St David’s (full name St David’s and the Cathedral Close) is a city located in Pembrokeshire, Wales, next to the River Alun on St David’s Peninsula. The vibrant and thriving city is in fact the smallest in Britain, in terms of both size and population, with just over 2,000 people living there.
St David’s is around two miles east of Whitesands Bay, a very popular watersports resort, regarded by many as one of the best tourist beaches in the world. In the 6th century, David founded a monastery and church at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale) on the banks of the River Alun.
Historic St David’s
The city gets its name from Wales’ patron saint, Saint David. It’s known that David was born to Saint Non, at what is now St Non’s, just to the south of the city, around AD 500. Apparently, David was baptised at Porthclais (now the port in the city) and was raised by his mother at Llanon.
St David’s was given city status in the 16th century due to the presence of the magnificent Cathedral, but later lost the title in 1888. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II requested that St David’s city status should be restored, and so it was.
Additional information on St David’s can be found on its official website St David’s Online
Landmarks and sights
St. David’s Cathedral
The city’s Cathedral really is a must see. It was built on the site of a 6th century chapel and dates mainly from the 12th to the 14th centuries. Extensive repairs were carried out in the 19th century by Sir George Gilbert Scott (architect of the Albert Memorial and St Pancras in London) to stabilise the building and repair damage caused by an earthquake in 1248 and the sloping, boggy ground on which it sits. The Cathedral has really unique atmosphere and features a richly carved 16th-century oak ceiling, adorned with pendants and bosses.
In August there are guided tours at 11:30am Monday and 2:30pm Friday. Tours can also be arranged at other times, but bookings must be made in advance.
Located just across the river from the city’s famous Cathedral, this atmospheric palace was built around the same time as the Cathedral. It’s final, imposing form owes most to Henry de Gower, bishop from 1327 to 1347. Its most distinctive feature is the arcaded parapet that runs around the courtyard, decorated with a chequerboard pattern of purple and yellow stone blocks. The distinctive purple sandstone, also used in the cathedral, comes from Caerbwdy Bay, a mile southeast of St Davids.
St. Non’s Bay
Immediately south of St Davids is this ruggedly beautiful spot, named after St David’s mother and traditionally accepted as his birthplace. A path leads down to the 13th-century ruins of St Non’s Chapel. Only the base of the walls remains, along with a stone marked with a cross within a circle, believed to date from the 7th century. Standing stones in the surrounding field suggest that the chapel may have been built within an ancient pagan stone circle.