St David’s Cathedral ~ Thursday’s Special

These ruins of the Bishop’s Palace at St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, South Wales stand on the site of the monastery of Menevia founded in the 6th century by St. David, patron saint of Wales (500-589 CE). The nearby cathedral (coming up below) was consecrated in 1131, but has undergone many phases of re-building, including major remedial work, first after an earthquake c 1247, and then after the devastation wrought under Cromwell’s Commonwealth of the 1650s. Welsh architect John Nash oversaw extensive repairs in 1793, but his work, proving substandard, made it necessary for the whole cathedral to undergo complete restoration by George Gilbert Scott in the late 19th century. A bit of a mash-up then, architecturally speaking – Gothic and Perpendicular not the least of it – but still an imposingly handsome building. It also hosts a very excellent cafeteria.


St. David’s has long been a place of pilgrimage, papal decree stating in 1123 that two pilgrimages to St. David’s was the equivalent of one to Rome. England’s monarchs from William the Conqueror onwards hot-footed here, which probably accounts for the increasing grandeur of the Bishop’s Palace, still apparent today despite its ruinous state. After confession comfortable lodgings and some fine dining would doubtless be the next royal requirements.


The cathedral’s presence confers city status on the community of St. David’s. This may seem a trifle curious for a place scarcely larger than a village. With a population of less than 2,000, it thus has the distinction of being the United Kingdom’s smallest city, and so by default the loveliest – its peninsula siting bounded by scenic coastlines west, north and south and its hinterland composed of rolling Pembrokeshire farmland. A good place to visit then, although perhaps best done out of season.


P.S.  The daffodils on the cusp of opening in the header photo are the national flower of Wales and worn on St. David’s Day on the 1st of March.

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

47 thoughts on “St David’s Cathedral ~ Thursday’s Special

    1. Thank you, Lynn. Amazing change in the weather in a few days though – from almost warm when we were wandering round St David’s in Wednesday’s sunshine to total freezingness and snow on Saturday.

      1. I know, it’s been quite a turn round, hasn’t it? Our snow is almost gone again, thankfully. More warmth and sunshine please. Fed up of the chill and wet now and I have so many seeds to sow and a border to cut!

      2. My first full season in our new house and all I want to do is get into the garden, make new beds, plant all the honeysuckles, astrantias, geraniums etc etc I’ve bought to make the place buzz with insects later in the season … The weather has not helped at all! Here’s to a long, warm spring and a gorgeous summer

  1. I do love St. David’s – such a lovely community and then the surprise of this glorious Cathedral. Thank you for superb pics and of course for the daffodils. When they (the daffodils) do eventually enjoy some balmy spring days we will hear them singing. 🙂

  2. I have very similar photos of the Bishop’s Palace and cathedral. We were there just after Christmas 2011 in similar weather it seems. The cathedral I recall as being very dark, but the palace gave us plenty of scope for photographs.

      1. I don’t seem to have any photos of the inside of the cathedral. I think I bought a brochure instead. I have a vague idea of a long corridor…

  3. An earthquake in England??? and substandard work sounds a bit like some of the cowboys we get on projects over here… I love the last photo framed with the trees and the cathedral bathed in sunlight.

  4. I like the structure, and the photography is a pleasure. 2000 still seems like a village to me, but we’re living in an age when even men have the right to be called women if they feel that that’s what they are. I suppose we can be liberal too regarding such a ‘city’.

  5. This tour has been wonderful, it’s almost like being there. I will try to visit some day. I love your photos, Tish, all of them and the one with daffodils is so special. Really lovely post that arises interest of the viewer/reader.

  6. The arches at the top of the building look like a 16th century addition. I know in Jerusalem, arches came heavily into vogue in the middle of the 1500s, probably because Suleiman the Great was doing a lot of building at the time. I love trying to figure out which part of the wall was built during which era. I guess it right about 40% of the time and am totally off the rest of the time.

    1. When I was taking the photo I was struck by the thought that it had quite an Eastern Mediterranean look about it – tastes influenced by the crusades/pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Three trips to St. David’s equalled one to Jerusalem in terms of expressions of piety. If Much Wenlock’s prior’s lodging is anything to go by, ecclesiastical dignitaries were continually upgrading their quarters, so you observation may well be correct. St. David’s apparently had some keen builder bishops in its time.

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