Llandaff - Gazetteers


A Topographical Dictionary of Wales  by Samuel Lewis 1833

"LLANDAF, an ancient and decayed city, and a parish, in the hundred of KIBBOR, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 2 miles (N. W.) from Cardiff, and 161 (W.) from London, containing 1299 inhabitants.

The name of this place is a contraction of the Welsh words Llan ar Daf, signifying "the church on the Taf," a branch of which river flows under the walls of the churchyard. It is uncertain at what period it first became the site of human habitations, or the seat of a religious congregation. Some writers assert, but on doubtful authority, that a church has existed here since the year 186. According to an ancient Welsh manuscript, the first church at this place was built by Tewdric ab Teithvalch, commonly called St. Tewdric the Martyr, grandfather of the renowned King Arthur, about the year 450. The first bishop of Llandaf mentioned in authentic history is Dubricius, a native of the country included in the modern Pembrokeshire, and called by the Welsh Dyvrig Beneurog, "Dubricius the Golden-headed." To this holy office he was consecrated, in the beginning of the sixth century, by Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, who had been sent into Britain to uproot the Pelagian heresy, in which labour they were greatly assisted by Dubricius. The first endowment of the see was made during the episcopacy of this prelate, to whom certain lands were given by Meuric, son of Tewdric, and his successor in the sovereignty of Gwent, in a general council of his nation, and with the consent of the nobility, clergy, and laity. Dubricius, after presiding for a short time at Llandaf, was advanced to the metropolitan see of Caerlleon, afterwards removed to St. David's, and was succeeded in the episcopate by the famous St. Teilo, or Teilaw, descended from the Cuneddian line of princes.

With the aid of Dubricius, St. Teilo established a college at Llandaf, called after his name Bangor Teilo : he was slain by a nobleman in his own cathedral of Llandaf, which church was afterwards frequently called after his name Llan Deilaw. It is stated in Cressy's Church History that many miracles were wrought by this saint, both in his lifetime and after his death ; but the author recites only one, which he gives on the authority of Bishop Godwin, to the effect that, after his death, the inhabitants of three several places earnestly contended for the honour of his interment ; those of Pennalum, where his ancestors had been buried ; those of Llandilo-Vawr, where, according to one account, he died ; and those of Llandaf, among whom he had been bishop : when at length no agreement could be effected among them, there presently appeared three bodies of St. Teilo, exactly resembling each other, one of which was taken by the people of each of the above-named places, and thus the dispute ended; but Bishop Godwin adds, for the honour of his own church, that, by frequent miracles performed at his tomb, it appeared that the inhabitants of Llandaf possessed the true body. Dubricius, the first bishop, lived to a very advanced age, and dying in 522, at Ynys Enlli, or Bardsey Island, in North Wales, his remains were thence removed to Llandaf, and interred before the high altar of the cathedral church, where a monument was erected to his memory.

During the prelacy of Oudoceus, the successor of St. Teilo, Meurig ab Tewdric, King of Gwent, in a synod held at Llandaf, was excommunicated for the perfidious murder of Cunedda : his dominions were also laid under interdict for two years, after the expiration of which he was allowed to make his peace with the church by the customary mode of increasing its endowments. During the presidency of these three bishops the endowments had gradually accumulated, so as to render this see one of the richest in Christendom. Bishop Aidan, the second successor of Oudoceus, was killed in 720 by the Saxons, who at this period made great ravages in South Wales. Marchluith, or Marchlwys, the twenty-fourth bishop of this diocese, over which he presided in the reign of Hywel Dda, was chosen, amongst others, by this monarch, to compile the code of' laws for the enactment of which this reign is so distinguished in the Welsh annals.

