I recently visited St Davids Cathedral. A place I haven’t been to since I was a child-on a school trip. A Cathedral set in an idyllic valley within the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
What a lovely place to visit, it is full of history as well as being an active place of worship-it descibes itself as ‘A place of beauty, peace and pilgramage’, with a tag line of ‘Turning visitors into pilgrims’, which based on my experience, describes it quite aptly.
St David, settled on this spot as place of worship in 600AD, and since then, for 1500 years this space has been offered for worship. The Cathedral has around 250,000 visitors per year and holds daily worship services. It is generally open from 7.30am-7pm, and there is no admission costs, they rely on donations from visitors. They recive no state income and are totally reliant on the income from the shop and donations.
Music draws people apart from the historical significance and the Cathedral Choir sing daily in services. To maintain a choir of their standing from a village of 1500 people is quite a feat, especially with the commitment of daily attendance.
They hold a music festival at the end of May annually, the information for which is released on March 1st- St Davids Day, each year. Details can also be found on their website www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk
In 2012 they restored the shrine of St David and local artists created 3 images and a canopy, which now provides a focal point for pilgrimage. In the summer they offer Pilgrimage walks around the St Davids Penninsula.
They also have art exhibitions from time to time and at the Gallery area of the refectory, there are reguklar exhibitors in this gallery space.
The Refectory is run as a franchise for hospitatlity, they use as much local produce as possible and have been awarded the Pembrokeshire Produce Mark by the local council-Pembrokeshire County Council. They are open all year round and serve a great bowl of Cawl, as proclaimed by Aled Jones!
The clock on the tower is due to be fixed this year at an anticipated cost of £150,000. Due to it’s proximity to the sea and the weather we enjoy on the coast, the wear and tear it has endured has taken it’s toll. The people of St Davids have been lost without this, as many used it as their main means of time telling!
The advice from the Cathedral is not to visit on a wet day in August, as this is when everybody is visiting and the peace of the Cathedral is hard to find when so full. My advice would be to take an official tour….without our excellent guide I would not have come away having such a fantastic experience. The history that is linked and has made the Cathedral is the mind blowing part of it for me- the tomb of Edmund Tudor- father of Henry VII(born in Pembroke Castle), grandfather of Henry VIII are here for all to see- some time ago they exhumed his body, which was still in it’s full armour, with the very shockingly red Tudor hair still visible for all to see. I find this of particular interest to myself, as I am currently working my way through the Philippa Gregory books about the Tudors, so it really does feel as though history is coming alive!
I could give you many interesting and fascinating facts about the Cathedral and items you will find inside, but I think I will leave these for you to discover for yourselves when you take a tour…and please do!