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Storer’s Bangor Cathedral | Jump to Plates

“The History & Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Bangor illustrated with a series of highly finished engravings exhibiting general & particular views, a ground plan and all the architectural features and ornamentation of the edifice by J. & H. S. Storer London Published for the proprietor, by Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper Paternoster Row. 1818”.

University of Wales Bangor Library Call Number X/AL 6b BAN

The history of episcopacy in Wales is closely blended with that of collegiate institutions, intended to act as asylums for the religious in early and rude ages, unfavourable to the cultivation of a simple and intellectual faith. However, perverted at subsequent periods, these establishments, which were designed by piety and were succoured by beneficence, must be regarded with veneration, as the nurseries of Christianity in semi-barbarous times and as the depositories of that little store of learning which laid the foundation of improvement, in morals and manners, amongst the ancient inhabitants of Cambria.

Of these memorable colleges, the most flourishing and celebrated was that known by the different names of Bangor, or Banchor, Is Coed; Bangor Vawr yn Maelor; Bangor Maelor; and Bangor Dunod; situated in Flintshire. According to the historian Cressy, a school of learning was there established in the time of King Lucius AD 189; but writers less prejudiced and credulous are contented with believing that the foundation was laid by Dunod Vawr, son of Pabo, a chieftain who lived about the beginning of the 6th century. Its splendour in prosperity, and the scene of pitiless slaughter which acted as the harbinger of its decay, have equally attracted the attention of enquirers into monastic history, through all succeeding ages. The number of devotees assembled within the sacred precincts of Bangor Is Coed, was not less, as is asserted by Bede, and other ancient writers, than between two and three thousand. Without stopping to investigate the grounds upon which such a return of collegiate population was first made, it may be observed, that the greatness of the alleged number will appear less surprising, when we remember that a considerable portion of those who composed such institutions in the ages under notice, were illiterate brethren employed in secular avocations, including the labour of agriculture for the benefit of such as were capable of performing religious and other exalted offices.

/b/The prosperity of this extensive establishment was, however, of short duration. The pious fraternity vigorously opposed the assumptions of the Church of Rome as exhibited in the person of its missionary, Augustine. The saint, we are told, threatened the monks with his vengeance; and this resentment was speedily productive of an event, which no saint in the calendar, we will hope, could have either anticipated or authorized. Edilfred, King of Northumberland, instigated, as has been said, by Augustine, commenced a most disastrous war against the Britons; and obtained, in the year 603, a signal victory over Brochwel their prince. The unhappy British leader had entreated the presence and the prayers of the monks, who in great numbers, ascended a hill adjacent to the field of battle and there employed themselves in supplication to the God of mercy, for his direction of the scene of bloodshed in a way favourable to their wishes. The infuriated Northumbrian king deemed such a parade of intercession an act of positive hostility against himself and ordered his soldiers to pave their way to the opposing men at arms with the bodies of these wretched summoners of almighty aid in the conduct of an earthly quarrel! His orders were too punctually obeyed; and it is narrated that 1200 monks were slain; fifty only escaping, by flight, to communicate the tidings of woe and ruin.

Shortly after the foundation of the above distinguished but unfortunate monastery and, as is believed, in the year 525, Daniel or Deiniol, son of Dunod ap Pabo, with the united intentions of relieving a society so inconveniently large, and of extending the means of instruction over another district, erected a collegiate structure in Caernarvonshire, designed to act as a cell or subordinate member to Bangor Is Coed. Over this new institution Daniel presided as abbot until about the year 550 when the college of his foundation was raised to the dignity of a bishopric, and himself appointed the first prelate. Buildings speedily accumulated round the sanctified and populous edifice now constituted an important see; and the growing city, in denotation of its ecclesiastical supremacy, was termed Ban-cor.[1]

