St David’s Story

Gelert’s grave at Beddgelert

There is a tenuous link between the Gelert stories and St David’s, Pembrokeshire

When Lord and Lady Sykes were touring Wales in 1796, they visited the sub-dean of St David’s who showed them around the ruins of the palace but he said that he was as sorry as the man who killed his Greyhound, because he could not provide them with accommodation, and pointing to the coat of arms over the door, related the following story.

It was at the time when ignorance so strongly prevailed that men were nearly in a savage state, and when beasts of the forest were in search of prey, fiercely entered their dwellings. The inhabitant of this house, the head of a Welsh tribe, had one only Infant son, and upon his return from hunting, his daily pursuit, he flew with impatience to embrace the child, when seeing it bloody in the cradle, and at the same moment his greyhound fawning upon him, also besmeared with blood, without further search he drew his sword, and pierced his heart, believing him the murderer of his child; but what were his feelings when  he beheld a dead wolf, destroy’d by this faithful dog, in the very act of seizing the Child; Struck with horror at the Impetuosity, and Ingratitude of this action, and to perpetuate the memory of his late faithful dog, he added to his Arms as Supporters, a Greyhound, and a flying Serpent, and in the shield the sword that slew his dog.
Sykes, Lady, [diary of a tour of Wales], University of Hull, DDSY(3)/10/11 (Typed transcript), pp. 186-189

The coat of arms over the door of the sub-dean’s house, which was built in 1504, were those of Bishop John Morgan which included three greyhounds. His house has since been rebuilt and the coat of arms no longer exists.
The house of the archdeacon of Brecon was built by William Walter from 1504. The plastering over the door includes the following coats of arms: (1) Henry VII; (2) Sir Rice ap Thomas; (3) Bishop John Morgan which includes three greyhounds and (4), William Walter
Yardley, Menevia Sacra, Archaeologia Cambrensis, Supplement, (1927), p. 196
 coat of arms with three greyhounds

1801 (St David’s)
There are but two houses annexed to the church worth remarking, the rest are in a dilapidated condition. That occupied by the residentiary is a neat edifice, replete with comfort and convenience: the one belonging to the archdeacon of Brecon bears a most venerable appearance; over the entrance are some curious arms, marking their antiquity, but so disfigured by age and time that they are now difficult to be traced: among them may be discerned royal arms, similar to those in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge; the  rest carry a traditional phrase, “as sorry as the man who killed his greyhound.” They say there formerly was a representation of a dog, sword, cradle, and child: the whole of it most probably went to represent the fable of the serpent that killed the child; which deed the frantic parent thought was committed by the faithful dog.
Manby, George William, The history and antiquities of the parish of Saint David, South-Wales, (London, 1801), pp. 53-54