perform the office, St. Alban walked up to a neighbouring hill, where he prayed for water to quench his thirst, and a fountain of water sprang up under his feet. Here he was beheaded on June 23, A.D. 303. The executioner is said to have been a signal example of Divine vengeance ; for as soon as he gave the fatal stroke, his eyes dropt out of his head!--Clavis Calendaria, ii. 50.


There is a small parcel of ground adjoining the churchyard called "St. Faith's Wick Court," about a pole in measurement, anciently divided from Malewick by a ditch in the same place where now a large moat is made. The greatest part of this Wick lying upon a bed of springs, and undrained, was very boggy towards the churchyard; but the west side being higher, the ground was well planted with oaks, willows, and bushes, near adjoining unto [80] which, writeth a narrow-minded Pharisee, the crafty priests had made a well about a yard deep, and very clear at the bottom, and curbed about, which they called St. Faith's Well. Now over this well they built a house, and in the house they placed the image and statue of St. Faith, and a causy they had mad (which I found when I digged and levelled the ground) for the people to pass who resorted thither from far and Hear to visit our Lady, and to perform their devotions reverently, kissing a fine-coloured stone placed in her toe. This Lady was trimly apparelled, and I find in an old book of churchwarden's accounts, in the reign of Henry VIII., that they had delivered unto the St. Faith a cote and a velvet tippet. The Lady had no land to maintain her, that I know of, more than 1 acre lying in Mill Field, called at this day St. Faith's ½ acre, which, as being given to superstitious uses, came to the King's hands at the dissolution, and is now parcel of the demesnes. The house being pulled down, and the idol cast away, the well was filled up, yet an apparent mention of the place remained till my time, and St. Faith's Well continued as a waste and unprofitable and neglected piece of land till such time as the footpath was turned through the midst of it to the outside on the south by the highway, and their clearing and levelling the ground, having been drained, and sunk the spring, I converted the same, in the year of our Lord 1624, into a little orchard. The Lady Faith was a Virgin and Martyr of Agenne, in France, A.D. 1290. --MS. account of Hexton, by Francis Taverner. Her feast-day in the Calendar of Saints is October 6.