Living in a tourist area, it can be hard to decide where to go on busy Bank Holidays. A lot of our favourite places, such as the smaller, more secluded beaches, have very limited parking so you have no chance of getting a space during high season. Therefore, we always choose somewhere we know has plenty of overflow parking space.
This year, we decided to go to an old favourite St Davids Cathedral. Out of season, we park in the first car park and have our choice of spaces. On this visit all the parking gates were open so there was plenty of space for everyone.
We parked in the Oriel y Parc car park where parking is £5 for the day.
There are toilets in this car park and also further ahead in Oriel y Parc, inside the Cathedral and also behind the Cathedral (great when out and about with young children!).
We walked past the Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre as we were eager to go to the Cathedral. However, it is well worth a visit. As we come here regularly, we tend to save this attraction for rainy days.
The kids always love to climb and walk on “St Non’s Stones”, a sculpture based on the story of St Non and the cliff tops on which she gave birth to David, during a raging storm. At the centre of the encircling winds was an area of peace and tranquillity in which the future saint was born.
“The aim of the sculpture is not to tell the story of St Non, but to create a sense of both an energy and stillness. It is there for people to experience, a physical presence, trying to form a bridge between the tangible and the unearthly” explains Richard Harris, the Powys based sculptor.
At their current age, my kids mainly respond to the sense of energy, but I’m sure as they get older, they will take another look at this and also appreciate the peace and stillness!
We then walk through the pretty “city” of St Davids. There are lovely gift shops, surf shops as well as tempting cafes, restaurants and pubs. I have to say that I have never had bad food in St Davids!
At the entrance gate to the Cathedral, we come to the Bell Tower. The kids always run down to here and hide behind the arches ready to jump out and “scare us”.
Then there is the stunning view of the cathedral. The best time to visit is Spring so you can view it surrounded by daffodils, but it is too lovely to only visit once a year.
From here, we could spot that Mum, Jo, Ceri and Lexy were already on the path leading to the cathedral. Before, I had the chance to remind the kids that this is a peaceful place of worship and to be respectful at all times, they had spotted their family and were running down the grassy hill more like wild Celts at Castell Henllys than humble pilgrims at St Davids!
It is free to visit St Davids Cathedral, although there is a suggested voluntary donation which goes toward the maintenance and running costs. If you are planning to take photographs, there is also a £2 charge for a photography permit from the shop.
On this visit, there was an orchestra playing on our arrival. The kids always like to light a candle for 20p too, though if you wait and do this at St Davids Shrine then you can take a souvenir card too.
In the Choir, look up to see the decorative ceiling. You can also admire this in the mirrored table.
Danny wished he was playing the organ along with them.
The Queen has visited St Davids on a number of occasions and has a special “seat” reserved for her.
Some parts of the intricate wooden decor remind me of Hogwarts!
In the 12th century, Pope Calixtus II stated that this shrine was so important that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equivalent to one to Rome, three were equivalent to one to Jerusalem. Since then the path of pilgrimage has been trodden by hundreds of thousands of individuals. The Shrine has recently been restored.
There are many tombs and effigies of notable Welsh figures, such as Rhys ap Gruffydd.
In the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor, is the resting place of Countess of Maidstone (d. 1932). It is a sublime Alabaster effigy recumbent on an alabaster tomb chest. Designed by W D Caröe from an original drawing of a tomb chest by J O Scott; carved by Brooke Hitch. The effigy is a life portrait; at her feet her beloved pet dog as she requested.
She funded the restoration of the south aisle and the chapel.
We admired the artwork on display.
When I was younger, I used to love the Saint Nicholas stained glass window as I love the story of St Nicholas and of course “Santa Claus”.
Danny and I popped up to the library. There is an extra charge for this and you cannot take any photos in this room. It is more for research than as a point of interest in the cathedral.
There is a popular cafe, The Refectory, located in the Cathedral too. There are often art displays and craft sales in the public area too.
In the cathedral shop, the kids kept pointing out our names close together on this display. Of course this happens often as they are alphabetical but it was funny being told excitedly by all of the children that our names were on display together. I would not be surprised if we all end up with named coasters for Christmas this year!
After an inside tour of the cathedral, there is still plenty to see outside and around the Cathedral.
Next to the cathedral is The Bishop’s Palace. There is a reason why it is not so well preserved as the cathedral. In 1536, the Bishop William Barlow stripped the lead from the roof to pay for the dowries of his five daughters. He made so much money from this that a sixteenth-century account said that more than twelve years revenue of the bishopric would have been needed to cover the cost of replacing it, and the building fell into disrepair.
We walked down the cobbled path that pilgrims would have crawled along on their knees.
We bought some Abbot’s Chocolate which is made at Caldey Island by the monks. I really need to blog a day out there one day!
The shop is lovely and also sells Jackie Morris books. On one visit she was in the shop so we got her to sign a copy of our book. Everytime I visit now, I keep an eye out for her (sorry, Jackie!)
Rebecca and Danny walk up the horse mount.
Another favourite place to play is by the stream and the bridge. We’ve always played the troll game as we pass over. Danny always ends up in the water (of course!). The stream is filled with trout, which would have been fished and eaten by the parishoners on Fridays.
When we leave St David’s Cathedral, we often go for an icecream at Gianni’s. They have gorgeous flavours and cones- I love the Celtic Crunch!
On quieter days we go to St Non’s to explore the walk, chapel and beach.
On this occasion we went to Newgale Beach which I will write up in a new post.
Have you visited St Davids before? What is your favourite part of the day?