St David’s perches on the western point of Wales on the northern peninsula of St Bride’s Bay. This small city was founded by the Welsh patron saint St David in 550 AD. It has been a place that has drawn pilgrims since it was founded. In 1120 Pope Calixtus II decreed that two journey’s to St David’s amounted to the spiritual equivalent of one pilgrimage to Rome.
The prime focus of the city is the Cathedral Close. At one end there is the cathedral almost hidden in a hollow. This modest location was chosen because at the time a towering cathedral visible from the sea on all sides would have very vulnerable to attack. On the other side of the close was the remains of the Bishop’s Palace.
Entering the close a single bell was tolling as there was a funeral taking place in the cathedral. This made it extremely atmospheric and a quietness across the close despite a number of visitors.
We visited the Bishop’s Palace first. The palace had been built in the 14th century by Bishop’s Beck and Gower. In its day it must have been an amazing building with its huge central quadrangle, impressive Bishop’s Hall and the enormous Great Hall.
After lunch we visited the cathedral with its elaborate latticed oak roof. St David’s, unlike any other British cathedral, is where the Queen is an automatic member of the cathedral’s Chapter (management board). It was simple but impressive cathedral.