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COLLEGE OF SS MAURICE & THOMAS, ABERGWILI, LATER THE BISHOP'S PALACE, NOW CARMARTHENSHIRE MUSEUM

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 17099

Map Reference SN42SW

Grid Reference SN4409220969

Unitary (Local) Authority Carmarthenshire

Old County Carmarthenshire

Community Abergwili

Type of Site BISHOPS PALACE, COLLEGE

Broad Class DOMESTIC, RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Post Medieval, Medieval

Site Description Originally a college founded by Bishop Bek of St Davids and translated from Llangadog in about 1291 (see NPRN 33069). It consisted of a Dean, probably the Bishop, twenty-one canons and at least twenty-six religeous anciliaries. The present village has its origins in a small borough also founded in the late thirteenth century.
The college was removed to Brecon in 1541 (see NPRN 23170; 25091). Its buildings were then adapted as the Bishop's principal residence in anticipation of the Cathedral's translation to Carmarthen. The palace was extensively rebuilt in the early eighteenth century and greatly added to and modified in the earlier nineteenth century. It was rebuilt after being consumed by flames in 1903. In 1972 the Bishop moved to a modern residence and the old palace now houses the Carmarthenshire County Museum.
Although the palace retains little flavour of its medieval and early modern origins, its early plan, laid out around a cloistered court, can still be discerned. The courtyard has now been roofed over as a hall from which a stair rises to an upper gallery above the original cloister walks.
The main entrance front faces west where it presents a rather plain two storey rendered facade. There are shaped Dutch gables on the flanking wings and above the central Gothic porch. The remaining facades show a number of prominent bay windows, especially on the east looking over the old river meanders. There are service wings on the north.
The palace-museum is set in extensive grounds (NPRN 266142).

Source: James in the Carmarthenshire Antiquary XVI (1980), 19-35

John Wiles 09.10.07

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