Cathedrals, Churches & Chapels
Cathedrals of Wales
St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire
St David’s, Pembrokeshire is on the most westerly point of Wales. The original monastery was founded by Saint David, who died in AD589. In 1081, William the Conqueror visited noting it as a holy and respected place. In 1123, Pope Calixtus II made it a centre of pilgrimage for the Western World, decreeing “Two pilgrimages to St David’s is equal to one to Rome, and three pilgrimages to one to Jerusalem!” Make your pilgrimage to the smallest city in GB and wonder at the peace and tranquility of this historic and special place.
Bangor Cathedral, Gwynedd
This site was originally occupied by St. Deiniol's monastery, established in the 6th century on land given by the king of Gwynedd, Maelgwn Gwynedd. Deiniol is said to have been consecrated as a bishop by Saint David making him the first Bishop of Bangor. The cathedral contains the "Mostyn Christ", a figure of Christ carved in oak and thought to date from the late 15th century. In the grounds of the cathedral, the "Bible Garden" was planted with an example of every plant mentioned in the Bible.
St Asaph Cathedral, Denbighshire
Reputedly the smallest cathedral in Britain, St Asaph Cathedral portrays the essence of dignity and restraint, although managing at the same time to be quite beautiful. A wonderful combination of ancient and modern blends naturally and harmoniously together. At the High Altar is a stunning alabaster reredos set below the large traceried east window now displaying biblical scenes in modern stained glass panels. Learn of the legends surrounding St Kentigern and St Asaph, see the earliest Welsh translation of the Bible by a former Bishop of the cathedral, and wonder at the 16th century ivory statue of the 'Spanish Madonna'.
Wrexham Cathedral, Denbighshire
The Cathedral Church of our Lady of Sorrows.
Designed by Edward Pugin, the son of the famous Augustus Pugin, it was designed by him at the tender age of 23 in 1857. Built in the Gothic Style it takes its inspiration from the Decorated Style of the 14th century. It is the home of the Bishops of Menevia. It features many magnificent high Victorian stained glass windows.
Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff
Standing on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain evidenced by a Celtic Cross that stood nearby now located near the door of the Chapter House. The present cathedral dates from 1107 and until the time of King Henry VIII, pilgrims thronged to the shrine of St Teilo whose tomb still stands in the sanctuary. The building was heavily damaged and the roof destroyed during the 1939-45 War and there is now a delightful garden where the bomb fell. Visitors to the cathedral are impressed by the triptych of the Seed of David by D G Rossetti; the Welch Regiment Memorial Chapel; the modern arch surmounted by Sir Jacob Epstein’s aluminium statue of Christ in Majesty and Geoffrey Webb’s Jesse window at the East end of the Lady Chapel amongst all the other memorable features.
The Benedictine Priory of St. John the Evangelist became the parish church of St. John and was only designated a cathedral 1923 when the diocese of Swansea and Brecon was created as part of the new Church in Wales. Nevertheless, it was well placed to take on the honour being an ancient and important site for Christianity in South Wales. Today visitors enjoy the Heritage Centre and Pilgrim’s Tearooms located in the old Tythe Barn as well as the wealth of artefacts held within the building itself.
St Woolos Cathedral, Newport
It was probably during the late 470s that the soldier-prince Gwynllyw answered God's call to a life of prayer, and he built his "cell" here on Stow Hill. He died, according to ancient tradition at the end of March in the year 500AD, but he was held in such honour that a wooden church was at once built over the site of his grave. Later the stone church was built and after several Norman developments it was finally completed with the addition of the Chancel extention, by the architect Alban Caroe in the early 1960s. In 1929 St Woolos became the Pro-Cathedral of the new Diocese of Monmouth, attaining full cathedral status in 1949 with the enthronement of Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Wales in February 2000.
Churches and Chapels in Wales
Denbigh, St Hilary's Chapel
St. Hilary's was built in the early fourteenth century, as the “Garrison Chapel" to Denbigh Castle. Apart from the tower, which is still standing, St. Hilary's was completely demolished during the 1920's.
Llangar Old Parish Church
This small medieval building stands in an idyllic setting a mile or so south of Rug overlooking the confluence of the Dee and Alwen rivers. Llangar takes visitors back to another age. The church retains many ancient features, including extensive 15th century wall paintings, a 17th century figure of death, old beams, box pews, pulpit and minstrels' gallery. www.cadw.wales.gov.uk
A rare example of a little altered private 17th century chapel. The chapel's plain exterior gives little hint of the riches within, an interior, which reflects the Colonel's 'High Church' religious views. This wonderful little building makes a large impact on visitors. www.llangollen.com/rug.html St. Illtyd’s Church, Llantwit Major, Vale Of Glamorgan - St. Illtyd's Church, which was described by John Wesley in 1777 as "the most beautiful as well as the most spacious church in Wales", has a very long history. It became the burial place of local kings and an important mission centre. It contains one of the most significant collections of Celtic stones in Wales.
