THE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY
The Library has substantial collections belonging to Deans, Bishops and Clergy dating back to the 16th century. The nucleus of the current collection is the library bequeathed to the Cathedral by Dean Allen who was Dean of St Davidís between 1878 and 1897. Books and other appropriate materials are constantly being added. The main subject matter is St. David, St Davidís, Wales, Christianity in Wales and Church in Wales history. There is also a collection of local and cathedral photographs from the 19th century as well as Parish Registers.
LOCATION OF THE LIBRARY
The current location of the library within the Cathedral is on the first and second floors above the Chapel of St Thomas a Becket on the north side of the Cathedral. This three storey part of the building dates from the 14th Century. The entrance door is up a short flight of wooden steps, near the two icons of St Davidís mother St Non and St Justinian at the rear of the restored Shrine of St David. The two floors were restored and refitted as the Library by A. D. Caroe in the 1950s. It had previously been the Chapter House and the Treasury and was used as the Cathedral Grammar School during the 18th and 19th centuries.
There is a fine medieval fireplace with lamp stands, window seats and a piscina for washing hands. In the corner of the room was a medieval latrine.
The Cathedral Library is normally open to the public on Mondays between 2pm and 4pm. Caution needs to be taken up the spiral stone staircase inside the main door.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
∑ The oldest book currently in the Library is the 1504-5 Provinciale seu Constitutiones Angli. This is a book in Latin on Church Law written in the 15th century by William Lyndwode who was Bishop of St David between 1442 and 1447.
∑ 1620 Welsh Bible. First widely available Welsh language Bible.
A translation into Welsh from the original Greek was first produced in 1567 by William Salesbury and colleagues. In this translation Richard Davies, Bishop of St. David between 1561 and 1582 translated 1 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter. In addition, Thomas Huet, Dean of St David between 1560 and 1591, translated the Book of Revelation. The Salesbury translation was further revised by Bishop William Morgan, and after his death was completed by Bishop Richard Parry, and published initially in 1588 and, after further editing, in its final form in 1620.
∑ Map of Pembrokeshire by George Owen of Henllys, 1603
∑ Map of Wales by John Speed, 1610, with 12 insert town plans
∑ Portrait of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of St David 1621 to 1627. Laud was beheaded in 1645 for his Catholic sympathies.
Other subjects covered include: Science, Mathematics, Physics, Exploration, Medicine, Farming, Herbals (medicinal use of plants), Theology, History - Cathedral, Church, Local, Welsh, Parish Records from 1724.
Books are in several contemporary and past languages including Anglo-Saxon, Arabic, Breton, Danish, English, Erse (Irish), Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Persian, Romany and, of course, Welsh.
St Davidís is the only one of the Welsh Cathedrals to still have a Cathedral Library. The original library was believed to have included illuminated gospels and many other books. The key work on St David was written in about 1180 and some of the work on this would have been done in St Davidís. ďA Life of St DavidĒ was written by Rhygyfarch whose father, Bishop Sulien, was Bishop of St David between 1071 and 1076.
As with the rest of the Cathedral, parts of the Library collection have been depleted at various times of political and natural disruption over more than 800 years of the life of the Cathedral.
Many books and manuscripts were destroyed during the Reformation in the 16th century at the same time as the destruction of the monasteries and other church buildings and artefacts.
Manuscripts in the library were also destroyed, as were other parts of the Cathedral, by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War in the 17th century.
Over the centuries other books and records have been destroyed or damaged by flooding. In 1247 the Cathedral was even damaged by an earthquake.
Despite these various travails, there are currently over 5,000 items in the St Davidís Cathedral Library. None are available for loan. Enquiries from researchers are frequently received and are very welcome.
The Library Gallery is reached by a newel staircase next to the entrance door of the library. Today the Gallery houses the Carmarthen Diocesan Library, from the Bishop's Palace in Abergwili, Carmarthen. It contains works of theology, much Welsh language material, Church History and Records.
There is no public access to the Gallery.