St David’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace

Descriptions of St David’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace by tourists to Wales, 1700 – 1900, in chronological order

St David’s cathedral with the Bishops Palace beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cathedral nave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

see also:

St David’s was not a popular place for tourists for several reasons – see  Descriptions of St David’s village

Bibliography

Some of the descriptions of St David’s were based on previously published accounts and guide books including the following (in chronological order). Those in bold are the key texts which might not have been as available as the more popular tours which often quoted (or misquoted) them, often without acknowledgement. All the key texts are available on line but may not always found when searching for the titles – it is often better to search for a string of text from the quotations below, or use the National Library of Wales catalogue which has links to digital versions.

  • Browne Willis’ Survey of the Cathedral Church of St David’s (1717)
  • Defoe, Daniel, A Tour Through the whole Island of Great Britain, (1725), pp. 85-86
  • T.K., Account of a Journey through North Wales 1767, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 37, (1767) p. 589-590 [brief and critical]
  • Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke. A Gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774, pp. 82-86
  • Skrine, Henry, Two successive tours throughout the whole of Wales, so as to form a comprehensive view of the picturesque beauty, the peculiar manners, and the fine remains of antiquity, in that interesting part of the British island. (1798), pp. 87-92
  • Barber, J.T., Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, … (1803), pp. 87-91
  • Manby, George W., The history and antiquities of the parish of St. David, South-Wales: the most ancient documents collected from the Bodleian Library. To which is annexed, a correct list of the archbishops, bishops, &c. who have filled that see / Embellished with plates in aquatinta, from drawings made on the spot, by the author, (1801), based mostly without acknowledgement, on Willis’s survey.
  • Colt Hoare, Richard, The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, A.D. 1188. By Giraldus de Barri; translated into English and illustrated with views, annotations, and life of Giraldus, 2 volumes, (1806). This includes a description of the Cathedral, College and Bishop’s Palace, pp. 10, 22-31.
  • Richard Fenton’s A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire (1810, 1811) (reprinted by Cultural Services Department, Dyfed County Council 1994)
  • Stringer, Dr., ‘Welsh Excursions Through the Greater Part of South and North Wales, On the Plan of Irish Extracts and Scottish Descriptions.’ The European Magazine and London Review, Vol 78, (1820), 129-131 [based on earlier sources]
  • Jones and Freeman, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St David’s, South Wales (1856) (reprinted by Pembrokeshire County Council 1998)
  • Evans, Wyn & Worsley, Roger, St Davids Cathedral 1181-1981, (1981)

Guides
The descriptions of St David’s by tourists are generally similar, suggesting that many got their information from the same source, possibly Wyndham. Colt Hoare mentioned a cicerone but he might have meant one of the canons or archdeacons who provided him and others with hospitality during their stay; Mary Anne Hibbert mentioned a Welsh speaking guide but no one explicitly mentioned being taken round by an elderly woman or man as was often the case at other attractions in Wales.

Guides and hosts:
1776   The Bishop of St David’s and his wife stayed at the Treasurer’s house
1788   Dr Holcombe, Canon of St David’s entertained Anon
1791   Sophia Ward and her party were very genteelly accommodated at Mr Probyn, the residentiary vicar.
1793   Canon Holkham [Holcombe] entertained Sir Richard Colt Hoare
1793   Canon Mr Holecolm, [Holcombe] entertained Bryan Cooke
1796   Sir Christopher and Lady Sykes were shown round by Prichard, a sub-dean of eighty-five years of age.
1802   Canon Holkham showed Sir Richard Colt Hoare the cathedral but, he wrote: I again had the occasion to experience the hospitality of the resident archdeacon, Mr Williams, who kindly offered us board and lodging.
1808   Archdeacon Davies entertained Sir Richard Colt Hoare
1837   Canon Residentiary, Mr Davis, Archdeacon of Brecon showed Rev Romilly around

DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CATHEDRAL AND PALACE BY TOURISTS AND OTHERS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
This does not generally include the notes by tourists on the history of the site.

1504

Description of the carving of the stall in the choir.
ms. in Bodleian Library
Quoted by Richard Fenton, A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire (1810)

1550s

Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt (died 1666)
Descriptions and sketches of the tombs
Journey from Aberystwyth to St David’s, NLW, 2008B, f. 434
Published in RCAHMW, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire …, Volume 4, Pembrokeshire (1925), p. 351-352

1600 (about)

{The Landscape and produce from land and sea.}
Concerning the City or Town of St David’s, there will not be much expected by way of Commendation, and it needs no Discommendation, it is of itself so bad.
{The Bishop’s Palace}
{The Houses of canons and college etc.}
{The chapels on St David’s headland}
{The coast and islands}
{Monuments and effigies in the Cathedral}
Anon, ‘Memoirs relating to the Cathedral-Church of St David’s and the country adjacent from a MS wrote about the latter end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.’
Published in Browne Willis, A survey of the cathedral church of St. David’s, and the edifices belonging to it, as they stood in the year 1715, pp. 38-73
In his introduction to this manuscript, Willis suggested that it might have been written for William Camden’s Britannia. Others have suggested that it was written by George Owen of Henllys (1552-1613) (but see Atkins, Ivor, ‘The Authorship of the XVIth century description of St David’s Printed in Browne Willis’s Survey, 1717’, National Library of Wales Journal, vol. 4, (1946), pp. 115-22)  On p. 60 of the transcription a marginal note dates it to between1601 and 1603 but it might be earlier. The author of other marginal notes appears to correct Willis’s transcription in places, implying that he too had seen the original manuscript.

1610

From a MS. History of St. David’s in Latin, by one Tomkyn, 1610, we find that those magnificent windows were decorated with painted glass representing the most memorable occurrences in the prelate’s life;
Bodleian Library, Tomkyn ms,
Fenton, Richard, A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810 & 1811), p. 69

1662

Thence we proceeded to St. David’s, where we viewed an old cathedral, therein divers ancient monuments, viz., that of the earl of Richmond, father of king Henry VII, in the choir. Owen Tudor’s, and another of the Tudors, bishop Vaughan’s, bishop Anselme’s, &c. Behind the choir a handsome chapel of bishop Vaughan’s, where sitting, he had windows so contrived into another chapel behind, called St. Mary’s chapel, that he might see five masses said together, at five several altars. The steeple is taken into the choir, and the bell ropes hang down into it; and of the wings of the church are made chapels. The Welch have a proverb, that it is as good to go to St. David’s twice, as to Rome once. There are also in this church the tomb of St. David, and one Wogan, a gentleman. This town is now a poor place; not far hence, on the sands, stood old Menew, whence the bishop is styled Menevensis.
Ray, John, Memorials of John Ray: consisting of his life by Dr Derham. Biographical and critical notices by Sir J.E. Smith and Cuvier and Du Petit-Thouars. By Edwin Lankester, (Ray Society, 1846), pp. 173-174

1690s

Edward Lhuyd visited the cathedral and drew some of the tombs.

1695

What kind of place St David’s was heretofore, is hard to guess, seeing it has been so often sacked by pirates: at present it is a very mean city and shows only a fair Church consecrated to St Andrew and St David. Which having been demolished, was built in the form we now see it, in the reign of King John by Peter, then Bishop thereof, and his successor … not far from it, is the Bishop’s Palace: and very fair houses, of the Chanter … the Chancellor, the Treasurer and four Archdeacons, who are of the Canons (whereof there are twenty-one,) all enclosed with a strong and stately Wall,
Camden’s Britannia, (Gibson’s edition with Edward Lhuyd’s contribution on Wales), (1695), column 756

1697

From a ms. journal of an eminent dignitary of St David’s
The new moving pulpit was made by Morris Jones, carpenter, and Thomas Williams, joiner, in the month of April 1697. And Medley (nephew to the then Bishop Watson) preached the first sermon in the same, August 14, 1698, being Sunday.
Fenton, Richard, A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810 & 1811), p. 77, note (e)

1715 Published

Browne Willis, A survey of the cathedral church of St. David’s, and the edifices belonging to it, as they stood in the year 1715. To which is added, some memoirs relating thereto and the Country adjacent, from a MS wrote about the latter end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Together, with an account of the arch-bishops, bishops, Precentors, Chancellors, Treasurers, and Arch-Deacons of the See of St. David’s. Collected by Browne Willis, Esq; Illustrated with draughts, and adapted to the said Historical Description (1717) (Preface dated St James Day, [25th July] 1816).
?another edition 1717 with additional material and another c. 1730.
The 1717 edition is available on the Eighteenth Century Collections Online web site.
This includes detailed descriptions of the Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, and it may have been used as the source of information such as the size of parts of the buildings.
There are some letters from Browne Willis to the Bishop of St David’s in NLW, but all post-date the publication of his volume on St David’s
browne-willis-at-blecheley-to-bishop-of-st-davids-at-his-house-in-city-of-hereford-his-excuses; Ottley (Pitchford Hall) Correspondence/1766. (9 July, 1719)
br-owne-willis-at-whaddon-hall-to-bishop-of-st-davids-at-counde-for-cover-and-continuation-of-this-letter; Ottley (Pitchford Hall) Correspondence/1776. )(27 Oct. 1719)
browne-willis-at-whaddon-hall-to-bishop-of-st-davids-if-he-had-line-from-recipient-he; Ottley (Pitchford Hall) Correspondence/1820. (7 Jan, 1721)
He also published
An Survey of the Cathedral-Church of Landaff (1718 or 1719)
Survey of St Asaph (1720)
Survey of Bangor Cathedral (1721)
and surveys of several English cathedrals in 1727 and 1730
There are several annotated copies of Browne Willis’s survey in the National Library of Wales
[1] ms 13265B. An undated re-issue of the 1716 edition which has annotations of the early 18th century, some citing W Gambold and others H. Goff. One marginal note on p. 58 is dated 1723.
The marginalia include:

  • Corrections to the text
  • Changes in the building since publication
  • a small numbered plan of the choir stalls (p. 7)

It includes the following marginalia:
p. 3
Next to the following text: Near the Rood Loft, which is over the Entrance to the Choir, on the south side is the Pulpit, and by that is Bishop Morgan’s tomb … on the Sides, are images probably of our Saviour and his Apostles much defaced; at the feet is a Sculpture in Basso Relievo, but exceedingly ruined. is the following marginalia:  the sides not visible being surrounded by pews.
p. 10
now the Chapter House decently repaired and neatly tiled.
p. 22
St Mary’s chapel – the floor was once all paved with bricks excepting the north side where lay a variety of fine large grave stones reaching from the foot of the chapel up to the ascent to the altar: these stones, when the choir and body of the church were of late years in some part flagged anew, were removed hither and some of them into the Chanter’s aile. The bricks were removed to the room over the Chapter House, called the Treasury and some placed instead of the decayed ones in the chancel of choir. H Goffe
[2] ms 5238B which belonged in the eighteenth century to Erasmus Lewes and in the nineteenth to David Lloyd Isaac, both of whom have added marginalia and notes on fly-leaves. According to a note by Lewes the friend who supplied Browne Willis with material for the first ninety pages was a Dr. Edwards who lived under that name at Carmarthen though his real name was Dr. Wotton (i.e., William Wotton, 1666-1726).[3] NLW Llanelwy 2484 with marginalia. Signed: M.N. (i.e. William Wotton).
[4] ms 6110B. The 1717 edition with notes, mostly on heraldry, by Charles Francis Egerton Allen (1847-1927)
Richard Fenton, the Pembrokeshire Historian, and his friend, the antiquary Sir

Both Sir Richard Colt Hoare and Richard Fenton stated that Brown Willis’s work was unreliable.
Richard Fenton: Many have been the accounts given of this ancient church from Brown Willis’s time to the present, and his, though it is known that he never was on the spot himself, being put together for his use by men of learning, natives of the place, and always resident there, cannot fail to contain some valuable materials towards his plan, though teeming with numerous anachronisms, misrepresentations, and inaccuracies of every kind, which subsequent writers endeavouring to make fewer, have only multiplied; so that Brown Willis’s account may still, perhaps, be considered the fullest and purest source of information.
Fenton, Richard, A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810 & 1811), p. 70
Colt Hoare:
Its history has been written by Browne Willis who never saw the place till his book was published. His information however was procured by a resident Bishop.
Cardiff Central Library, 3.127.3, p. 42
Its history has been written by Browne Willis – but very incorrectly as he never saw the place till his book was published.
Cardiff Central Library, 3.302.6
Elsewhere in various ms versions of his descriptions, Colt Hoare pointed out where he thought Browne Willis was wrong.

1717

Description of the cathedral which states that all the roofs of the cathedral were in good repair until the Civil War.
ms. letter to Browne Willis from Canon Stephen Lewis, A.D. 1717,
Location unknown but mentioned in Fenton’s A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810)

1720s

From hence to St. Davids, the Country begins to look like Wales again, Dry, Barren, and Mountainous; St. Davids is not a Bishop’s See only, but was formerly an Arch-Bishop’s, which they tell us, was by the Pope transferred to Dole in Britany, where it still remains.
The venerable Aspect of this Cathedral Church, shews that it has been a beautiful Building, but that it is much decay’d. The West End or Body of the Church is tolerably well; the Choir is kept neat, and in tollerable repair, the S. Isle without the Choir, and the Virgin Mary’s Chappel, which makes the E. End of the Church, are in a manner demolish’d, and the Roofs of both fallen in.
There are a great many eminent Persons bury’d here, besides such, whose Monuments are defaced by Time; There is St. Davids Monument, to whom the Church is Dedicated, the Monument of the Earl of Richmond, as also of the famous Owen Tudor; there are also, four ancient Monuments of Knights Templars, known by their Figures lying cross Legged but their Names are not known. and there are six several Monuments of Bishops, who ruled this Church, besides St. David.
This St. David they tell us was Uncle to King Arthur, that he lived to 146 Years of Age, that he was Bishop of this Church 65 Years, being born in the Year 496, and dyed Ann. 642; that he built 12 Monasteries, and did abundance of Miracles.
There was a very handsome House for the Bishop, with a College, all built in a Close by themselves, but they are now turn’d to Ruins.
Defoe, Daniel, A Tour Through the whole Island of Great Britain, (1725), pp. 85-86

6.6.1730

St David’s Cathedral is in a bottom. The Chancel of it paved with painted Brick. Against the S. Wall in the Chancel is a Latin Inscription on Will. Needham, S.T.B. Chancellor here 40 Years, who dyed June 22, A.D.1727. Æt 73. The Sexton said that Bishop Erward was born here. [Biblioth. Topogr. Britann. No v. XL1 p.89. & British Critic xiv.] In the Chantor’s Isle are ornamental Pillars like those at Carphily Castle. Twice every Day there are Prayers in the Cathedral. In the Nave is the Parish-Church; a Welsh Sermon here on Sunday Morning. The Chantor, Chancellor, Treasurer, Canon Stephens (sed Q?), & the Archdeacon of St David’s, have Houses standing now. The Archdeacon of Cardigan, Mr Parry, had prepared materials for building his house, but dyed; Dr Davies of Kingsland, Herefordshire, the Chantor, has laid out Money on his House &c. He is very hospitable here. Medley, the Archdeacon of St David’s, has never been here but once. The Ruins of the Bishop’s Palace are very grand; it has the finest Vaults I ever saw, A noble Kitchen. The People have a silly Notion, that if the Bishop should come here at St James’s Tide, when the Audit is, the Chapter can oblige him to rebuild his Palace. Bishop Smallbrooke is in no good understanding with the Chapter. He has obliged them by Law to reside here two Months in a Year; in this undertaking he had the concurrence of the Chantor: The Chapter fills up their own Vacancies. Blundel told me, that the Bishop interested himself in Parliamentary Elections, but that the generality of the Clergy voted contrary to him; that Impropriators generally gave their Curates 5£ per Ann; the most generous 10£. One half of the Clergy hereabouts have never been at an University.
Loveday, John, (1711-1789)
Markham, Sarah, John Loveday of Caversham, 1711-1789: The life and tours of an eighteenth-century onlooker. (Wilton: Russell, 1984), Wales, pp. 57-61
The Original diaries are in Pennsylvania State University

1756

St David’s, 20.8.1756
This poor little village is situated on a rising ground on the east of a rivulet called the Alan; it is said that St Patrick founded a monastery here to St Andrew in 470, St David translated the Archbishopric of Wales from Caerleon to this place … {more history}
At the bottom of this hill is the Cathedral and palace within a large enclosure which takes in part of the rising ground on each side, the gateway being on the side of a hill built to a fine octagonal tower, which they say was formerly a belfry, and is according to the old custom; but others and more knowing say it was the court-house, and that the jail was in the gatehouse adjoining.
Dr Willis [1717] has published an account of this cathedral, the architecture of which is of a very mixed nature, tho’ originally it seems to have been of the fine Saxon architecture. But the tradition is that the tower has faln [sic] and probably beat down a great part of the church, particularly almost all the quire, for  at the east end three old windows remain and the middle one, being probably damaged, appears now a gothic arch; over them is a Gothick window of about five feet in length, only below the spring of the arch all the ancient pillars of the quire remain, the arches being all Gothic. In the chancel are the three seat for the priests and attendants, who celebrate pontifically, and the Bishop’s seat is singular, consisting of three stalls, probably for the archbishop and two of his suffragans, in case they should happen at any time to come. There is a fine Gothic ornament over them, something like that at Exeter. The under part of the seats of the stalls are carved in many odd figures. The skreen at the west end of the quire is highly ornamented in the Gothick taste; the Saxon arches are double turned after the old way towards the aisle but to the body they are partly Gothic workmanship, partly Saxon. The present quire is in the tower, the lower part of the west side of which is old; all the rest is of Gothick architecture, except a few windows. The south end of the cross aisle is ancient, with more modern windows built in it; all the pillars of the body of the church are old, covered with four semi-circular pilasters over the large arches but they seem to have been rebuilt, with the addition of Gothick arches in front of the passage under them along the wall; all the great arches on the pillars are old, except the two western arches. The west end is all old, and the upper window is most singular in this manner, being as two quarters of a circle, or half windows on each side of the arch’d window. what they call the Bishop’s door is narrow. All the arches are finely adorned with Saxon ornaments, and most of them and the pillar with different ornaments. The destruction of the church is threatened by the same means as before, for the tower is split, and the pillars have given way, so as to drive the arches of the body of the church much out of the perpendicular. Archbishop Peter de Leia, about 1176, rebuilt the cathedral; this was probably the Saxon building. In 1220 the tower fell down; in1248 a great part of the church was thrown down by an earthquake. There are tombs of many bishops and canons about the church. There is a remarkable monument in the middle of the chancel, which I judge was the old quire. It is of Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father to Henry 7th, and, it’s said, this saved the church when Henry VIII thought of removing the episcopal see to Carmarthen. The college is to the south of the cathedral, with its Cloyster and refectory, This is, it may be, the college for a master and seven priests, founded by William, Duke of Lancaster … in 1365.
On the other side of the river is what they call the palace, a very grand building, and what adds to its magnificence are the handsome small arches at the top with battlements over them; … [about half as much description as for the Cathedral.]
The houses of the dignitaries …
On the 23rd we left St David’s …
Pococke, Richard, letter dated St David’s, 23.8.1756, British Library Add ms. 23000, ff. 107-108
Cartright, James, Joel, (ed), The Travels Through England of Dr Richard Pococke, Camden, vol. 2, (1889), pp. 174-233
T., F.D., Bye-gones, [Selective transcription of Cartright]: 19.1.1927, pp. 71-72; 16.3.1927, pp. 83-84

1766

[there is no internal evidence for this date]
St David’s at the extremity of the ?county has some fine remains of an old Gothic place but the accommodations are bad so that it may be more advisable to go from H [Haverfordwest?] to Carmarthen.
Anon, ‘Hints for a south Wales tour’, Cornwall Record Office, Truro, PD/475, p. 6

1767 Published

This account suggests that the whole of the Cathedral was unroofed which was untrue.
In St. David’s I found myself arrived to the very height of nastiness nor is it possible to express the abominable stench of the intolerable house or hovel of reception for travellers at which I was forced to take up my quarters; mops and brooms are things in general which people of this country know very little use of. But here, for itch and filth of all kinds I will defend the superiority of St. David’s to Scotland against any partial Scotch advocate whatsoever. I must have been poisoned but for the profuse libations of lavender water which I was perpetually opposing to Welsh stink and nastiness. Such terrible accommodation are no incitements to view a place honoured with the internment of the British Saint and Bishop.
Adjoining to the palace also appears venerable vestiges of an Abbey, now entirely unroofed in every part, exposing to the wind and rain the sculptured resting places of the worthies of past ages, so that I had the pleasure of beholding the Maidenhair, Hartstongues and Spleenwort, plentifully flourishing from between the Knights Templars legs and mitred noddles of long forgotten Bishops, decorating with living green, the monumental effigies of those whom time long since had crumbled into nothing.
T.K., Account of a Journey through North Wales 1767, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 37, (1767) p. 589-590Thomas, P.G., An English tourist in the 18th century. Welsh Outlook, Vol. 18, No. 3 Mar. 1931, pp. 68-69 

10.9.1769 [Sunday]

To St David’s with a letter of recommendation to a clergyman in our pocket, which the very bad accommodation of this place makes absolutely necessary.
The palace and cathedral are no mere ruins, but still have the remains of ancient grandeur. Part of the palace was erected by St Patrick [sic] for the erection of King John in his journey to Ireland; a monument to this saint is still shewed here. This place was once an archbishopric, but has been since translated into the bishops palace. They show a kitchen which by the number of fires, seems calculated to supply all the luxuries of eating. A statue of King John and Queen Mary is yet seen over one of the portals belonging to the palace. The cathedral is a most noble and sacred pile of building, though it must now boast more of its antiquity than beauty; it is 300 feet in length. The choir part is the exact size of the tower. The Bishop’s throne is particularly neat and beautiful; the Mosaic pavement round the altar piece is worth observation. St David’s shrine is to be noticed. Bishop Vaughan’s chapel is immediately behind the altar and is remarkable for the beauty of its architecture. The roof yet remains unhurt by time. This is the place in which it is said the penitents confessed their sins. St Mary’s chapel greatly esteemed by our famous antiquarian, Browne Willis, is immediately beyond the other; a relic of St Peter’s head is here presented, [sic] a are also some other monuments of the Bishops of St Davids. In the church is the tomb of Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father to Henry VII, and also the famous Owen Tudor. Saint David was said to be the father of King Arthur and lived to be 146 years of age; he was bishop of this place 65 years.
Expenses at St David’s £0/2/0 (£0.10)
Grimston, James Bucknall, Sir, (Third Viscount Grimston, 1749-1809)
A Tour in Wales, 1769, Hertfordshire Record Office D/EV/F15-19). A published version is in the Report on the manuscripts of the Earl of Gorhambury, Historic Monuments Commission Report, (HMSO, 1906), p. 258

5.9.1770

To St. David’s; Henry VII’s father and Owen Tudor and Rice Tudor’s monuments; miserable church miserably situated, ruins of palace, wall 1 mile round.
Hervey, William, General, Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds, 941/53/5-9
Hervey, S.A.H., Journals of the Hon William Hervey, (1906), p. 224

1771

Richard Gough visited south Wales in 1771
Bodleian, Top gen E27 

1772

The handwriting and spelling of this description are rather poor, suggesting that it was the work of a young person but the language and interests suggest an older person.
p. 14
St Davids is fine old old ancient city remarkable for nothing but the antiquities of the Catharal Catharaldall [sic] which is supposed to have been built 1200 years ago on a bog.
p. 15
seated within a mile of the sea in a barren soil and destitute of wood, it was once a city of good account but none of the old ?houses now standing …  at present it is thinly inhabited & it’s market disused yet is it the See of a bishop & the Cathedral kept in good order but the palace is in ruins; … the private chappels are all in ruins …
p. 16
you cannot perceive it than you descend the hill, than the steeple is supposed to be the highest in England. – the Abbey of the C. into which we first entered is spacious and lofty the roof is supported by five plain pillars the top is most beautifully ornamented with Irish Oak. At the top of the abbey is the choir to which you ascend a few steps, on each side is interred inclosed with iron rails two arch bishops, they say was formerly an archbishoprick; the choir is extremely ???? but very small at the top of where is an altar the breadth about
p. 17
ten feet the front of the altar is marble, the pillars that support it is particularly striking ???? to the rarity of the ruins, the floor of the altar is beautifully painted ? strewed with Lattin [sic] sentences all acknowledging the goodness of the deity.
At the foot of the altar is interred in a black marble tomb the remains of Duke of Richmond uncle to H. the eight, at each side of the altar is disposed to of the tudor family but the inscriptions are effaced with time. The stalls of the choir is very curious the appear as if the as alcoves but in turning to sit
p. 18
in them you find the are a fine depiction of painting, they have a good organ belonging to the choir, the remains of the see are large – the places ?offering incense is standing as if the ?plan when the unhappy females used to confess their crimes and do penance – the Pallace [sic] not a roof up but all the walls is standing and no doubt but an ?elegant pile of building, it was in one kitchen there is eight chimneys supported by one pillar in a curious manner a number of fine vaults is standing –
p 19
{brief description of St David’s head}
Anon, Pembrokeshire Record Office, HDX/81/4
Brown, J., Phillips, J.W., and Warren, F.J., The History of Haverfordwest with that of some Pembrokeshire Parishes, (1914), pp. 184-187 (rather inaccurate and incomplete transcription)

1774 Published

A street of wretched cottages, one of which is the inn, composes the city of St. David’s. I had so little notion of its being the bishoprick that I enquired in the street how far it was to St David’s. The palace and cathedral lie below the town and cannot be seen from it. [In the 2nd edition (1781) Wyndham replaced ‘wretched’ with ‘miserable’.]
The bishop’s palace, which was erected in the reign of Edward III. St. David’s is an immense ruin; several of the apartments are of an extraordinary magnitude, the walls of which are all entire. The whole parapet is Gothic, and open, like those at Swansea and Llamphey, a circumstance peculiar to these three monuments of antiquity.
The area of the great court is about 120 feet square. On the east side of it is the bishop’s hall, 58 feet in length, and 23 in breadth. The king’s hall on the south side is 88 by 30. This grand saloon is said to have been built expressly for the reception of king John on his return from Ireland, tho’ it carries evident marks of bishop Gower’s architecture, who certainly constructed the other parts of the palace.
The arch, over the door way of the porch leading to the bishop’s hall, has the singularity of forming half an octagon.
The nave of the present cathedral was built in the reign of king John; the semi-circular arches in it are large and well proportioned to its piers. A majesty of style, in the Norman door and windows of the western front, renders that side uncommonly striking. The other parts of the church have been the production of different ages, as the variety of architecture plainly demonstrates.
The roofs, within, are wainscoted with Irish oak, and, though coeval with the church, are entirely free from the filth of cobwebs.
Some people have considered this antidotal quality against spiders in the oak of Ireland, as fabulous; but, whatever the cause may be, the fact is certain, for I have seen an old barn, the timbers of which were of that country, and, notwithstanding the partiality of those disagreeable animals to that kind of building, I could not, upon the strictest examination, discover a single cobweb in any part of it.
Bishop Vaughn’s chapel was annexed to it in the time of Henry VIII. and has a light elegant roof of stone quite perfect. Several ancient monuments appear both within the church, and among the many ruined chapels, that adjoin to it. Edmund, earl of Richmond, father of Henry VII. lies under a raised tomb, near the middle of the choir, and, at a little distance from it, is the monument of Owen Tudor.
The choral service is performed in this cathedral twice a day; I am sorry to add, that the church is kept in a very slovenly manner; part of it is not paved, and the graves are frequently raised within it of earth, as in common church yards. There is something innocent, and pathetically pleasing, in the idea of strewing flowers and evergreens over the grave of a departed friend, which is the universal practice of these parts.
{History}
I cannot better express the dreariness of this country, than in the words of Giraldus, who lies buried in the cathedral; but poor Cambrensis was unknown to the officiating vicar, and of course, his tomb.
The land about this remote angle, on the Irish sea, is rocky, barren, and fruitless; it is neither clothed with wood, varied with rivers, not beautified with meadows; but a land constantly exposed to storms and tempests.  – Such solitary habitations were formerly industriously explored by religious men; where undisturbed with the noise and hurry of the world, they might freely and securely enjoy a spot of ground, which was not likely to be torn from them.
Quotes Drayton’ Polyolbion, song 5
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke. A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774, pp. 82-86
{it was ravaged by Saxons, Danes and Pirates} But as the town at present is probably reduced to its primitive simplicity
Qua nunc Menevia plorat
Curatos Mitrae titulos, et nomen inane
Semisepultae Urbis …
the inhabitants may, now, safely sleep in their cabins though all the enemies of Wales had a combined fleet within view of it.
Wyndham, Henry Penruddocke. A gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774 and in the months of June, July and August, 1777, (E Easton, Salisbury, 1781), pp. 70-76