St Non's Chapel
This must be one of the most idyllically situated monuments in Pembrokeshire, overlooking the rocky coastline above St. Non's Bay. A visit to the chapel ruins can be extended to a longer walk along the coastal footpath west as far as the Merryvale road, which leads back to St. Davids.
St Mary & St Egryn Church, Llanegryn
This beautiful little church was first mentioned in the 'Norwich Taxation' document of 1254. The present building possibly dates from 1350 to 1500. There is a beautiful 14th century, exquisitely carved, wood panelled and rood screen.
The building, now roofless, was originally built in the 12th century, but the upper parts of the walls were reconstructed in the 14th century. A small chapel, with a crypt underneath, was added in the 16th century. The sight of this church, standing on its own far from any dwellings, must leave the visitor wondering why it was built in such an isolated place. It is common on Anglesey to see the 12th and 13th century churches far from settlement, or perhaps just next to a single farm (usually named something like Ty'n-llan, which means "farm by the church"). It is very likely that the church would have been the only stone building, and thus the only one to survive when a village was abandoned due to depopulation and consolidation of communities.
St Winifred’s Holy Well, Holywell
The holy spring of St Winifred, an important centre of medieval pilgrimage still venerated today, is said to have risen where St Beuno restored his niece St Winifred to life after her head had been severed by Cardoc, a rejected suitor. St Beuno is a well-attested 7th-century figure, responsible for bringing Celtic monasticism to much of north Wales. The shrine was first mentioned as a place of pilgrimage in 1115, and from 1240 to the dissolution it was part of the possessions of Basingwerk Abbey. Henry V made the pilgrimage in 1415 before his victory at Agincourt, as did Edward IV before Towton Moor in 1461. The future Henry VII, too, is thought to have made a secret visit before winning his crown at Bosworth in 1485. The present remarkable and architecturally unique building, set into a hillside, dates from the late 15th century.
The Priory Church of St Mary, Abergavenny.
This is not an ordinary Church, having been originally the Chapel of a Benedictine Priory in the 12th century. As with all monastic settlements it suffered under Henry VIII and over the centuries was rebuilt, neglected and transformed several times. Today it is home to a magnificent collection of monuments from the 12th century onwards. Good examples are the Jesse carving, the monument to William & Joan Baker and the choir which was carved in the 15th century. The Tithe Barn, painstakingly restored in 2002, houses the food hall, shop, education centre and exhibition. A tapestry has been created by a group of over 60 local volunteers, as a way of celebrating the new millennium in 2000. From conception to completion the project lasted some six years, and the stitching alone took three years and ten months to complete – not surprising when you learn that the tapestry is 24 feet (8 metres) wide!
Italian Prisoners of War chapel, Henllan, Llandysul
The little church of the Sacred Heart was created and decorated by Italian prisoners of war in Wales in 1944. The PoW''s chapel was the idea of Mario Ferlito, one of 1,000 prisoners held at camp 70 in Henllan. The homesick men turned one of their makeshift huts into an ornate Catholic Church, complete with hand painted frescoes and candlesticks fashioned from corn beef tins. A mural, depicting the Last Supper, was painted over the altar. For a long time after the War, ex-PoWs made an annual pilgrimage to Henllan for Mass and a reunion with old comrades who had settle in the area. Their last visit was in the mid-1990s when Mr Ferlito was among the group.
Bardsey Island, North Wales
The island is also known as the island of the currents and the saints. There are said to be the graves of 20,000 saints interred on the island, and legend suggests that anybody buried here will not go to hell no matter how wicked his deeds. As well as being the burial place for monks and saints, it is said to be the final resting place of Merlin, who sleeps in a cave guarding the treasures of Britain, waiting for a time when he is needed again. A place of pilgrimage for many years, three trips here was said to equal one trip to Rome. The isle is said to be haunted by ghostly monks, sometimes seen on the shore at night. Their appearance is said to foretell misfortune in the area. St Mary's Well on the Island has a curious tradition associated with it. If you went to the well, got a mouth full of water, walked back up the steep steps leading to the church, and then walked around the church three times still holding the water in your mouth you would be granted a wish.
