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CATHEDRAL CLOSE, ST DAVID'S

Site Details

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

NPRN 402321

Map Reference SM72NE

Grid Reference SM75082550

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community St Davids and the Cathedral Close

Type of Site CATHEDRAL CLOSE

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Post Medieval, Medieval

Site Description 1. The close, or precincts of the Cathedral of St David's, occupies an irregular area, some 300m across, within the valley of the Alun; a map of 1720 (reproduced in CADW guide to the Bishop's Palace) is thought to substantially depict the later medieval arrangements: bounded by precinct walls of a military aspect (Nprn305384): the Cathedral (Nprn306), set within its churchyard, occupies the central part of the close south of the river, with the former bell-tower, now incorporated into the Porth-y-Twr in the precinct walls, set on the edge of the valley above; the Cathedral school (Nprn32110) was situated on the west of the churchyard: north of the Cathedral are the extensive remains of St Mary's College (Nprn305386), with scant traces beyond of the Vicar's College; south-west of the Cathedral the present Deanery (Nprn21865) is thought to incorporate elements of the earlier 'Chaunter's' house & offices, with the site of the Archdeacon of Carmarthen's house & offices and the Chaunter's Orchard to the north (Nprn21595; 30183): north of the river the Bishop's Palace & its grounds (Nprn21633) occupy the western quadrant of the close, to the east of which were the houses & grounds of the Archdeacons of St Davids & Brecon (see Nprn21597; 21650), of the Treasurer (see Nprn22659) & Chancelllor (Nprn21706): other features include bridges over the Alun (Nprn24265; 24282) & river walls (Nprn32495-6).
Part of:
City of St David's (Nprn268104).
J.Wiles 20.01.05

2. St Davids cathedral sits at the heart of a very old and largely intact close, encircled by a strong wall with fortified gates. The close contains the fine ruins of a once lavish Bishop's Palace, now a protected ancient monument, and a complex of houses and lodgings for the archdeacons and other clerics to the north of the cathedral. Also within the close are a cemetery, a silted fish pond and original tracts of meadow unencumbered by any later development or infilling. The entire complex is still bisected by the River Alun, which is crossed by a ford in the centre below the cathedral. When Fenton visited he wrote: `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'' The present wall was probably that built by Bishop Bek (1280-93), and of the four fortified gates, Porth Boning on the north side, Porth Gwyn on the north-west, Porth Padrig to the south and the twin towers of Porth y T'r to the east, the latter can still be seen and still functions as a main entrance from the city.
Extract from: Driver, T. 2007. Pembrokeshire, Historic Landscapes from the Air, RCAHMW, Chapter 4.
T. Driver, 28 June 2007.

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