Church in Wales  Eglwys Yng Nghymru
 
LLANDAFF  CATHEDRAL

Eglwys  Gadeiriol  Llandaf

Home

History

Chapter

Cathedral Clergy

Cathedral
Officers

Services

Music

Diary

Friends

Shop

 

 

 

A SHORT HISTORY

Historical Landmarks

 


 

Llandaff Cathedral stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain.  In the sixth century St Dyfrig founded a community close to the ford where the Roman road crossed the river Taff.  He was succeeded by St Teilo and then Teilo's nephew, St Euddogwy.  These three Celtic Saints remain patron saints of the present Cathedral and are represented by the three mitres in the Cathedral badge.  Nothing remains of the original church but a Celtic Cross that stood nearby can still be seen near the door of the Chapter House.

The present cathedral dates from 1107 when Bishop Urban, the first Bishop appointed by the Normans, instigated the building of a much larger church.  The arch behind the High Altar was built at that time and the doorway that now leads to the St David (or Welsh Regiment) Chapel may have been the West door of Urban's church until it was moved to its new site when the Cathedral was extended and widened and a new West front built about 1220. This West front is judged by many to be one of the two or three most notable mediaeval works of art in Wales.

Later in the 13th century the Chapter House was built and also before the century ended the Lady Chapel which has largely escaped the damage and decay that the cathedral sustained over the following 700 years.  In the 14th century came the replacement of the Norman windows by new ones in the Decorated style; then, before the end of the 15th Century came the building, by Jasper Tudor, of the North West tower as a new home for the Bells which had previously been housed in a detached Bell Tower, now ruined. This Bell Tower had been built two hundred years earlier at the top of a small hill which in pre-Norman times provided the original church and community that lived around it with security from the unwelcome attention of marauders sailing up the Bristol Channel little more than a mile away.

Until the time of King Henry VIII, Jasper Tudor's kinsman, pilgrims thronged to the shrine of St Teilo whose tomb still stands in the sanctuary, and their gifts supported the church. When pilgrims were forbidden and other revenues taken away it was no longer possible to maintain the building adequately and over the next 200 years it fell into a state of near-ruin.

In 1734 restoration began in the popular style of the day but the "Italian Temple" which John Wood, the Bath architect, planned to construct in the fabric of the mediaeval cathedral was never quite completed and the original walls and pillars - or such of them as were still standing - still remained. A hundred years later, new life and growing prosperity in the Diocese made possible a fresh restoration undertaken by J F Seddon and John Pritchard. To them we owe much of the present structure including the South West tower and spire, completed in 1869,  which replaced the early-12th century tower which collapsed in 1722.

A great deal of the 19th century work inside the Cathedral perished when the building was heavily damaged and the roof destroyed in the 1939-45 War. Its restoration was entrusted to George Pace who aimed at blending new work with what remained of the old and at giving the Cathedral a sense of spaciousness which it previously lacked. The High Altar was lowered and the triptych of the Seed of David by D G Rossetti which stood behind it was moved to a new position in the St Illtyd Chapel at the foot of the North West tower. Pace built the Welch Regiment Memorial Chapel but his greatest achievement is the reinforced concrete arch surmounted by Sir Jacob Epstein's aluminium statue of Christ in Majesty which stands between the Nave and the Choir and "breaks", without interrupting, the view of the whole building from the top of the steps inside the West door to Geoffrey Webb's Jesse window at the East end of the Lady Chapel.

The cathedral church is one of the principal instruments used by the Church, gathered round its bishop, in its work of praising the Holy Name of God and enlarging His kingdom. For this task it needs to be constantly conserved, adorned and provided with the facilities it requires, and this is taking place in the early years of the 21st century, no less than in the past, as the House of Teilo, as Llandaff Cathedral has been called after the bishop who built the first church on the banks of the River Taff behind its protective hill, continues its work in the next millennium.

 


 


LANDMARKS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CATHEDRAL

 

1120

The Normans start to build the present Cathedral on the site of a small church which had stood here since circa 560.

1190-1220

The Nave and the West Front.

1250

The Chapter House and detached belfry on the Green

1287

The Lady Chapel

1485

The Jasper Tower built by Jasper Tudor

1590

Ruin after Reformation,  For a century and a half the Nave was in ruins, and only the Lady Chapel was used.