St Govan’s Chapel, Pembrokeshire
Right out on the cliffs of the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, five miles or so south of Pembroke, and a mile beyond the village of Bosherston, with its fine old 13th century Church, and the famous lily ponds, there is one of the most picturesque little 6th century hermits' chapels in Britain. It is named after the hermit and saint who lived there now so many centuries ago, St. Govan. To enter this picturesque little building it is necessary to descend a long flight of steps, which, legend asserts, cannot be accurately counted by a mortal being. It is very strange that when a group of people are told to count the steps their answers always vary. The number of steps is approximately 74.
Note: Access is across a Ministry of Defence range, which is closed when the range is in use. It's open to the public most weekends and also on public holidays. Live firing notices are published in local newspapers and outside the Café at
Bosherston. Information can also be obtained from local Tourist Information Centres and by calling +44 (0)1646 662367 (recorded message)
Mwnt, Ceredigion, The Church of The Holy Cross
Mwnt is a very small community and ancient parish in south Ceredigion, Wales, on the Irish Sea coast about 7 km from Cardigan. It gets its name from the prominent steep conical hill, a landmark from much of Cardigan Bay, which rises above the beach. The Church of the Holy Cross is an interesting example of a medieval sailor's chapel of ease. The site is said to have been used since the Age of the Saints, but the present building is probably 14th century. It has an excellent example of a 12th or 13th century font made of Preseli stone. The area is popular for its stunning scenery, especially the safe secluded beach. Both the church and the beach have been preserved for posterity in the custody of the National Trust. The Irish Sea off Mwnt is rich in wildlife, being a regular summer home to dolphins, seals and porpoises
Mary Jones – Llanfihangel-y-Pennant
Mary Jones was a young Welsh girl who longed for a Bible of her own. It took six years but finally Mary saved enough money to realise her dream. She was 15 and needed to walk to Bala, over 25 miles away, to buy her Bible. Excited, she set off from her village of Llanfihangel-y-Pennant in bare feet and finally reached the home of Thomas Charles – only to be told he had no more Bibles for sale. Heartbroken, she began to weep. Her despair touched Mr Charles, who found her a Bible, and made him think what could be done for others such as Mary. Thomas Charles was central to the founding of Bible Society. His tale of Mary saving her pennies and then walking across Welsh mountains helped inspire others to a vision of God’s Word being made available all across the world. Four years after Mary received her Bible, the British and Foreign Bible Society was founded in London. The church in Llanfihangel-y-Pennant has an exhibition about Mary’s life and her parents’ graves are there. In the village there is also a ruin of the cottage where Mary Jones lived and a memorial to her.
Ann Griffiths – Cwm Rhondda.
Ann Griffiths, a tenant farmer’s daughter from Mid Wales who died in relative obscurity in 1805, aged 29, left just over 70 stanzas in the Welsh language which contain some of the great Christian poetry of Europe. Ann’s hymns have long been regarded as one of the highlights of Welsh literature. She has been the subject of novels, dramas, films and numerous poems. She is becoming increasingly well-known to students of hymnology and spirituality outside Wales – not least following the inclusion of an English translation of one of her hymns in the service of enthronement of Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2003.
The Ann Griffiths Walk
An enchanting seven mile walk down the Vyrnwy valley, linking places associated with the Welsh hymnwriter who lived at Dolwar Fach.
- The Story of the Welsh National Anthem
The Story of The Welsh National Anthem - The Welsh National Anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers) is amongst the finest anthems of the world and a song steeped in history. It was written by Evan James and his son James, two modest tradesmen living at Pontypridd in the mid nineteenth century. On July 23rd 1930 the unveiling of the memorial to Evan James and James James took place at Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd. A year following the unveiling of the memorial in Ynysangharad Park, a marble tablet was erected in Mill Street, Pontypridd marking the place where Evan James's woollen factory once stood. Recent commemorations to Evan and James James include the naming of a new Welsh medium school that opened in Pontypridd in 1983 as ‘Ysgol Evan James' and a mosaic in a town centre underpass that shows their likenesses.
The Moriah Chapel, Loughor - 1904 Revival
A century ago Wales experienced the last National Religious Revival, a revival that brought in an extra 100,000 new converts according to the estimates of the time, and a movement that quickly spread to the 4 corners of the World. Yet that great move of the Spirit had very small beginnings. Beginnings that didn’t always involve the great preachers of the day – erudite and educated as they were, but instead included, for instance a young teenager from New Quay, Cardigan – Florrie Evans – who in a youth meeting in February 1904 declared publicly that she loved the Lord Jesus with all her heart. With these words the Spirit seemed to fall on the meeting and the fire quickly spread to other young people in the Cardiganshire area. The first meetings were held in the kitchen of a farmhouse known as “Tyfry”, situated on the opposite side of the road to the present day Moriah. The first Moriah was a thatched barn which was adapted as a chapel in 1827-28. The cause at Loughor was strengthened to such an extent that very soon the "Capel Tô Gwellt" became too small and it was decided to build a larger chapel upon the same parcel of land in 1842, and it become known as "Moriah". A burial ground was attached to the place of worship. A gallery was added to the building in 1849 and before long a chapel-house was attached. (Traces of the chapel-house can still be seen today on the East wall of the vestry).
