St David's Cathedral, St David's, PembrokeshireDenomination: Anglican
Dedication: St David
First built: 1180
Rebuilds: many rebuilds and restorations over the centuries
Photography: John Ball, Venita Roylance
(see captions for further details)
Note 1: The oldest part of the present building is the nave, dating from the last quarter of the twelfth century, when the Cathedral was rebuilt after having been burned down by the Danes in 1078. In 1220, the tower fell and destroyed the choir and transepts. They were almost immediately rebuilt as was also the lowest stage of the tower. The Lady Chapel was built about 1300, and sometime after 1328, Bishop Gower added to the height of the walls of the nave, inserted Decorated windows, added a stage to the tower, put up the rood screen, and built the south porch. The roof of the nave probably belongs to the first decade of the sixteenth century. Immediately afterwards, Bishop Vaughan vaulted the chapel bearing his name to the east of the Presbytery.
[Photography: Venita Roylance, 10 Oct 2002]
The rood screen has been carefully restored. Beyond it are the choir stalls of fifteenth-century work. The bishop's throne also dates from the fifteenth century, but portions of it are older, being parts of Bishop Gower's stalls. Its construction was due to Bishop Morgan, who was buried in front of it. A unique feature of St. David's is that the reigning sovereign of Britain holds the first cursal prebendal stall. It is in the south-west corner of the choir, and is distinguished by a painted and carved wooden representation of the royal arms. This stall was occupied for the first time by a reigning Sovereign when the Queen visited the Cathedral on August 7th, 1955. Another unusual feature is the parclose screen separating the Choir from the Presbytery.
Above: St David's Cathedral from Bishop's Palace
[Photography: John Ball ,1968: Kodak Retinette 1B 35mm compact]
Note 2: The present St David's Cathedral building mostly dates from 1180 to 1220, although alterations and additions were made between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. The west front is a nineteenth century restoration intended to recreate the original Norman front following an unsympathetic rebuilding by Nash. There is a fine early sixteenth century roof to the nave. The cathedral is one of the earliest British examples of a combined triforium and clerestory. It is the most important medieval ecclesiastical building in Wales. The Cathedral stands at the centre of a complex of medieval and later structures and buildings, enclosed by the precinct wall, these, with the associated borough without, comprising the medieval and later city. [Source: Coflein database (NPRN 306)]
Above: Bishop's Palace, with Cathedral south porch near right
[Photography: John Ball, 2 Oct 2002: Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom digital]
Note 3: St Davids was the largest and most important medieval diocese in Wales. The cathedral housed the relics of the sixth-century saint, David, patron saint of Wales, and attracted substantial numbers of pilgrims, including King William I. Until the appointment of Bishop Henry de Gower in 1328, it is unsure where the bishops lived. De Gower erected two separate ranges of rooms, one for his own private and a second suitable for ceremonial occasions, where he could entertain important guests and distinguished pilgrims to St Davids. Both sets of chambers were built at first floor level above vaulted under crofts and entered by elaborate porches. The crowning glory, however, was still the distinctive chequered arcaded parapet, which, although faded, still has the effect of unifying the group of buildings. [Source: Coflein database (NPRN 21633)]