1776

James Yorke, Bishop of St David’s 1774-1779, visited St David’s only once, arriving on Wednesday 17th July 1776 and leaving the following day. His wife, Mary, wrote a letter describing the visit
We approached the town and entered it between two great stones by way of a gateway. It is nothing but a parcel of poor houses dispersed about and built upon a slope which we descended to the church which appeared to me nothing more of the outside than a plain well-looking parish church, and not at all or ornamented like a cathedral, however it is here in Wales thought a marvellous fine thing because so superior (which is true enough) to any other in the whole country, its antiquity likewise is cried up … but I refer your Ladyship to Browne Willis. … The inside of the Cathedral is much superior to the out, being really a regular pretty cathedral, and the ceiling of Irish Oak, much superior to that in Westminster Hall; but the whole in danger of falling and much out of repair.
{Description of the basic state of their accommodation – the Treasurer’s house}
The environs of this place are highly amusing, the sea views, the ruins of the fine Old Palace, College etc contrasted with the poverty of the present hovels, furnish a fine fund for speculation as well as employment for the pencil.
The hall called King John’s (who as said to be entertained here on his way to Ireland), is 80 feet by 30, the chapel and the common hall, all magnificent, but when I come to describe to you the kitchen supported by a pillar in which are 5 chimneys! I am ready to lay down my pen, and say, how are the mighty fallen! alas poor Bishop of St David’s.
The confirmation was held here in the morning [and I] went with the Bishop in the afternoon to prayers, we both agreed we never were present at so odd a scene before, the service as to be performed as in other choirs and all the state assumed upon the occasion that the poverty of affairs would admit of, the Bishop and his procession, the manner of chanting the service, the Throne on which he was placed raised with matting, and the tottering stand to rest his book upon that altered his balance with the weight of every fresh leaf he turned over, put him in mind of what one has heard said of the scald miserables who imitated in a miserable style the free masons. But who should I describe the congregation? Fine folks dressed out from the English alias Pembroke side, inhabitants of St David’s who are Welsh, dreadful poor natives from the Northern Sea Coast (who are the poorest and wildest of this wild country picking up a miserable livelihood by milking the sheep and scraping some mosses of the sea stones to sell), add to these sailors from the bay and our own family who were really a different set of people from any I have named, all close together … I will only describe the dress of two women just before me to show how distinct (and yet how near united, in the Country) the two sets of people are. One of my ladies in powdered hair with feathers and no cap, the other just by her who it would be flattery to liken to the Witches in Macbeth; round her shoulders was cast a dirty square piece of flannel fastened before with a thorn, round her head a more dirty blue and white pocket handkerchief, over this a man’s hat that perhaps was once black, but now much of the colour of the face it shaded, namely a yellow brown, the whole complexion seemed made of tan leather, and whereas in Carmarthenshire the faces of the common people have a vacant grin and stare upon them, this face was too ugly to have any expression.
Her Husband added:
We shall not soon forget the oddities and ruinated magnificence of St David’s town and church [Cathedral]
Yorke, Mary, Bedfordshire Record Office, Wrest Park Papers, L30/9; L 30/11 and others; Jones, Anthea, Letters from the Bishop’s wife, 1774-1778, Carmarthen Antiquary, XXXVIII, (2002), Letter 6, pp. 24-27

1.5.1781

I rode to St. David’s, seventeen measured miles from Haverford. I was surprised to find all the land, for the last nine or ten miles, so fruitful and well cultivated. What a difference is there between the westermost parts of England, and the westermost parts of Wales’ The former (the west of Cornwall) so barren and wild; the latter, so fruitful and well improved. But the town itself is a melancholy spectacle. I saw but one tolerable good house in it. The rest are miserable huts indeed. I do not remember so mean a town, even in Ireland. [This was written after nearly 45 years of travelling 250,000 miles around the UK and elsewhere.]
The cathedral has been a large and stately fabric, far superior to any other in Wales. But a great part of it is fallen down already; and the rest is hastening into ruin: one blessed fruit (among many) of bishops residing at a distance from their see. Here are the tombs and effigies of many ancient worthies: Owen Tudor in particular. But the zealous Cromwellians broke off their noses, hands, and feet; and defaced them as much as possible. But what had the Tudors done to them: Why, they were progenitors of kings.
Wesley, John, The Journal of the Reverend John Wesley: vol. 2, (1832), p. 542

19.8.1785

{decided not to go to St David’s, due to lack of transport, the absence of the hospitable canon [?Canon Holcombe] and lack of a sufficient object to recompense them.}
Drake, William, [3 letters to his father, Tour of Wales]
Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, D-DR/8/13/1-3, p. 9

5.9.1787

to St David’s. The approach to this Holy City (as it is called) does not impress any idea of magnificence. a straggling street of mean houses among which we find a most miserable inn made us rather wonder at St David’s taste for removing the seat of his archbishopric from Caerleon into this obscure corner. A few eggs and bacon was with much difficulty procured, and would have been very welcome after a tedious journey of 5 hours if the filth and ill smells of the house had not almost banished all idea of eating. The thought of sleeping in the midst of it were beginning to perplex us, when we were happily relieved by a message from Mrs Holcombe at whose house we were received with the most polite and cordial hospitality. The worthy canon was at this time absent from home, but his good lady vies with him in extending her benevolence to all travelling in distress hose curiosity brings them to this place. She was so obliging to conduct us to the Cathedral and the ruins of the Palace where Miss Holcombe the eldest of eight fine children acted the part of Cicerone being perfect mistress of the history of the place. The chapels adjoining to the cathedral are most of them uncovered; one of them, Bishop Vaughan’s still preserving a very beautiful roof. The most remarkable of the tombs are those of St David – Owen Tudor and Edmund, Earl of Richmond father of Henry 7th and Bishop Gower and these are principally  curious from the from the illustrious men interred within them; what ornaments they had being defaced by Cromwell’s soldiers. The Early of Richmond’s is now perfectly plain; but is composed of granite found in the country of uncommon hardness; so much so that were [sic] assured the finest Sicilian marble might brought over at less expense than the stone on the spot can be wrought for.
The palace is a very large structure. King John’s hall a noble room 88ft by 30. The whole is full of peculiar whims of architecture not found in other places; among these may be reckoned the open gothic parapet similar to that at Llanphor [Lamphey]; the circular window like a wheel at the end of King John’s hall and two arches in the court one of which is like the bottom of an escutcheon [small sketch of an ogee arch] the other half an octagon [small sketch]. Near the church are the ruins of a college dedicated to St Mary founded by John of Gaunt. The situation of the church and palace seems very extraordinary being in a deep dell; and the earth appear to have been dug away very considerably towards the east end of the church to give room to build it.
But the reason probably was to conceal it from being an object at a distance, a they were liable to frequent visits from the Danes and other piratical invaders. It is so effectually hid by its situation that even from the town nothing but just the top of the tower can be seen. These sacred precincts were fortified by a wall which contained the houses of the canons prebends etc. They had the advantage of a rivulet which ran through their citadel; but the town itself was a kind of suburb totally undefended.
{Entertained by the young ladies playing on the harpsicord, and decided to stay another day.}
6.9.1787 Thursday
Porth Clais
St David’s Head
To Haverfordest.
Anon [Mr M? of Belmont, in or near Hereford], NLW Ms 9352a, no page numbers

28.7.1788

St David’s is a Bishop’s see but the Cathedral is nothing surprizing, the only part worthy of notice in point of architecture is Bishop Vaughan’s chapel which appears to me to be Gothic and which can be trifling when compared to the Antiquity of the building as they have traced 110 bishops progressively. Here they show you St David’s shrine uncle to King Arthur who lived 146 years. The monument of the Earl of Richmond and the famous Owen Tudor, several Bishops and knights Templars by their being crossed legged. The college as well as the Bishop’s Palace is now in ruins but the latter, even in its humility shows it to have been once a venerable pile of Building. The remainder of the day as well as part of the following I spent at the house of a truly hospitable Character I mean Dr Holcombe, Canon of St David’s.
Anon, NLW, Ms 11493B, ff. 21-22

1789

The following was added to Lhuyd’s brief description of St David’s (first published in 1695) for Richard Gough’s edition of Camden’ Britannia.
St David’s, though called a city, has neither market nor fair, and scarce a tolerable inn. They reckoned about 1200 inhabitants, and 261 within the parish, and these 290 inhabitants and 78 small houses in the town. The cathedral and episcopal palace are quite at the bottom of a steep hill, so that the tower is scarcely visible in the town. These and the prebendal houses, are surrounded by a stone wall, 1100 yards in circuit, with four gates. The cathedral having been often demolished; the present was built according to Giraldus, in the reign of King Henry II. or, as Willis, 1110, It is a handsome pile, with two transepts, in length, from east to west, 300 feet, and the body with the aisles, 76 feet broad.
Behind the choir is a most beautiful chapel, with a rich roof of carved stone, built by bishop Vaughan, t. [temp] King Henry VIII. as a kind of presbytery, between the
choir and Lady Chapel. In the last, whose roof, as well as those of the aisles of the choir and transepts, have been down ever since the civil war, are monuments of three bishops, and in the nave, &c. four or five more. In the north wall of the choir is the shrine of St. David; a kind of altar tomb, with a canopy of four pointed arches, and in front four quatrefoil holes, into which the votaries put their offerings, which were taken out by the monks at two iron doors behind. In the choir are also the monuments of Owen Tudor, second husband of Queen Catharine, Rhys ap Tudor, Bishops Jorwerth and Anselm, in the thirteenth century, and Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father of King Henry VII. This last monument is said to have prevented King Henry VIII. from removing the see to Caermarthen. Giraldus Cambrensis, who was archdeacon of Brecon, canon of Hereford, and rector of Chesterton, Oxford, was buried here in 1213. On the north side of the church are some walls of St. Mary’s College, founded by Bishop Houghton, and John of Gaunt, in 1365, valued at £106 per annum.
The little river Alan divides the church on the west from the rest of the close. Over it formerly lay a large block of marble, 10 feet long, called Llech-lavar, or the speaking stone; because attempting to speak once as a corpse was carrying over it split in two, on which account no more corpses were carried over it. {more stories relating to the stone}.
On the other side of the river stands the shell of three side of a magnificent palace built by bishop Gower. The hall is 58 feet by 23, to which adjoins a parlour 25 feet square, with an oratory. The kitchen is 23 feet by 28, with a central pillar supporting four wide arches which occupy the four side of the room forming four vast chimnies. The south side of the quadrangle consists of a very noble hall, built as they say to entertain king John on his return from Ireland, 90 feet by 30, with a beautiful catharine-wheel east window, and over the porch two statues called king John and his queen. To this room adjoins another 30 feet by 28, and a second 40 by 20, beside other apartments and offices. within the close are four or five good prebendal houses; those of the minor canons being mere cottages; and north-east of St Mary’s college are the ruins of the vicars chorals college.
{The name of St David’s}
{Y Maen sigl}
{Whitesands bay}
{chapels}
Camden, William, Britannia: or, a chorographical description of the flourishing kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the islands adjacent; from the earliest antiquity. By William Camden. Translated from the edition published by the author in MDCVII. Enlarged by the latest discoveries, by Richard Gough, F. A. & R. SS., 3 vols. (London, MDCCLXXXIX [1789]), vol. 2, p. 514 (Camden); p. 519 (Gough’s additions).
Reprinted in 1806
Richard Gough visited St David’s in 1771 (see above)

1790-1793

Repairs to the west front of the cathedral by John Nash (1752 – 1835)
By 1789 the west front of the Cathedral was leaning forward and John Nash was commissioned to suggest how the building could be saved. He proposed building two flying buttresses which were complete by 1791.
When Sir Richard Colt Hoare visited the Cathedral in 1793 (see below) he reported that £2,000 [actually £2015. 15s 5d including Nash’s fees] had been spent on the repairs. Like other visitors, he did not like what Nash had done, but in a footnote added to his 1802 tour, thought that Mr Nash, then a young man, [is] now much improved in his art as an architect.
Drawings of the front before and after Nash’s work survive but it was rebuilt by George Gilbert Scott in 1862.
Jones, I. Wyn, ‘John Nash at St David’s’ The Architectural Review, vol. 112, (1952), pp. 63-65
Suggett, Richard, John Nash: architect in Wales: pensaer yng Nghymru, (1995), pp. 108-109
Nash was also responsible for converting the Grammar school into a Chapter House which Colt Hoare disliked because it blocked the view of the Palace. It was demolished in June 1829.
Illustrated by Pugin (n.d.) and Manby (1801)

31.8.1791

Set off to St David’s. … The road to this place from Haverford is very dreary, the country being generally flat, the land poor, and much of it uncultivated. They had no beds for us at the inns, but they make no scruple here of sending to the gentlemen’s houses and we were very genteelly accommodated at Mr Probyn, the residentiary vicar. They showed us everything worth seeing and gave us a pressing invitation when we came that way again to spend some time with them. … St David’s is a small inconsiderable village, though the see of a bishop, and formerly that of an archbishop. Here is a large cathedral the side Isles (sic) of which are now in ruins. At a little distance stands the ancient palace of the Bishop…. From St David’s there is no conveyance of any kind. We were therefore obliged to retain our chaise all night & pay every expense attending the post boy & horses.
Ward, Sophia, Tour from London to South Wales and S. W. England, National Library of Wales, ms. 19758A

1791

{Rogers described St David’s as a poor village}. ‘Except two or three neat little houses belonging to the clergy of the cathedral, no house habitable by civilised beings.’ He had to stay at a ‘hovel of an inn’ because ‘Mr Holcombe, whose hospitable genius has raised a caravanserai in the desert, and whose musical and elegant family gave an air of enchantment to the reception of the desolate traveller, being no in London’.
Samuel Rogers in Clayden, P.W., The Early Life of Samuel Rogers. (London, 1887), p. 191

1793

This account was written by Colt Hoare’s while travelling.
Tuesday [sic Thursday] 13th June
I left Fishguard and proceeded to Saint David. The roads are better but the country still more open and dreary inclosed with high banks and stone walls. How melancholy and at the same time how true a description does Gerald give of this place. …
Nothing can be more dreary than the country about St David’s; not even a hedge can be reared on account of the high winds which prevail here. Much however might be done by human labour and industry toward recovering the bad character it has born for so many centuries. The residentiary canon, Mr Holkham [Holcombe] has planted some trees near his residence which thrive well – their situation, however, is rather sheltered and the crop of corn, here the land is properly cultivated, are good. The barley of these parts is of a particularly fine quality and in great request.
St David’s however, on account of its ancient name and high character in the Welsh Annals deserves the attention of every curious traveller but few I find ever visit it.
This church as originally founded by St David whose bones rest under its roof, and till the year 1101 was the Metropolitan church of Wales; about which time it became subject to the see of Canterbury. The shrine of this saint was frequented by numerous crowds of pilgrims and even Kings came penitent and barefooted to pay their devotions to it. The value of the relicts and offerings daily received was so great that the weighed, and divided amongst the monks every week. In short it became to British Loretto.
The Church as well as all the adjoining buildings are either in an absolute state of ruin or decay. The cathedral is still made use of as a place of religious worship and service is performed in it both in the English and Welch languages, though owing to the bad ground in which it is built its existence is in a very precarious state. There is a very great settlement in one of the arches supporting the steeple. The architecture is a mixture of Norman and Gothic; the arches are finely proportioned and many of the ornaments are very elegant. The pavement is sadly disfigured by the custom generally adopted through many parts of Wales of digging graves within the church by which its level is raised and rendered very uneven.
The monuments which it contains are
Bishop Morgan
Bishop Gower
Bishop Anslem                  Inscription
Bishop Iorwerth
Bishop Houghton
Bishop Martyn
Treasurer Lloyd                 Inscription
Silvester the physician       Inscription
Bird, the stone cutter ho executed Lloyd’ monument  Inscription
Rhees ap Tudor and his sons
Duke of Richmond Father to King Henry VII
St David’s shrine
Besides the above there are many ?mens defaced and unknown
I was shown one said to be that of my travelling friend Giraldus in the south aisle.
Behind St David shrine are seen two holes into which (according
p. 40
to vulgar tradition) pilgrims placed their offerings.
Many of these tombs, particularly that of the Duke of Richmond were opened and plundered by Oliver Cromwell and his followers.
Bishop Gower was the last great improver and restorer of the church and adjoining buildings and is said to have erected the Bishops Palace [,] a magnificent shell even in its Ruins. Bishop Vaughan lies buried in a most beautiful chapel built by him and bearing his name.
Above £2,000 have been lately expended in repairing the west end of this cathedral [by Nash] and I wish I could add with good taste and judgement. A compilation of Gothic, Norman, etc. ornaments introduced into the modern front now supply the place of the fine Norman façade which was so universally admired and regretted by those who see the wide difference between the antique and modern workmanship and design.
The adjoining ruin of the College built by Bishop Houghton presents an elegant specimen of fine Gothic Architecture and the Bishop’s Palace adjoining is
p. 41
a still grander object – a range of open Gothic Arches runs along the parapets the use of which (from a part left entire) seem to have been to strengthen the battlements above them – as this place answered the double purpose of a fortification, as well as the episcopal residence. In the interior quadrangle of this building is a hall of large proportions, over the entrance door to which are said to be the statues of King John and his Queen. On the other side of the quadrangle are the Bishops apartments – hall, kitchen etc. in which were some chimnies of a curious construction, now fallen down. This noble building owes its ruin to Bishop Barlow who lived in the time of Queen Elizabeth and procured leave to strip the lead from off the roof of this palace and with which he is said to have portioned his five daughters to as many Bishops. He is also said to have alienated another Episcopal Palace at Lamphey which became the possession of the Favourite Earl of Essex and to which he retired after his disgrace. But the epoch of the fall of Saint David’s was at the Reformation when the offerings to the holy shrine, the relicts, indulgence etc. etc. came into dispute. A tower is shown said to have been the birthplace of Saint Patrick – though other countries dispute for that honour – Erasmus certainly quotes him as a Welshman by birth –
Thus much for St Davids and its church which to a lover of antiquities is highly gratifying, and affords to the painter a variety of picturesque architectural subjects. … Its history has been written by Browne Willis who never saw the place till his book was published. His information however was procured by a resident Bishop. The records have been unfortunately lost not even a correct list of the Bishops exists at St Davids and a part only of the statues of the church.
Few churches, considering the very early [sic – date] of its foundation and its great celebratory would furnish
p. 43
interesting records and historical anecdotes but the materials are lost, and this once celebrated Sanctuary remains unfrequented and unknown.
In the churchyard lies Miss Lucy Bland sister to our celebrated comic actress Mrs Jordan.
The entrance to the close is through an Octagonal gateway.
The village consists of a few straggling wretched houses and one long wide irregular street commanding a distant view of the sea. In this street is situated the inn (Black Lion) if it deserves that appellation, for it is by far the worst I ever met with. I was very unwell … yet resolved to put up with the accommodations, homely and bad as they appeared. I was soon however relieved from my anxiety by the kind invitation of Canon Holkham [Holcombe] who insisted on my lodging in his house. …
During my stay here I rode to the most western part of the island, called St Davids head, the ultima thule of Wales. [a metaphorical meaning of any distant place located beyond the borders of the known world.]
Colt Hoare, Richard, Tour of South Wales, Cardiff Public Library, MS 3.127.3 (quarto)
Thompson, M.W., The Journeys of Sir Richard Colt Hoare through England and Wales, 1793-1810, (1983) pp. 45-48 [incomplete transcription]
Colt Hoare, Richard, Tour of South Wales, NLW 16489, ff. 173-174 is the same as the above without the description of the buildings which he included in a copy of his 1802 tour on f. 145v.

1793

A version of Colt Hoare’s ms. The edges were burned, hence the [missing] words
f. 10v
Tuesday [sic Thursday] 13th June
I left Fishguard and proceeded on my pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint David – the road becomes somewhat better – but the country is more open and dreary.
{Giraldus’s melancholy description of the landscape is true. ‘[translated as: If I objected to anything in this description it would be the epithet infecunda for the land hen properly tilled is very productive; its barley is particularly celebrated. Sea sand [?weed] is frequently here used as a manure.}
Nothing can be more dreary than aspect of the country about St David’s not a hedge can be reared and scarcely a tree owing to the high prevailing high winds. Much, however might be accomplished by Human labour and industry towards covering the bad character it has so long born for the soil is by no means infecunda by nature but only rendered so from ant of cultivation.
But however humiliated and neglected this once celebrated sanctuary may now appear in the eyes of the modern tourist ?a recollection of its former history and splendour must still claim his attention and render a visit to Menevia highly interesting.
This church as originally founded by saint David whose bones are deposited under its roof and till the year [missing] was the Metropolitan church of Wales; [missing] afterward became subject to the see of Canterbury. The shrine of this saint was frequented by numerous crowds of pilgrims and even Kings came penitent and bare-footed to pay their devotions to it. The value of the relicts and offerings daily received was so great that the weighed, and [missing] amongst the monks every week [missing] it became to British Loretto.
The assemblage of ecclesiastical buildings which at one point of view present themselves to the eye, as you enter through [missing]dge into the church yard, is very [missing] in its effect and however we [missing] set the bad taste of modern [missing] in the [blank] front and the still [missing] intrusion of the school house
f. 11r
we shall find much to admire and to occupy our attention both within and without the walls of the sacred enclosure. This stately group of buildings consists of the cathedral, – St Mary’s chapel or the college and the episcopal Palace. The former consists of Norman and Gothic architecture, the latter of which no prevails in the extension part of the building but the front as formerly of the former style and now presents a miserable compilation of modern architecture. But within the walls we find a beautiful assemblage of ?de cora noe architecture and many interesting particularities in the rood loft, st David’s shrine etc. nor must we pass over in silence the elegant chapel built by Bishop Vaughan, and in which he lies buried. Amongst the most remarkable monuments are those of Bishops Morgan, Goer, Anslem – Iorwerth, Houghton and Martin – of Rhys ap Tudor prince of Wales and his sons and the Duke of Richmond father to King Henry the seventh.  Besides the above are many others defaced and unknown, one of these in the south aisle is pointed out as the effigy and tomb of Giraldus  de Barri – It is reported that [missing] of these tombs, particularly that of the Duke of Richmond ere opened an plundered by Oliver Cromwell and his followers.
The construction of the college is attributed to Bishop Houghton and that of the palace to Bishop Gower who was the last great improver and restorer of the church. The epoch at which St Davids may be said to have experienced its downfall was the reformation hen the offerings to the holy shrine, the relicts, indulgences etc. came into dispute. A tower is here shown as the birth place of St Patrick – though other countries claim the honour – Erasmus certainly quotes him as a Welshman by birth
Thus much for St Davids and its buildings which to every lover of antiquities proves highly gratifying and affords the artist a variety of picturesque subjects. It is much to be regretted that a more ?correct history of this celebrated sanctuary has not been compiled for I have heard that Browne Willis the author of the history of it collected his information [missing]
f. 11v
more than from personal investigation.
In the churchyard lies buried Miss Lucy Bland sister to our much admired comic actress Mrs Jordan. The entrance to the close is through a fine Octagonal gateway. The town, or rather village consists of a few straggling houses and one long and wide irregular street commanding a distant view of the sea.
In this street is the only house of accommodation for the traveller and a miserable prospect it afforded; but the call of friendship and hospitality soon relieved me from my distress and summoned me to the house of the residentiary Canon Holkham ( ) [sic]…
I rode to the most westerly part of the island called St Davids head, the Ultima Thule of Cambria …
Colt Hoare, Richard, Tour of South Wales, Cardiff Public Library, MS 4.302.2 (folio)

1793

Another copy of Colt Hoare’s original with slightly different phrasing. This is in a (mostly) neat hand with some corrections and additions.
Met Richard Fenton
13.6.1793 (Thursday)
St David’s
p. 16
Giraldus gives a melancholy account of this part of Wales {quotation in Latin}
{This is generally true to this day}
{Dreary road to St David’s due to lack of trees. St David’s deserves more notice than has generally been paid to it by English Travellers.}
p. 17
{History of the Cathedral}
The Church as well as all the adjoining buildings are ???? in a state of absolute ruin or decay. The Cathedral is still used for divine service both in English and Welch – though there are so many settlements in it owing to the bad ground on which it is built that its existence is in a precarious state. There is a very great one in the arch supporting the steeple. The architecture is a mixture of Gothic and Norman. The arches are finely proportioned and many of the ornaments very elegant – though not so light and airy as those at Llanthony Abbey. The pavement is sadly disfigured by the custom generally adopted through many parts of Wales of digging graves within the church by which its level is raised and rendered very uneven. …
The monuments which it contains are these –
Bishop Morgan
Bishop Gower
Bishop Anslem
Bishop Iorwerth
Bishop Houghton
Bishop Martin
Bird, the stone cutter
Silvester the physician
Treasurer Lloyd
Owen ap Tudor
Rhees ap Tudor his brother
Duke of Richmond Father to King Henry VII
St David
These are besides many others defaced and unknown
I was also shown one supposed to be that of my travelling companion Giraldus Cambrensis – There is a doubt about those of the Tudors. There are several of the Knights Templars with their legs crossed. Behind the tomb of St David are the Holes here the pilgrims placed their offerings.
Many of these tombs, particularly that of the Duke of Richmond were opened and plundered by Oliver Cromwell.
Bishop Gower was the last great improver and restorer of the church and adjoining buildings. There is a beautiful chapel built by Bishop Vaughan called by his name and in which he is buried.
Above £2,000 have lately been expended in repairing the West End of the church and I wish I could add that they had been expended with judgement and good taste instead of the beautiful window of Norman Architecture which was universally admired another composed of heavy compilation if Gothic and Norman
p. 18
ornaments is substituted in its place and at every point of view hurts the eye and makes you regret the loss of the former antique window. The eastern front remains in its old situation. The college adjoining the cathedral, built by John of Gaunt is a beautiful elegant ruin. The Bishops palace from its magnitude is still more magnificent. The range of open Gothic Arches run along the parapets. The use of these is evident from one part remaining entire. This castle served as a fortification as well as an Episcopal residence and this range of arches was evidently made se of to strengthen the battlements over them.
King John’s hall and the Royal chapel adjoin in a still ???? ???? – over the entrance to the former are the ?statues of himself and his queen. Near it is the Bishops hall and a ??? ??? half octagon arch ?one of these forms the entrance to it. There was a curious chimney in a room adjoining – but no fallen down. This noble building owes its ruin to Bishop Barlow who lived in Queen Elizabeth’s time and procured leave to strip the lead from off the roof of this palace with the amount of which it is said he portioned five daughters to as many Bishops. It is said that he alienated also another Episcopal Palace at Lamphey which became the possession of the Favourite Earl of Essex and to which he retired after his disgrace.
But the Epoch of the fall of St David’s was the reformation when the offerings to the Holy shrine of the Relicts came into dispute. A tower is shown at St David’s said to have been the birth place of St Patrick – though other countries dispute for that honour – Erasmus certainly quotes him as a Welshman by birth – Thus much for St Davids and its church which to a lover of antiquities is highly gratifying, and affords to the painter a variety of picturesque beauties and the Richest specimens of Norman Architecture. I could have wished that its situation had been more advantageous it is built in a ?flat and surrounded by so many stone walls, modern buildings etc. etc. that it requires no short time to discover what points of view are the most favourable. Its history has been written by Browne Willis – but very incorrectly as he never saw the place till his book was published – the records have been unfortunately lost not even a list of the Bishops exists at St Davids and part only of the statues of the church – New churches, from the early era of its foundation and its great celebratory would furnish more interesting records of ?anecdotes for history, but the materials are lost and St David remains unfrequented and unknown. In the churchyard lies Miss Lucy Bland sister to our celebrated comedian Mrs Jordan. NB the entrance to the city is through an Octagon gateway which has a fine appearance.
The modern village of St Davids consists of some straggling low houses and one long street opening to distant views of the sea. In this is situated the inn if it deserves that appellation, for it is by far the worst I have yet met with. During my tour I was very far from well … yet resolved to put up with the accommodations which the Black Lion afforded. I was soon however relieved from my anxiety by the kind invitation of Canon Holcombe who insisted on my lodging in his house.
{St David’s Head}
Colt Hoare, Richard, Tour of South Wales, Cardiff Public Library, ms 4.302.6 (folio)

1793

The cathedral is in a very ruinous state and I should conceive will soon come down as the north side of the principal aisle inclines and I understood the foundation is bad, the town has the poorest and most miserable appearance I ever beheld indeed I think it scarce worthwhile going to see at so much trouble a church that exhibits no singular marks of particular architectural merit, the roof, nevertheless claims attention, is of Irish oak and carved in a singular manner, the Bishop’s palace is a complete ruin and has been so for better than 200 years as also a large hall built, as is said, for the reception of King John. … As the inn at St Davids is merely an ale house, accommodations there would be bad, but they told me that they could procure excellent beds at an adjoining house ?where there is great civility shewed to strangers by one of the canons Mr Holecolm, [Holcombe] who upon hearing we were there sent immediately to invite us to dinner but we had already got our bad fare.
Cooke, Bryan, Journal of a Tour to south Wales, NLW MS 24143, f. 14

14.8.1794

St David’s – a wretched city
{Cobwebs never seen on the roof of St David’s cathedral}
Anon, Journal of Tours in the Midland and Western Counties of England and Wales in 1794, and in Devonshire in 1803, BL add ms. 30172, f. 6v
The reference to cobwebs may have come from Wyndham (1774) above.

1795

St. David’s {location, names, history}
Thus it appears to have been once a city of good account, and to have had a castle and walls, which, though both long since destroyed, and the place so reduced, as to have no market; yet it still continues the see of a bishop, whose palace, indeed, is said to be much out of repair, and the town quite decayed, and almost deserted, by reason of its barren and unhealthy situation, in a land, says Giraldus, neither clad with trees, nor watered with rivers, nor adorned with meadows, but continually exposed to the winds and storms. Therefore it has little worthy of notice, besides its cathedral built in the reign of king John, and dedicated to St. Andrew and David, which is a venerable old building, and the west-end is in good repair; but the east-end has suffered much from time and neglect, the roof being quite fallen in. It was very high, the height of the middle aisle to the vaulting being fifty-four feet, and that of the tower in the middle, wherein hang but three bells (the four biggest having been stole out of it) 127 feet. The length of the whole fabric from east to west, including the walls, is 300 feet, whereof it is 124 from the west door to the entrance into the choir. The length from the choir door to the altar is 8o feet. The breadth of the body of the side aisles is 72 feet, and of the west front 76 feet, and the length of the great cross aisle from north to south is 136.
Boswell, Henry, The Antiquities of England and Wales Displayed: Being a Grand Repository of Elegance, Taste, and Entertainment … Comprising everything of Importance in the works of Leland, Maitland, Gibson, Dugdale, Buck, Speed, Pennant etc., and Captain Grose.

