St Asaph Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of Saints Asaph and Cyndeyrn, commonly called St Asaph Cathedral (Welsh: Eglwys Gadeiriol Llanelwy), is a cathedral in St Asaph, Denbighshire, north Wales. It is the episcopal seat of the Bishop of St Asaph. The cathedral dates back 1,400 years, while the current building dates from the 13th century.[1] The cathedral is part of the Church in Wales and part of the Anglican Communion of Wales.

Saint Asaph Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Saints Asaph and Cyndeyrn
Eglwys Gadeiriol Llanelwy
St Asaph Cathedral from the north-west.jpg
St Asaph Cathedral from the north-west
53°15′26″N 3°26′31″W / 53.25722°N 3.44194°W / 53.25722; -3.44194Coordinates: 53°15′26″N 3°26′31″W / 53.25722°N 3.44194°W / 53.25722; -3.44194
LocationSt Asaph, Denbighshire
DenominationChurch in Wales
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
Church of England Edit this at Wikidata
Relics heldSt Asaph
StyleRomanesque architecture, English Gothic architecture
CompletedMid-13th century
DioceseSt Asaph
Interior – nave and west end
Diagram of window in St Asaph cathedral, with the names of all the families represented by the coats of arms


A church was originally built on or near the site by Saint Kentigern in the 6th century (other sources say Saint Elwy in 560). Saint Asa (or Asaph), a grandson of Pabo Post Prydain, followed after this date.

The earliest parts of the present building date from the 13th century when a new building was begun on the site after the original stone cathedral was burnt by soldiers of King Edward I during the Second Welsh War in 1282. Indeed, there had been plans, following the First Welsh War (1277) to relocate the church to Rhuddlan, plans supported by Bishop Anian (Einion I). However these plans came to nought following the war of 1282, as Conwy and Caernarfon were considered to be the new centres of administration.[2]

The rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr resulted in part of the cathedral being reduced to a ruin for seventy years. The present building was largely built in the reign of Henry Tudor and greatly restored in the 19th century.

The cathedral made the national press in 1930 when the tower became subject to significant subsidence and the cathedral architect Charles Marriott Oldrid Scott advised of urgent repairs to be undertaken.[3][4] It was reported that the cause of the damage was by a subterranean stream.[5] It made the papers again when work was approaching completion in 1935.[6]

Geoffrey of Monmouth served as Bishop of St Asaph from 1152 to 1155, although due to war and unrest in Wales at the time, he probably never set foot in his see. William Morgan (1545 – 10 September 1604) was also Bishop of St Asaph and of Llandaff, and was the first to translate the whole Bible, from Greek and Hebrew, into Welsh. His Bible is kept on public display in the cathedral. The first Archbishop of Wales A. G. Edwards was appointed Bishop of St Asaph in 1889.

In August 2018, the cathedral took the controversial step of making its music staff redundant, citing financial pressures.[7] The cathedral have since reestablished the position of Director of music following the appointment of Paul Booth from September 2019. The choir continue to sing for three services a week.

The organEdit

A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[8]

List of organistsEdit

Year instated Name
1620 John Day
1630 Abednego D. Perkins
1631 John Wilson
1669 Thomas Ottey
1680 William Key
1686 Thomas Hughes
1694 Alexander Gerard
1738 John Gerard
1782 John Jones
1785 Edward Bailey
1791 Charles Spence
1794 Henry Hayden
1834 Robert Augustus Atkins
1889 Llewellyn Lloyd
1897 Hugh Percy Allen
1898 Archibald Wayet Wilson
1901 Cyril Bradley Rootham
1902 William Edward Belcher
1917 Harold Carpenter Lumb Stocks
1956 Robert Duke Dickinson
1962 James Roland Middleton
1970 Graham John Elliott
1981 John Theodore Belcher
1985 Hugh Davies
1998 Graham Eccles
2004 Alan McGuinness
2018 position abolished [7]
2019 Paul Booth - position reestablished

Assistant organistsEdit

  • Llewelyn Lloyd 1875–1889 (later organist)
  • F. Walton Evans 1897–1901

Assistant Director of MusicEdit


  • John Hosking (2004–2018)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "St Asaph in north Wales named Diamond Jubilee city". BBC News. 14 March 2012.
  2. ^ A.J. Taylor, ‘Rhuddlan cathedral: a ‘might-have-been’ of Flintshire history’, Flintshire Historical Society Publications 15 (1954-5)
  3. ^ The Times, Saturday April 5, 1930; pg. 11; Issue 45480; col E
  4. ^ The Times, Saturday April 19, 1930; pg. 12; Issue 45491; col B.
  5. ^ The Times, Saturday September 6, 1930; pg. 12; Issue 45611; col D
  6. ^ The Times, Wednesday September 18, 1935; pg. 13; Issue 47172; col E
  7. ^ a b "Cathedral makes music team redundant". BBC News. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  8. ^ "The National Pipe Organ Register - NPOR".
  9. ^ "Assistant Director of Music". Archived from the original on 30 April 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

  Media related to St Asaph Cathedral at Wikimedia Commons