According to Caradoc of Llancarvan, from the death of Pater or Paternus, Marchluith's immediate successor, in 961, to the consecration of Gucan, Gogwan, or Gwrgan, the twenty-sixth bishop, in 982, Roderic, son of Morgan Hen, King of Glamorgan, was bishop of this diocese ; but having been raised to the see contrary to the wishes of the pope, the latter, in his anger, issued a bull forbidding all marriages in the diocese without his special license : this injunction, however, it was impossible for the priests to obey, the people compelling them to perform the marriage ceremony without the pontiff's sanction. In 987, the cathedral church was burned by a large party of marauding Danes, who made extensive ravages in the adjacent country and along the neighbouring coasts. Bledri, the successor of Gwrgan, who was consecrated in 993, and died in 1022, was celebrated as the most eminent scholar of his time, on which account he obtained the name of " Bledri the Wise :" he instituted parochial schools in every church of his diocese, in which the priests were directed to instruct the people. Every encouragement was likewise given to these schools by his successor Joseph, who enjoined the clergy to teach the people gratuitously to read the sacred scriptures, and made some strict regulations for the better observance of the Sunday and the church holidays. During the episcopacy of this prelate, who died in 1046, Rhydderch ab Iestyn, Prince of Glamorgan, granted many privileges to the church of Llandaf, and confirmed to it all its former possessions.

After the decease of Joseph's successor Herewald, the see remained vacant for about four years, until the consecration to it, in August 1108, of Urban, Archdeacon of Llandaf, who found the cathedral church in great dilapidation, it having frequently been despoiled by the Saxons and other invaders who had infested the coast, and by the Normans, whose subjugation of the native population of Glamorgan had now become permanent ; the revenue of the diocese had likewise been greatly diminished, from the unsettled state of the country, and the negligence of those to whose care they had been entrusted. On representing these circumstances to Pope Calixtus II., at the council of Rheims, in 1119, Urban procured from that pontiff letters to the king of England, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the clergy and principal persons in the diocese of Llandaf, exhorting them to afford him their assistance in making the necessary repairs. Having for this purpose raised a large sum of money, he pulled down the old cathedral, dedicated to St Peter, a small edifice only twenty-eight feet in length, fifteen in width, and twenty in height, and, in April 1120, began the erection of the magnificent edifice, a great part of which, though in ruins, is still standing, and which he dedicated to St. Peter, and the first three bishops of the diocese, namely St. Dubricius, St. Teilo, and St. Oudoceus : the name of St. Teilo, however, is alone applied to it by the Welsh historians, in whose writings is found occasional mention of Eglwys Teilo "the church of St. Teilo ;" Plwyv Teilo, " the parish or community of St. Teilo," &c. After the completion of this edifice, which was three hundred feet in length, eighty in breadth, and thirty in height, built of hewn stone, and ornamented with two lofty towers at the western front, and a splendid chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, at the eastern end, Urban erected houses for the residence of himself, the canons, and other members of the establishment. He next undertook the task of recovering some of the possessions of his see, which had been usurped by the bishops of St. David's and Hereford, and attached to their respective prelacies ; and this compelled him to undertake a journey to Rome, in the prosecution of which he died, in 1133.

He was succeeded, after an interval of six years, by Uchtryd, whose nephew Galfrid, or Geoffrey, who had presided over a college at Llandaf and acted as domestic chaplain to William Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan, was next consecrated to this see. Llandaf was visited, in 1188, by Archbishop Baldwin and Giraldus Cambrensis, when preaching the crusades in Wales, at which time William de Salso Marisco, or Saltmarsh, was bishop. After the death of this prelate, in 1191, Giraldus Cambrensis was himself elected to this see ; but refused the proffered dignity, which was accepted by Henry, prior of Abergavenny, who gave certain portions of the property of the cathedral for the support of fourteen prebendaries, constituting the chapter, who had previously shared with the bishop in the revenue of the see, and appropriated to himself and his successors the remainder, forming the possessions which the prelates still enjoy. The ancient unity of possession of the bishop with the chapter, of which he thus constituted a member, caused the abolition, at a very early period, of the office of dean in this cathedral, a dignity which this circumstance rendered useless, the bishops themselves acting in that capacity, and in their absence appointing a representative in the person of the archdeacon : the names of only two deans are found upon record ; the first, a priest named Joseph, who succeeded to the episcopate in 1022 ; and the other, an ecclesiastic named Elni, or Esni, who held this office in 1120. The seventh successor of Bishop Henry, William de Breos, prebendary of Llandaf, who died in March 1287, was buried in the cathedral church, at its north-eastern extremity : within the walls of this edifice were also interred William's second successor, John de Monmouth ; his sixth successor, John Pascall ; and his eighth successor, Edmund Brumfield.

