Llandaff Cathedral (Welsh: Eglwys Gadeiriol Llandaf) is the seat of the Bishop of Llandaff, head of the Church in Wales Diocese of Llandaff. It is situated in the district of Llandaff in the city of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The current building was constructed in the 12th century over the site of an earlier church. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and also to three Welsh saints: Dubricius (Welsh: Dyfrig), Teilo and Oudoceus (Welsh: Euddogwy). It is one of two cathedrals in Cardiff, the other being the Roman Catholic Cardiff Cathedral in the city centre.
Llandaff Cathedral was built on the site of an existing church. According to tradition, the community was established by Saint Dubricius at a ford on the River Taff and the first church was founded by Dubricius’ successor, Saint Teilo. These two are regarded as the cathedral’s patron saints, along with their successor Oudoceus. The original church is no longer extant, but a standing Celtic cross testifies to the presence of Christian worship at the site in pre-Norman times.
The Normans occupied Glamorgan early in the Norman Conquest, appointing Urban their first bishop in 1107. He began construction of the cathedral in 1120 and had the remains of Saint Dyfrig transferred from Bardsey; the work was not completed until 1290. The west front dates from 1220 and contains a statue of St. Teilo. Bishop Henry de Abergavenny gave the cathedral its statutes. The Lady Chapel was built by William de Braose, bishop from 1266 to 1287. Damage was done to the church in 1400 during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr; his forces also destroyed the Bishop’s Palace at Llandaff. Most of the other damage was repaired, most notably by Bishop Marshall, whose reredos partly survives. The northwest tower, the one without a spire, was added by Jasper Tudor and is now named after him. He assumed the lordship of Cardiff after the accession to the throne of his nephew, King Henry VII of England.
Late medieval tombs include that of Sir David Mathew of Llandaff (1400–1484). Sir David ap Mathew was ‘Grand Standard Bearer Of England’, granted under King Edward IV, for saving his life at the Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461 (War Of The Roses).
During the English Civil War, the cathedral was overrun by Parliamentarian troops. The southwest tower suffered major damage in the Great Storm of 1703 and by 1720, was in a state of collapse. In 1734, work began on a new cathedral, designed by John Wood, the Elder, and nicknamed the “Italian Temple”. It was used for a hundred years but never completed and only a few stones remain.
Victorian and modern history
During the 19th century, when the Bishop of Llandaff began, for the first time for centuries, to reside in Llandaff, the cathedral was extensively restored, the tower rebuilt and a spire added. Much of the restoration work was completed by local architect John Prichard between 1843 and 1869. A triptych by Dante Gabriel Rossetti was designed for use as a reredos, and new stained glass windows were designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown. The office of Dean was separated from that of the Archdeacon of Llandaff in November 1843. The cathedral school which existed from the time of the Elizabethan Bishop Blethyn until about 1700 was re-established by Dean Vaughan in 1880.
On the evening of 2 January 1941 during World War II the cathedral was severely damaged when a parachute mine was dropped near it during the Cardiff Blitz, blowing the roof off the nave, south aisle and chapter house. The top of the spire also had to be reconstructed and there was also damage to the organ. Of British cathedrals, only Coventry Cathedral was damaged more, during the infamous Coventry Blitz.
Major restorations and reconfigurations were carried out under architect George Pace of York, and the building was back in use in June 1958. The Queen attended a service celebrating the completion of the restoration on 6 August 1960. The Welch Regiment memorial chapel was constructed, and Sir Jacob Epstein created the figure of Christ in Majesty which is suspended above the nave on a concrete arch designed by George Pace.
In February 2007 the cathedral suffered a severe lightning strike. Particular damage was caused to the electrics of the organ, which was already in poor condition. This prompted the launch, on 13 July 2007 (the 50th anniversary of the re-hallowing of the nave following the wartime damage), of an appeal to raise £1.5 million for the construction of an entirely new organ.
The cathedral has the traditional Anglican choir of boys and men, and more recently a girls’ choir, with the only dedicated choir school in the Church in Wales, The Cathedral School, Llandaff. In addition, the parish choir sings at the weekly Parish Eucharist, and is a mixed choir of boys, girls, men and women. Women were only allowed to sing in the choir from 2005 onwards.
The organ that was installed after the wartime damage was never entirely satisfactory, even before the lightning damage. Originally it had been planned to install a new organ at that time, but the costs of about 1 million pounds were deemed to be too high in the austere climate of post-war Britain. Work on installing the new organ, by the Nicholson’s of Malvern firm of organ builders, began in autumn 2008. Though not fully completed, it was brought to a playable stage by Easter 2010 and had its inaugural performance (the Gloria of Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle) at the Easter Vigil service on 3 April 2010. The stops still lacking, due to the necessary funding not yet having been acquired, are those of the enclosed solo and some pedal stops. This is the first entirely new organ for a British cathedral since that for Coventry. A specification can be seen here.
The cathedral has a ring of twelve bells (with an additional “flat sixth”, to make thirteen in total) hung for change-ringing, located in the Jasper tower. The current bells were installed in 1992, replacing a previous ring of ten.List of organists
- 1861 John Bernard Wilkes
- 1866 Francis Edward Gladstone
- 1870 Theodore Edward Aylward
- 1876 Charles Lee Williams
- 1882 Hugh Brooksbank
- 1894 George Galloway Beale
- 1937 William Henry Gabb
- 1946 Albert Vernon Butcher
- 1949 Thomas Hallford
- 1950 Eric Arthur Coningsby
- 1952 Charles Kenneth Turner
- 1957 Eric Howard Fletcher
- 1958 Robert Henry Joyce
- 1974 Michael John Smith
- 2000 Richard Moorhouse
- Arthur Charles Edwards 1894
- R. M. Powney 1940 – ?
- Graham John Elliott 1966–1970 (afterwards organist of St Asaph Cathedral)
- Anthony Burns-Cox 1970-1977 laterly organist of Romsey Abbey
- Marc Rochester 1977-79 (afterwards organist of Londonderry Cathedral)
- Michael Hoeg M.B.E 1980–2010
- James Norrey 2010–2012
- Sachin Gunga (from September 2012)
- 1840–1843 John Probyn (archdeacon and dean)
- 1843–1845 William Bruce Knight
- 1845–1857 William Conybeare
- 1857–1877 Thomas Williams
- 1877–1879 Henry Lynch Blosse
- 1879–1897 Charles John Vaughan
- ?–? William Harrison Davey (died 1917)
- ?–? Frederick William Worsley
- 1929–1931 Garfield Williams (afterwards Dean of Manchester, 1931)
- 1931–1948 David John Jones
- 1948–1953 William Glyn Hughes Simon (afterwards Bishop of Swansea, 1953)
- 1954–1968 Eryl Stephen Thomas (afterwards Bishop of Monmouth, 1968)
- 1968–? Gordon Lewis Phillips
- 1977-1993 Alun Radcliffe Davies
- 1993-2000 John Rogers
- 2000–2012 John Thomas Lewis
- 2013 Janet Henderson (resigned May 2013)