St Peter Ad Vincula Church, Pennal
The medieval church of St. Peter Ad Vincula lies in the beautiful village of Pennal in Mid Wales. The church was founded in the 6th century by Celtic missionaries from Brittany. It is the only church in Wales dedicated to Saint Peter in Chains (ad Vincula), whose story can be found in the Acts of the Apostles XII. Although its history spans some 1500 years, the church is most famous for its association with Owain Glyndwr, who came to Pennal in 1406. The church also features a large oil painting depicting Glyndwr's visit to Pennal. The Oval Churchyard wall surrounding the church is one of the most perfect specimens remaining in the country and suggests that the site may have been a pre-Christian shrine. The south side was totally rebuilt in 1991 when the road was widened. The church has won many awards for its heritage and conservation work.
A town on the northern edge of Snowdonia, and grew around the slate and stone quarrying industry. The town was named after the Bethesda Chapel, which was recently converted into residential flats.
A village between Caernarfon and Llandygai. The village grew due to the development of the local quarries.
A village in the Nantlle Valley. It developed as a place for the area’s slate quarry workers to live. The village was named after the Calvinistic Methodist chapel that was established there in 1827.
A rural village in Gwynedd. The closest village is Nasareth. Nebo was named after the local chapel, which was named after Mount Nebo in the Old Testament.
A village in Gwynedd, and the closest village is Nebo
A very small rural village, north-east of Porthmadog. It takes its name from the local chapel, which is named after the city of Golan in Palestine.
A small village in Carmarthenshire, north of Whitland
There are 2 villages called Hermon in the same area:
- Hermon, Carmarthen
- Hermon, Pembrokeshire (in the next county)
Hermon (Carmarthen) is a small village in the north of Carmarthenshire, and is named after Mount Hermon in the Old Testament. It lies between Cynwyl Elfed to the south and Newcastle Emlyn to the north.
A small village to the east of Newcastle Emlyn.
Lies in the south of Ceredigion, to the north of Llandysul.
A village in the Carmarthenshire, and is named after the city of Soar in the Old Testament. It lies around 4 miles north of Llandeilo
In the centre of Carmarthenshire, is named after the Old Testament city of Salem.
A very small farming village in Carmarthenshire. The village was once called Dyffryn Ceidrich, but the village came to be known by the name of the chapel, probably during the great Welsh Methodist revival in Wales of the 19th century. Every Christmas thousands of people visit Bethlehem to have the unique postmark on their Christmas cards
a village near Brecon, Powys. Libanus is the Welsh name for Lebanon, and was named after the local chapel
Religious Tours in Wales
Pilgrim Travel group tours trace the footsteps of St. Patrick and St. David through the Celtic heartlands of Ireland and Wales. Supported by academic scholarship, our itineraries follow the history and traditions of the two Patron Saints, through spectacular landscapes, fascinating historical sites and religious centres saturated by almost two millennia of spiritual aspiration.
These chauffeur driven small group tours offer Christians and those interested in early Christian religion the chance to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims as they made their way to St. David’s Cathedral. It is nearly 1500 years since the first Christian pilgrims travelled through Brittany and Cornwall to Pembrokeshire and Ireland. The Saints and Stones small group tours will introduce you to some of the more remote and beautiful corners of Pembrokeshire and to the deep spiritual quality of ancient places of worship. The tours can be done either individually or, as part of a special 4 nights package.
Country Lane Tours
Country Lane Tours is a long established In-bound Travel and Tour Operator located in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Specialising in personalized tours for individuals travelers and small groups. Check out their new 'A Celtic Pilgrimage' tour which includes Bardsey Island.
Wales Blue and Green Badge Guides
Wales Blue and Green Badge Guides are also offer tour and itinerary planning services.
Churches Tourism Network Wales
Churches Tourism Network Wales seeks to support all Christian Churches in Wales to encourage access to places of worship and to advance education through providing increased and better managed access (physical and intellectual) for the public to church buildings.
The Open Church Network
Discover the legends and lore of Wrexham County Borough’s villages and towns on the Discovery Trail. For 7,000 years and more, through Saxon, Norman and Medieval occupation, the heart of the settlements has been their place of worship. Within the sixteen churches on the Trail you can study art and architecture, politics and war, heraldry and nature, all conveniently packaged in unique buildings full of hidden treasures set in gentle countryside and snug villages.