The cathedral, together with many other ecclesiastical structures in the principality, sustained great injury from the forces of the insurgent leader Owain Glyndwr, who is also said to have destroyed the neighbouring castellated mansion of the bishop. John Marshall, who was consecrated to this see in 1478, greatly beautified the cathedral church, in which, on his death in 1496, he was buried, on the northern side of the choir. Anthony Kitchen, who held the bishoprick during the successive reigns of Henry VIII. and his three children, greatly impoverished its revenue by lavish grants. William Morgan, his fourth successor, who was consecrated in 1595, and translated to St. Asaph in 1601, is eminent as the learned translator of the Old Testament into the Welsh language. His immediate successor was Francis Godwin, subdean of Exeter, and son of Thomas Godwin, Bishop of Bath and Wells : this learned prelate was author of a valuable catalogue of the bishops of England, and was afterwards translated to the see of Hereford. After the death of Morgan Owen, then bishop, in 1644-5, this see remained vacant for about sixteen years, until the Restoration : during this interval, lands belonging to it of the value of no less than £3830. 18. 1. were alienated by the parliament. Richard Watson, Regius professor of divinity in the University of Cambridge, who was promoted to the see in 1782, was equally distinguished by the extent and profundity of his erudition, and the Christian liberality of his spirit : he is more particularly known as the author of " Two Apologies for Christianity," and a variety of excellent sermons and religious tracts. Attached to this diocese were anciently the two archdeaconries of Monmouth and Glamorgan ; but the former soon merged into the latter, and the two, thus united, have since been called the archdeaconry of Llandaf.

The city, now reduced to a mere village, occupies a pleasing and retired situation on the western bank of the river Taf, on the road from Cardiff to Llantrissent : it stands on elevated ground, gently sloping on all sides, except towards the river, where the descent is more precipitous ; and in this bottom stands the cathedral, partially embosomed among trees, with the river murmuring beneath its walls. It consists of little more than two short streets of cottages, not lighted or paved, terminating in a square, into which the great gateway of the old palace formerly opened, and where there are still several genteel houses : the bishop has no residence in the diocese.

The Glamorganshire canal passes through the parish, and on its banks, at the hamlet of Gabalva, there is a wharf.

There is no market ; but two fairs are held annually, one on the 9th of February, called St. Teilo's fair, and the other on Whit-Monday, a very large fair for cattle; and at Ely Bridge, a populous village in this parish, additional fairs are held on July 22nd and December 11th. During the recent debates in the House of Commons, on the subject of amending the representation of the people, the first bill of reform proposed to make Llandaf contributory to Cardiff; but that arrangement was subsequently altered, and it now forms no part of the act. The petty sessions for the hundred are held here. The parish is composed of five hamlets which are united for all purposes, namely, Landaf, containing about five hundred and sixty-one acres ; Canton, five hundred and fourteen; Ely, four hundred and seventy-four; Fairwater, three hundred and twenty-seven ; and Gabalva, five hundred and ten ; making in all two thousand three hundred and eighty-six acres.

The diocese of Llandaf appears originally to have included the whole of the ancient principality of Siluria, or Gwent ; and at present its jurisdiction extends over the entire counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth with the exception of the westernmost part of the former, comprising twenty-one parishes, which forms the deanery of Gower, in the diocese of St. David's, and seven parishes in the latter, three of which are also in the diocese of St. David's, and the rest in that of Hereford, the total number of churches and chapels within its limits being about two hundred and forty.

