A is for Albion

The Albion, HydeAlbion is the ancient name for Great Britain, although it is often used as a poetic synonym for England.

Some people are unaware of its meaning, even though it is commemorated in the names of football teams, West Bromwich Albion and Brighton and Hove Albion, churches and pubs, like the one pictured left in Hyde, near where I live.

The word was used as early as the 6th century BC as the islands of the Albiones, although it appears to refer to anywhere considered a western isle, but by the 1st century AD, it specifically meant Great Britain.

Pliny the Elder in his Natural History says: “It was itself named Albion, while all the islands about which we shall soon briefly speak were called the Britanniae.”

As mentioned above, the name is also applied to churches, like the Albion United Reformed Church in Ashton, pictured right. It opened in 1895 when it was said to be the most beautiful Congregational Church in England (or Albion).

It is a huge building with a tall spire and it dwarfs the 12th-century parish church which is only a few hundred yards away.

This may have been a case of one-upmanship to spite the Earl of Stamford. He owned the land around the original Albion Chapel on Penny Meadow and had refused permission to extend it saying: “no dissenting chapel will ever be built on my land”.

The relationship between the churches is rather more harmonious and Christian today.

A few ABC Wednesday Posts I like

AA at Word Up

ADRA at An Arkies Musings

Ai, Ay, Eigh by Ramblin’ Roger

Antipodean Monsters at Rinkly Rimes

Apples by Vasi

Alpha Cement by Wayne Woodruff

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

9 comments… Add yours
  • ROG 18th January 2011

    I’d heard the term, but did not know the real meaning or the derivation. Thanks!

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Winchester Daily Photos 18th January 2011

    A great A!

  • Wayne 19th January 2011

    Nice composition, I like the lighting and the angle. The photo makes the Albion seem warm and inviting. Wide angle lens?

  • Nathalie 19th January 2011

    Great post. Interesting and informative too!

    ABC Wednesday Team

  • Mr Parrot 19th January 2011

    Thanks for the comments, Wayne, I used a 14-42mm lens — the only one I’ve got!

  • Yorkshire Pudding 20th January 2011

    The Albion United Reformed Church “was said to be the most beautiful Congregational Church in England”. Yes but who said it? Members of the church’s congregation, the preacher, the caretaker, the organist and the two old ladies who did the flowers. No one else.

  • Mr Parrot 21st January 2011

    Yorkie, the short answer is I don’t know — I just lifted it from the Tameside website. Very poor research!

  • agathaqui 19th October 2011

    Hi there I am just wondering what is a reformed church in England, is it different from catholic? Any way I just learn a new word today and that’s the old term of Great Britain.

  • janice mae 16th November 2011

    its a great honor that despite of today’s generation they use the old name which a remembrance to a past generation and a great honor that without or ancient, oldest,etc. nothing happen without them.


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