1796

Both Lady and Sir Christopher Sykes wrote an almost identical account of their tour of Wales, and although Lady Sykes’s version is longer it is thought that she copied and embellished her husband’s script. They were shown round by a sub-dean called Prichard.
The City of St David’s is now no better than a miserable village, with no entertainment for man or horse, but what a mere pot ale house suited to such a village affords but bad as was our Hotel, the Cathedral and the remnants of its two palaces are worth being sometime in purgatory to see and Sir C [her husband] said had he been alone, a bed or no bed, he would have made a longer stay. The town is situated above the cathedral, to which you descend through a strong gateway, The West, North, and South great Nave and side aisles are of the finest and most ancient Saxon architecture I should think as old as Edward the Confessor; The arches vast semicircles with one grand scroll of Zig Zag work, large and bold and the smaller arches for the upper windows of the same style; one arch, under the tower, to separate the East and West end of the church is unfortunately walled up; it is remarkable, that there is an ascent in the floor of the church, from the west or Bishops door as it is called (being never opened except when he is there) to the Altar; from this west door to the screen under the Tower Arch, above named, each pair of column shafts are shorter than their western neighbours, for the plinths of them all are of the same height, from the screen to the altar, the ascent is by several small flights of steps; here is a small neat quire with the Archbishops throne, and a seat on each side for his attendants. Within the altar rails are remains of the glazed tiles, so commonly used about four hundred years ago with arms and inscriptions, but I did not see a date to any of them, they told us they were blazoned with the arms of the most ancient families in Britain, but it would have been a work of time, to have deciphered them, being laid in no order. There have been three high narrow windows , now walled up, behind the altar in which it was common formerly  to have coloured glass in various figures, and behind these windows, in Bishop Vaughan’s chapel, large lamps were placed so as to be moved, sometimes illuminating one figure and sometimes another which caused almost a moving picture and were seen only by the multitude at a distance, never nearer than the screen, the old priest making them believe it was enlightened by rays from Heaven.  This part of the choir was called the sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, being sacred to the Priests. Behind this chapel built by Bishop Vaughan, was the Ladies chapel, the wall between them was the confessional oratory, the priests being in our Ladies chapel, and the Penitents in Bishop Vaughan’s; in this wall eighteen inches thick, are now remaining the diagonal apertures, one on each side, about two inches wide, and fourteen inches high, through which the Penitents confessed their sins; there are also two other larger apertures, through which they made their peace offerings. In this confessional chapel are seven figures of mournful and hideous countenances, which may be supposed to represent the sorrow and horror a penitent should entertain for the sins he has committed. When the Tyrant, Henry 8th destroyed the power of the pope, he did not at once destroy the power of the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Religion, for he made it death to hold that auricular confession was unnecessary or private Masses improper, nor did he abolish all the ceremonies of that religion, but as he adopted the reformed religion from convenience, from Pique, and the gratification of his Lust, he was indifferent as to what ceremonies were retained, or abolished, which accounts for those remains of the Popish ceremonies being found in some of our old cathedrals and churches, as here and at Malvern, It is said that he had some little veneration for this cathedral, as it contained the bones of his Grandfather, and on that account would not suffer the Bishoprick to be  removed from St Davids to Carmarthen, as was once proposed, as being nearer the centre of the See;
But its then bishop then expostulated with him upon it, and told him, he hoped he would not degrade the See or his grandfather’s remains by separating them, to which he replied, “it may rust here”
In the quire is the tomb of St David, and there is an aperture from the aisle into the tomb, through which all the rich offerings were made to the shrine of St David; and in the opposite aisle, but against the before named Ladies chapel has been a closet, about two feet square, with a strong iron door to it, in which is supposed to have been kept the host. In the quire are also the Tombs of Owen Tewdyr [Tudor] and Rhys, who was the son of this Tudor, and one of the Princess of South Wales who had been defeated by Traham, and took sanctuary at this place, and hearing of Gruffud’s arrival, he went with all the clergy to meet him, and falling on his knees implored his help against his adversaries, promising to do him Homage, and to reward him with a moiety of his revenues; Gruffydd pitying him his condition yielded to his request, and having overthrown their common enemy, Rhys was put again into the quiet possession of South Wales; here also are the tombs of Edward Earl of Richmond, father to Henry 7th and several Bishops; and in the side aisle, now unroofed, which run beyond the quire past the Ladies chapel are many more, and a knight templar, and many fragments of figures from the ruins of other monuments; the roof of the west nave is said to be of Irish oak, it is very curiously constructed, a little of that kind called the dropping roof; The present Bishop (Stuart) and chapter have rebuilt, or repaired the West end, and have very laudably preserved the precise style of the cathedral; the tower is lofty , and plane [sic] and very ancient, but I guess not so old as the west end; the quire comes next in antiquity to the tower, and the rest is of a much later date. The confessional or Bishop Vaughan’s chapel, built in the beginning of Henry the 8th reign is a beautiful piece of Gothic work. The columns are very odd, being built of red and white stones laid in alternate order from bottom to top. The whole cathedral is ill paved, being chiefly laid with fragments of tomb stones, but otherways I saw nothing improper as to the graves, as some modern authors have mentioned. Service is performed here twice every day, in English in the morning, and Welsh in the afternoon, no human being attending but the readers and choristers. Four canons constantly reside and read their week each, and one Prebend or residentiary, which is very different from poor Llandaff.
Adjoining to the cathedral have been the cloisters and a fine room, perhaps a library, or grand hall; these are on the north. To the west stand a vast pile of ruins said to be of two palaces, one for the archbishop and the other for King John; in the latter iss a hall 28 yards 9 ½ as Sir C. strided it. In the other is also a very large room, and several small ones, the whole is even yet vaulted under; the roof is gone though there is a very curious parapet remaining on many of the walls, it stands on small pillars between which, the slating of the roof  has been continued to carry off the water and upon those pillars were arches, and above the arches a low wall, supposed in this exposed stormy country to be intended to prevent the slates, or lead, or whatever it was covered with, from being blown off.
{Story of King John and the Jews.}
The ruins of other buildings, and of the walls are scattered all around; ssome of the vaults are supposed to have been appropriated to the lodgings of the numerous pilgrims, who were devotees to St Davids shrine.
A sub-dean of eighty five years of age, named Prichard, had the kindness to attend us. We can never forget his kind attention to strangers. He had just finished the morning service, and though very unequal to the Duty, he said the reading in that cathedral was the greatest comfort he had on God’s Earth.
With the assistance of Sir C’s arm he led us through the cathedral and all over the ruins to his house and introduced us to his daughter, Mrs James who along with her husband lived with him. Mr James is a clergyman and has a school at St David’s. This hospitable and venerable man offered us wine and said he was as sorry as the man who killed his Greyhound, that he could not accommodate us, and pointing to the arms over the door, related the story of how a man killed his hound which had saved his child from a wolf symbols of which were on the coat of arms over the door of the sub-dean.} More on the story of the hound which is like that of Gellert
Lady Sykes, University of Hull, DDSY(3)/10/11 (Typed transcript) pp. 178-186
Sykes, Christopher, Sir (1749-1801) (of Sledmere, Yorkshire, M.P. for Beverly, 1784-1790), Journal of a Tour in Wales, 1796, NLW MS 2258C (Typescript copy of his tour of Wales), pp. 38-41 and another copy NLW Misc vols 38.

1796

St David’s – ‘a few miserable hovels and an inn or rather a wretched ale house.’ [but a paragraph below suggests that they didn’t visit St David’s]
J. B. jnr and W. W. is in A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796 , NLW MS 23253 C, p. 37

1790s ?

This ms. which appear to be a draft for publication, has been ascribed to Sir Richard Colt Hoare but there is no firm evidence for this and the following section on St David’s is unlike his other work. It contains additions in a slightly different hand and footnotes on the opposite page.
[f. 496]
City of St David’s, Section XXIV, Cardigan, Aberystwyth and Machynlleth
{History of St David}
f. 497
The nave of the present Cathedral as erected in the reign of King John, by Peter, then Bishop, in the vale of Rhos, and consecrated to St Andrew and St David. Bishop Vaughan’s chapel was built in Henry the Eight’s time, and has an elegant arched stone roof. Near the choir is a raised tomb of Edmund, Early of Richmond, father to Henry the seventh and not far distant the monument of Owen Tudor <it was the former of these tombs that saved the church from the general wreck of sacred edifices in the time of Henry the Eighth.> The palace built in the reign of Edward the third is in ruins. The apartments were large, and the Gothic parapet which is still perfect stands upon open arches in the manner of that at Swansea.
Here are the houses of the Chauter, the Chancellor, Treasurer, Four arch deacons, and twenty two Canons. The Diocese contains the counties of Pembroke, Cardigan, Caermarthen, Brecknock and Radnor with some parts of Monmouth, Hereford, Glamorgan and Montgomery, in which are 308 parishes 120 of which are Impropriations.
The Choral service is regularly attended twice a day,
[f. 498]
but the congregation is seldom numerous. In the city is a good free school, respectably established.
In favour of its streets and buildings very little can be advanced. The church within is rather in a disorderly state. Part of it is without pavement; and the graves dug and filled in as in an open burial ground.
{St Patrick born here}
{Y Maen sigl}
[f. 499]
St David’s Head
[f. 505]
Smalls Lighthouse
[f. 506]
Bishops and Clerks
[f. 507]
Grassholm and Skomer
[f. 509]
Ramsay Island
[f. 510]
St Brides Bay
NLW MS 16989C (NLW Llangibby Castle Mss A 31), Section 19. XXV, ff. 488 – 510 [most of the above pages are not numbered]

23.7.1798

Much of Clutterbuck’s account came from Richard Gough’s edition of Camden’ Britannia (1789) whom he acknowledged:
The city of St David’s if it can be called one is inferior to any town in Wales having but few houses and but one small inn with bad accommodation, bad beds, the bed for instance in which I had the misfortune to be laid being not only damp but so stocked with fleas that to sleep was impossible.
p. 123
The cathedral is well worthy of observation built in the Saxon style of architecture of hitch
The pillars are very fine specimen particularly the s???? at the east end.
The Cathedral, and dilapidated ruins of the episcopal Palace, are situated at the
bottom of a steep hill, and scarcely visible in the town: these, and the prebendal
houses, were formerly enclosed by a strong stone wall, with four gates, computed at
eleven hundred yards in circuit…. The Cathedral having been demolished; the
present was built, according to Giraldus, in the reign of King Henry II.; or, as Willis,

  1. 1110. It is an handsome pile, with two transepts, its length, from east to west, 300 feet; and the body with the aisles, 76 feet broad, behind the choir and Lady chapel, In the last, whose roof, as well as those of the aisles of the choir and transepts, have been down ever since the civil war, are monuments of three bishops, and in the nave, &c. four or five more. In the N wall is the shrine of St. David with a canopy of four pointed arches, and in front four quatrefoil holes, into which the votaries put their offerings, which were taken out by the monks at two iron doors behind. In the choir are also the monuments of Owen Tudor, second husband of Queen Catharine, Rhys ap Tudor, Bishops Jorwerth and Anselm, in the thirteenth century, and Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father of King Henry 7th. Giraldus Cambrensis was buried here 1213.

On the north side of the church are some walls of St. Mary’s College, founded by Bishop Houghton, and John of Gaunt, in 1365, valued at £106 per annum.
[Marginal note:] Camden’ Britannia, Edward Gough, 1789
Clutterbuck, Robert, A Tour thro’ North and South Wales, with an Excursion to Dublin, from Holyhead, in the Year 1798, Cardiff Central Library, MS. 3.276, vol. 2, pp. 122-125

1798 Published

The deserted city of St David’s. … a scanty shew of habitations, more like huts than cottages, were thinly interspersed; and the city itself, when we approached it, bore the aspect of an insignificant village situated on a small eminence near that projecting head-land which terminates in the pile of rocks called St. David’s head. In a deep hollow beneath the town, sheltered from those winds which ravage this stormy coast, we found a few good houses appropriated to the ecclesiastical establishment, in the midst of which the cathedral appeared rising in renovated magnificence, like a phoenix amidst the splendid ashes of the ruined grandeur of St. David’s. This church is far superior to that of Llandaffe in its preservation, and has received ample justice from the attention and expence bestowed on it by its modern proprietors, the whole being in good repair, and the west front having lately been rebuilt in a taste perfectly corresponding with the rest of the structure. Its tower is finely carved in fret-work, and, like many of our English cathedrals, the Gothic ornaments of the choir contrast the Saxon pillars and arches of the great aisle, which are themselves curiously worked in wreaths. A ceiling of Irish oak also is much to be admired, together with a very perfect Mosaic pavement. Bishop Vaughan’s chapel lies behind the choir, where we were much struck with a highly wrought stone ceiling, similar to the finest specimens of Henry VII’s reign, with which all the surrounding ornaments of the building correspond. St. Mary’s chapel must have been still more elegant, from the curious remains of pillars and arches with which its space is strewed; various also and extraordinary are the devices in sculpture to be found there, including the heads of the seven sisters who were said to have contributed to the building. The chapter-house also has a fine coved ceiling, and St. Mary’s hall, now in ruins, exhibits the remains of much ancient grandeur. From the cathedral and these adjacent buildings, we visited the ruins of the bishop’s palace, which must formerly have been a magnificent, and even a princely structure. Two parts of its quadrangle are yet nearly entire, and these are crowned with a light Gothic parapet, similar to those at Swansea castle and Llamphey court. The arch by which we entered the king’s hall is singularly fine, with the statues of king John and his queen over it; the hall itself is a grand room, 88 feet in length by 30, and at its eastern end is a curious circular window, like a wheel, with a rim, spokes, and centre, wrought in the finest Gothic, and still quite entire. This room was built after the rest of the palace, for the reception of king John and queen Mary on their return from Ireland, being much larger than the bishop’s hall, which is notwithstanding a fine building. The chapel contains the remains of a font, with some pieces of sculpture, and the kitchen is nearly entire, with four chimneys and four arches, supported by a solid pillar in the middle.
After devoting several hours to these fine remnants of antiquity, we ascended to the poor street which bears the title of a city, and found very moderate accommodation at the house dignified with the name of an inn.
Saint David’s, said to have been a Roman station, was the seat of the primacy of Wales, transferred here from Caerleon by St. David in the sixth century. Its modern ecclesiastical establishment is highly respectable, consisting of the bishop, six canon residentiaries, four archdeacons, and several minor canons. The modern residence of the bishop, these splendid ruins being no longer habitable, has been transferred to Aberguilly near Caermarthen, a central part of his diocese, in a pleasant country. One of the canons is generally resident at St. David’s in rotation, where a handsome house is appropriated for his habitation, and the rest of the institution appear to be well lodged. Much praise is due to the establishment for the excellent repair in which the cathedral and those buildings which are still in use, are preserved; and the service of the church in this remote corner of the kingdom, where there are few to witness it, is conducted with a degree of decorum and attention which would put some of our proudest choirs in England to the blush.
Nothing, except the similar extremity of the Land’s end in Cornwall, can be imagined more dreary and desolate than the aspect of this country;
p. 160
St David’s ‘miserable place, dismal and dreary tract’
Skrine, Henry, Two successive tours throughout the whole of Wales, so as to form a comprehensive view of the picturesque beauty, the peculiar manners, and the fine remains of antiquity, in that interesting part of the British island. (1798), pp. 87-92, 160

1798 Published

The saunter from hence to the City of ST. DAVIDS, now properly deserving the name of a Village, was rather more captivating than our walk before breakfast: it was occasionally enlivened by the prospect of the wide ocean, boundless to our view on one side, whilst before us the fantastic shapes of the rocks off St. David’s Head, exhibited Nature, in her most awful and striking attitudes.
The Cathedral, and dilapidated ruins of the episcopal Palace, are situated at the bottom of a steep hill, and scarcely visible in the town: these, and the prebendal houses, were formerly enclosed by a strong stone wall, with four gates, computed at eleven hundred yards in circuit. David, the national saint of Wales, with the consent of King Arthur, is said to have removed the metropolitan see from Caerleon to Menevia, which has ever since been called Ty Dewi by the Welsh, and St. David by the English. What was the condition and extent of this town formerly, it is difficult to say, having been so frequently destroyed. At present it is a very small city, and has nothing to boast but its ruined palace, and old cathedral, dedicated to St. Andrew and St. David, which has often been demolished; but rebuilt, in its present form, by Bishop Peter, according to Giraldus, in the reign of King Henry II.; or, as Willis, in the year 1110, in Rhos Vale, below the town. It is still esteemed a noble pile, consisting of two transepts, measuring in length, from east to west, three hundred feet; and the body with the aisles, seventy-six feet broad.
Behind the choir is a most beautiful chapel, with a rich roof of carved stone, built by Vaughan, in the time of King Henry VIII., as a kind of presbytery, between the
choir and Lady Chapel. In the last, whose roof, as well as those of the aisles of the choir and transepts, have been down ever since the civil war, are monuments of three bishops, and in the nave, &c. four or five more. In the north wall of the choir is the shrine of St. David; a kind of altar tomb, with a canopy of four pointed arches, and in front four quatrefoil holes, into which the votaries put their offerings, which were taken out by the monks at two iron doors behind. In the choir are also the monuments of Owen Tudor, second husband of Queen Catharine, Rhys ap Tudor, Bishops Jorwerth and Anselm, in the thirteenth century, and Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father of King Henry VII. This last monument is said to have prevented King Henry VIII. from removing the see to Caermarthen. Giraldus Cambrensis, who was archdeacon of Brecon, canon of Hereford, and rector of Chesterton, Oxford, was buried here in 1213. On the north side of the church are some walls of St. Mary’s College, founded by Bishop Houghton, and John of Gaunt, in 1365, valued at one hundred and six pounds per annum. [quoted from Richard Gough’s edition of Camden’ Britannia.]
It is much to be regretted, that so little regard has been paid to the internal appearance of this noble pile; the whole of it has lately been white-washed, which gives it too much the air of a modern building: the external part, I am sorry to add, has been equally neglected; and the chapels and monuments exposed to the wanton mischief of boys and idle people.
The West front of the Cathedral has very lately been repaired by a Mr. Nash, who has endeavoured, with bad success, to imitate the beautiful circular window remaining in the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace. [This paragraph was excluded from the 1828 edition]
The stone, likewise, with which it is built, is of so soft a substance, that it even moulders with the touch of the finger; but possibly it may, by being exposed to the air, like the Bath stone, become more solid; and, when by time it shall have acquired a darker hue, may then better correspond with the original building.
The Bishop’s Palace now stands a monument of desolation; – and as we walked over the loose fragments of stone, which are scattered through the immense area of the fabric, the images of former times rose to reflection when the spacious hall stood proudly in its original splendor; when the long aisles of the chapel were only responsive to the solemn, slow-breathed chant. In this palace is a very long room, purposely erected for the reception of King John: at the extremity of it is a circular window, of very elegant and curious workmanship.
{History – reference to Godwin and Mr Rees}
The walk to St. David’s Head, though barren, represents a view striking and awful; sublimity gives place to elegance: yet what is it to view?  – a boundless waste of ocean; – not a glimpse of smiling nature, – not a patch of vegetation, to relieve the aching sight, or vary the objects of admiration. The rocks on this shore are shaken into every possible shape of horror; and, in many parts, resemble the convulsions of an earthquake, splintered, shivered, and amassed. On these rocks stood the famous rocking stone, or Ymean sigl; which, “though twenty yoke of oxen could not move it, might be shaken with the slightest touch.” We understood it was thrown off its balance, by order of the farmer, to prevent the curious from trampling on his grounds. “A mile strait west from St. David’s, betwixt Portclais and Porthmaur,” is the shell of Capel Stinen, St. Stinan’s or St. Justinian’s chapel.
Anon, The Cambrian directory, or, cursory sketches of the Welsh territories, (Salisbury, 1800), pp. 50-53
This is not a guide book, but an account of a tour of Wales by two anonymous men in 1798 but it was published in several editions up to 1851 under different titles such as The Cambrian Tourist; Or, Post-chaise Companion Through Wales … (6th edition, 1828), pp. 83-88; (8th edition, 1834), pp. 89-95

1801 Published

Concerning the town of St David’s, in its present state, it will not allow of that commendation which could be wished might be bestowed: it evidently has been a place of considerable size; had two weekly markets, on Mondays and Thursdays ; four fixed fairs, on Saint David’s day, the day before Christmas Eve, the day before Whitsuntide, and Friday before Easter; and was governed by a mayor, chosen annually. It had five streets; the principal one is High-street, where there is still a stone pillar or cross, with a flight of steps up its base: its situation commands a fine view of Saint George’s Channel. Formerly near the cross stood the market-house, but no vestige of it remains. The other streets were, Saint Nunn’s-street, New-street, Shipstreet, and Pit-street.
Manby, G.W., History and Antiquities of St David, (1801), p. 77 (Based on Browne Willis’s survey of 1716)
Jones and Freeman were not impressed with this work:
The other account of St. David’s is the work of an author whose rests, happily for himself, less upon his literary merits, than upon a useful and humane invention. We speak of The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Saint David, South Wales, by the late Captain G. W. Manby, R.N., which was published in the year 1801. The book is not without value; but its value consists partly in rendering accessible to the general reader a large part of the scarce work of Browne Willis, which it copies verbatim and without acknowledgment, and partly in showing what absurdities may be written upon any subject by an author who is profoundly ignorant of it.
Jones, William Basil, and Freeman, Edward Augustus, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St David’s, South Wales, (1856), p. vii-viii.