The chapter of the cathedral church consists of fourteen members, viz., the bishop, who has a stall and authority as dean, the archdeacon, and twelve prebendaries : the stall of the bishop, as chief of the fourteen members, is situated on the right hand side of the entrance into the choir the archdeacon exercises the same authority as subdean in other cathedrals, and as such has a stall on the left hand side of the entrance, opposite to the bishop's. To one of the prebends, called from this circumstance Prebenda Thesaurii, is attached the office of Treasurer ; to another, called Prebenda Precentoris, belongs that of Precentor ; and to a third, called Prebenda Cancellarii, that of Chancellor : the prebend to which the treasurership is attached was annexed to the bishoprick, in lieu of mortuaries, pursuant to an act passed in the 12th of Queen Anne's reign. The archdeacon has no visitorial powers, the whole diocese being subject to an annual visitation of the chancellor ; neither does he exercise any other archidiaconal jurisdiction, the only court empowered to grant probates of wills and letters of administration being the consistorial court of the bishop. Besides the above-named dignitaries, there are also two priest-vicars, a registrar, and inferior officers. The priest-vicars alternately officiate in the cathedral, as the parochial church, and at Whitchurch, an adjoining parish united to that of Llandaf. The great tithes of both these parishes are the property of the chapter, and the senior and the junior vicars each receive an annual stipend in lieu of the small tithes.

The cathedral, which also serves as the parish church, and is dedicated, as above-mentioned, to St. Peter and the three first bishops of the diocese, presents a remarkably incongruous appearance ; the ancient structure, erected early in the twelfth century, and subsequently repaired and enlarged in the early and later English styles, having fallen into decay, was again repaired and altered in the Grecian style of architecture, forming nearly a new edifice within the old walls, which constitute a considerable portion of it, about the year 1751. The facade of the modern church intersects the nave of the ancient edifice, the ruined western portion of which consequently forms a kind of vestibule to the former, and is justly admired as presenting a magnificent specimen of the early English style : on one side is a highly enriched Norman entrance, and on the other a plainer doorway of similar architecture. The west front is ornamented with a series of lancet windows of different sizes, delicately executed and tastefully arranged, and on the northern side has a noble tower in the later style of English architecture, built by Jasper Duke of Bedford, in 1485, which is in good preservation, except that it is no longer surmounted by the pinnacles by which it was originally adorned, and which were damaged, in 1703, by a violent storm that threw down a corresponding tower on the southern side of this front. Two sides of the remaining tower rest on the walls of the church ; while the other two are raised on light arches which spring from a single pillar within. Immediately over the grand entrance is the figure of a bishop, with a pastoral staff in one hand, and the other slightly raised. Above a series of trefoiled arches over the lancet-shaped windows is another figure, in a sitting posture, holding a book in one hand : the whole is surmounted by a cross. Between the western portal of this front and the facade of the present cathedral are the ruins of the greater part of the nave and aisles of the ancient structure, three elegant Gothic arches which separated the former from the latter still standing on each side : the columns are tapered and clustered, and their capitals varied and very neatly sculptured, the ribs of the arches terminating in prettily carved heads.

The present cathedral comprises part of the nave, together with the choir, and the greater part of the north and south aisles of the ancient edifice: the expense of these modernizations and alterations amounted to no less than £ 7000 : even the altar was enclosed by a Grecian portico, which, however, was removed, in 1831, by order of the present chapter. At the eastern end is the ancient and handsome chapel of St. Mary, in which divine service is occasionally performed in the Welsh language ; a circumstance which has caused it to be commonly called the Welsh chapel: two services in English are regularly performed, with no variation from the ceremony observed in ordinary parish churches : the entire length of this chapel inside is fifty-seven feet and a half ; its breadth, twenty-four and a half ; and its height, about thirty-six : opposite to it, behind the choir, is a Norman arch of the ancient edifice. Adjoining to the southern side of the cathedral is the chapter-house, a square building, enclosing an apartment of the same form, the roof of which is supported by arches springing in different directions from a pillar in the centre : this apartment measures about thirty-six feet along each side ; but the business of the chapter is now transacted in a small building at the north-west corner of the churchyard.

