The current Library exhibition in the Cathedral Treasury is:

This exhibition tells the story of visits by leading Suffragettes to St Davids Cathedral and City during the Pembrokeshire by-election campaign in July 1908. The Cathedral Visitors Book, which is on display, was signed by Emmeline Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Mary Blathwayt on Monday July 6th 1908. 

The exhibition was opened on 8th March, International Women's Day, by Rt Rev Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids and the first woman Bishop in Wales.

Bishop Joanna said she was delighted by the discovery which had been made by the Cathedral Library. "It is very exciting to have such clear evidence that these dynamic women visited our cathedral during their campaigning, We hope they found peace and comfort in this special place in the midst of what was so often very tough treatment as they strove for justice and fairness. They are part of a history of resilient women in St Davids."

Mary Blathwayt’s diary says that they thought the Cathedral was “splendid” and records that “Mrs Pankhurst spoke from the Market Cross” in a public meeting on the evening of 6th July 1908 and says it was “a grand meeting, everyone in the place seemed to come.” Mary Blathwayt and Annie Kenney stayed for several days in St Davids with “Miss Phillips, 2 Grove Terrace”.  Mary also says “Rev Williams” went to talk to the Suffragettes that evening. Canon William Williams was Vicar of the parish before he became Dean between 1919 and 1931. 

Then on Thursday 9th July Annie Kenney brought Lady Pethick Lawrence to see the Cathedral as well, and again signed this Visitors Book. While she was in St Davids, Annie Kenney gave a lengthy interview to the Pembroke County Guardian. In this she compared the campaign for Votes for Women with the campaign for Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. Both would be successful within a few years.

Then on Thursday 9th July Annie Kenney brought Lady Pethick Lawrence to see the Cathedral as well, and again signed this Visitors Book. While she was in St Davids, Annie Kenney gave a lengthy interview to the Pembroke County Guardian. In this she compared the campaign for Votes for Women with the campaign for Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. Both would be successful within a few years.

In her article on the by-election in the VOTES FOR WOMEN paper, Emmeline Pankhurst said “It only needs to be known that we are coming to a district for large crowds to assemble. Our fight for freedom appeals to the freedom-loving people of Wales cherishing, as they do, the memory of those brave men and women who live in the history of their country’s struggles for national liberty. “ In the same issue is a report of a further Suffragette meeting held in St Davids “taken by Mrs Martel with Miss Elsa Gye in the Chair … The audience appeared quite won over.

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 David’s between 1878 and 1897. Books and other appropriate materials are constantly being added. The main subject matter is St. David, St David’s, 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.

Those interested in undertaking research in the Cathedral Library should email to with details of the research and any supervisers or sponsors.


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 David’s 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.


 · 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 David’s 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 David’s. “A Life of St David” 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 David’s 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.


The Cathedral Library itself is open to the public every Monday afternoon and on other occasions.    


The Library location

(Chwilio Manwl/Advanced Search)  

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