1802

This ms. by Colt Hoare is thought to have been written during his tour.
Much of the text is also in ms. 4.302.1 but this copy has additional information (in italics) both in the main text and in notes on the verso pages.
There is a plan of the cathedral on p. 139v and some small sketches, mostly of arches, inserted into the main text.
f. 134
I pursued my route to St. David’s on horseback through {Camrose, Newgale, past Roch} and continued my road to St David’s through a most dreary and rugged country. The description of it given by my friend Giraldus is true to this day {Quotes Giraldus in Latin.}
However unfavourable and accurate this description may be yet on many accounts, Saint Davids merit the attention of the traveller.
f. 135
Its ancient fame and character will render it interesting to the historian; its ruins and monuments will attract the notice of the artist and antiquarian.
{early history}
{History of the cathedral}
f. 138
Three distinct but adjoining building form this massive groupe of varied architecture: the Cathedral, the College and the Bishop’s Palace (the two latter of which are in ruin)
f. 139
and offer the most picturesque subject for the pencil.
On entering the close through a fine octagon gateway they unexpectedly burst upon the sight and the coup d’oeuil cannot fail to strike with surprise and admiration even the mot indifferent spectator. But how much more impressive would the view appear if the modern Chapter-house were removed or had never been erected. For it unfortunately interrupts the most essential part of the view, the bishop’s palace.
The exterior of this Cathedral (except a rich Saxon doorway to the north side) presents no fine specimens of architecture and is entirely Gothic with the above exception. The old west front was much admired for its Saxon workmanship but the modern one like the adjoining chapter house is beneath criticism; such an heterogenous mixture of Saxon, Gothic and castellated architecture I never before beheld. [note on opposite page:] The architect as Mr Nash, then a young man, now much improved in his art as an architect. [end of note]
[[ff139-149 of the following was not published in Thompson’s transcription.]]
f. 139v
Plan of the cathedral showing the numbered locations of the monuments and effigies. The numbers are not the same as Browne Willis’s (1717)
This and his numbers included with the relevant descriptions (below) are occasionally erroneous. It is not certain what the numbers without descriptions represent, but it is probable that they refer to empty niches and other small features.
1 Earl of Richmond            [central in choir]
2 Bishop Iorwerth              [between choir and altar, s. side]
2 [sic] a dignitary                [nave, s. side]
3 Bishop Anslem               [choir]
10 Treasurer Lloyd             [by altar, n. side]
11 Rhees ap Tudor            [near the altar, s. side]
12 Rhees y Gryg               [near the altar, n. side]
14 St Davids shrine            [between choir and altar, n. side]
21 Giraldus (doubt)            [south aisle, north side]
22 Sylvester medicum       [south aisle, south side]
29 Bishop Houghton          [St Marys chapel, n. side]
31 Bishop Martin               [St Marys chapel, s. side]
33 a dignitary                     [south aisle, s. side]
f. 140
The columns as well as the arches in the nave are Saxon beautifully proportioned and richly decorated (excepting the two nearest the west one of which on each side is Gothic on a Saxon Column each arch is decorated with a rich border and each one varies in its pattern. The large column are octagon [sic] and round alternate and to these are attached smaller Saxon columns. The upper story has a mixture of Gothic in its architecture – over each great arch are two smaller of the Saxon order and under each of these are two lesser arches of the pointed Gothic.
The Saxon ornaments round these upper windows vary but each side corresponds to the one opposite. [two sketches NB done from memory merely to explain the description.
Between each of these Saxon arches in the upper story was a single column – and again three clustered [sketch] alternate all with Saxon Capitals.
The front of the Rood loft which separates the choir from the nave is very irregular Gothic architecture.
f. 141
The right hand side viz. south is nearly filled up by Bishop Gower’s monument and chapel – nearer the entrance of the choir is a small niche surmounted by a trefoil arch. On the left side are three early Gothic arches supported on taper columns and projecting from the wall – above is a row of Gothic arches which runs along the whole front of the rood loft. A red stone has in general been made use of in this front. Under this rood loft are 3 recumbent effigies – two of which are rather uncertain – that of Bishop Gower is certain – and the 2 other by B. Willis have been given to Thomas Wallensis and Richard de Carew the 55th and 56th Bishops – but I question if on good grounds as neither of them are mitred.
[note on opposite page: B. Willis p. 104-105 supposes that the effigy on the south side adjoining that of Bishop Gower may have belonged to Richard de Carrew who died 1280. He was 56th Bishop of the see and was buried near the altar of the Holy Rood, he made anew St Davids shrine – the monument of the north side of the entrance to the choir has been adjudged to his predecessor Thomas Wallensis whom Leland calls Valence NB neither of these effigies are mitred.]
Passing up some steps you enter the choir which stands immediately under the tower of the church – supported by 4 fine arches – three of which are Gothic. The west is Saxon and filled up. The south Gothic and filled up. The East and North Gothic also are open
f. 141v
sketch of a Latin inscription on a double-curved arch. NB. The character of the above letters is not copied from the original the form only is preserved.
f. 142
– all spring from small Saxon columns. The organ which formerly stood under the west arch is now placed under the north.
Under the prebendal stalls are some curious fantastic devices carved in wood and the backs of them painted in chiaroscuro are good representations of the cavity of the seats. The Bishop’s seats [sic] are well carved in wood. In the area of the chancel stands the altar tomb of Edmund, Early of Richmond, father to King Henry 7th. It was originally decorated with his effigy in brass escutcheons of arms and a large inscription both in English and Latin none of which present remains but is preserved in B Willis’s account of the cathedral.
On the south side and on the ground are the recumbent effigies of Bishop Jorwerth and Anslem. The latter has an inscription round the Gothic trefoil which surrounds his head. [see sketch on opposite page.]
f. 143
On the north and south sides of the altar under recesses are the effigies of 2 knights in armour well carved in yellow freestone. That on the south side, no. 11 has been attributed to Rhees ap Tudor. He is represented recumbent in armour –with his vizor up booted and spurred, his head resting on his helmet [word deleted] ?carrys on his left side a sword suspended by a rich belt – a lion at his feet – his hands are off – and one foot – a lion rampant is engraven on his breast. Behind the effigy is some rich Gothic carve work in wood. On the opposite side is another recumbent effigy in freestone very similar by design and execution to the last – his head rests on a double cushion – his sword suspended by a rich belt – a lion at his feet – and another rampant on his breast with this difference that the ????? has a cross bar along his neck – This has by many visitors been erroneously attributed to Owen ap Tudor, who was of North Wales
f. 144
whereas the true person represented is Rhees ap Gryg – Rhees the hoarse son of Rhys ap Tudor – NB Owen ap Tudor (according to Leland) was buried at the ????? at Hereford.
Next to this monument is the celebrated shrine of the British saint (David). Above it are three Gothic niches the arches of which spring from keystones decorated ith human heads. It is reported that these niche formerly held the Images of saint David, saint Patrick and saint Denis. In the front of this shrine there are four [sketch of a quatrefoil] quatrefoil holes and behind it, in the wall of the north isle are two more of a circular form in which the offerings ere formerly deposited. Nearer the altar on the north side is the monument of Treasurer Lloyd with a Latin inscription; habited in his robes, holding a book in his left hand and raising his right up to his head which rests on a cushion – on the ???? are two smaller figures headless – This tomb is painted and in a mixture of Italian and Gothic architecture.  [note on opposite page: no 6 on Willis plan marks the tablet erected to the memory of Bird the Mason who executed Treasurer Lloyd’s monument.]
f. 145
The part of the choir under which the modern altar stands is formed of three long lancet windows (the middle one higher than the other two) and richly decorated with Saxon ornaments – there is also a rich frieze beneath of the same order. [small sketches]
[note on opposite page: The pavement before the altar present a variety of painted bricks ornamented with many different devices, arms, mottos etc the fleur de lys and rose are often repeated and one large circle composed of several bricks with Deo Gratias often repeated.]
On the right of the altar is a tablet to the memory of William Needham, chancellor 1727 aet ??? 73
The present choir now stands immediately under the steeple – which is decorated in the following manner – on the upper part of the west side is a row of blank gothic arches – on the north side four gothic arches open and the same on the south and east sides all on Saxon capitals – The north aisle is now roofless, and the monuments lay exposed to the severity of the weather.
On the north side it contains the effigies of a Knight Templar much mutilated and a monk with an animal at his feet under and ornamented niche [note on opposite page: wrongly placed in B Willis’s ichnography.]
On the south wall between Bishop Vaughan’s chapel and St Mary’s chapel an effigy
f. 146
much mutilated so well as the inscription a part of hich only remains.
orate pro aha Joh ….. nuper .. a
supposed to have been Archidiaconi – or Archi episcopi but probably not of so early a date as the latter. On the same side are two other Gothic recesses but vacant.
From this aisle we are led into the beautiful chapel built by Bishop Vaughan in 1509 – a chef d’oeuvre of the florid Gothic and in the most perfect preservation.
The royal arms and his own are finely executed in rich escutcheons and affixed to the ceiling. Here he was buried, and his effigy in brass placed on a tomb stone in the pavement of which even the impression is worn away but this elegant building ?are perentius remains in high beauty to perpetuate his name – and good taste.
The Lady’s Chapel built by Bishop Martin is also roofless – from many of the well carved keystones which are dispersed on the floor, we are enabled
f. 147
to judge of its good execution – on the right hand side lies the founder under a rich Gothic canopy – and beyond him, nearer the altar are the usual three Gothic stalls. On the opposite side lies Bishop Houghton.
[note on opposite page: The Welsh Cicerone never fails to show the traveller the device of three rabbits, whose heads are so placed as to make three ears appear like six.
We come now to the south aisle, where my friend Giraldus is said to be interred. The effigy of a dignitary no. 21 on the opposite side – has been attributed to him but I fear upon no very substantial grounds. Browne Willis in his account of the Bishops of St Davids gives no 20 in his plan to Giraldus – at present that monument does not exist – his no. 21 has always been shown for Giraldus’s tomb. On the opposite side of this isle, no 33 in B. Willis is the effigy of a dignitary (with ???? inscription much defaced) holding a book in his hand – why therefore should this not be the monument of our literary author – the sculpture here appeared to me to accord better with the very early period in which he lived than that generally ?joyned to him. This aisle is also roofless
The south side contains the effigy of a dignitary no 33 [;] Sylvester the Physician no. 22 and ?definitely in tolerable preservation – with escutcheons
f. 148
of arms on the base of the tomb no. 23
A vacant niche, no. 24 on the opposite side [note on opposite page: and further eastward a Gothic receptacle for the Holy water]. On the opposite side is only one effigy in tolerable preservation (viz. no. 21) usually attributed to Giraldus also a fragment of a knight Templar against the wall of Vaughan’s chapel.
The Vestry and Chanters Chapel on this side of the church contain nothing worthy of notice. On the opposite side – are two other buildings nearly corresponding with these – The Chapter House and St Andrew’s Chapel. The former contains nothing worthy of notice – and the latter not much
Two fine alabaster monuments mentioned as being here (B Willis p. 8) are now no more –
there is a part railed off said to have been a penitentiary, where the Penitents stood – and in this wall are some round holes, destined to let in the those who officiated in the choir on the other side.
Under this building is the effigy of a dignitary (omitted by B. Willis) and adjoining it a Gothic recess
In this chapel are many fragments found in different parts of the church and environs have been deposited, some of which deserve notice: there is one of saint Andrew bearing the cross on his breast another apparently representing
f. 149
two females holding out an infant to be received into the outreached arms of an old man.
This chapel has a very large Gothic window on the north – the other arches etc. are Gothic – the capitals Saxon. [note on opposite page: the western – called the Bishop’s door is now opening and is of a heterogenous style of architecture as the outside façade] The south door is Gothic, with rich Saxon decorations three small figures in niches over it – The rich carved ceiling of Irish oak has a most beautiful and striking effect when viewed from the rood loft.
[[end of section not transcribed by Thompson]]
I shall take my leave of the cathedral (having mentioned everything which has occurred to me worthy of notice), and take a short survey of the adjoining ruins which as I said before are more fertile in picturesque subjects than the building just described.
The college is situated on the north side of the cathedral, and very contiguous to it.
This was founded by Bishop Houghton 1388 and John Duke of Lancaster assisted it much by his benefactions – its architecture was Gothic and the shell of the chapel bespeaks its ancient magnificence – its architecture was Gothic and the shell of the chapel bespeaks its ancient magnificence
To the south west of this college stood the Bishop’s Palace erected by Bishop Gower 1347. The original form of it was a quadrangle
f. 150
two sides only of which now remain. [note on opposite page: The whole architecture of this Palace seems so uniform that it appears to have been erected about the same aera – To Bishop Gower this building has been generally attributed he was elected Bishop of the see 1328 and died in 1347. Who then could he have built a hall for King John who commenced his reign in 1199.]  The Bishops occupied the east apartments. The kitchen with its curious chimneys was perfect till very lately, but they are now fallen. The hall is said to have been 58 feet by 23. The south side was said to have been the Royal apartment and built to entertain King John and his Queen on their return from Ireland. [note on opposite page: at the end of this hall is a chapel with a gothic niche on the right of the window which points eastwards for the reception probably of holy water – towards the western end is a curious square tower with an octagonal roof.]
The hall is a magnificent apartment 88 feet by 30, and the circular east window has been often and very justly admired [sketch] – it still remains in good preservation. The entrance to this Hall is formed by a singular arch – over which were the statues of Royal personages now nearly annihilated. This building derives its greatest beauty from an open parapet which surrounds it – it has a very light appearance and answered a double purpose – for shooting the rain off the roof – and as a walk in which second light it might answer the defensive purpose of a battlement. The rock has evidently been cut away on the west side to admit of St Mary’s chapel. The most sheltered
f. 151
situation also which this exposed country would admit of a chosen for placing the Cathedral. [several words deleted] This structure will be rendered very interesting to the antiquarian by many particularities which it still retains, and such as are not to be met with in other cathedrals, many of which have lost their principal beauties owing to the modern and too prevailing system of ornament repair and innovation – amongst these may be reckoned the Penitentiary, the rood loft, and the shrine of the saint to which the church was dedicated. The antiquarian, however, will have reason to regret, that the numerous monuments, effigies etc. have been so barbarously mutilated, and robbed of their inscriptions, by which so great a field has been open to conjecture so little certainty left for modern ages to determine the right and ancient owners.
There are two small public houses, for they do not deserve the appellation of Inns, where the curious and not overnice
f. 152
traveller may procure a fugal meal and a decent bed (no wine or post horses). I again had the occasion to experience the hospitality of the resident archdeacon, Mr Williams, who kindly offered us board and lodging. But the independence of an inn, however homely, has to me charms which the stately mansion often fails affording.
{The archaeology of St David’s head}
Colt Hoare, Richard, Tour of Wales, Cardiff, ms. 3.127.2, ff. 134-152
Thompson, M.W., The Journeys of Sir Richard Colt Hoare through England and Wales, 1793-1810, (1983) pp. 223-225 which does not include the detailed description of the cathedral and tombs.
He seems to have got his measurements from Wyndham (1774) who gave the dimensions of ‘King John’s’ hall as 88 feet by 30 feet rather than from Gough’s Britannia, (1789), (90 by 30 ft).

1802

This is from the ms. copy of Colt Hoare’s Tour in South Wales, 1802, Cardiff Central Library ms. 4.302.1. It differs from the version published by M.W. Thompson (Cardiff, 3.127.2)
It has insertions and deletions, and the verso sides have footnotes and additional information relating to the opposite folio. (recorded below as [Note: … ]). These include references to Carter’s engravings some of which were published in 1806 and 1810 suggesting that this draft was prepared after the publication of his translation of Giraldus’s Itinerary (1806)
The effigies and monuments were allocated Arabic or Roman numerals (sometime retrospectively) in square brackets which presumably refer to a plan or list.
The ms was damaged in a fire causing the loss of some words along the edges.
The inclusion of footnotes suggests that it was a draft for publication but it is  much longer than the description Colt Hoare published in The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, A.D. 1188. By Giraldus de Barri; (1806), pp. 10, 22-31 which comprised 2100 words and does not include footnotes or numbers for the effigies: this version comprises nearly 3,000 words.
f. 68
2 July
We shall now rejoin the crusading party at Haverfordwest and continue our pilgrimage with them to the shrine of the Holy David at Menevia
{the route}
But however desolate and forbidding may be the first appearance of St Davids and however corresponding in all respects but in the epithet of infecunda with the description of it by Giraldus, Menevia will afford a copious fund of [information]
f. 69

From the year 577
History, Danes,
f. 69v
reference to Gross’s plates
reference to plate by Carter no. 6 and vol. 3 no. XI
f. 170
Bishop Vaughan the 82nd prelate who built a most beautiful chapel … This chapel presents a most beautiful example of the florid Gothic architecture.
{Episcopal Palace demolished by Barlow}
The fame of this celebrated sanctuary was so great that Princes came bare-footed to
the shrine… it was once the British Loretta.
Three distinct but adjoining building form this massive group of varied Gothic architecture – the Cathedral, the College and the Bishop’s Palace –
f. 171
the two last of which are in ruins and offer the most picturesque subject for the pencil.
On entering the close through a fine octagon gateway they unexpectedly burst upon the sight and the coup d’oeuil cannot fail to strike with surprise and admiration from even the most indifferent spectator who views them for the first time but how much more impressive would the sight be had the modern chapter house had never been erected for it unfortunately interrupts the most essential part of the view – the episcopal palace.
The exterior of this Cathedral if I except a rich Saxon portal on the north side presents no remarkable examples of pure architecture and is confined to the pointed style. In former times the old western front a much admired for its Saxon workmanship (a) ?hen quantium muta ???? ????? [Latin?]
Note (a): The only engraved record I have been able to meet with of this original part is in Grosse’s Antiquities of Wales but his plate is rather obscure and seems to imply a view of the college. The drawing certainly cannot boast of correctness as to perspective – the building on the left is certainly the college and that in front is intended for that part of the Cathedral which has been modernised. It presents a mixture of Norman and early Gothic Architecture. The upper story is composed of five narrow lancet windows – the second of three Norman windows which style also was the portal. [end of note]
with [sic] appears on a review of the miserable modern front the work of Mr Nash. [note aa:] Carter no. 6 has given a view of this fantastic front.
The interior of this cathedral is extremely interesting on many accounts independent of its Architecture. The columns as well as the arches of the nave are Saxon beautifully proportioned and richly decorated excepting the two nearest the west one of which on each side has a pointed arch springing from a Saxon Column the circle of each arch has a rich border and each one varies in its
pattern – the large pillars are octagonal and round alternately and to these are attached smaller columns of the same order. In the upper range we perceive a mixture of the pointed with the round. [several lines deleted] as well as an intermixture of Saxon and Norman decorations [note b: Carter no. 3 vol. XI This plate giving a section of the north side of the nave will give a perfect idea of the architecture.
f. 72
From the nave we now enter the choir under the rood loft a rich and splendid work of pointed Architecture [Carter no. 43] [the square brackets are in the original]. Its front is decorated with a variety of arches, and its summit ornamented with a rich Gothic cornice. The sides are filled up by tombs.
That on the right as you enter the choir is appropriated to Bishop Gower [several words deleted] and a mitred effigy is still existing (y2) though mutilated; under the same canopy is another effigy but not mitred (x2) On the north side is another effigy but not mitred (w2) [note: a beautiful view of this rood loft is given by Carter vol. 3, no. 46 and the three effigies beneath it are represented in no. 20 [end of note] Of these three effigies two are rather uncertain. Browne Willis has attributed them to Thomas Wallensis and Richard de Carrew the 55th and 56th bishops of the see and in another part of his work supposes that the effigy on the south side adjoining that of Gower may have belonged to Bishop Carrew who died in 1280 and as buried near the altar of the Holy Rood. But all this seems conjecture nor can we speak with any degree of confidence respecting these two figures which not being honoured (like the third) with the mitre we cannot in justice crown with episcopal honours.
Ascending some steps we now enter the choir [note (a) view of the choir looking east Carter no. 51] which stands immediately under the tower of the church which is supported by four noble arches, three of which are pointed: the forth towards the west is Saxon and haw been filled up; that to the south has undergone the same operation and the other two remain open. They all spring from small Saxon pillars
within the choir the pointed architecture prevails but the arches are decorated with Saxon ornaments. The eastern end presents at top a broad pointed window and beneath it three of the early narrow [sic] enriched with Saxon ornaments. Beneath them is a rich Saxon frieze. In the pavement before the altar are a variety of bricks and painted with devices, arms, mottoes and the ?rose is of [remainder of line damaged by fire].
f. 73
large arch with the motto Deo Gratias.
The Bishop’s throne is well carved in wood and beneath the prebendal stalls we find the usual fantastic subject. Let us no review the monuments contained within the choir: the first is an altar tomb placed in the centre recording the memory of the noble Lord Edmund, earl of Richmond, father to King Henry VIII. [note: (a) G. vol. 2, 24] It was originally distinguished by his effigy in brass escutcheons of arms and an inscription both in Latin and English none of which now remains  but has fortunately been preserved by Browne Willis ( ) [sic] in his account of this cathedral. Opposite to this tomb on the south side are the recumbent effigies of Bishops Iorwerth and Anslem the latter of whom is commemorated in the following monkish verse
PETRA PRECOR DIC SIC,
ANSELMLUS EPISCOPUS EST HIC.
[note: C41-42] [[presumably Carter’s print numbers]]
Further on the same side is the effigy of a knight in armour carved in a yellow freestone, with his vizor raised, booted and spurred, hands uplifted, head resting on a helmet. On his left side a sword hangs suspended from a ?rich ?belt a lion rampant is engraved upon his heart and his feet rest upon an animal of the same description. Behind this effigy which is attributed to Rhys ap Gryffydh prince of south Wales who died in 1196 [note: C43-44] is some rich gothic carved work in wood. w [note: Browne Willis has erroneously attributed these effigies to Rhys ap Tudor and Owen ap Tudor but according to Leland the latter, who was prince of North Wales was buried at Hereford] It is evidently the portrait of a much younger man, his head rests on a double cushion and he bears also a lion rampant on his breast but varying from that on the former effigy by ???ing a cross ??? along its neck [CXXXIX] XL] Between this last tomb and the altar is the monument of treasurer Lloyd with this ?inscription in Latin (b) [transcribed on opposite page] He is inhabited in his robes holding a book in his left hand and [missing) his right hand to his head which [bottom line of page missing]
f. 74
????? headdress His tomb was been painted, and is of mixed Gothic and Italian architecture.
Before we quit this interesting choir we must pay our devotions at the Holy shrine of the saint which is situated on the same north side and is distinguished by three arches of the early pointed style springing from 4 open columns with varied capitals; the intermediate space between the angles formed by the springing of the arches are decorated with three heads apparently of a bishop, a crowned sovereign and a priest sine consura. The space between this last head and that of the sovereign has a simple decoration of foliage. In the base beneath these recesses are four quatrefoil holes; and in the back wall are two more, the former probably destined to receive the offerings the latter to remove them. [CXXXVIII]
[note: The first tomb which attracts our attention is that of an ecclesiastic habited in long robes, hands uplifted head reposing under a trefoiled canopy [C XXI] at the back wall of this tomb there are some ancient relicks which have been placed here for ???????? but not belonging to the tomb. They represent our Lady presenting the infant Jesus in the temple, a crucifix etc. further on the same side is a circular recessed arch etc. with to pointed ones in the base and two quadrafoiled crevices between them [C pl. 22]
From the choir I shall proceed into the Northern aisle which is now roofless [word deleted] further on are the mutilated effigies of a knight Templar [CXXVI] and of a monk under an ornamented niche with some animal at his feet [CXXVII] and on the south wall opposite is another effigy of an ecclesiastic much mutilated as well as the inscription [CXXV] of which I could only decipher the following letters
ORATE PRO ANA ZOH ….. NUPER A
On the same side are two other Gothic recesses but vacant.
From this aisle we are led into the elegant chapel built by Vaughan the 82nd Bishop of this see 1509 anno primo Henrici VIII which may be deemed a chef d’oeuvre of the florid Gothic and in tolerable preservation [note (b): Carter plate 49] The royal arms as well as his own are well executed on rich escutcheons affixed to the ceiling. In this chapel Vaughan was buried and his representation in brass was placed on a stone in the pavement with this inscription which has fortunately been preserved [transcribed in Latin on opposite page] – but there are no traces left of the brass with its appendages. ?In the building, however ?are ????????? [missing] to perpetuate the memory and
[bottom line illegible]
f. 75
From Bishop Vaughan’s chapel we are led to that of our Lady which forms the eastern extremity of this extensive pile of building. This also is roofless but from the many ell sculptured fragments of stone dispersed about it we are enabled in some degree to judge of its execution. The Welch Cicerone never fails to show to the traveller the device of three rabbits whose heads are so placed as to make three ?ears appear like six. On the right hand side of this chapel lies the founder under a rich Gothic canopy and beyond him, nearer the altar are three Gothic stalls so frequently met with in our old ecclesiastical buildings. On the opposite side is the tomb of Bishop Houghton [C 28]
We must now retrace our steps towards the western entrance by the southern aisle. The first monumental record which occurs is that of a knight [23] much mutilated. Nearly opposite to it is another in a much worse condition [17]. We then come to the tomb of a monk [18] [several words deleted] nearly opposite is the one usually attributed to Giraldus Cambrensis [22] the next tomb that attracts our attention is that of an ecclesiastic holding a book in his hand [several words deleted] which from the literary character of Giraldus, might, I think, be attributed to him with more propriety than the former – but the defaced state of the inscription forbids all enquiry [20]
[note: on the southern side of this aisle are two other tombs the one attributed to Sylvester a physician with this inscription [transcription in Latin]
[2 lines deleted]
We now reach the southern transept in which there is only one grave stone bearing the embossed head of a monk [33] and from thence return into the nave where ?against the southern wall there is the tomb of a monk and adjoining, the southern doorway an arched recess [c 17] In front of the rood loft are three other monuments the most conspicuous of which is that dedicated to the memory of Bishop Morgan [CXVIII] another bears the embossed head of a monk and the third the indented outlines of two priests [CXVII]
[Note:] T Carter plate XIX
f. 76
The vestry and Chanters chapel on this side of the church contain nothing worthy of notice. On the opposite side towards the north are two buildings nearly corresponding with these, viz the Chapter House and St Andrew’s chapel. In the former I find nothing to remark and in the latter not much. Browne Willis mentions two alabaster monuments which no longer exist (p. 8) a part of this building is walled of and called the penitentiary, where the penitents stood and in this wall are some round holes destined to echo the voice of those who officiated in the choir on the other side. Under this building is the effigy of a dignitary (omitted by B Willis) and adjoining it a gothic recess. I observed in this chapel a variety of fragments of sculpture which have been found in various places and collected together – amongst those most worthy of observation is the figure of St Andrew bearing the cross on his breast and another representing two females holding out an infant to be received into the outreached arms of an old man. [Note: these bas reliefs, when Mr Carter made his survey had been placed security under one of the Gothic niches – that of Andrew in plate [blank] that of the presentation in the temple in plate [blank] [end of note.] This chapel has one large pointed window to the north – the arches are Gothic – the capitals Saxon. The southern doorway is pointed with rich Saxon decorations and has three small figures within niches over it [c. pl x]
But I cannot leave the interior of this interesting structure without noticing with admiration the richly carved ceiling of Irish oak, which has a most striking effect when viewed from the rood loft. The western portal called the Bishop’s door is now reopening; and is of the same heterogenous kind of architecture as the external front erected by a modern architect Mr Nash.
f. 77
I hall now take a short review of the buildings adjoining the Cathedral, the first of which is the college situated to the north of the church. It was founded by Houghton the 63rd Bishop of the see [1388] and John Duke of Lancaster rendered his assistance by liberal benefactions. Its architecture was pointed and its plan reduced merely to a shell bespeaks its ancient magnificence.
To the south west of this building stands the episcopal palace erected by Henry Gower the 59th prelate 1347 It originally formed a quadrangle, two sides of which alone remain. The bishop occupied the eastern apartments. The kitchen with its singular chimnies was perfect  till very lately but they are no fallen [C [[blank]] [some words deleted] The stately Hall [some words deleted] according to historical report [some words deleted] was built for the reception and entertainment of King John and his queen on their return from Ireland but this tradition is erroneous for how could Bishop Gower who died in 1347 build a noble palace King John who commenced his reign in 1199. We must therefore consider it as a magnificent example of Bishop Gower’s architecture and admire it accordingly. The entrance to it is formed by a doorway of a singular form over which are the remains of two statues supposed to be of royal personages but very much dilapidated. At the end of this hall was the chapel with a window towards the east and towards the west is a curious square tower with an octagonal roof. This spacious building derives its greatest beauty from an elegant open parapet composed of pointed arches which by surrounding the whole roof totally conceals its [missing] deformity. It gives a very light ?entrance to the building and [missing]
f. 78
double purpose – shooting off the wet from the roof and affording a walk round the battlements. This style of parapet was peculiar to this bishop who adopted on the episcopal residences at Llawhaden, Lamphey and Swansea. I shall now close my account of Menevia which although in its present deteriorated condition I may say
?Curtatos plorat titulos et nomen inane semisepultae Urbis
Yet it will afford a delicious treat to every lover of British Antiquity as it still retains many particularities that are not to be met with in other cathedrals amongst which we may number the beautiful the rood loft, the Holy shrine of the saint and the penitentiaries. We must however express our great regret as antiquaries in finding brasses removed and effigies mutilated and as historians must ever lament the loss of such ?guides to facts at the expense of sepulchral inscriptions would undoubtably establish.
Two very small public house will afford the traveller a homely meal and a decent bed but the hospitality of Mr Archdeacon Williams who was in residence prevented any intercourse with the publicans.
{archaeological sites in the area}
f. 79
Sunday 4th July
To Fishguard
Colt-Hoare, Richard, Tour in South Wales, 1802, Cardiff Central Library ms 4.302.1

1802

This neat version of the 1802 tour include a lengthy description of the Cathedral but without the additional information in 3.127.2 or the footnotes in Cardiff Central Library ms. 4.302.1. Much of the descriptions of the buildings were used by Colt Hoare in his translation of Giraldus Cambrensis’ The itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, (1806), which excludes the dimensions of the palace buildings.
{Haverfordwest, Roch} I continued my road to St David’s through a most dreary and rugged country. Its ancient fame and character will render it interesting to the Historian, its ruins and monuments
f. 146r
will attract the notice of the artist and antiquarian.
{its early origins, History, Danes and pirates}
f. 146v
To the aforesaid bishops we owe the different structures forming so noble and grand a group of architectural skill and elegance. The demolition in a great measure of the most interesting of them, viz. the Bishop’s Palace has been attributed to Bishop Barlow …
f. 147r
Three distinct but adjoining building form this massive group of varied Gothic architecture – the Cathedral, the College and the Bishop’s Palace – the two latter of which are in ruins and offer the most picturesque subject for the pencil.
On entering the close through a fine octagon gateway they unexpectedly burst upon the sight and the coup d’oeuil cannot fail to strike with surprise and admiration …
The exterior of this Cathedral except a rich Saxon doorway on the north side presents no fine specimens of architecture and is entirely Gothic with the
f. 147v
above exception. The old west front was much admired for its Saxon workmanship – but the modern one like the adjoining chapter house is beneath Criticism – such an heterogenous mixture of Saxon, Gothic and Castellated architecture I never before beheld. The columns as well as the arches in the nave are Saxon beautifully proportioned and richly decorated (excepting the two nearest the west one of which on each side is Gothic on a Saxon Column the circle of each arch has a rich border and each one varies in its pattern. The large column are octagon [sic] and round alternate and to these are attached smaller Saxon columns. The upper story has a mixture of Gothic in its architecture – over each great arch are two smaller of the Saxon order and under each of these are two lesser arches of the pointed Gothic.
Between the Saxon arches in the upper story was a single column – and again three clustered  – alternate all with Saxon Capitals
The front
f. 148r
of the Rood loft which separates the choir from the nave is of very irregular Gothic architecture. The south is nearly filled up by Bishop Gower’s monument and chapel – nearer the entrance of the choir is a small niche surmounted by a trefoil arch. On the left side are three early Gothic arches supported on taper columns and projecting from the wall – above is a row of Gothic arches which runs along the whole front of the rood loft. A red stone has in general been made use of in this front. Under this rood loft are 3 recumbent effigies – two of which are rather uncertain – that of Bishop Gower is certain – and the 2 other by B. Willis have been given to Thomas Wallensis and Richard de Carew – but I question if on good grounds as neither of them are mitred. Passing up some steps you enter the choir which stands immediately under the tower of the church – supported by 4 fine arches – three of which are Gothic. The west is Saxon and filled up. The south Gothic and filled up. The East
f. 148v
and North Gothic also [sic] are open – all spring from small Saxon columns. The organ which formerly stood under the west arch is now placed under the north.
Under the prebendal stalls are some curious fantastic devices carved in wood and the backs of them painted in chiaroscuro are good representations of the cavity of the seats. The Bishop’s seats [sic] are well carved in wood. In the area of the chancel stands the altar tomb of Edmund, Early of Richmond, father to King Henry 7th. On the south side and on the ground are the recumbent effigies of Bishop Jorwerth and Anslem. On the north and south sides of the altar under recesses are the effigies of 2 knights in armour. On the north side is the celebrated shrine of the British saint (David).
The present choir now stands immediately under the steeple – which is decorated in the following manner – on the upper part of the west side is a row of blank gothic arches – on the north side four gothic arches open and the same on the south and east sides all
f. 149r
on Saxon capitals – The north aisle is now roofless, and the monuments lay exposed to the severity of the weather.
From this aisle we are led into the beautiful chapel built by Bishop Vaughan in 1509 – a chef d’oeuvre of the florid Gothic and in the most perfect preservation.
The royal arms and his own are finely executed in rich escutcheons and affixed to the ceiling. Here he was buried, – and this elegant building remains in high beauty to perpetuate his name – and good taste.
The Lady Chapel built by Bishop Martin is also roofless – from many of the well carved keystones which are dispersed on the floor, we are enabled to judge of its good execution – on the right hand side lies the founder under a rich Gothic canopy – and beyond him, nearer the altar are the usual three Gothic stalls. On the opposite side lies Bishop Houghton.
We come now to the south aisle, where my
f. 149v
friend Giraldus is said to be interred. The effigy of a dignitary on the opposite side – has been attributed to him but I fear upon no very substantial grounds.
The Vestry and Chanters Chapel on this side of the church contain nothing worthy of notice. On the opposite side – are two other buildings nearly corresponding with these – The Chapter House and St Andrew’s Chapel. The former contains nothing worthy of notice – and the latter not much – there is a part railed off said to have been a penitentiary, where the Penitents stood – and in this wall are some round holes, destined to let in the those who officiated in the choir on the other side. In this chapel are many fragments found in different parts of the church and environs. This chapel has a very large Gothic window on the north – the other arches etc. are Gothic – the capitals Saxon. The south door is Gothic, with rich Saxon decorations
f. 150r
three small figures in niches over it – The rich carved ceiling of Irish oak has a most beautiful and striking effect when viewed from the rood loft – I shall take my leave of the cathedral having mentioned everything which has occurred to me worthy of notice, and take a short survey of the adjoining ruins which as I said before are more fertile in picturesque subjects than the building just described.
The college is situated on the north side of the cathedral, and very contiguous to it.
This was founded by Bishop Houghton 1388 and John Duke of Lancaster assisted it much by his benefactions – its architecture was Gothic and the shell of the chapel bespeaks its ancient magnificence.
To the south west of this college stood the Bishop’s Palace erected by Bishop Gower 1347. The original form of it was quadrangle [sic] two sides only of which now remain. The Bishops occupied the east apartments. The kitchen with its curious chimneys was perfect till very lately,
f. 150v
but they are now fallen. The hall is said to have been 58 feet by 23. The south side was said to have been the Royal apartment and built to entertain King John and his Queen on their return from Ireland. The hall is a magnificent apartment 88 feet by 30, and the circular east window has been often and very justly admired – it still remains in good preservation. The entrance to this Hall is formed by a singular arch – over which were the statues of Royal personages now nearly annihilated. This building derives its greatest beauty from an open parapet which surrounds it – it has a very light appearance and answered a double purpose – for shooting the rain off the roof – and as a walk in which second light it might answer the defensive purpose of a battlement. The rock has evidently been cut away on the west side to admit of St Mary’s chapel.
The most sheltered situation also which this exposed country would admit of a chosen for placing the Cathedral. This structure
f. 151r
will be rendered very interesting to the antiquarian by many particularities which it still retains, and such as are not to be met with in other cathedrals, many of which have lost their principal beauties owing to the modern and too prevailing system of ornament repair and innovation – amongst these may be reckoned the Penitentiary, the rood loft, and the shrine of the saint to which the church was dedicated. The antiquarian, however, will have reason to regret, that the numerous monuments, effigies etc. have been so barbarously mutilated, and robbed of their inscriptions, by which so great a field has been open to conjecture so little certainty left for modern ages to determine the right and ancient owners.
There are two public houses (for they do not deserve the appellation of Inns) where the curious but not overnice traveller may procure a fugal meal and a decent bed.
Colt Hoare, Richard, [Tours of Wales] NLW 16489, ff. 145v-151