Besides many of the bishops who have successively filled this see, several persons of distinction, formerly resident in the neighbourhood, have been interred in the cathedral ; but of the monumental memorials few, owing to the extent of the repairs and alterations which this edifice has undergone, now remain ; and these have for the most part been removed from their original positions and greatly dilapidated. At the eastern end of the south aisle is one bearing the sculptured effigy in marble of a lady, supposed to be the wife of John Lord Audley, who is represented in a long robe reaching to her feet ; and behind are the figures of two monks holding an escutcheon. In the same aisle is also a monument consisting of the figure of a skeleton, of large proportions, in a shroud, placed under a Gothic niche ; another, the recumbent figure of a knight in armour ; a third, a rich painted and gilded tomb, supporting a male and a female figure in alabaster, the former clothed in armour, and the latter in long loose robes, with ruffles, and a rich and singular head-dress ; a fourth, the effigies of two bishops rudely sculptured ; and a fifth, also constituting the tomb of a prelate. In the north aisle is the effigy of a female wrapped in a loose robe, and displaying in her form and countenance striking marks of sickness and decay. At the upper end of this aisle was the chapel of the Matthew family, monuments in alabaster to the memory of two of the members of which are still preserved here ; and in the chapter-house are the disunited remains of an elegant and costly tomb of alabaster, representing a knight and his lady richly habited. Among numerous other sepulchral memorials of less note are two attributed respectively to St. Dubricius and St. Teilo. In the cathedral is preserved a small library, consisting chiefly of the works of some of the ancient fathers, founded, soon after the Restoration, by Bishop Davies, in place of one which had been destroyed in the recent civil commotions.

Within the parish is a place of worship for Baptists, situated at the village of Ely. An excellent National school, in which upwards of one hundred and twenty children are instructed, is supported chiefly by the annual subscriptions of the Bishop and Chapter, aided by contributions from the neighbouring gentry, and annual donations from the bishops of Durham and Winchester, who formerly presided over this see. Iltyd Nicholl, Gent., by will dated March 21st, 1716, bequeathed two cottages in Llandaf, and an acre and a half of freehold land within the parish, in trust to the vicars, churchwardens, and overseers, directing the income to be divided between two poor widows resident therein. The episcopal palace, having been destroyed by Owain Glyndwr, was never restored, and from that period the bishops have had no residence here : there yet remain some ruins of their castellated mansion, situated a little to the south-east of the cathedral, and consisting of the principal entrance gateway and the outer walls these are now the property of the heirs of the late Sir Samuel Romilly, who possessed a considerable estate in this neighbourhood.

Mention is made of a college here, which is stated to have been founded by St. Teilo, and called after him Bangor Teilo, over which Galfrid, thirty-second bishop of this diocese, presided prior to his consecration, but nothing further is known of its history. Leland also saw some remains of " a Pile or Maner Place decayed at Eglins Newith, in the Paroch of Landaf."

The principal modern mansions in the parish are, Llandaf Court, the property and residence of Walter Coffin, Esq., formerly belonging to the family of Matthew ; Llandaf House, the residence of A. Homfray, Esq. ; and Gabalva, formerly part of the extensive possessions of the Herberts of the White Friars, Cardiff, but now of John Moggridge, Esq.

Near Llandaf bridge are found various kinds of marble, beautifully variegated with yellow and light liver colours, or with four colours, resembling the brocatello of lapidaries.

Llandaf confers the titles of baron, viscount, and earl, in the peerage of Ireland, on the family of Matthew.

The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £532. 9."