1736

Partial restoration reaching a point in the Nave marked today by the special paving.  The Architect, John Wood of Bath; classical style; an "Italian Temple" was build within the walls of the Presbytery and Nave.  Much mediaeval work was destroyed.

1843

The nineteenth century total restoration by John Prichard and J.P. Seddon was begun.  All the eighteenth century work was removed. 

1857

the first part of the restoration was completed.  The Presbytery, Choir, and half the Nave were opened.  The Bishop of Oxford - Samuel Wilberforce - preached [16th April].

1860

The Cathedral Organ was dedicated, the first instrument since the last part of the 17th century [17th September].

1869

The whole Cathedral was completely restored.  The Prichard Tower (with spire) was built.

1880

The Cathedral School was re-founded by Dean Vaughan, the only surviving Choir School in Wales.

1941

A German land mine reduced the Cathedral to almost complete ruin [2nd January].

1942

The Lady Chapel and Presbytery were reopened for worship, but only temporarily restored [30th April].

1949

The restoration begins under Mr George Pace who was appointed Architect to succeed Mr Charles Nicholson.

1951

The Jesse east window of the Lady Chapel was dedicated [20th October].

1952

The two south windows of the Lady Chapel were dedicated.

1956

The Welsh Regiment Memorial Chapel was dedicated [22nd September].

1957 

The restored Nave was hallowed for use by Archbishop John Morgan [10 April].

1958

The 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division Memorial Chapel was Dedicated [26th April].
The reconstructed Hill, Norman & Beard organ was dedicated [8 October].

1959

The John Piper window above the Sanctuary Arch was dedicated [4th October].

1960

The High Altar 17th century Candlesticks and mediaeval Crucifix were dedicated [19th June]
The Pulpit, a memorial to the late Archbishop John Morgan, was dedicated [28th July].
Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the restoration of the Cathedral and for fourteen centuries of Christian witness in this place [6th August].

1980

The screen in the St Dyfrig Chapel, a memorial to Archbishop Glyn Simon, was dedicated on the completion of the refurbishment of the Chapel [4th July].

1985-1990

Restoration under the direction of the Cathedral Architects, Mr Robert Heaton (1977-1986) and Mr Donald Buttress (from 1986):

Cleaning and restoration of the West Front;
Re-roofing and interior decoration of St David Chapel;
Refurbishment and redecoration of Lady Chapel;
Relocation of mediaeval Majestas from West Front to St David Chapel;
Re-roofing of North Aisle;
Redecoration and refurbishment of Processional Way;
Re-roofing of South East Aisle;
Restoration of Rossetti Tryptych and refurbishment of St Illtyd Chapel and the
     provision of new parclose screen;
Re-pointing of Lady Chapel exterior walls and restoration of East window
     stonework;
Re-roofing of Chapter House;
Extension to Prebendal House and provision of new vestries.

1991

Service of Thanksgiving for the restoration work of 1985-90, in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince William of Wales [1st March].

1992

Recasting of the existing ring of 10 bells as a new ring of 12 (with flat sixth semi-tone bell) by the Whitechapel Bellfoundry [Dedication Service 21st November].
The creation of a Garden of Remembrance on the site of the crater made by the war-time bomb with a Standing Stone in the centre commemorating that event.

1993

The refurbishment and refurnishing of the upper room in the Prebendal House as the Deans Hall.

1996

The re-ordering of the St Teilo Chapel with the inclusion of a reliquary to house the medieval skull of St Teilo returned to the Cathedral in 1994.

1996

Extensive repairs to the exterior of the Jasper Tower (The Bell Tower)

2004

The creation of a paved area in front of the West Front of the Cathedral and the replacement of the post-war cobbled path down to it from the Green by a flight of stone steps.
A system of flood-lighting was installed

2007

The Cathedral was entirely rewired and a new and much more dramatic and effective system of interior lighting was installed

2010

Inaugural use of new Nicholson organ at the Paschal Vigil - the largest wholly-new British built organ to be commissioned in a UK cathedral for nearly half a century [3rd April].

 

Top of Page

 


 

Cathedral Office

Cathedral Website   - this page last updated: 06/08/2014 12:48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top of page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top of page