1802

Colt Hoare added notes to blank pages which had been interleaved in a copy of the 2nd edition of Wyndham’s A Gentleman’s tour through Monmouthshire and Wales, in the months of June and July, 1774 and in the months of June, July and August, 1777, (1781). Most of the annotated paragraphs were individually dated 1802 with the initial H [for Hoare] and each was allocated a letter which corresponded with the notes on the opposite printed page. Wyndham’s text is reproduced below, followed by Colt Hoare’s comments in italics.
Opp. p. 70
A street of wretched cottages, one of which is the inn, composes the city of St. David’s. I had so little notion of its being the bishoprick that I enquired in the street how far it was to St David’s. The palace and cathedral lie below the town and cannot be seen from it. St David’s.
At present there are two public houses for they do not deserve the names of Inns, the Blue Bell and the Black Lion. I found two good beds at the former and decent accommodation. No post horses and no wine.
p. 71
The bishop’s palace, which was erected in the reign of Edward III. St. David’s is an immense ruin; several of the apartments are of an extraordinary magnitude, the walls of which are all entire. The whole parapet is Gothic, and open, like those at Swansea and Lamphey, a circumstance peculiar to these three monuments of antiquity.
The area of the great court is about 120 feet square. On the east side of it is the bishop’s hall, 58 feet in length, and 23 in breadth. The king’s hall on the south side is 88 by 30. This grand saloon is said to have been built expressly for the reception of king John on his return from Ireland, tho’ it carries evident marks of bishop Gower’s architecture, who certainly constructed the other parts of the palace.
I agree with Mr Wyndham that the whole architecture of this palace is so uniform, that it appears all to have been constructed at the same aera. To Bishop Gower this building has been generally attributed on good historical foundations he was elected bishop of the see in 1328 and died in 1347 – how then could he have built a hall for the reception of King John who commenced his reign in 1199. H 1802
The arch, over the door way of the porch leading to the bishop’s hall, has the singularity of forming half an octagon.
The nave of the present cathedral was built in the reign of king John; the semi-circular arches in it are large and well proportioned to its piers. A majesty of style, in the Norman door and windows of the western front, renders that side uncommonly striking. The other parts of the church have been the production of different ages, as the variety of architecture plainly demonstrates.
Peter de Leia, the 50th Bishop of the see consecrated in 1176 is supposed to have pulled down the old cathedral church which had suffered much by the frequent incursions of the Danes and to have rebuilt in about the year 1180. From the style of its architecture I imagine the present nave to have been part of his construction. H. 1802.
All the arches in the nave (except one on each side nearest the western front) are Norman and all the columns are of the same order – they are richly decorated appropriated ornament, and each varies in its pattern – in the second story, there is a mixture of Gothic in the windows, but the Norman style prevails. H. 1802 
This door and front are now no more – and instead of presenting to the spectator a striking or pleasing object display a façade of the most heterogenous architecture I ever beheld composed by Nash – now high in reputation as an architect. H. 1802
The roofs, within, are wainscoted with Irish oak, and, though coeval with the church, are entirely free from the filth of cobwebs.
The oaken roof of the nave, when seen from the rood loft has a most rich and beautiful effect. H. 1802
p. 72
Some people have considered this antidotal quality against spiders in the oak of Ireland, as fabulous; but, whatever the cause may be, the fact is certain, for I have seen an old barn, the timbers of which were of that country, and, notwithstanding the partiality of those disagreeable animals to that kind of building, I could not, upon the strictest examination, discover a single cobweb in any part of it.
Bishop Vaughn’s chapel was annexed to it in the time of Henry VIII. and has a light elegant roof of stone quite perfect.
This chapel is a most elegant and well preserved specimen of the rich and florid Gothic which prevailed in the reign of Henry VIII. Bishop Vaughan was the 83rd Bishop – a flag stone in the pavement, once decorated with his effigy etc in brass, recorded his memory – now the stone stripped of all its ornaments alone remains. H. 1802
Several ancient monuments appear both within the church, and among the many ruined chapels, that adjoin to it. Edmund, earl of Richmond, father of Henry VII. lies under a raised tomb, near the middle of the choir, and, at a little distance from it, is are the monuments of Owen Tudor. Rhees ap Tudor – and his son – Rhees-y-gryg (Rhees the hoarse) – Owen Tudor was buried at Hereford – (as Leland tells us) –
Amongst the numerous monuments dispersed about the different parts of this cathedral we are to lament that so few can be authentically ascertained – most of them having been robbed of their inscriptions – the following however are supposed to be known –
Earl of Richmond                         centre of choir                    no 9
Saint David’s tomb of shrine         N. side of choir                  no 14
Treasurer Lloyd’s                         ditto                                  no. 10
Rhees, son of Rhees ap Tudor     ditto                                  no. 11
Rhees ap Tudor                           s. side of choir                   no. 12
Bishop Anslem (inscription)          ditto                                  no. 13
Bishop Iorwerth                            ditto                                  no. 15
Bishop Morgan’s                          Nave                                 no. 1
Bishop Gower’s                            under rood loft                   no. 5
Bishop Houghton’s                       St Mary’s chapel                no. 29
Bishop Martin’s                            ditto                                  no. 31
Silvester Media’s (inscription)       south aisle                         no. 22
A dignitary – unknown (inscription) ditto                                no. 33
Giraldus Cambrensis (doubtful)    ditto                                  no. 21
The above are numbered from Browne Willis’s plan of St David’s cathedral in which I corrected the errors H. 1802
The greater part of the above are much mutilated and none remarkable for good sculpture.  
The choral service is performed in this cathedral twice a day;
I am sorry to add, that the church is kept in a very slovenly manner; part of it is not paved, and the graves are frequently raised within it of earth, as in common church yards.
The principal part of the Church is now paved –
There is something innocent, and pathetically pleasing, in the idea of strewing flowers and evergreens over the grave of a departed friend, which is the universal practice of these parts.
p. 73
{History}
{Extensive notes by Colt Hoare on the history of the buildings based on Godwyn [sic]}
p. 74
I cannot better express the dreariness of this country, than in the words of Giraldus, who lies buried in the cathedral; but poor Cambrensis was unknown to the officiating vicar, and of course, his tomb.
When I first visited this cathedral in 1793 – The tomb of Giraldus was shown to me by Canon Holkham [sic] – no. 21 and the same still continues to bear his name – true it is there is an effigy of a monk recumbent – but no inscription, or I believe any good authority to suppose this the representation of the learned Giraldus – Browne Willis in his Lives of the Bishops p. 101 says that he takes the defaced monument in the Ichnography no 20 to have been his. none now exists at that place but no. 21 is now shown for his tomb. H. 1802
The land about this remote angle, on the Irish sea, is rocky, barren, and fruitless; it is neither clothed with wood, varied with rivers, not beautified with meadows; but a land constantly exposed to storms and tempests.  – Such solitary habitations were formerly industriously explored by religious men; where undisturbed with the noise and hurry of the world, they might freely and securely enjoy a spot of ground, which was not likely to be torn from them.
Colt Hoare, Richard, Manuscript notes in Wyndham’s Tour June and July, 1774, and June, July and August, 1777, (2nd edition 1781). Notes are dated 1802, NLW ms. 20078D

1803 Published

The once flourishing city of ST. DAVID’S, now in appearance an inconsiderable village. This deserted place occupies a gentle eminence on that projecting rocky cape called St. David’s head. In a sheltered hollow beneath the town, are the noble ruins of the Metropolitan episcopacy of Wales; yet the CATHEDRAL OF ST. DAVID’S, though long a mouldering pile, having lately undergone a thorough repair, with a just attention to the antique style of architecture, now appears in renewed magnificence.
This, venerable structure is cruciform, of large dimensions, and of the early Gothic architecture, though not without much of the high-wrought fretwork additions of later ages, The nave alone wears all the simplicity of its original construction; the tower, highly ornamented, rises from the middle of the church to the height of 127 feet; Bishop Vaughan’s chapel behind the choir, and the dilapidated one of St. Mary’s, exhibit all the elegant tracery of the ornamented Gothic; as does also the chapter-house, and St. Mary’s hall, now a ruin. Among the numerous ancient monuments that are to be met with in the church and its chapels, those of Owen Tudor, and Edward Earl of Richmond, father of Henry the VIIth, both situated near the middle of the choir, are worthy of notice.
The episcopal palace is a superb ruin, surmounted with a light parapet raised upon arches, in the style of Swansea castle and Lamphey court.
ʺThe area of the great court is 120 feet square; on the east side of which is the Bishop’s hall, 58 feet in length, and 23 in breadth; the King’s hall, on the south side, is 88 feet by 30. This grand saloon is said to have been built expressly for the reception of King John, on his return from Ireland in 1211.” [from Wyndham, 1774, above] But we are informed by Godwin, that the palace itself was not erected until about the year 1335; which must be an anachronism, unless the story of King John be unfounded. The first hall is a grand room; but the latter has been particularly splendid. Over the fine arched entrance arc the statues of King John and his queen; and at the east end is a curious circular window with bars diverging from the centre, still in a perfect condition. The chapel containing the remains of a font, and kitchen amply furnished with four chimneys, are also entire: nor are the forsaken apartments deficient in proofs of the regal splendor assumed by the Romish pastors of Christian humility.  Many ruinous buildings, once habitations of ecclesiastical functionaries, surround the Cathedral; yet sufficient are kept in repair for the diminished number of officers now appointed : the cathedral service is, nevertheless, performed with an attention that would do credit to more eminent establishments. The whole of these buildings are inclosed by a wall eleven hundred yards in circumference.
St. David’s is supposed to have been a Roman station, the Octapitarum of Ptolemy; and here St. Patrick is said to have founded a monastery to the honour of St. Andrew in the year 470: to this place St. David translated the archbishopric of Wales, from Caerleon, about the year 577, and founded the cathedral, which was afterwards dedicated to him; but the primacy was withdrawn, and annexed to that of Canterbury, in the reign of Henry the First. Here also a college was founded for a master and seven priests by John Duke of Lancaster, in conjunction with his wife and the Bishop of the diocese, in the year 1369.
Barber, J.T., 1774-1841 Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, … (1803), pp. 87-91

1803 Published

p. 294
The cathedral was erected, according to Giraldus, by Peter As, then diocesan in the time of Henry II.; but according to Willis, in the time of King John, A. D. 1110, and completed by several successors. The nave, however, appears only to have been of this age, the large semicircular arches of which are well proportioned to the massy columns, whose terminations are ornamented with curious wreaths of foliage. The fine pointed arches of the doors and windows of the western front are in the majestic style peculiar to Gothic architecture; the other parts of the building are evidently, from the various styles, the work of different ages. Though it has suffered much by time, it is still a noble structure, consisting of two transepts, measuring from east to west 300 feet, and the breadth of nave and aisles. Its tower is finely carved and ornamented with varied fret work, and the Gothic arches of the choir form a striking contrast to the Saxon arches of the nave.* Bishop Vaughan’s chapel was annexed so late as the time of Henry VIII. which exhibits a beautiful stone roof, still in perfect repair. The other parts of the roofing are of Irish oak, which is said, from the innocency of the country where it grew, to be an antidote against any venomous reptile or insect; and this roof, coeval with the church, still free from cobwebs, is produced as an evidence of the fact.
[note:] *The roof of my Lady’s chapel, transepts, and choir, have been down ever since the civil wars. The western front has been lately repaired, and the nave is neatly fitted up for the performance of divine service. While much praise is due for the attention hitherto paid, it must be lamented that something is not done to preserve the monuments of antiquity contained within its walls. [end of note]
St. Mary’s chapel must have been, from the remains, still more ornamental than Bishop Vaughan’s; the ruins, among other curious sculpture, including seven heads of the seven virgin sisters who contributed the sum expended in the building. The chapter house has a handsome ceiling. A variety of ancient and noble monuments, with the remains of shrines and chapels, call our recollection to ancient times, and strongly remind the observer of his own mortality. In the north wall of the choir is the shrine of St. David, an altar tomb, having a canopy formed of four pointed arches, and with four quatrefoils in front: into these the votaries, who formerly came from all parts on pilgrimage, put their offerings to the saint, which were regularly taken out through two iron doors for the purpose behind. According to Tanner (Bib. Brit.) Gyraldus Cambrensis was buried here, but there is shewn no monument. In the choir are the monuments of Owen Tewdwr, second husband of Queen Catherine, Rhys ap Tewdwr; with those of Jerwerth and Anselm, Bishops in the thirteenth century, and Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father to Henry VII. It was this tomb, and the proud memorials of his other Tewdwr ancestors, which induced King Henry VIII. to change the intention he had formed of removing the see to Caermarthen, as a more central and eligible part of the diocese.
The palace now stands a monument of desolation. Two sides of the large quadrangle are nearly intire, which are finished with a light open Gothic parapet, similar to that of Lamphey Court. Several of the apartments are of great magnitude, and the walls of some still standing: the bishop’s hall is 58 feet by 28, and the King’s hall 88 feet by 30. The entrance into this grand saloon is by a singularly fine arch, with the statues of King John and his Queen placed over it; at the end is a circular window representing a wheel, with felly and spokes curiously wrought in stone. It is said to have been expressly built for the reception of King John on his return from Ireland, and the above-named statues confirm the assertion. In this same little bottom, called the Vale of Rhos, are fair houses for the chancellor, treasurer, chanter, and four archdeacons, chosen out of the canons, of which there are twenty-one; these are inclosed with a strong stately wall. One canon is resident at a time, and the choral service, which is performed twice a day, is conducted with much decorum.
A little above the cathedral stands the city, consisting of one street of small houses and cottages: so poor and miserable is it in appearance, as to induce a stranger to inquire while in it for the city of St. David’s. Though doubtless it has been a more considerable place, yet its present appearance perhaps is rather emblematical of its original penury, than a striking contrast to its former grandeur.
Evans, John, B.A., 1768-1812 (Jesus College, Oxford), Letters written during a tour through South Wales, in the year 1803, and at other times : containing views of the history, antiquities, and customs of that part of the principality; and interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, botany, mineralogy, trade and manufactures, (London, 1804), letter 40, pp. 291-298

1804

On the 20th [20.7.1804] we went to St David’s and Fishguard. The drive to St David’s is very fine, the sea view the whole way magnificent. We scrambled up to the top of St David’s head and from it had a singularly wild view, not a single tree in sight for 12 miles.
Palmerston, Henry John Temple, (1784-1865), NLW MS 23980F, f. 12

1806 Published

Colt Hoare included a description of the Cathedral, College and Bishop’s Palace in his translation of Giraldus Cambrensis’ The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin. His transcription of inscriptions and the history of the site and buildings have been excluded. It was based on the three ms. versions of his 1802 tour, especially NLW ms. 16489, from which he excluded the dimension of the Palace buildings and added details of the monuments and effigies.
p. 10
Such is the dreary and well-pictured account given by Giraldus of the local situation of this once celebrated ecclesiastical establishment; and such, I fear, will every traveller find it on his approach to the wretched village of Saint David’s, where misery and beggary stare him full in the face, and from whence the want of even tolerable accommodations has driven away many an inquisitive tourist and antiquarian. … yet hospitality has not deserted these mitred walls, and I should be much wanting in gratitude, were I not to acknowledge thus publicly the many acts of friendship and civility which I have experienced during two successive pilgrimages to the shrine of Saint David.
As from the forlorn and retired situation of the cathedral church of Saint David’s, its ancient as well as modern history is but little known, I shall give some account of it, from its foundation to the present time; with a short sketch of the life of its patron saint, and a series of its archbishops and bishops, from its first establishment to the period of this Itinerary.
{History}
p. 22
Three distinct but adjoining buildings form this massive groupe of varied architecture, the Cathedral, College, and Episcopal Palace; the two latter of which are in ruins, and are the most picturesque in their appearance. On entering the Close through a fine octagon gateway, they unexpectedly burst upon the sight, and form a coup d’oeuil which cannot fail to excite the surprise and admiration of even the most indifferent spectator: but how much more impressive
p. 23
would this view appear if the modern Chapter-house was removed? for it unfortunately intercepts the most interesting building in the whole groupe, the Bishop’s Palace.
The exterior of this cathedral presents no fine specimen of architecture, and (excepting a Saxon door-way on the northern side) is entirely Gothic. The old western front (of which Mr. Grose has given a view in his Antiquities of Wales) was much admired for its Saxon workmanship and venerable appearance. The new front is beneath criticism: such an heterogeneous mixture of Saxon, Gothic, and castellated architecture I never before beheld ! the columns, as well as the arches in the nave, are Saxon, beautifully proportioned and richly decorated: each arch is encircled with a rich border, and each varies in its design. The large columns are alternately round and octagon, and to these are attached smaller Saxon pillars: the upper story has a mixture of Gothic in its ornaments. The front of the rood loft, which separates the choir from the nave, is of very irregular Gothic architecture. Under this rood-loft are three recumbent effigies: that of Bishop Gower is certain; the other two have been attributed, by Browne Willis, to Thomas Wallensis, A. D. 1255, and to Richard de Carrew, A. D. 1280; but as neither of these figures is mitred, I question if they have been rightly named. Ascending some steps, you enter the choir, which is placed immediately under the tower of the church, supported by four large arches, three of which are
p. 24
Gothic: the one towards the west is Saxon, and filled up; that towards the south is also filled up; the other two remain open: all of them spring from small Saxon pillars. The organ, which formerly stood under the western arch, is now placed under the northern.
The bishop’s throne is well carved in wood, and on the reverse of the prebendal seats are some curious and fantastic devices. In the area of the chancel stands the altar tomb of Edmund Earl of Richmond, father to King Henry the Seventh, which was formerly decorated with his effigy in brass, {inscription}

p. 25
On the south side of the choir, and on the pavement, are the recumbent effigies of Bishops Jorwerth and Anselm. On the north and south sides of the altar, under recesses, are the figures of two knights in armour, well executed in free-stone. The effigy on the south side represents a man rather advanced in years, in a recumbent attitude, clothed in armour, with his vizor raised, booted and spurred, his head reposing on an helmet: on his left side he carries a sword suspended by a rich belt; a lion rampant is sculptured on his breast-plate, and there is an animal of the same species at his feet. This interesting monument, intended to perpetuate the memory of the illustrious Prince Rhys, who died AD. 1196, is in a good state of preservation
On the northern side of the altar, is another recumbent effigy, very similar in design and execution to the one above described, but evidently the representation of a much younger man: his head rests on a double cushion; he bears also a lion rampant on his breast, but varying in one respect from the other, as the lion has a cross bar along his neck. This effigy (which has been erroneously attributed to Owen ap Tudor, who was a prince of North Wales, and, according to Leland, buried in the friary at Hereford) was erected to the memory of Rhys of Rhys Gryg. Adjoining this
p. 26
monument is the celebrated shrine of the British saint; above it are three Gothic niches, which, according to tradition, formerly held the images of Saint David, Saint Patrick, and Saint Denis; in the front are four quatrefoil holes, and behind it are two others of a circular form, in which the offerings were deposited. Nearer the altar on the north side is the tomb of Treasurer Lloyd. He is represented recumbent in his robes, holding a book in his left hand, and raising his right hand up to his head, which rests on a cushion. The bust mentioned by Browne Willis, as having
p. 27
been placed above the tomb, is not extant, and there are only faint traces of two small figures on the pedestal. The front of the choir, under which the modern altar is placed, has three long lancet windows (the one in the centre the highest) and is richly decorated with Saxon ornaments. The choir presents a mixture of each style of architecture. The north aisle is roofless, and the monuments lie exposed to the severity of the weather. It contains, on the northern side, the mutilated effigies of a knight Templar, and of a monk, with an animal at his feet, under an ornamented niche.
Against the south wall is an effigy with an inscription much mutilated, and on the same side are two vacant Gothic recesses.
From this aisle we are led into the beautiful chapel built by Bishop Vaughan, in the early part of Henry the Eighth’s reign, a chef d’oeuvre of the florid Gothic, and in a high state of preservation; the royal arms and his own are finely executed in rich escutcheons, and affixed to the ceiling: here he was buried, and his image was engraven in brass upon a marble stone on the pavement, {inscription}
p. 28
Not the slightest impression of this brazen memorial is left; but the elegant little chapel still remains, “aere perennius,” to perpetuate the memory and good taste of its founder. Saint Mary’s chapel, built by Bishop Martin, is also roofless; but from many of the well sculptured key stones that are dispersed near it, we are enabled to form some judgment of the good style in which it was executed.
The Welsh Cicerone never fails to point out one amongst them, on which is the device of three rabbits, whose heads are so placed as to make their three ears appear like six. On the right hand side of this chapel lies its founder, under a rich Gothic canopy; and on the opposite side is the tomb of Bishop Houghton. Let us now proceed to the southern aisle, where our author Giraldus lies interred. The tomb marked 22 in my plan of the cathedral, has for many years been pointed out as the effigy of our author [Giraldus Cambrensis]; and as it represents a dignitary of the church, may have been designed to perpetuate his memory. No inscription, however, exists to ascertain the personage. On the opposite side of this aisle is the figure of an ecclesiastic holding a book in his hand, which possibly might allude to the literary character of Giraldus; but the inscription on this tomb is so much defaced that I could not decipher it. This aisle (which is also roofless) contains the monument of Sylvester the physician, and that of another dignitary of the church in tolerable preservation, with escutcheons of arms on the base of the tomb. The vestry
p. 29
and chanter’s chapel on this side of the church contain nothing worthy of notice. On the opposite side are two buildings nearly corresponding with these; the chapter-house and Saint Andrew’s chapel, neither of which have anything remarkable; two fine alabaster monuments, recorded by Browne Willis, as being here, are now no more: there is a place railed off, said to have been the
penitentiary, where the penitents stood; and in the wall are some round holes, designed to admit the voice of the priests who officiated on the other side of it in the choir. Under this building is the effigy of a dignitary omitted by Browne Willis; and in this chapel, many fragments, found in different parts of the cathedral, have been deposited, some of which are curious: there is one of Saint Andrew bearing the cross on his breast, and another representing two females holding out an infant child to be received by an old man.
The southern door of the cathedral is Gothic, with rich Saxon decorations, and three small figures in niches over it: the highly sculptured ceiling of Irish oak has a most striking and beautiful effect when viewed from the rood-loft.
Having described the principal features, ornaments, and other objects most worthy of the traveller’s attention within this venerable cathedral, I shall add a few words respecting the adjoining buildings.
The college, founded by Bishop Houghton, A. D. 1388, is situated on the northern side of the cathedral, and very contiguous to it. Its community consisted of a master and seven socii, or assistants, each of whom had a separate house. Its architecture is Gothic, and the remaining shell of the chapel bespeaks its former magnificence.
p. 30
To the south-west of this building stood the episcopal palace, erected by Bishop Gower, who was elected A. D. 1328: it seems originally to have formed a quadrangle, two sides of which only now remain. The bishops occupied the eastern apartments. The kitchen with its curious chimnies, existed till very lately, but they are now prostrate on the ground. The Bishop’s hall is adjoining to the kitchen. On the southern side of the quadrangle, is a magnificent apartment, said to have been built for the purpose of entertaining King John and his queen, on their return from Ireland: the circular east window, which has been often and justly admired, still remains in a good state of preservation: over the entrance door way, into the great hall, are the mutilated remains of two statues, said to represent the king and his queen: but if Bishop Gower, who was elected A. D. 1328, and died A. D. 1347, was the founder of this building, how could he have fitted up a hall for the reception of King John, who commenced his reign in the year 1199. The chief beauty of the building is derived from an open Gothic parapet which encircles it, and, by concealing the roof, gives it a very light and airy appearance; a peculiarity attached to the buildings of this bishop, as I do not recollect having observed the like in any other part of England or Wales.
This neglected cathedral of Saint David’s is rendered interesting to the antiquarian by many particularities which it still retains,
p. 31
and such as are not frequently met with in other cathedrals, amongst which are the penitentiary, the rood-loft, and the shrine of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. The antiquarian, however, will have reason to regret that the numerous monumental effigies, which once enriched this edifice, have been so barbarously mutilated and robbed of their inscriptions, by which so wide a field has been left open to conjecture, and so uncertain a clue for modern ages to determine their right and original owners.
I may, perhaps, be accused of having been too diffuse in my notes upon Saint David’s; but as my object in this publication is to illustrate, as much as possible, every place mentioned by Giraldus in his Itinerary, less could not have been said of this metropolitan church, which held so conspicuous a rank amongst the ecclesiastical establishments of the early ages of Christianity; and which, even amidst its ruins, deserves the notice of every inquisitive traveller who makes the tour of Wales.
Colt Hoare, Richard, The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, A.D. 1188. By Giraldus de Barri; translated into English and illustrated with views, annotations, and life of Giraldus, 2 volumes, (1806)

1800-1810

Richard Fenton’s notes for his Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire
p. 43
List of publications on St David’s
Godwin
Anglia Sacra
Leland [1535-1543]
p. 185
[The] Palace of St David [is a] Large and magnificent ruin
Godwin dates it to temp. Ed III
The arched open parapet is like Lamphey and Swansea
He quotes Wyndham on the area of court as being 120 ft sq and quotes other dimensions from him.
Cardiff Central Library, MS 4.66 (Pembrokeshire collectanea, c. 1800-1810, pp. 268). Book on a tour of Pembrokeshire and ms. notes and transcripts by Richard Fenton for his ‘Pembrokeshire‘. [This does not appear to contain any detailed description of the cathedral, but the microfilm is poor in places and the handwriting difficult to read.]
In a note in his Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire, p. 70, Fenton wrote:  I avail myself of the opportunity that now presents itself of announcing to my friends and the public, that having been much encouraged to bring out a new edition of this scarce book, [Browne Willis’ Survey of the Cathedral Church of St David’s (1717)] and, though imperfect, yet the only appropriate directory to the history and antiquities of St. David’s, I have already made large collections for that purpose, am daily adding to them, and flatter myself that I shall soon be able to accomplish my design.
It is possible that these notes were part of that collection.