A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, London, 1811

"LLAN DAFF, i.e., THE CHURCH UPON THE TAF, in the Cwmwd of Cibwyr, Cantref of Brenhinol (now called the Hundred of Kibbor), County of GLAMORGAN, South Wales: a Vicarage not in charge: Patrons, The Chapter of Llandaff: The Cathedral, which is also the Parish Church, is dedicated to St. Peter, St. Dubritius, St. Teilo, and St. Odoceus.  The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, (consisting of the Hamlets of Canton, Elay, Fairwater, Gabalfa, and Llandaff) was 860.  The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was £621..4..9 1/2, at 10s. in the pound.  It is 2 m. W.N.W. from Caerdiff, and 158 m. W. from London.  

It has no Market; nor even a regular Butcher, and except a few Chandlers' Shops, is entirely dependant upon Caerdiff.  The Fairs are holden on the 9th of February, and on Whit-Monday, when great numbers of Cattle are sold: and it is famous for its Vegetables, with which it supplies Merthyr Tudfyl, and other places.  This Parish contains 2399 acres of Land. Llandaff, although a City and the See of a Bishop, is now an inconsiderable Village.  It is very pleasantly situate, and contains seven or eight Gentlemen's Houses.  

The Cathedral was built by Bishop Urban, in the year 1120, and amongst the ruins are some beautiful Norman arches: there were two Towers at the Western end, but the Northern one only is now standing: being in a very dilapidated state, part of it was repaired about 60 years ago, at the expense of £7000, but with little judgement, for, although they had such elegant specimens of the early Gothic, it contains Windows and Arches of all descriptions; the Altar is under the Portico of a Roman Temple.  The old Chapter House, and the Muniment Room over it, still remain.  

The Turnpike Road from Caerdiff to Llan Trisaint passes through the Village.  The view from the Bridge, over the river Taf, is much admired.  

The Chapter consists of the Bishop as Dean, Arch-deacon or Sub-Dean (who has no Jurisdiction), Treasurer (who is the Bishop), Chancellor, Precentor, and nine Prebendaries.  The Fines at Peter's tide are divided into fourteen shares: the Bishop has two, and other twelve members have one share each; the amount being about £50. a share, besides which several of the Prebendaries have valuable Corpses which they lease out on Lives or Years, as Custom warrants.  There is no House for the Bishop, or any of the Members; who are indebted to the hospitality of the neighbors.  They have a new Chapter Room, with Kitchen, and an Office for the Proctor General in the Church-yard.  They seldom meet more than once a year, at Peter's tide, for the Audit.  The two Vicars, who are appointed during pleasure, serve Llandaff by order of Chapter, and Whitchurch, alternately.  The Senior Vicar has the small Tythes, and Surplice Fees of Llandaff, and a Pension of £9..6..8, the whole amounting to (in 1809) £61..16..8.  The Junior Vicar has a Stipend of £39..6..8, and Fees at Whitchurch.  The Great Tythes of Llandaff and Whitchurch are divided into four Portions, and are called The Coursal Tythes of Canton, Fairwater, Llandaff, and Whitchurch; and the Tenant takes a Hamlet in rotation.  They belong to the Treasurer, Precentor, and the Prebendaries of Fairwater and Fairwell; each portion being worth £120. per annum.  This See contains about three fourths of the County of Glamorgan, and all Monmouthshire, except seven Parishes.  The Petty Sessions for the Hundred of Kibbor are holden here.  A Bishoprick was erected here in the time of St. Dubritius, whose death is generally placed in the year 522, though some place it almost an hundred years later.  Historians have preserved the names of the Bishops of this See from its first erection; though with much uncertainty as to the times of their Consecrations and Deaths, till the latter end of the Ninth century.  The Members of this Church were at first endowed with great possessions, but deprived of most of them shortly after the Conquest, when their first Church was destroyed.  And the present fabrick hath of late fallen into great decay, but all possible care is taken to preserve it.  The Revenues of this Bishoprick were valued, 26 Hen. VIII, at £154..14..2 per annum; and the common Revenues of the Chapter at £87..12..11 per annum.  There are now belonging to this Church a Bishop, Archdeacon, twelve Prebendaries, and two Vicars Choral.  Here were also formerly and Organist, four Singing Men, and four Choristers.

[Last Updated : 22 Jan 2005 - Gareth Hicks]