St David's Cathedral, Wales: Everything you need to know

Every day throughout Advent, we'll be introducing a different cathedral from around the UK and occasionally beyond

St David's Cathedral, Wales
Published: December 23, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Denomination Anglican (Church of Wales)


Building began 1181

About the cathedral Head far west in Wales and you'll find the beautiful cathedral of St Davids, hidden in a valley and not far from the Pembrokeshire coast. Built on the site of a 6th-century monastery founded by Wales's patron saint, the cathedral was an important seat of early Christianity in the British Isles. William the Conqueror visited St Davids in 1081.The Norman nave is the oldest surviving part of the cathedral. Look up, and you'll see that rather than the stone vaults often found in buildings from this era, there's a wooden ceiling. That's down to an earthquake in the 13th century, which caused the walls to bow.

Although there's no longer a choir school at the cathedral, it still runs three choirs. The main group is the UK's only cathedral choir in which girls, from 8-18, sing the treble line, a move that dates from the 1960s. A separate boy's choir sings two services a week.

Did you know?

The composer Thomas Tomkins was born in St Davids in 1752. His father, who had moved to west Wales from Cornwall, was organist and master of the choristers at St Davids Cathedral. Tomkins sang in the choir there too, before the family moved to Gloucester. He went on to study with William Byrd and become an admired composer, particularly skilled in the art of counterpoint.



Rebecca Franks
Rebecca FranksJournalist, Critic and former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine

Rebecca Franks is the former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine and a regular classical music critic for The Times. She is currently writing her first children's book.

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