1808

Colt Hoare’s journal shows that he and Fenton visited St David’s on the 30th June, 1808. They set out from Archdeacon Davies’s house at St. David’s but Colt Hoare had nothing more to say about the cathedral or palace.
[we went] to explore the neighbourhood of Porthmawr for the [Roman] station as well as St. David’s Head, and that curious coast abounding with ancient military and druidical works … Again we witnessed the wonted hospitality of Menevia by an hearty reception at Archdeacon Davies’ house. The cathedral and its interior were once more examined and with undiminished pleasure and admiration – rode to St Davids head a wild and sublime scene.
Cardiff Public Library, MS 4.302.3 (folio), f. 61
Thompson, M.W., The Journeys of Sir Richard Colt Hoare through England and Wales, 1793-1810, (1983) pp. 242-243

9.7.1808

Just returned, tired to death, from St David’s a pilgrimage which the Welsh say all must perform, alive or dead
The cathedral is extremely curious, built in the 5th century; the nave contains twelve fine large arches 10 of them Saxon, two next to the west door Gothic; pillars square, composed of small ones; capitals very handsome, work of arches very fine; all different except those opposite each other. The two pillars by the west door are circular, over the large arches are 32 small Gothic ones, in pairs over them, 18 small Saxon windows; all the other windows are gothic of various patterns; the roof of the nave is five hundred years old, of Irish oak, the most beautiful rich carving we ever saw; the knots are very light and rich work, pendant, something in the manner of the Saloon at Charlton House. The choir has a very curious screen of freestone, very
p. 64
curiously carved. On one side of the doorway is the tomb of one Bishop, and on the other two Bishops, all recumbent; the choir is entirely Gothic, the roof of wood, in diamonds, painted and carved. Much older than the nave, but not original. The choir is paved mostly with Saxon Tiles. Before the steps of the altar is the tomb of Edmund, Earl of Richmond, father of Henry the seventh. On one side the monument of Owen Tudor, second husband to queen Catherine and on the other Rhys ap Tudor, – Treasurer of the Abbey, in his proper dress; the Tudors are both in armour. On the north wall of the choir is the shrine of St David, a kind of altar tomb , no figure, with a canopy of four painted arches, and in front four quatrefoil holes, into which the votaries  put their offerings, which were taken out by the monks at two iron doors behind. The Bishops Iorwerth
p. 65
and Anslem lay on the north side of the Choir, both recumbent figures, one other recumbent figure in the south aisle, not known; many more, much damaged, in the ruins: behind the altar are the remains of a small chapel, roof of stone perfect, and extremely beautiful, built by Henry the seventh ; behind that a passage, with a curious stone roof of a much older date; behind that our Lady’s chapel, quite in ruins, and a south aisle by the side of the choir in the same situation. The Tower stands on three Gothic and one Saxon, arches the roof of wood, exceeding curious and fine, – totally different from the two others, but not original as the first Tower fell, as they say, by an earthquake; there are two transepts, both plain, one is a burial vault, the other the organ is placed in; the west door and End are new work. [The] Situation is extremely
p. 66
low at the foot of a steep hill. On the north side stand the ruins of the college [sic – palace] which appear to have been a fine building, as the ruins are very handsome, built in the same style as Swansea Castle and Lamphey Court, with rows of small open arches at the top which give them a fine and grand appearance. At the end of a long room, built for the reception of King John, remains a very curious and beautiful circular window.
The once famous City of St David’s is now reduced to a few cottages, and one wretched inn, which consists of a kitchen, one (what is called a) parlour, one horrible bed chamber and one sitting room upstairs whitewashed walls, and broken windows; bad reception for a weary traveller.
Bant, Millicent, Diary describing tour with Lady Wilson of Charlton House, Kent, Essex Record Office D/DFr f4, pp. 63-66***

1810 Published

Richard Fenton, FSA, (1747-1821) was born at St David’s, Pembrokeshire and was educated at the Cathedral School and Haverfordwest Grammar School. He was a barrister-at-law and antiquarian and a friend of Sir Richard Colt Hoare. He published the longest known description of the Cathedral and Palace in his A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810 & 1811), pp. 41-115
p. 41
I am now entered on the sacred precinct of Ty Ddewi, or St. David’s, once the metropolitan See of all Wales, but where it now “Curtatos mitre titulos plorat;” and here a wide field of legend and history opens on me. …
{History}
p. 59
St. David’s, though now the meagre exuviae of the city it once was, conveys to us the outline of its former consequence. The city without the close, finely situated on a sloping ground facing the sea, at the pleasing distance of two miles, studded with the rocks called the Bishop and his Clerks, was regularly laid out and distributed into streets, lanes, and alleys, dignified with names, such as High-street, Nun-street, New-street, Ship-street, Pitt-street, Philpot-lane, Whitwell-lane, &c. High-street, in which the cross stands and markets were held (I say were, for now it has none) was of such extent in length and breadth as to be an ornament to any town; nor were the other streets very confined or ill built for their day, as the existing remains of many old dwelling-houses, though very inferior to those* of some extensive public buildings I remember, clearly testify. But the close, the ecclesiastical palladium, including within its embattled wall the venerable cathedral, the episcopal palace, the still habitable houses of some of the dignitaries, together with the skeletons of several in ruins, exhibit such remains of grandeur as may justify us in forming the most magnificent notions of their former establishment. This close was in circuit twelve hundred yards, had a walk round with a crenelled parapet. The entrance was by four handsome gateways or Porths, answering to the four cardinal points, such as Porth y twr, Tower Gate to the east, Porth Patrick, Patrick’s Gate to the south, Porth gwyn, the White gate to the west, Porth Bwnning, or Bunning’s gate, to the north. This enclosure, allowing for the cemetery and suitable gardens to most of the houses, was richly built upon, and in its present state of decadency, as it bursts on the sight from the entrance above the valley, forms a most striking coup d’oeuil.
{The Tower gate}
A paved road without the church-yard wall leads straight from this entrance to the house of the Precentor; a dignitary tantamount to the dean of other cathedrals, which adjoins the south wall of the close, and consists of a handsome hall, with several commodious sitting and lodging rooms, and excellent offices of every kind. The house is recessed in a court, and most of the principal rooms that owe their present elegant form and distribution to the late Mr. Archdeacon Holcombe, occupy a front looking on the little cheerful vale, justly called the Merry Vale, through which the Alan glitters in its meandering course, and open to a terrace raised by Chanter Davies about eighty years ago, below which are pleasant gardens well laid out. Water of the finest quality from the sainted spring of Whitewell, a little without the walls of the close at the back of the house, communicates through leaden pipes to every part of it and its offices. Next adjoining were the prebendary of Llandewi Aberarth’s grounds, buildings in ruins; and more to the westward, the Archdeacon of Carmarthen’s extensive grounds, but buildings also in ruins. To the south, and extending to the close wall, is a field called the Chanter’s Orchard, and in it a fish-pond supplied from the river, but belonging to the bishop, and was evidently an appendage to the palace. These last are divided from the precentor’s gardens and the prebendal grounds of Aberarth by the road leading to Patrick’s Gate; a little below which in the close wall I observe without, a slit or opening about five feet from the ground to an oblique funnel within, seemingly for admitting letters or packets in case of the absence of the porter at the gate, or the inadmissibility of every common messenger into the mysterious privacy of the conclave, without undergoing many previous formalities, a sort of state quarantine. At the south-west corner of the said orchard skirting which the river runs, there is an arched bridge, and over it a square habitable tower jutting out from the close wall. The bridge from the building that surmounts it is called Pont Cerwyn Dewi, the bridge of David’s brewing vat. Through this, probably, the residence of the officer who took care of the orchard and the vivarium or fish-pond, seemed to be a way from a large spot of ground laid out in a similar manner on the other side of the river, thus uniting both with the palace, and forming such an outlet as appears to have been the constant appendage to the houses of the great in those days, whither in summer they retired for air and shade, or the pleasures of the bowling-green, after an early dinner at an hour not too late for a fashionable breakfast.
The bishop’s palace occupied a square space on the western side of the river with four fronts, S.W. S.E. N.W. N.E. and exhibit a ruin of prodigious extent of the early pointed architecture, with superb decorations, particularly the noble stair-case porches by which you ascended into the different suites of apartments, the finishing line of its walls, and its windows all lofty and happily disposed, to say nothing of the prodigious dimensions of all its parts from the royal apartments to the kitchen. The grand entrance to it was through a beautiful gateway now ruined, and adjoining was the porter’s lodge, opening into a spacious quadrangle. Directly opposite was an elegant porch with a flight of steps leading into the great hall, erroneously called King John’s, the archway of which gives you a rare example of an inverted ogee sweep, and above it are two niches richly wrought with statues in them. This magnificent room is ninety-six feet by thirty-three, and is lighted by lofty side windows, and a curious circular one at the S. end filled with rich mullions and tracery. At the S.W. end of the hall was a large drawing-room; and adjoining, more to the west, a range of buildings, probably the royal bed-chambers. The chapel, whose tower and spire steeple of freestone are still standing, connected with the drawing-room by a door opening into it, and with the outer court by a stair-case and porch, that likewise served to unite the apartments between the chapel and the offices that appeared to have occupied the great part of one side of the square, and made the return of another.
The north-east side of the quadrangle was entirely appropriated to the bishop, whose hall was sixty-seven feet by twenty five, and entered by a handsome porch and flight of steps from the court, having at the north end a large drawing-room, and more northward a chapel reaching to the porter’s lodge. The chapel, like that of the king’s, had an entrance into it from the drawing room, and another from the court by a sumptuous porch and flight of steps. To the east facing the church there was a range of buildings for the bishop’s bed-chambers and other private rooms. At the south end of the bishop’s hall was the kitchen of a very curious and singular, I may almost venture to say unique, construction: it was an oblong square thirty-six feet by twenty-eight, with a low pillar in the centre, from which sprang four groins, forming circular divisions, each division gradually lessening funnel wise into a chimney, and including every culinary convenience on an immense scale. The kitchen was so placed and contrived as to answer the suite of royal apartments, as well as the bishop’s, having doors into each.
The rooms within were all lofty, but the walls without were seven feet higher, consisting of a parapet of the most majestic design, carried all round the buildings. This parapet is made out by a succession of arches resting on small, neat octangular columns, with ornamented capitals; the arches were wrought chequer wise of purple and yellow freestone, and the sweep of every arch was enriched with fretwork similar to that about the door frames of the porches. The arcade was open, and would admit of being converted to the same use as the battlements of our ancient castles. This was a style of architecture that peculiarly characterized the buildings ascribed to bishop Gower, and is observable in Swansea castle, and parts of the old palace of Lamphey, structures that he is allowed to have been a great contributor to.
Of the palace of St. David’s, on the present magnificent plan as traced in its ruins, he was the avowed founder, as the inscription on his monument testified; not that we can suppose there was no episcopal house on the site before his time; for we learn that some of his predecessors, men of high birth, in a style suitable to the occasion had the honour of entertaining kings there, but that he, with a zeal proportionate to the dignity of the See and his own elegant taste, was resolved to leave behind him a residence that would reflect lustre on his memory, and worthy of the royal guests he, perhaps, expected to have had the honour of entertaining, the then reigning monarch, Edward the Third and his Queen Philippa, whose statues over the doorway of the principal porch now defaced and almost forsaking their pedestals, have been always miscalled King John and his consort, an error originating in a most unaccountable anachronism.
The basement story is made up of a series of curious and roomy vaults, in many of which the luxurious churchmen had, I make no doubt, a stock of rich wines ” for their stomach sake some were likewise the depositories of fuel and “omnis generis stuffurae.”
Opposite to the north-east side of the episcopal quadrangle, and separated by the avenue from the Porth gwyn, or the Whitegate, is the house of the archdeacon of St. David’s within a court entered by a covered gateway, chiefly rebuilt in the time of Bishop Watson, his nephew Medley then filling that dignitary’s stall, and residing on it; but on one side of the court there is an entire portion of the ancient building, seemingly the chapel.
Farther on, northward, in the same line is the archdeacon of Brecon’s house, within a court also, and entered by a similar covered gateway. Over the porch of this house are escutcheons in carved stone, but blunted with annual whitewash, of the royal arms indicating it to be built in the time of Henry the Seventh, and the prelacy of Edward Vaughan. The builder was William Walter, the then archdeacon of Brecon, who, at the commencement of his work, being sarcastically referred to as having begun what he was not likely to accomplish, when, contrary to the opinions of people, he had finished the work, he caused to be inscribed on different parts of the building, both on wood and stone, ” Credite Operibus ”
Still farther on in the same direction is the chancellor’s house, recessed within a court, and with its offices reaching to the north wall of the close. It has a great hall, as had the archdeacon of Brecon’s, with a dais or raised floor at the end, and is backed by good hanging gardens like the two former.
To the eastward of the chancellor’s house, and divided from it by the road leading to Bunning’s Gate, is the Archdeacon of Cardigan’s ground, with its house, a heap of ruins for centuries.
To the southward of this, with the intervention only of the road leading to St. Mary’s College, stands the treasurer’s house, with its offices, gardens, and curtilage, taking up a large space of ground. The whole was an awkward, incongruous aggregate of different periods, from the first establishment of the stall to the present time. It underwent much reparation in Doctor Clavering’s time, who united the most disjointed parts, and gave it a more habitable air; but, to avoid the expense of keeping it up, grievously felt and complained of by his successors, this irregular pile has been of late years compressed into a convenient modern mansion. This building, as it was appropriated for keeping the plate and treasures of the cathedral, together with its offices and garden, was once inclosed for security by a high embattled wall of the same character with that round the close; and in the house there was a room called Ystafell yr Aur, or the Gold Chamber, which I presume had been the treasury.
A house annexed to the prebend of St. Nicholas Penyfoes fills the space adjoining the bridge, that succeeded the celebrated Llech lavar, or miraculous speaking stone, forming the rude passage over the river in the time of Giraldus; to which, notwithstanding Henry the Second’s contempt of its oracular powers, such sanctity continued to be attached to it for ages after, that it would have been deemed sacrilege to have removed it, or to have suffered it to give way to the profane substitution of an arch.
Crossing the bridge you enter the quadrangle of the cloisters by a door, not, as in other cathedrals, opening into them from the church, but from without.
The cloisters, when in being, were attached to the north side of the nave of the cathedral, but perfectly in ruins, there being only round the walls the remains of pilasters neatly wrought that united with the groined arches. The west cloister was formerly occupied by a free-school and library, prior to its being removed to the room where now the audit is held, from which it was again banished to the chapter-house. The basement wall of the chapel to St. Mary’s College forms the north side of the cloisters, from which, by a grand ascent of steps under and through the first story of a square tower groined at the west end, there was a most noble entrance into the chapel itself, as there was also a more private one from the college through the gardens in which it stood.
This collegiate chantry was founded by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, Blanch his wife, and Bishop Adam Hoton conjointly, but endowed by the bishop alone with the advowson of several churches for the maintenance of a master and seven fellows, who lived in a collegiate manner, most solemnly binding themselves by oath strictly to adhere to such regulations as the founder had thought proper to establish.
The space allotted for this college was a square to the north of the cloister, bounded on the west by the river Alan, which washed the wall of its gardens; on the north by a high wall, in the midst of which was the entrance through a stately gateway; on the east side by a continuation of a similar wall to that on the north; and on the south side by the chapel and its tower; a structure in the first class of elegance and true proportion, and every way worthy of its founders, if we may credit the fine remains.
The chapel from east to west is sixty-nine feet in length, and in breadth twenty-three feet nine inches, and the height of the side walls forty-five feet. It was lighted by three coined windows on each side, twenty-four feet high and nine broad, with one somewhat larger at the east end, though similar in form.
The height of the tower is seventy feet. The whole building was raised over a curious crypt, afterwards converted into a charnel house, through which a rill of water constantly passes. The members had their separate houses vaulted beneath and surrounded by gardens. It was surrendered to the crown in the reign of Edward the Sixth, and now belongs to John Edwards, of Sealyham, Esq. as lessee under the crown.
Opposite to the chantry precinct, and divided by a narrow passage only, is the vicar’s ground now covered with ruins, where formerly they had their houses, their chapel, and common hall, living in a collegiate manner as the minor canons at Hereford, an institution that originated with the munificent founder of St. Mary’s chantry.
Having now led my reader regularly through the ruins that dignify the outer close, and endeavoured, from the faint vestiges the ravage of time has left, to retrace their former grandeur, I come to the only part not yet visited, the inner close, the cemetery,
p. 70

the more immediate precinct of the principal fabric, the venerable cathedral.

Many have been the accounts given of this ancient church from Browne Willis’s time to the present, and his, though it is known that he never was on the spot himself, being put together for his use by men of learning, natives of the place, and always resident there, cannot fail to contain some valuable materials towards his plan, though teeming with numerous anachronisms, misrepresentations, and inaccuracies of every kind, which subsequent writers endeavouring to make fewer, have only multiplied; so that Browne Willis’s account may still, perhaps, be considered the fullest and purest source of information. [note: I avail myself of the opportunity that now presents itself of announcing to my friends and the public, that having been much encouraged to bring out a new edition of this scarce book, and, though imperfect, yet the only appropriate directory to the history and antiquities of St. David’s, I have already made large collections for that purpose, am daily adding to them, and flatter myself that I shall soon be able to accomplish my design.]
What can be said now must, more or less, be an echo of what he and others have said before, particularly as far as relates to the form, division, and dimensions of the building in all its different parts. The subject is the same, and the mode of treating it will not admit of material variety. Therefore, all I have done has been to compare and digest what has already been given to the public; and to refresh my own remembrance of things and places familiar to me from an early time of life, by again going critically over the ground with the ingenious Mr. Carter’s Architectural Surveys; and a still more luminous guide in my hand, Sir Richard Hoare’s account of St. David’s, in his interesting comment on Giraldus, a circumstance that has afforded me the gratification of proving the minute correctness of the learned baronet, and, I trust, will give me credit with my reader, for a zeal that accounts nothing a toil which may tend to illustrate and give authenticity to the pages I am proud to devote to the history of this leading feature of my native place. Yet I do not presume to think, after all, that I can do more than rectify dates, inscriptions, wrong positions of monuments, and such errors as a long antiquarian acquaintance with the scenes I refer to, and the sepulchral records whilst they were more perfect, and an opportunity of examining the earliest manuscript documents, may have enabled me to detect.
The cathedral church of St. David’s, from some particular attachment to the primitive sanctity of the spot, was built in damp boggy ground, nor was the veneration for the ancient site at all lessened when the present fabric rose under the auspices of Peter de Leia, who, to make room for the extension of the building eastward, excavated the hill till he bared the spring, the “origo mali,” that fed the moisture which rendered it necessary to raise the building on piles. This spring, the miraculous Pistyll Dewi afterwards sainted, and referred to with superstitious veneration by Giraldus, and which, now choaked up with rubbish, I remember open, and yielding water of the finest quality, though not overflowing with wine or milk, was always most unaccountably suffered to lose itself under the church, thereby continuing the mischief it was meant from the first to obviate or to remedy, and which must unavoidably hasten the downfall of the venerable fabric.
The building is cruciform, and, with reference to its extreme length from east to west, the transepts are nearly in the centre on which the great tower wall, according with the general design, rises.
The grand and principal entrance, never used but on days of ceremonious procession, is by a large door at the west end of the nave, called the Bishop’s Door; but the more accustomed entrance is on the south side by a porch, having a rich painted arch doorway; in the outer division of whose architrave there is a succession of small statues, and over the arch three larger ones, the Deity in the centre, and on each side a kneeling figure; but the sculptor’s art is lost under the whitewash of ages. In a room above this porch the minor chapter keep their records. Opposite to this entrance on the north side there is another door, not, as usual, opening into the cloisters, but a little way without them; but for a very obvious reason, as the course of the river would not admit of the west side of the cloisters being brought out further so as to have taken in this doorway.
The whole fabric is divided into a nave with two side aisles, a choir occupying the area of the steeple, a north and south transept and chancel, with a north and south aisle, coextensive with it and the chapels to the east, except the Lady’s Chapel. The length of the whole building within the walls is three hundred and seven feet; that of the nave to the entrance into the choir one hundred and twenty-eight feet six inches; of that portion, comprehending the choir and chancel up to the high altar, ninety-eight feet six inches. The breadth of the nave in the clear, sixty-nine feet six inches. Each transept is of the same dimensions, forty-seven feet by thirty-three; but the external line of the aisles to the east of the transepts does not exactly range with that of the aisles of the nave, there being in its whole breadth a difference of two feet six inches in favour of the latter. But I will not trespass on the time of my reader by too minute a detail, for I flatter myself that “de minimis non curare,” with antiquaries of any taste, is a maxim as well acknowledged as it is in the law; for how can the mind, occupied with the contemplation of the whole of this venerable fabric, have leisure to attend to every unimportant subdivision, in settling the fraction of an inch, and fritter itself away in pointing out and registering every trifling object of inferior ornament? To do this requires such a frigidity of mental power as the cockney discovered when, sitting for his picture to an eminent artist, and insensible to the effect of the portrait in general, he only remarked with great petulancy, that he thought justice was not done to the woof of his ruffles, as they were Dresden lace of great price.
The entrance into the cathedral is awfully striking. The nave is of noble proportion and majestically simple, separated from the side aisles by two rows of arches, five Saxon and one pointed, next the west end. The architecture of this portion of the edifice is chiefly in the Saxon style, but of that peculiar kind when beginning to lose itself in the early pointed or English order. The arches of the gallery are a mixture of the Saxon and Gothic, but the latter here preponderates. The several architraves to the lower and upper arches exhibit an infinite variety of diagonals, frets, and foliage; and however the form of the arch may vary, the Saxon decorations are still preserved throughout the whole nave as well as choir. The age of the nave we may fix to John’s reign; but the Rood loft at the upper end of it adjoining the choir bespeaks the glorious era of the third Edward, being the most perfect specimen of this part of an ancient cathedral now left, whether we consider the peculiar elegance of the design or richness of the execution; the same ornaments here attracting our notice as St. Stephen’s chapel displayed before they became a wanton sacrifice to barbarous innovation. Nothing can exceed the beauty and lightness of the supporting front. In the centre is an archway leading into a porch, through which we enter the choir. On each side of this entrance there was the site of an altar with a rich skreen; that on the left differing materially from the one on the right, yet both of fine taste, the whole ending in a highly wrought parapet.
The roof of the nave, substituted evidently instead of the original groins found to be in decay, and therefore lowered, as appears, by the lines of its former height, on the tower wall without, is of Irish oak of most singular and exquisite workmanship, and reflects great honour on the taste and spirit of Doctor Owen Pool, then treasurer, at whose expense, and under whose eye it was raised.
Under the fifth arch of the nave from the west end is the monument of Bishop Morgan, known only to have existed by that name among the pews that for a century had concealed it; but for whose, I may almost say, discovery and description, we are indebted to that ingenious artist and indefatigable antiquary Mr. Carter, who represents it as well executed, the effigy in good preservation but the nose and hands. The sides of the tomb are enriched with statues of the apostles. His arms fill the west end; and at the east end there is a most exquisite basso relievo of the Resurrection, where the attitude of our Saviour is very striking and finely expressed. He died at Carmarthen, and having so ordered it in his will, was brought hither to be buried on a litter, “super lectum,” as I find in a MS. note of George Owen, who was his contemporary.
At the upper end of the south aisle, under an arch of a singular construction, composed of four sides of a hexagon, which, instead of taking straight lines, have each a sweeping direction, is the effigy of a religious, Geoffrey Canton, who gave the tenement of Trepuet, near St. David’s, to the vicars choral; he lived in Bishop Tully’s time. In the Bodleian papers that have preserved even the common annals, though “spelt by the unlettered muse” of the now obliterated pavement of the nave, I was much struck with the simplicity of the following inscription:
Here Lieth The Dust of John and Henry,
Sons of Mathias Adams,
Whom Death  Made Twins, May 12, 1700.
Under the rood loft, and covered with a groined canopy of choice workmanship, are three recumbent effigies, two on the right hand of the introductory porch, and one on the left. The principal figure, dignified by a mitre, is known to be Bishop Gower, to whose prelacy we owe the rood loft, and the mausoleum beneath it where he lies, and whose monument before the civil wars was ornamented with curious brass work, and thus inscribed:
HIC JACET HENRICUS GOWER, QUONDAM MENEV. EP. ET EPISCOPALIS PALATII CONSTRUCTOR QUI OBIIT 7 CAL. MAII, A. D. 1347, CUJUS ANIMiB PROPITIETUR DEUS REQUIEM ET LUCEM SEMPITERNAM CONCEDENDO.
The effigy next to Gower is said to be Chancellor Stradling, who died 1539; and the other on the north side of the porch treasurer John Lewis, who died 1541, and was Stradling’s executor.
The choir, perhaps the loftiest in the kingdom, takes up the whole area of the tower, which is supported on four immense arches, three pointed, and one, though now closed, once open to the nave, Saxon. They differ likewise materially from those in the nave, as they spring alternately from columns circular and octangular; yet, notwithstanding the arches vary, the Saxon mouldings prevail.
On entering the choir, divided from the chancel by a low skreen only, the eye is irresistibly attracted by the very rich and elegant design of the east window, where we trace a mixture again of the round and pointed orders, but mostly of the latter, where it seemed to have got the ascendancy, though architects could not be brought to discard the former entirely; and I find by a note in Sir Richard Hoare’s elegant and useful Essay on the Progress of Architecture, published at the end of his Itinerary of Giraldus, that it was not unusual to adopt the pointed arch so early as the period ascribed to the erection of this pile, for the abbey of Lanthony, in the year 1108, and the cathedral of Landaff, afford specimens to confirm it.
The high altar is approached by a gradation of ascent producing an awful effect. The floor is paved with the ornamented tiles, having escutcheons of arms and pious mottoes on them; and the roof of wood is curiously painted and enriched with the arms of the different benefactors of the church.
In the choir the stalls of the dignitaries occupy the north, south, and west sides, and consist of twenty-eight stalls, five on the right side of the entrance, and the same number on the left, nine on the north, and as many on the south side.
p. 77
Under the seats of the stalls you find carved work, always ludicrous, but often bordering on the indelicate. The bishop’s throne stands in the south-east angle of the choir, and for workmanship is said not to be paralleled by any in the kingdom but that of Exeter. Almost opposite is the moveable pulpit, standing on a stone in the pavement, inscribed round the rim, but not legibly. Can this be a grave-stone, or is the inscription indicative only of its sacred office?
On the floor near the throne a flat tombstone, once enriched with brasses, bore this inscription:
PETRA PRECOR DIC SIC,
MORGANUS AP EYNON EST HIC.
He was archdeacon of Brecon, A.D. 1389
Beyond the skreen separating the choir from the chancel, and exactly opposite the entrance into it, is an altar tomb like Prince Arthur’s at Worcester, of Edward Tudor, Earl of Richmond, eldest son of Owen Tudor, …
On the left or north side of this tomb is St. David’s shrine, with very little of such richness now about it as usually characterized the shrines of saints, for the lower part consists of a plain tomb, with no other decoration than four quatrefoil openings in a row, two of which are stopped up. Above the basement are small divisions with columns, and on the spandrils of the arches, the heads of a king, a bishop, and a monk. Yet simple as this structure now appears (and, perhaps, in earlier times its sanctity was such that it required no other attractions), here kings and heroes have humbly bent the knee like meaner pilgrims, and made their costly oblations.
On the opposite side are the effigies of the two bishops, Anselm and Jorwerth; the former having this inscription round the head:
PETRA PRECOR DIC SIC,
ANSELML’S EPISCOPUS EST HIC.
But towards the middle of the chancel, exactly opposite to each other, under plain recesses backed with elegant wood-work skreens, are the monuments of Rhys ap Griffith, commonly called the Lord Rhys, Prince of South Wales, and of his son Rhys Grug. Their effigies in armour are of freestone spiritedly sculptured, particularly the lion, the armorial cognizance on their breasts. The Lord Rhys’s head rests on his helmet surmounted with a lion sejant sitting by way of crest, but his son’s on a pillow. As to the bar observed to cross the neck of the lion on the breast of the latter, it is meant for one of those heraldic marks or differences whereby bearers of the same coat of arms are distinguished from each other, and their nearness to the principal bearer shewn, called the Label. They are the first of the princes of South Wales who were interred in this cathedral, Stratfleur Abbey having been their usual burying place before. With the Lord Rhys the principality of South Wales might be said to have fallen, or if it experienced a short period of turbid existence after, it was but a prelude to the last gasp of expiring royalty. Whilst he lived, though overrun by the Normans and Flemings, his territories were perpetually shifting their limits, and his whole life was one scene of desultory warfare in their defence or recovery; yet, with his talents, the little power left him was still formidable. The lion worried by his hunters may shrink into a corner of his forest, or may withdraw to lick his wounds; but soon refreshed, he turns upon his pursuers, is heard to roar, and vindicates his wonted range. He was no less distinguished as a hero than a politician. His skill and courage in war were unquestionable; nor do we want proofs of his consummate sagacity, and possessing the taste and spirit to improve and give dignity to the short intervals of peace he enjoyed; and by Giraldus’s account, who writes from a personal and intimate knowledge of him, he had no small share of urbanity, wit, and eloquence. In stature, gracefulness of person, and symmetry of body, he was said to excel most men. Rare indeed must …
Within the communion rails is the monument of treasurer Lloyd, of the house of Milfield in Cardiganshire, and a mural marble tablet to the memory of chancellor Needham. In the tower about the year 1720 there were five bells; one about four hundred weight tolled to prayers, the other four belonged to an entire peal, and had a treble and a tenor, the biggest then remaining was twenty-two hundred weight. The bells were new cast in Gower’s time, when the largest in taking down was said to have cracked the tower, and was lost at sea. And here it may not be out of place to mention a curious particular respecting a Mr. Williams, vicar of this cathedral, who, when a boy in the time of the civil wars, whilst the fanatical soldiers were pulling down the organ,  … The north transept is at present a plain, undignified building, having only at the back of the stalls of the choir a small portion of it separated by a skreen, said to have been a penitentiary. Here, under a canopy, is a plain tomb, having on its side two quatrefoil perforations, and recessed niches between, seemingly for images, not unlike St. David’s shrine; votive offerings being made here as at that of the patron saint, the church being dedicated to both St. Andrew and St. David.
The floor of this chapel is peopled with modern grave-stones, which even in my memory had some very ancient, of which not a trace remains; but in the beginning of the last century there were monuments under two plain canopies now filled up; and near a large tomb of grey marble, and another of fine white marble, with an effigy curiously sculptured on it, and this inscription round it:
“HIC JACET MAURITIUS GLYN CUJUS ANIMAE”
Another of handsome white marble, somewhat broken and defaced: on which all that was legible of inscription was:
HIC JACET THOS. AP HOWELL IN ECC. MENEV. CANONICUS A. D. 1490,
CUJUS ANIMAE PROPITIETUR DEUS.
A little above it was a beautiful crucifix painted against the wall, and the effigy of St. Andrew with his cross.
Under the great arch next the penitentiary there was a tomb of a dignitary with his effigy, of the name of Powell by tradition; and under another arch, another plain tomb of a dignitary of the same name.
In the opposite and south transept, commonly called the Chanters’ chapel, about the same period were visible five old grey marbles, one or two of them like stone coffins of very antique fashion; two others had on them ancient embossed heads; one only of those remans, with the head worn smooth, and fresh inscribed to the modern dead.
We come now to the ruinous part of this majestic structure, all which, as I find in a MS. letter to Brown Willis from canon Stephen Lewis, A.D. 1717 was in good repair, as he had been credibly informed by those who saw it up, till the great rebellion, when the lead was stripped off and said to have been used about the church of Cardigan and the priory-house adjoining, then belonging to one of the sequestrators. The part now totally unroofed are the two side aisles of the chancel and the Ladys chapel, for Bishop Vaughan’s chapel and the vestibule without it have their roofs entire, but I fear ill covered.
Two opposite doors lead from the chancel to the unroofed aisles. In the north aisle facing the door by which you enter it there is a considerable flight of steps, by which you ascend to what was formerly the chapter-house, but now converted into the free school. Under this is a room of the same dimensions, with an elegant groined roof, that might have been used for the audit entertainments of the chapter, as it has at the upper end a dais, as in college halls, for the cross table. That this building in its present external form has been the chapter-house for these five hundred years there can be no doubt, as I have seen to a deed, dated so far back, the chapter seal with an impress of an edifice exactly resembling this.
The side aisles retain marks of groined roofs, windows of fine proportion, and other suitable decorations. But Bishop Vaughan’s chapel ranks with some of the most perfect specimens of the florid Gothic of that age. The roof is of freestone elegantly wrought, and as fresh as if lately finished. At the east end are two most beautiful niches, marking the site of the altar between them; on each side of which there is an oblique slit through the wall into the other chapel, perhaps for the purpose of a confessional. The west wall is perfectly plain. The north and south entrances had finely carved open skreens, once dignified, as tradition says, with green silk curtains. And yet for this splendid chapel, dedicated to the holy Trinity, he chose a place, “qui antea fuit vilissimus sive sordidissimus locus in tota ecclesia” – a sink of all filth. The bishop was buried under a plain marble tomb of the country, with his effigy on a brass plate richly engraven, and the following inscription: …

The roof of what I have presumed to call the vestibule to this chapel seems much more ancient than it is considered to be, in consequence of having in one of the intersections of its ribs an escutcheon with Sir Rhys ap Thomas’s arms within the garter, evidently placed there, together with the royal arms, in compliment to the reigning monarch and the illustrious Welshman, his powerful adherent and favourite, by Bishop Vaughan, when he was adorning his own peculiar chapel.
Our Lady’s chapel founded, or rather finished by Bishop David Martin, I remember with its roof nearly entire, but in a dangerous state of decadency: the work was singularly curious, of which a few scattered fragments yet remain on the floor – the knot of rabbits and some escutcheons of arms.
In the north aisle at the back of David’s shrine, observe a square niche between two quatrefoil openings as on the other side, and arched niches lower down. A little higher up on the same side appear two canopies, once tenanted with effigies, closed up. The one exactly at the back of Rhys Gryg’s monument had an effigy of a priest with a lion at his feet, said to be Meredith Rhys’s brother, a dignitary of this church.
Just at the north entrance of Vaughan’s chapel there is an effigy of an ecclesiastic much weather-beaten, as it lies, since the aisle has been open, under the fall of a spout, with this inscription: ORATE PRO AI~A JOH. NUPER –  . AR . .
supposed to be of John Hiot, archdeacon of St. David’s, who died A. D. 1419- it appears as if this weather-beaten effigy had Iain under a rich stone canopy, broken in upon to make Way for Bishop’s Vaughan’s splendid new work, as the ornamental mouldings of half the canopy may be traced to its juncture with the more modern freestone building. Over this effigy, inserted in the wall, is an admirable basso-relievo of the crucifixion.
On the north side of the aisle near the East end of it, where Sir John Wogan, when chief justice of Ireland, founded a chantry dedicated to St. Nicholas, under two sculptured arches are the effigies of a Crusader and a priest, both supposed to be of the Wogan family, the latter probably David Wogan, who occurs as chancellor of St. David’s.
In our Lady’s chapel on the south side, Under a rich stone pavilion, highly ornamented with pinnacled buttresses, on each side is the monument of Bishop David Martin; and on the other side a recess stripped of its stone decorations, and the monument it once inclosed, supposed, but very erroneously, to have been that of Bishop Adam Hoton, as he, by his will, directs his body to be buried on the north side of his own Chantry chapel, where it is evident there existed a monument by a similar appearance on the wall there.
Oh the north side of the south aisle at the entrance into Vaughan’s chapel is a mutilated figure of a crusader; and lower down on the same side in a mean recess the effigy of a priest, always taken and shewn for Giraldus, though there is much reason to doubt it. In the notes on St. David’s in the Bodleian library, it is said to be the figure of an ecclesiastic six feet high, by tradition one Mortimer, and supposed by the annotator to have been Edmond Mortimer, rector of Hodnet in Shropshire, mentioned in Dugdale’s Baronage, vol. i.
On the south side of this aisle there are three canopied monuments, the first of a priest, whose effigy rests on a tomb, the side of which is ornamented with sculpture and seven escutcheons of arms in a row within as many compartments. I am much inclined to suppose this to be the monument of Giraldus, who being a man of high rank, noble birth, and of princely alliance, might have been proud of displaying such pretensions on his tomb, and I never recollect to have seen that of a priest so decorated before. A plain tomb under the next canopy is that of Silvester, a physician, as the. following inscription informs us, but of whom nothing more is known:
SILVESTER MEDICUS JACET HIC, EJUSOUE RUINA
MONSTKAT QUOD MORTI NON OBSISTIT MEDECINA.
The last is the effigy of a priest holding a book, with an inscription in old French, now too much obliterated to be intelligible, of which, by a person who endeavoured to make it out about a century ago, the following has been preserved:
SOUTIENS DIEU DE SON AME AIT MERCY. AMEN.
This figure, on a supposition that the book was introduced to characterize a scholar, Sir Richard Hoare is inclined to think might designate Giraldus.
There is yet to be spoken of an ancient building on the south side of the cemetery, originally intended as a store-room to hold materials for the use of the church, and the vault or basement story has been always so appropriated, but the upper story, after the destruction of the school and library over the west cloister, was fitted up to supply its place, and continued to do so for above two centuries, till it was converted into a chapter-house and audit room by the late Mr. Archdeacon Holcombe, from an ill directed zeal for innovation, remaining a sad monument of his total want of taste in architecture. Indeed, the building at first was most injudiciously placed, as it intercepted the view of the finest side of the church, and, as seen from the tower gate, of the palace; but still it was not disgraced with such fantastic decorations as those which, in its present altered state, present themselves to hurt the eye from whatever point we view it. It had at least a consistent simplicity to boast of; and time had begot an hereditary reverence for the purpose it was applied to, so that we did not wish it removed or transformed. There was then a sort of charm about it to prevent the disgust it now excites. In this respectable character I was accustomed to remember it, and to associate with it a thousand other pleasing recollections of the scenes of my boyish days, and the companions of my maturer years, some of whom have bled for their country, proved champions of her religion, and assisted in her councils.
{History}
Nor must the name of Mr. Archdeacon Holcombe be overlooked, as last, though not least of the benefactors to St. David’s; and malice, though it has been busy in its endeavours to depreciate his fame and resist his pretensions, cannot abridge him of a just claim oh the gratitude of this place. He was a man of boundless expense and spirit; his hospitality was of a caliber to have done honour to the mitre; and his charity, “that covereth a multitude of sins,” was as extensive as it was unostentatious. When he was appointed residentiary, to fit the house (the precentor’s) that had been usually occupied by the residing dignitary for the magnificence of his ideas respecting the state of residence, he may be said to have almost rebuilt it, the arrangement of the present interior being entirely his, producing not only commodiousness and room; but elegance in the distribution of the apartments. Nor was he inattentive to the exterior of the mansion, having given it a new facade towards the gardens immediately appendant to it, repaired the terraces, and beautified the whole with a shrubbery and conservatory.
The space without the palace walls extending to the river, till then choaked with briars, disfigured with fragments of fallen grandeur, and become the haunt of the serpent and the toad, he opened, cleansed, and laid out in gardens, clothing the high outer wall of the palace with fruit-trees of every kind, where they had ample room to luxuriate, and the benefit of the choicest exposure, and adding likewise a considerable extent of glass for the production of pines, grapes, and other forced fruit.
He also made anew the ancient vivarium or fish-pond, once an appendage to the luxury of the episcopal table, and when he lacked sea fish, which was but seldom, his stews supplied him with trout, of flavour, size, and quality little inferior to salmon.
His attachment to St. David’s began at an early period of life, and in every stage of it was marked with fervour and constancy. A wish every way to serve and aggrandize it was his ruling principle, to which health, time, and fortune were sacrificed. All his establishment was on an enlarged scale; and every thing that appertained to it, even his double bottles, were expressive of the same enthusiastic devotion to his favourite St. David’s, by being all inscribed with the Welsh motto of Llwyddiant y Tyddewi (Prosperity to St. David’s).
His house was always open to his clergy, where, instead of living in a sulky separation from each other, they had an opportunity of blending together pleasantly, refreshing their learning by the use of a good library, and refining their habits of life.
But it was not only to his clergy and neighbours that his house was open; it was a general rendezvous. Every stranger who had the smallest appearance of a gentleman found a welcome reception, and it was his own fault if he did not feel himself at home though a stranger. To come as a visitor to St. David’s was a sufficient passport to his notice; and the antiquary and the tourist never had occasion to regret the want of a good inn there, unless they churlishly chose to decline an invitation offered with that fascinating frankness peculiar to him, and irresistible.
Yet there are some who, not content with losing sight of that excellent maxim of “De Mortuis nil nisi bonum,” have malevolently taken pains, after his death, to hunt out his failings, and failings he certainly had in common with the rest of his frail and imperfect species, and scarce allow him a single virtue without such a drawback as almost converts it into a vice; branding his liberality with extravagance, and his conviviality with intemperance; calling his hospitality a trap, and assigning some selfish or sinister motive to every action of his, however it might have, and most frequently had, its source in the noblest feelings.
As to its being equal to the main purpose of supporting the fabric there can be no doubt, and in that respect the merit of the work justly belongs to the late archdeacon of St. David’s. As to its defects, judged of as a piece of architecture, whatever they may be, they are chargeable solely to Mr. Nash’s account.
The fund already raised being exhausted, and the archdeacon’s misfortunes crowding so fast upon him as to oblige him to quit a place where he had fondly flattered himself he should have ended his days, the subscription stagnated, and there was no person found again to put it in motion and attempt to prosecute his plans, for the prophet had not left his mantle behind, and if he had, few would have had the nerve to have put it on.
{The chapels on the headland}
Fenton, Richard, A Historical Tour of Pembrokeshire, (1810 & 1811), pp. 41-115
Fenton acknowledged Colt Hoare’s help at St David’s (p. 108 of his Historical Tour)

29.8.1811

St David’s is a miserable village, inferior to Bangor and St Asaph. The inn is a poor one.’
Gray, Jonathan, letter,  North Yorkshire Record Office, ZGY, Letter J47, Carmarthen, 2.9.1811

1819 Published

Some of this is based on Skrine (1798) and the Cambrian Directory (1800)see above.
p. 129
The saunter became more enlivening from hence to the city of St. DAVID’s, which scarcely boasts a tolerable house connected with the church, and does not even possess a market; but its ecclesial remains afford striking indications of past splendour. The cathedral is a large Gothic edifice; its tower is finely carved in fret work; and its parts, external and internal, display much ornamental architecture, Saxon and Gothic. It is situated at the bottom of a steep hill, and scarcely visible in the town, and with the ruins of the magnificent episcopal palace and prebendal houses were formerly enclosed by a strong stone wall, with four gates, computed at eleven hundred yards in circuit. It is dedicated to St. Andrew, is well as St. Dewy, or St. David. The west front, or rather portal, has been rebuilt by Nash, but in an incongruous style, clumsey and absurd. This front, at which the bishop enters, is seventy six feet broad. The body of the church consists of a nave, and two side aisles; the cieling of the nave is much and deservedly admired; it is of Irish oak. The two side aisles, or transepts, measure from east to west three hundred feet ; and the body with the aisles, seventy six feet broad. Behind the choir is a most beautiful chapel built by Bishop Vaughan, in the reign of Henry the VIII, with a highly wrought stone ceiling, with which all the surrounding ornaments of the building correspond. St. Mary’s chapel must have been still more elegant, from the curious remains of pillars and arches with which its space is strewed; various also, and extraordinary, are the devices in sculpture to be found there. Near the rood loft which is over the entrance into the choir, where the organ is placed in most cathedrals, is the pulpit on the south side; and close by that Bishop Morgan’s tomb. Towards the south end is a fine monument of Bishop Gower, under a stone arch, taking up in length the whole breadth of the rood loft. In the choir are also the tomb of Edmund Earl of Richmond, father of King Henry the VIII, standing in an area, of a very beautiful blue marble spotted with white. On the south side, near the throne, Bishop Jorwerth in his robes, with his mitre and staff. Under an arch within the wall, on the north side, lies a knight, with his head resting on a cushion, and a lion at his feet. This is supposed to be Owen Tudor, father to the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke, and second husband of Queen Catherine. The shrine of St. David is in the north wall of the choir, a kind of altar tomb, with a canopy of four pointed arches, and in front four quatrefoil holes, into which the votaries dropped their offerings, and the monks removed them through doors behind them. Giraldus Cambrensis, who was archdeacon of Brecon, canon of Hereford, and rector of Chesterton, Oxford, was buried here in 1213, as is supposed, but neither image, inscription, nor any other distinctive mark, remains of him. Opposite to the bishop’s throne is the monument of Rhys ap Griffith, prince of South Wales, who succeeded to his father’s honours in 1136, and died 1196. The organ stands in the north arch of the choir, and not in the rood loft. The Gothic ornaments of the choir contrast the Saxon pillars and arches of the great aisle, which are
p. 130
themselves curiously worked in wreaths. The Mosaic pavement, in the upper part of the choir, was probably laid down by the Earl of Richmond, as the roses mark it for the period of that contest. The chancel had formerly two aisles, but the arches are now closed up, in consequence of the windows having been demolished in the rebellion, and the lead from the roof sent by Cromwell to Swansea, to cover the market-house. We are obliged to him, however, for having spared the ceiling of the choir, which was almost too elegant to have escaped this furious and fanatic enemy of the arts. In the north wall of the chancel there is a door into the north aisle. Adjoining the north cross aisle is the old chapter-house, which has a fine coved ceiling, and over it the treasury, which is now converted into a school for the instruction of the choristers. In the north aisle are several monuments of the Wogans who were Knights Templars; the effigies are clad in armour, but much mutilated. On the south wall, over a defaced monument, is a very fine, though greatly damaged, crucifix, between two saints. The crucifix is the most perfect part of this beautiful specimen.
On the north side of the church is a quadrangular building, of much beauty, which was formerly the college, founded by John of Gaunt and Bishop Houghton. The service even then had fallen into neglect in the cathedral, after it had ceased to be metropolitan. It was determined, therefore, at all events, that God should be served on the north side of it; for which purpose a master and seven priests were appointed, with instructions to sing at the hours of high mass, to steer clear of the town and its temptations, and to pay obedience to their superiors, the canons. Bishop Houghton built houses for them, and a cloister between the cathedral and their own chapel. On the west there is a magnificent tower, and on the north side the chapel was built over the chapel-house, through which runs a stream of water. This college fell into ruin soon after the reign of Edward the VIth; but the hall must have been an exquisite specimen of architecture when entire.
On the other side of the brook, to the south-west, are the remains of Bishop Gower’s palace, which must have been formerly a magnificent and even, a princely structure, and one of the most superb episcopal residences in the kingdom. Two parts of its quadrangle are yet nearly entire; the walls are very high, surmounted with a light Gothic parapet, raised upon arched battlements. The Bishop’s apartments, which were large and magnificent, were on the east side. The kitchen, part of which is still standing, will furnish some idea of the state in which these churchmen once lived. There was a large pillar in the centre of the room, supporting four arches, within each of which was a very large chimney. Adjoining the kitchen, was the Bishop’s hall, fifty-eight feet in length, and twenty-three in breadth, within which was a parlour, and at the northern extremity an oratory. The arch by which we entered lie King’s hall is singularly magnificent, with the statues of King John and his Queen over it. The whole palace is built on arches, which were formerly used as cellars. The hall itself is a grand room, eighty-eight feet in length by thirty, purposely erected for the reception of the King and Queen on their return from Ireland; at the extern extremity of this room is a curious circular window of very elegant workmanship, like a wheel, wrought in the finest Gothic, and still quite entire.
Our kings frequently made pilgrimages to St. David’s shrine, where they paid their devotion to the saint, then in the highest repute. In the year 1080, William the Conqueror invaded Wales with a large army, proceeding in a hostile manner till he came as far as St. David’s; but there he laid aside the warrior for the votary, and reconciled the princes of the land to the homage he exacted, by the splendor of his offering and the humility of his deportment. In the year 1110, Henry the IInd paid his offerings at this shrine, was entertained at dinner by Bishop David Fitzgerald, Rhys ap Gryffyth’s cousin, and returned to Pembroke in the evening. The offerings made at all other chapels were brought hither, and divided every Sunday among the priests; the quantity of money has been said to be so great, that instead of being counted, it was measured out in dishes.
On the whole, there is a gratifying scene to be found here for the antiquary or the draughtsman. As a specimen of the early Gothic, large in its dimensions slops, and venerable in its structure
p. 131
an object of equal interest rarely occurs.
St. David’s, said to have been a Roman station, was the seat of the primacy of Wales, transferred here from Caerleon by St. David in the sixth century. Its modern ecclesiastical establishment is highly respectable, consisting of the bishop, six residentiary canons, though only one is generally resident in rotation, for whom there is a handsome house appropriated, four archdeacons, and several minor canons. The residence of the bishop is at Abergwili, in Caermarthenshire, a central part of his diocese, pleasantly situated. Nothing more evidently bespeaks the falling grandeur of this see, than the condition of its palaces. It formerly had seven within the diocese; that of St. David’s, Lamphey Court, and Lawhaden Castle, all in Pembrokeshire, were in the most splendid style of the times; and now only one, with nothing beyond the elegance of a private gentleman’s house.
Much attention has been paid of late years to this cathedral; it is kept in excellent repair, as well as those buildings which are still in use, and the interesting fragments carefully preserved. The service of the church in this very retired part of the kingdom, where there are few to witness it, is conducted with propriety and good effect, with that decorum and attention which would put some of our proudest choirs in England to the blush. There are few places which so forcibly present to the mind the simplicity and privacy of the church in former times. An organ of the sweetest tone, but very small compass, a very few voices in the chaunt, a priest or two in the stalls, and no congregation! A city reduced to a village, and that village almost deserted.
The walk to St. David’s Head, …
About a mile, from St. David’s, is the shell of Capel Stinen, St. Stinan’s, or St. Justinian’s, chapel, close upon the coast; it has been a very fine building. There were formerly several chapels all around this metropolis of pilgrims; at present there are traces of scarcely any; and none, the remains of which are at all interesting, except this of St. Justinian.
Ramsey Isle,
Stringer, Dr., ‘Welsh Excursions Through the Greater Part of South and North Wales, On the Plan of Irish Extracts and Scottish Descriptions.’
The European Magazine and London Review, Vol 78, (1820), pp. 129-131
Much of this is from previously published sources.

1820

The cathedral is a spacious Gothic structure of venerable appearance, in the form of a cross, with a lofty square tower, surmounted by handsome piunacles at each corner. The interior contains numerous specimens of curious workmanship, but is in want of repair. The bishop’s throne is of exquisite workmanship. The floor is composed of tiles of variegated colours, arranged with much taste. The monuments are numerous, and many of them highly interesting. The Bishop’s Palace, of which Bishop Gurder is the reputed founder, is a venerable ptie, on the south side of the cathedral; and, like the other noble remains of St. David’s, exhihits monuments of former magnificence.
Leigh, Samuel, A new picture of England and Wales, (1820), p. 659-660

30.9.1824

‘we found humble but decent accommodation at the principal ale house in this now miserable city [St David’s].
The morning proved unpromising which greatly added much to the natural dreariness of the place. {situation}
The remains of Ancient grandeur in which this place abounds, are of a most magnificent description and serve to show what a wreck of its former splendours Menevia has become.
p. 36
The Cathedral … is a venerable and highly curious pile, but it is lamentable to behold the depredations it has suffered by the stopping up of some of the windows, the removal of the pavement from the Transepts and most of all by the unroofing of the aisles of the choirs and Lady chapel by the sacrilegious hand of the “peculating Bishop Barlow”. It consists of a nave with side aisles, a choir and chancel, with side aisles, a transept and Lady chapel and a tower rising from the intersection of the transept in the area of which is the choir. The West front falling to decay was rebuilt from a design by Nash in the most incongruous and unpleasing manner. The entrance into the nave on the north side is by an elegant Norman doorway with zigzag mouldings. The nave is separated from the aisles on each side by semi-circular arches springing from clustered columns. The mouldings on each of the arches is different. The triforium and clerestory are of late Norman or very Early English work, as are the arches, as is indicated by the clustered columns. The ceiling is of Irish Oak and worked into panels and ornamented with elegant pendants. The screen between the nave and choir is stone and of beautiful design, but now whimsically painted.
p. 37
The eastern part of the nave is now used for the Common Welsh service for the Parish.
On entering the choir from the west, the ?defunct design of the east window although filled up is very striking. The stalls are done in very bad taste, being painted so as to have the appearance of being hollow. The organ is under the northern arch of the tower which is open to a great height and contains much Norman work. In the chancel are many curious tiles ornamented with ?trus or pious mottoes. The Bishop’s throne is fine ?rich carved woodwork. Behind the altar is the elegant Perpendicular chapel of Bishop Vaughan, the roof of which is groined with most beautiful ??? work. The unroofed side aisles are divided from the vestibule to the Lady Chapel by E.E. [Early English] arches. The Lady Chapel appears to have had a handsome stone groined roof. The north transept is in a sad state. The pavement is all taken up and it has become a burying place for the nameless dead. At the east end of it is a chapel called St Andrews with a groined roof and decorated windows. In it is a singular Early English niche with foliated ornaments. The south transept has degenerated into a lumbar room. The windows in the nave and very beautiful curious re chiefly of a perpendicular character. I have omitted describing the numerous and very beautiful and curious ornaments which adorn this
p. 38
interesting fabric, they are already minutely described by the pen of Mr Fenton (1811). The ruins of the Bishop’s Palace singularly beautiful even in their decay. It must have been a most splendid and stately fabric. The arched parapet is the most singular feature, which is peculiar to this, to Lamphey Court and Llawhaden Castle. In the hall called St John’s is a very elegant marigold [sic] window. There is also a very fine ancient gateway leading to the Cathedral Yard. The Prebendal houses are some of them of ancient appearance, but many modernised.
And now farewell to Menervia! I regret very much not to have had more time to examine this Palmyra of fallen splendour.
Sir Stephen Glynne, Hawarden Castle, A Journal of a tour in South Wales and the adjoining counties of Hereford and Monmouthshire in the months of September and October. NLW Glynne of Hawarden 57, pp. 35-38
[This tourist visited 84 churches, 43 castles, 5 cathedrals and 6 ruined abbeys; most of the manuscript consists of descriptions of these.]

14.7.1830

[Some of this is difficult to read]
Windmill at St David’s
St David’s
f. 42
we saw [St David’s] with its ancient
f. 42v
Cathedral and extensive and interesting ruins of the Bishop’s Palace and College ??? ????? divinity and literature, and of a castellated gate house [in the valley]
Taking a walk through the old gateway among the ruins and by the walls of the Cathedral whilst our dinner was preparing and again subsequently before finally taking leave of the place we found that the walls of the old Palace of a noble hall ????? with a small Chapple [sic] at right angles to and communicating with it, having a little belfry still
f. 43r
remaining, were yet nearly perfect forming the western side and part of the northern of a noble quadrangle – whilst joining with the former at its southern angle ranged another line of buildings consisting of kitchens and ???? and then apparently another hall and other apartments of a ???? superior order whilst on the forth side near the angle abutting on that just described is the great entrance gate now converted into labourer’s dwellings. From the quadrangle each to the halls is a spacious gateway, the first by a very fine arch with a wavy outline, the other of a very unusual structure and consisting of
f. 43v
I think 5 straight stones resting ?????? on their abutments [small sketch of an arch] whilst the ???? gateway to the quadrangle ?from without was through a Gothic arch way of the ordinary form but ?coarsely finished and under-?stone roof or ???? inferior ????? ???? A rose window in the ???? at the western extremity of the hall of very elegant and delicate finish …
f. 44r – 45v
{more architectural details of the palace}
On our original approach to this venerable edifice and in passing it for our visit to the Palace beyond I had been forcibly struck with the incongruous appearance of the low but massive and heavy looking little spiral turrets ?flaunting and meant to adorn its western front as also with the bastard Saxon architecture of the great entrance gate between them, and having suspected this gable to be altogether modern I was now on closer examination of it ??? a little perplexed what to conclude
f. 46r
seeing its materials greatly ?????  with the weather and generally in an advanced state of decay as ???? of any part of the building – I subsequently ?learnt however that this and front had been rebuilt and that so recently as the days of an architect yet living [Nash] <illegible insertion> – the condition of the walls being a consequence of an unfortunate choice of stone whilst the free stone used in its little pillars, ribs, arches etc. show in fact no symptoms of decay. The north front is also and yet more disfigured by a modern thought less recent work – consisting of ?enormously large and coarsely built range of buttresses erected for the ???? of its western end whilst a part of the
f. 46v
remainder of this northern aisle has been entirely dismantled and the south aisle also in a large portion of its length – leaving the tombs and effigies of Giraldus Cambrensis and of a long list of bishops and knights and Barons exposed to the deleterious effects of the atmosphere. At the east end three chapels still displaying rich and very beautiful ?specimens of the lighter Gothic and each successively added at different periods to this end of the cathedral have all been abandoned and suffered to ???? with yet earlier and more complete decay – the arches opening from thence into the first of them formerly the site of the great altar being now walled up and terminating
f. 47r
the interior of that structure. Under these circumstances the exterior of the cathedral is now seen at a great disadvantage and is scarcely deserving description – but the interior still retains considerable and varied specimens of fine Saxon Architecture for the most part in very perfect state and with scarce a symptom of decay.

In the Quire are seen the tombs and full length recumbent figures on the north side of Owen Tudor, rendered illustrious by the ???? with which Catherine of ???? surrounded him as successor to the renowned Henry the 5th
f. 47v
an altar tomb of the Earl of Richmond occupying the middle of the aisle between them – the latter stripped of its bronze ornaments with their inscriptions, but the ???? still retaining traces of the ???? etc. where a large ?plat and a surrounding scroll with 4 shields had originally adorned the tabular ?part above – as also six more shields on the two side fronts. Oliver Cromwell amongst his many other trophies of like character is graced by the tradition of the place, with the reputation of plunder of his tomb. Besides these there are many other ?ornaments worthy of notice in
f. 48r
this part of the church among them one of a crusader distinguished as such in the recumbent figure by the crossing of the legs, of two or three bishops – particularly one in black stone apparently of very great antiquity but still in very perfect preservation. The carving of the bishops throne the canons stalls etc is mean but the interior of the roof <much of it> is beautifully divided into square compartments by groined woodwork very delicately carved and adorned at the points of contact by rich ?bosses and deep pendants like elaborate ?????
On returning through the castellated gateway of the old city, found that it
f. 48r
of an octangular tower of about 25 feet diameter …
f. 49r
went to the cathedral to attend the choral service to be solemnised in honour of the late King’s funeral [George IV died 26 June 1830] which had attracted ?? ?crowded congregation and was now performed in ?????? and with all decency but included no sermon. The rood loft being the most ?public part of the interior of the edifice the organ occupied the ???? of a side aisle where it was seen and probably heard to less advantage.
Beneath the old rood loft I should have observed are some very fine old monuments of ????? ?but figuring on Altar Tombs ????? ground arches – one of them of Gower: that beneath them Arched nitches forming the ???? of
f. 49v
?St David or Patrick and a third ???? were small perforations through from the exterior face of the wall for conveyance of offerings ??? the ?respection or I believe only  2 of the ????? ??? ??? in a small side aisle we were shown on a skreen – obstructing all view of the body of the church some holes perforating it at a height where they could not easily be used for looking into the body of the church and meant as we were told for the easier ?transportation of the sound of the officiating Priests devotional exercise, for the benefit of the penitents here secluded by ancient discipline. A pulpit, reading desk
f. 50r
etc in the body of the church are appropriated to parochial Service in the Welsh tongue which language since we left Monmouthshire with the sole exception of Tenby <designated Little England beyond Wales> and its neighbourhood originally a settlement of the Flemings, we have found to be that of the great body of the people.
Friday [July 15 1830] St David’s Commercial Inn
{St David’s head}
Hext, Francis John, Rev. [?1779-1842] ‘Wales, the Lake District and Edinburgh by the Reverend Francis John Hext, compiled during March-April and July-August 1830’, NLW MS 24129, ff. 42r-52r

1836

The Rev. John Parker was curate of a chapel in Shropshire; Rector of Llannerewig [Llanmyrewig], near Newtown, Montgomeryshire from 1827 and lived at Pennarth, a farmhouse in the parish. He was Vicar of Llanyblodwel from 1844. He had a passion for Gothic architecture and an interest in botany. He made at least 31 tours through Wales between 1819 and 1851.
He spent nearly 5 consecutive days in St David’s and his description of the Cathedral is one of the most enthusiastic to have survived. He augmented these with impressions of the atmophere and history of the place and commented on religious matters. He left empty spaces in his journal, presumably for more comments which he never added.
He was a good artist but the location of the sketches that he made during this visit is unknown.
Thursday 22.9.1836
[p. 49]
How remarkably desolate is the approach to St David’s! how utterly devoid of interest or grandeur.
[p. 50]
No tower appears, no token of any church and the few houses that are seen have white roofs as if they ere covered with eternal snow.  How overpowering i the change of scene hen the stranger descend the hill … and the grey cathedral with its adjoining ruins will gradually rise up, as it were beneath his feet. Nor I the main wonder of that scene eternal. I entered the nave: and stood lost in silent admiration. The vast arcade of Norman Gothic; the pendant roof, so highly wrought, so exquisitely harmonised with its walls; the ruinous but masterly rood loft; all these had their effect in their first view. But I proceeded into the choir under a doorway of skeleton vaulting in stone, so beautiful, so rare in its design that I paused for sometime before I passed it. In the choir I found ancient seats with rich finials. The episcopal throne, like that of Exeter,
[p. 51]
superbly conceived; over the altar three early gothic arches, once richly painted; and under the central tower a vault of gothic woodwork. I saw the remnant of the shrine of St David. Thence I was led through the now roofless aisles to a chapel of Bishop Vaughan’s behind the choir. This is a very fine specimen of the fan groin but is not light enough to show it advantageously. Behind this another chapel of the same form, like a transept, contains, what I prefer to the fan groining, some beautiful early gothic vaulting, so pure, so chaste, so perfect, that here again I more than ever lament the absence of light. The roofless Lady Chapel extended beyond this, and in returning I passed the south aisle where Giraldus Cambrensis lies interred, into the choir again, and thence to the north Transept, here there is a remnant
[p. 52]
of a penitentiary.
St Mary’s college, very much resembling the ruins of St Stephen’s chapel [Parliamentary building?] after the late fire.
The Bishop’s Palace of great elegance
[p. 53]
Friday 23.9.1836
It has rained all night and clouds of sultry warmth like those on the top of Snowdon at midsummer, are floating above, beneath and around the walls of St David’s cathedral! as they slowly move on, various portions of the building come into sight by turns; dim windows of irregular form, and mouldering turrets, and various projections, appear; they reminded me of the towering crags that rise among the vapours of Creeb y ?thesteil. What an alpine effect this cathedral has! ho lonely! ho unlike all others.
The outside has a feint resemblance to Iona, though infinitely superior as to size; and ere it not for the hothouse temperature that prevails here, I could almost fancy myself among the Hebrides.  …
[p. 54]
{historical figures brought to mind by the setting}
I can hardly tell why by with all its deficiencies this place fascinates me exceedingly …
[p. 55]
{thoughts prompted by the atmosphere of the place}
[p. 56]
I wander up and down this cathedral subdued by the grandeur of it, and incapable as yet of transferring any part of it to paper.
Assuredly that vast roof is a true specimen of the gothic sublime …
[pp. 57-60]
{description of the roof}
[p. 61]
In some of the modern alterations, they have used a perishing freestone, which is already gone. But the shafted angles of the tower, and the turrets that rise from them are as perfect as they were seven hundred years ago.
{effect of the climate on the wood and stone}
[p. 62]
{The sinking of some of the structure caused alterations and repairs}
[p. 63]
These arrangements which might have been more judiciously conducted, but which were to some degree essential to the preservation of the building, the magnificent Nave  was closed at one end in a most unseemly manner. The roodloft, containing the monuments of Bishop Gower and another dignitary as considered so insecure that props of wood were introduced into it, which continue to disfigure an excellent piece of workmanship.
The groined work of this roodloft is of beautiful singularity. … I call this style by the
[p. 64]
name of skeleton-vaulting {as at Bristol Cathedral} and I have adopted it in woodwork for the vaulting of a small oriel in the chancel of my church at Llanmareic. [Llanmyrewig]
The spaces between the ribs of the ceiling are filled with painted foliage, white on a red ground, flowing from a central masse roughly sketched in a grotesque manner. On the north side is a small oblong square of common groined work, in stone. The ribs are painted with alternate patches of red and green. The spaces between with green foliage on a white ground, enclosing figures of the four evangelists animals in the revelations, (which
[p. 65]
represent, according to general opinion, the authors of the four gospels) or angels bearing the name of the evangelist on a scroll. The portions of these paintings that have not been injured by modern repairs are as fresh as if they had been finished yesterday. They are specimens of gothic fresco,
{while he was drawing, a party asked for the organ to be played}. I have seldom heard an organ of sweeter tone.
[p. 66] [mostly blank]
Sunday 25.9.1836
After service I went for a walk to the shore at Caerfai Bay
[p. 67]
{more of the seaside}
[p. 68]
I went in the afternoon to wander about the grey cathedral, while the Welsh evening service as going on, and before the English one had commenced.
[remainder of the page blank]
[p. 69]
[upper half of the page blank]
Monday 26.9.1836]
On entering the nave this morning I found that a wedding was taking place. The service began here and then the parties proceeded into the choir, to the altar. This primitive custom is retained in other parts of Wales, and well deserves the attention of English clergymen.
[p. 70]
{An ancient habit in British churches of sloping of the floor from the altar to the west end …}
[p. 71]
Outside of the choir, under the present organ loft are the remnants of the ancient penitentiary. …
The monuments of two dignitaries are found here {comments on ancient church practice concerning penitents}
[p. 72]
{more on penitents}
[half the page blank]
[p. 73]
[Upper half the page blank]
The episcopal throne of St Davids, a loft gothic structure forms the chief object in the furniture of the choir. It is nobly designed but has been sadly damaged and unskilfully repaired. …
[p. 74]
[more than half the page blank]
[p. 75]
[Upper half the page blank]
Wednesday 28.9.1836
Took more sketches
[p. 76]
{left St David’s}
[p. 77]
Parker, John, (1798-1860), ‘St David’s 1836, no 56’, NLW MS 18253B, pp. 50-79
A few extracts from this were published by Edgar W. Parry, Revd John Parker’s Tour of Wales and its Churches, (1998), pp. 115-118

23.8.1837

St David’s. This city is a collection of a few most miserable hovels.
Went to drink tea with the Canon Residentiary, Mr Davis, Archdeacon of Brecon.
Went to the Cathedral and the ruin of the Bishop’s Palace (which must have been a noble structure). The Cathedral is in so miserable state that it is enough to make a lover of church buildings mad. Formerly St David’s was held in that degree of veneration that 2 pilgrimages to it were thought equal to one to Rome.
St Justinian’s chapel (a miserable affair with a mud cottage tacked on to it).
Romilly, Joseph, Rev., Diary. In Morris, M.G.R., Extracts from the Diaries of the Reverend Joseph Romilly, (1998), pp. 53-54   

24.8.1848

St David’s ‘very poor place, a mere village. Cathedral well worth a visit. Bishop’s Palace a most beautiful ruin.’
Babington, Charles Cardale, Memorials Journal and Botanical Correspondence of Charles Cardale Babington, (1897), p. 145

17.8.1848

… arrived at St. David’s with ‘you expected us of course’. She [the landlady] looked aghast & said ‘why the ladies we expected arrived ½ an hour ago. Here was a catastrophe – the first comers had actually been installed into our rooms & what was more refused to give them up. The landlord threw himself upon our mercy having been out talked by the other party & for the sake of peace we gave in & slept in the most miserable dog hole I have ever occupied – truth to say I was somewhat cross I was not able to take out anything having no room & spent the evening dozing & abusing the so called ladies who appropriated 3 good rooms though one of them was almost a child – the people excused themselves by saying it was rarely ladies ever came her & two parties in one day was a thing unheard of – certainly the inconvenience should have been divided & not all put upon us.
18.8.1848
A storm raged outside as well as inside the house for most part of the night nevertheless I slept tolerably & we determined to St. David’s Head that in case we were obliged to go we might have seen something. We were off before our enemies had breakfasted. A beautiful morning & we went in a sort of jaunting car but soon the road was too rough for a horse or carriage at least & we dismounted & walked we soon reached a most grand scene & seeing St David’s head still in the far distance Sarah and I determined to stay where we were & sketch letting Supemis (?) proceed with the guide – they were a long time gone & Supemis looked so hot & tired when she returned that I was glad I had not attempted it though she said it was well worth the exertion. On our return we met the ladies & they grinned at us most maliciously we found however that they meant to decamp today so we may stay – dinner at 2 & took a sketch of the ruin before meaning to colour it after but we were tired & could not do anything to satisfaction though the evening was charming. The food here is not tempting & requires all the help of their fine air to get it down. The taste for whitening the roofs of their houses is particularly prevalent here [whitewash] the walls are often a deep yellow so that it has quite the effect of snow – Welsh is much spoken in St. David’s our guide today scarcely understood a word of English so that it would not be possible to learn much from him.
19.8.1848 [she seems to have got her date wrong – the 19th was a Saturday]
…Sarah had had a bad night & was in indifferent plight but mended after breakfast. Went to the Cathedral at 11. We were rather early & the Welsh service was not quite over, they scarcely allow 5 minutes between the two…a good organ well played but the singing indifferent – we had a good sermon from the Dean whose name is Llewellin Llewellin & the service all well done – no attempt at intoning. The cathedral has been an immense pile of building but great part is in ruins & what is still used sadly wants renovation. The carving of the roof is very fine so is the Bishops throne. The arches are generally Saxon but some Gothic not highly ornamented. The Bishop’s palace has been in its way the handsomer building of the two but that is quite a ruin & as it is not locked up from the public of course if gets rapidly worse. We dined at 2 o’clock at ½  past 2 the Cathedral is used for a Sunday school & at 4 we went to church again but had prayers only – no sermon. At 6 there was a Welsh service again so they make plenty of use of it. We have been much struck with the observance of the Sabbath. Our landlady went to the early service then attended the school & in the evening went to some place of worship again though she has a baby & her house to attend to, but it is true enough that people generally find time for what they wish to do. We find the servants have all been too once at least….
20.8.1848
… to the Cathedral…set to work first to reform our sketches – I did not attend the morning service for I had a notion that it was gabbled over in a way I should not have liked…St David the founder lived in the 6th century but none of the original building remains – the oldest part  now dates from King John’s reign their are some antique tiles in marvellous preservation – we went through some chapels in ruins but which our guide tells us are to be restored one which they call Bishop Vaughan’s chapel certainly ought to be for it is very beautiful – in front of the altar is a monument to the Duke of Richmond father of Henry 7th who was born at Pembroke – some of the bishops of St. David’s have been sad curators of their charge – one stripped the lead off the building to its sore detriment another whitewashed it!  & much of this disfiguring ornament remains – the wood work too which is black oak has been painted light. The monuments are chiefly of their Bishops – some very old ones. After this inspection we returned to our Hotel paid our bill & set off for Haverfordwest
Hibbert, Mary Anne, Gloucestershire Record Office, D1799/F337
Pitman, Liz, Pigsties and Paradise, Lady Diarists and the Tour of Wales, 1795-1860, pp. 84-98

1852

Jones and Freeman’s account of St David’s was very detailed:
Introduction, geology, topography
The traveller finds himself descending a gentle declivity into something like a town, consisting chiefly of mean houses a few of them thatched, and all of course whitewashed, and built so irregularly as scarcely to deserve the appellation of a street. Some of them advance to the road, others recede from it, many turn half away from it; some have court-yards in front, a few have gardens, but by far the majority have pigsties. On descending further, the street widens out into an open space, the centre of which is occupied by a mutilated cross. And then the upper part of a weatherbeaten tower close at hand attracts the attention; the pinnacles hardly reach above the level of the eye, and the church to which it belongs is buried in a deep dell, immediately in front of the spectator.
The town
Improvements have been made recently, but some buildings of architectural interest have been lost.
The coast
Primeval antiquities
Architectural description of the Cathedral
Archaeology and Heraldry of the Cathedral
Subordinate Buildings and Minor Antiquities
The Palace
Jones, William Basil, and Freeman, Edward Augustus, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St David’s, South Wales (London and Tenby, 1852), p. 8; (London and Tenby, 1856), p. 8 (reprinted by Pembrokeshire County Council 1998)

1857

George Borrow arrived in St David’s on Thursday 7th August, 1857 and stayed two nights at the [or a] Commercial Inn, but his notebook (apparently) included no further details.
(His tour of south Wales in 1857 was not included in his ‘Wild Wales’).
Cantrill, T.C., and Pringle, J., George Borrow’s Second Tour in Wales, Y Cymmrodor, vol 22, (1910), p. 169 (Transcription of the notebook for 23rd August onwards)

1860

From Solva a walk of 3 in. will bring the traveller to 16 m. the city of St. David’s, the ancient Menapia of early days, placed in a corner of Great Britain apparently remarkable for nothing but its desolate appearance and extreme isolation. “Hic etenim angulus est supra mare Hibernicum remotissimus; terra saxosa, sterilis, et infoecnnda; nec sylvis vestita nec fluminibus distincta nec pratis ornata; ventis solum et procellis semper exposita.” This description of old Giraldus will apply with almost equal effect in the present day; nevertheless, the very desolation of the country adds to the feeling of interest with which the visitor examines a city so replete with noble associations.
Inn: Commercial. St. David’s itself is a mere village, consisting of one principal street and two cross ones, at the junction of which stands an ancient cross; but its principal attractions are its grand old cathedral and the ruins of the college and bishop’s palace hard by. None of these buildings, save the top of the great tower, are visible from any portion of the village, until you are close ; upon them; for, like the sister church of Llandaff, the cathedral is placed in a deep hollow, isolating it still more from the city to which it gives its name. There is, however, between the two a great difference. – “The effect of Llandaff is a mixture of that of a ruined abbey and that of an ordinary parish church. St. David’s, standing erect amidst desolation, alike in its fabric and its establishment, decayed, but not dead; neglected, but never entirely forsaken,—still remaining in a corner of the world, with its services uninterrupted in the coldest times, its ecclesiastical establishment entirely untouched, is, more than any other spot, a‘ link between the present and the past; nowhere has the present so firm and true a hold on the past.’ (Jones and Freeman’s St. Davids)
The usual entrance into the close is that leading from the town on the SE. through a gateway, above which is an octagon tower, formerly used as a consistory court and record office; but the aspect of the cathedral from this gate is very far inferior to the approach from the NE., which includes in the view the ruins of the chapel and the chapterhouse.
In shape the church may be briefly described as cruciform, with the addition of 3 chapels of inferior height to the E. end of the choir while, on the E. face of the N. transept, is a lofty building of 3 stages containing the chapterhouse. The dimensions are within, from E. to W., 290 ft., while those of the transepts are 120 ft. Externally, the principal features are the W. front, which was restored at the end of the last century, with modern antique flying buttresses and massive pinnacles; and the nave and aisles, of which the roof has been lowered: they contain 2 doorways, that of the N. being Norman, and the southern one ornamented with sculpture representing the root of Jesse. The tower, which gives the idea of being rather top heavy, consists of 3 stages, the lowest being Norm., and scarcely rises above the level of the original roof; the middle stage is Dec., while the uppermost is Perp. The S. transept contains 4 Perp. windows in 2 stages. The walls of the choir are embattled, and rise with a beautiful though melancholy effect from the roofless and ivy covered ruins of the Lady Chapel and chantries on each side.
On entering the cathedral a view is gained, in its way probably unequalled in any church in Great Britain, owing to the extreme richness of decoration and numberless minutiae of the nave, which is transitional between Romanesque and Gothic. The visitor should observe the great span of the pier arches, which are alternately round and octagonal, and in particular the grace of the foliage of the two shafts attached to the first pair of piers from the E. Those between the N. aisle excite feelings of some apprehension as to their stability, from the extreme bulging —the N. wall also has a considerable outward leaning. Observe too the peculiarity of the triforium. The arches of the windows, below which the triforium range is formed, are enriched with chevrons, while from between them rise exquisite vaulting shafts of the ceiling. The triforium arches themselves are plain and pointed, without shafts.
The roof, in itself only a flat ceiling of timber laid upon the walls, is probably unique in its singularity and extreme richness, produced by the use of numbers of vast pendants. “Both the arches themselves, and the straight lines which join the principal panels, drip with minute foliations like lacework, in a style of almost Arabian- gorgeousness.” The interior of the tower consists of 4 noble arches, of which the western is round, and very richly adorned, while the others are pointed. A decorated arcade rises, each arch forming a small triforium.
The style of the interior of the transepts is Transitional Romanesque, with pointed arches and foliage of the Somersetshire type.
The presbytery consists of 4 bays, and contains massive piers supporting pointed arches with mouldings, and at the E. end an extremely rich triplet of Norm. and E. E, intermixed with a profusion of rich Romanesque moulding; below it is a rich string, and above it a large Perp. window. To the E. of the choir, and a little on the N. side of it, is Bp. Vaughan’s or Trinity Chapel, which, together with one to the E. of that again, have their roofs whole, while all the other chapels are open to the day. The former is a fine specimen of late Perp., and contains an exquisite fan-tracery roof. The Lady Chapel, unfortunately roofless, is of Transition from E. E. to Dec., though containing some Perp. windows. Attached to the N. transept is a peculiar-looking building, of which the lowest stage, formerly St. Thomas’s chapel, is now used as a chapterhouse.
The principal objects of interest in the cathedral are the beautiful stone rood-screen, the work of Bp. Gower, the central division of which forms the entrance to the chair, while those on either side contain tombs, that of Gower himself being on the extreme rt.; the grotesque carvings of the stalls in the choir; the tomb of the Earl of Richmond, father of Hen. VII.; and the shrine of St. David, within the third arch from the E. on N. side of the presbytery, in former days an attraction to legions of devoted pilgrims, including several kings and princes. Giraldus Cambrensis, the interesting old topographer of S. Wales, is also said to be buried here. A curious old clock stands above the rood-loft, which strikes at such an apparent expense of suffering and fearful groaning, as to provoke the risible faculties of the visitor.
he history of the see commences about the end of the 5th centy., when St. David, who had succeeded the holy Dubritius as Archbishop at Caerleon, removed the see to the wilds of Menevia, though by some it is supposed that St. Patrick established a monastery in still earlier times. Amongst the pupils attracted by St. David’s learning and piety were St. Aidan, St. Teilo, and Paternus, the patron saint of Llanbadarn. It was about this time that the Pelagian heresy was checked by the preaching of St. David at the great synod held at Llanddewi Brefi (Rte. 10). The present cathedral was built by Bp. Peter de Leia in 1176, after it had “beene often destroyed in former times by Danes and other pyrats,” although in successive years it became much dilapidated, at one time by the fall of the tower, which crushed the choir and transepts, and at another by an earthquake, to which the very insecure-looking bulging of the N. wall of the nave may be attributed. At the hands of different prelates it underwent different degrees of enlargement and decoration, according to the devotion or architectural capabilities of each, though, of all the long line of bishops, Gower, who flourished in the 14th centy., did more to adorn it than any other. In contrast with whom stands Bp. Barlow, in 1536, who, not content with alienating much of the Church property, is said to have stripped the lead off the Bishop’s Palace as well as from the castle at Llawhawden (Rte. 1), in order that he might provide portions for his five daughters, who married five bishops.
Of late years some careful restorations have been carried on in the interior by Mr. Butterfield, and considerable improvements made in the services, which are now, as in other English cathedrals, held daily.
Adjoining, and on the N. side of the cathedral, are the picturesque ruins of St. Mary’s College, founded in 1377 by Bp. Houghton. They are even in a more dilapidated state than the chapels before mentioned, little being left but a rather elegant tower and chapel, with some good E. Perp. windows, which was built over a crypt. Divided from the rest of the cathedral buildings by the river Alan are the remains of the Bishop’s Palace, splendid in its very desolation, and offering examples of richly decorated domestic architecture, almost unique. This palace, which is of quadrangular form, is one of the masterpieces of Bp. Gower, and will at once strike the visitor for the beautiful arcade and parapet that runs round the whole building. The only other examples of this delicate ornament are Swansea Castle and Lamphey Court (Rte. 1). The parapet consists of a series of open arches resting on octagonal shafts, surmounted, though now only visible in a few places,‘ by a corbel-table, and a battlement. On the S. side is the great hall, entered by a richly decorated porch, over which are two niches containing statues, supposed to represent Edw. II. and Queen Philippa.
The window at the E. end is a rose window of singular beauty and design, the tracery of which forms a complete wheel with spokes radiating from a central quatrefoiled circle.
At the western extremity of the hall stands the chapel, marked by an elegant bell-turret, having a broach spire. The whole of the palace, cathedral, and other buildings stand within the close, which was defended by a wall a mile in circumference.
Anon, A handbook for travellers in South Wales and its borders, including the River Wye, (1860), pp. 124-127 (and subsequent editions)

1863

Wanted to go to St David’s, but was told that it would take a whole day because the roads were bad and was told even by Pembrokeshire men that the cathedral and town were not worth the trouble of going 5 miles to see.
Anon, Journal of a Tour in south Wales, Cardiff Central Library, MS 3.272, pp. 52-53

1863

J. F. N. H., A Remote Corner of Wales, Bentley’s Miscellany, LIV, London, 1863, p. 399, 404

1871

Francis Kilvert
Plomer, William, (ed), Kilvert’s Diary, (1977 edition, 3 vols) vol. 2, pp. 61-70

1875

The great lion of these parts is of course St. David’s, or rather its cathedral, for the city is almost a deserted village, although signs of reanimation are not wanting in its social condition, partly owing, perhaps, to the ecclesiastical restoration in progress; and the good folk of the place are beginning to bestir themselves to accommodate London visitors with tolerable lodgings (though the place is sadly deficient in a decent hostelry), and several families are attracted here by the quiet, and the romantic scenery. A cathedral is generally seen miles off, and is the first object which indicates the traveller’s approach to a cathedral town. But this is not so here. It lies in such a hollow basin that, approaching it, as is generally done, from the east, you do not gain a sight of it until close upon it. This was remarkably exemplified in our case. After passing the lone little hamlet of Tref Asser (the birthplace of Asser Menevensis, the right-hand man, and afterwards the biographer, of King Alfred, whom, it is said, he persuaded to found the first and best of our Universities), we had been for six miles on a continual descent from the curious little village of Groes-Goch, with a panoramic view around of almost everything else, with St. Bride’s Bay stretching nobly before us in the south, and Ramsey Isle, looking as if it were part of the mainland, on the west; but “where is the cathedral?” was our constant inquiry from the good people harvesting in the fields, as we stopped to inquire our way. They pointed indeed to a conspicuous windmill as the nearest object they could guide us by to the far-famed pile; but no signs of it. The third milestone was passed, the second, the first, and still no sign, till we were fairly inside the wretched little High Street of the once-famed New Menapia—when the topmost turrets of the grand old central tower suddenly presented themselves.
There is something peculiarly solemn and impressive in the first sight of the cathedral, as, passing under the octagonal tower over Tower Gate, 60 feet high, once used as a campanile or detached belfry, but now in ruins, and descending a very broad flight of 40 steps, you comprehend for the first time the enormous area of the consecrated precincts; (for within them is to be reckoned not only the large churchyard, covering with its thickly-serried gravestones the whole of a steeply-sloping fore. ground, and the cathedral itself, now half, rejuvenescent, reclining like youth in the arms of old age, or like the living among the dead,)—but, behind it and beyond it, the magnificent remains of the Bishop’s Palace —the work of Bishop Gower of the fourteenth century, and only within the last 150 years a ruin; and those of the College of St. Mary, with its elegant tower, 70 feet high, still beautiful in decay (and communicating through the cloisters with the cathedral), founded jointly by John of Gaunt and Bishop Hoton for the maintenance of a Master and seven Fellows, who lived together in a collegiate manner, and were bound by a solemn vow to strict obedience to the founders’ regulations. The little river Alan, with its sedge-fringed banks, flowing noiselessly through a scene so peaceful, except where the cheering echoes of the chisel and the saw now for a while disturb it, and discharging itself into the sea two miles on, at Porthlais, adds immensely to the picturesque. Nine years have been already spent in the work of restoration, under the able conduct of Sir Gilbert Scott, and the blue-green slate of the district begins to show well among the browner hues of the older parts; but funds come in slowly in these secluded parts, and the luke-warmness of the nineteenth century contrasts strangely and sadly with the piety and profuse liberality of the twelfth. This famous see was once a metropolitan one with six (Giraldus Cambrensis says twelve) suffragans—Worcester, Hereford, St. Asaph, Bangor, Llanbadarn, and Margan: the two last, places one hardly ever heard of. It owes its name to David— a monk of the fifth century — the patron saint of the principality, of whose history, though shrouded in mystery, thus much seems certain, that he went to Paulinus in the Isle of Wight to be instructed in divinity, and returned to end his days and build a monastery here, which had for its government rules of the severest kind, which he willingly obeyed himself. The Pelagian heresy having broken out afresh in these parts—which had long been its stronghold—gave occasion to collect a synod of all Wales. Paulinus, who knew the depth of David’s theological knowledge, recommended him to be invited to it —an invitation which, at the entreaties of Dubricius, then Archbishop of Caerleon, he accepted. Such was the eloquence of his preaching there, that the heresy was again confuted and repressed; and on the resignation of Dubricius, with universal acclamation he was exalted to the metropolitan see, accepting it on the condition that it should be removed to St. David’s— a translation approved of by the whole synod, and shortly after carried out. And thus he was the first to wear that mitre which has assuredly, with more of humility than truth, been said to “burn dimly on the lowest step of the episcopal ladder,” seeing that Connop Thirlwall, whose mitre, after too brief a respite from a long life of duty in his distant diocese, has so lately ceased to “burn ” among us, at the other end of the ladder, may well be said (whatever our opinions of his political and theological principles) to have held his own with the most gifted of his right rev. brethren as a scholar, historian, profound thinker, and divine. Nay more. From its exceptionally judicial temperament, and from the range of its accomplishments, it has been said that his has been the only mind that could survey all those schools and forms of thought which have divided the religious world of England during the present century with equal knowledge and justice; that had he followed up the profession with which he began life, the Equity Bench would have been adorned by him as much as the Episcopal has been: and that no prelate so able has been seated on the latter since the day of Dr. Warburton. Worthily then have we laid him by the side of George Grote and Macaulay in the “historian’s corner” in our great national shrine.
The present structure was begun about 1180, in the episcopate of Bishop De Leia. It is cruciform, with transepts nearly dividing the length in equal parts. From the centre rises a massive tower, resting on arches of very early English. The pavement of the nave ascends towards the east—its pillars on either side bulging outwards, and giving a remarkable appearance to it looking westwards. The roof is of Irish bog-oak, of exquisite workmanship, with elegant pendant drops of the same, seeming as clean and fresh as the day it was put up; for no insect or cobweb is said to harbour in it.
The tower fell from an earthquake in 1220, rendering insecure a great portion of the east end, and inviting general reparations of the choir and transepts—about which time were also added the chapels. Conspicuous in the choir are the altar-tombs of Bishop Gower and Edmund Earl of Richmond, the father and brother of kings—the brother of Henry VI., and the father of Henry VII. Opposite is the shrine of the saint himself. Apertures in the spandrils of the arches, which face it and communicate with lockers within, are pointed out as having admitted many a noble or royal hand laden with offerings. Such was the widespread sanctity of the spot, that more than one crowned head condescended to the pilgrimage; and it is known that Edward I. and Queen Eleanor, Henry II., and Edward III. and Queen Philippa, undertook the journey, and were sumptuously entertained in the palace hard by.
Anon, ‘North-West Pembrokeshire’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 118, (July to December, 1875), pp. 296-298

1877

Visit St David’s from 21st Sept – 28th Sept 1877 with father, Joseph, Kate, Rachel.
At the entrance to St. David’s the first thing which strikes they eye after the old windmill is a large new elaborate chapel – the cathedral which is built in a hollow is not seen till you reach the market cross. We found Mary & Mss Pilbeam awaiting us at the close, Mary looking very well. The Chancellor had a nice fire which with some tea was a great comfort after our cold drive. The Rev. H. Burney was also staying at the close. There is a service in the cathedral at 8.30 every morning to which we went, the singing is not at all good. … The two Miss Thomases came in the evening. Miss Mary Thomas is a daughter of the late canon. On Sunday in the afternoon I took a class in the Sunday School. I had some of the choristers whom I found very easy to manage; it was very funny to see the old people in the school, there was one old woman with a high hat on. After afternoon service we went to St. Justinian’s chapel, a little ruin close to Ramsey Race where people used to go & pray before taking that rough passage. On Monday the chancellor took us over the Cathedral which is being restored by Sir Gilbert Scott; the choir where the English service is held is quite finished but the nave which is to be used for the Welsh service is being restored in memory of Bishop Thirlwell. Behind the altar is a very beautiful light blue curtain with black velvet lines down it & a silver & black pattern the design is by one of Sir Gilbert Scott’s sons & the gift of Bishop Thirlwell. The altar cloth was given by Col. Bickerstaff it is red velvet with IHS in gold on it. The tomb of one of the bishops of St. David’s Bishop Anselm cousin of the great Anselm is worth notice; it is in a good state of preservation & is very valuable as a piece of early carving. The Lady chapel which is very beautiful has no roof & is over-grown with weeds & ivy the gift of £26 has been used towards its restoration. In another chapel there is a curious cross in a hold behind the altar. There is the tomb of St Edmund Tudor Earl of Richmond farther of Henry VIII in the presbytery which has been carefully restored, the remains of Edmund Tudor were removed from Carmarthen their original resting place by Henry VIII. Mr Lucy had the tomb restored the coats of arms are put in the gaps & a brass figure of Edmund Tudor is on the top. Mr Lucy also gave the cathedral 3 mosaics of Salviatio which are in the window behind the altar
Allen, Rachel, Tour, Pembrokeshire RO, MS HDX/132/2  

1878

the Cathedral is now being restored at great cost. The mosaics lately placed in the east window are somewhat unique. The ruins of the Palace here are very large and imposing. From what I could gather, the Cathedral here exerts very little influence among the people, and a new chapel has just been built close to it.
Clark, T.H., Rev., of Clifton, Sketches of Short Tours at Home and Abroad (1878), pp. 28-29

1891

St David’s – Grove Hotel
A city where the morning paper is unknown, and without a railway, or gas, or even a mayor and town council (though possibly none the worse for that). A city with thatched cottages and even hedgerows in its main street, which was guiltless of foot-pavement. … And it seems that it might sleep on for ever thus, unchanged and unchanging in an age of change.
Hissey, James John, Across England in a Dog Cart: from London to St. David’s and back. (1891), p. 209