After the decease of Daniel, who is thought to have sat as bishop about four years, and is registered as a saint, the annals of this see are involved in extreme obscurity for several centuries. In this circumstance of chill, oblivious fortune, the other bishoprics of Wales par-/c/ticipate with that now under consideration; and for such a melancholy blank in the records of ante-Norman ages we have already endeavoured to account, in our History of the Cathedral and See of St. Asaph[2] One shadowy and uncertain name has been snatched by the hand of deep research from this gloom of desolation. It has been asserted by Bate and Pits that a churchman, termed Elbodus, was nominated to this see about the year 610 by St. Austin; but Willis adduces arguments for believing that those writers are subject to mistake and that the person whom they name Elbodus was in reality no other than Ellodu who “was certainly bishop of Venedotia or Bangor and died such AD 811 as we find in the Annales Menevenses”[3]. ‘The next year died Elbodius archbishop of North Wales before whose death the sunne was sore eclipsed’. In Wynne’s History it is said that a Bishop named Mordaffs sat at Bangor in the years 940 and accompanied to Rome the memorable prince and legislator Howel Dha; but such a prelate is not noticed by any other historian of acceptable credit. Although it be found impracticable to present any resemblance of a chronological account of the bishops who presided over our see, whilst the government of South Britain was vested in the Saxons, some few historical particulars have been collected which are calculated to prove that the interests of Christianity as connected with the established church, were not entirely neglected in this recluse and mountainous district, even in the worst times of intestine war, and its long train of injuries to the moral welfare of mankind. King Athelstan appears to have been a considerable benefactor to the see of Bangor, and in such a judicious exercise of liberality he was imitated by the munificent Edgar, who in the year 975 caused a new church to be founded on the south side of the cathedral ; which building (or a renovated structure on the same site) was used as the parish church of Bangor for many centuries.

Whilst the succession of our prelates is thus unknown, and lost forever amidst the wrecks of time, it will not be supposed that much historical intelligence can be obtained relating to the cathedral in which they performed the principal ceremonies of their pastoral duty. The little which is retrieved from the fragments of defective record, conveys a lamentable idea of the ferocity of unlettered ages – times of intellectual deformity in which the altar itself presented no barrier/d/ to the devastating hand engaged in party quarrel. It is stated in the Annales Menevenses, that the cathedral of Bangor was destroyed during the rage of warfare in the year 1071. At what date the structure was rebuilt is not ascertained; but we have distinct notice of a bishop (Herveus or Hervey) consecrated to this see about the year 1093; and from that time we are enabled to pursue its history through the most comprehensive channel – a notice of such prelates as were instrumental in a marked degree, to the observance of religious duties amongst those entrusted to their care; or have obtained an interesting place in our local annals, from the possession of conspicuous talent, and from transactions appertaining to the cathedral buildings and temporalities of their diocese.

The cruel impolicy of nominating to the Welsh sees, priests of Norman education and habits, indifferent to the natives, if not actually prejudiced to their disadvantage, was proved in the person of the above-named Herveus. He had been confessor to Henry I and was probably a mere courtier. His severe treatment of the Welsh led to a tumult among that bold and free-spirited people, from which he fled in terror, but met with cordial shelter and a new bishopric in England. The next name which demands attention is that of Robert (usually termed Robert of Shrewsbury) who acted a disasterous part in the war between England and Wales in the reign of King John. The historian Powell, narrating the events of the year 1212, observes ‘that the English monarch passing the river Conway, encamped there by the riverside and sent part of his army, with guides of the country, to burn Bangor; which they did, taking Robert the bishop prisoner, who was afterwards ransomed for two hundred hawkes”.

Bishop Anian, who received the temporalities in 1268, improved them with industrious but not avaricious care. “Being in great favour”, says Willis, “with King Edward I he obtained divers privileges and immunities to his see; in so much that most (if not all) the little estate that now belongs to the bishopric was acquired in his time”. Among the numerous grants which he procured from the crown, must be noticed that of Bangor House in Shoe Lane, which was, for a long time, the London residence of succeeding prelates. Several of the manors then added to the possessions of the see, were presented to this bishop in consequence of his bestowing the baptismal benediction on Prince Edward, afterwards second king of England of that name, who was born at the castle of Caernarfon within the/e/ diocese of Bangor. Many circumstances, favourable to posthumous celebrity, have concurred in attaching importance to the memory of bishop Anian. As the most interesting of these, must be mentioned a missale or pontifical, drawn up by him for the services of his church and diocese, which is still preserved in our episcopal library. Richard Younge, elected to this see in 1399, was a zealous adherent to King Henry IV and was shortly after his promotion sent into Germany by that prince, entrusted with the task of representing in favourable terms the circumstances attending the deposition of Richard II. During his absence on this mission, his unprotected diocese experienced most severe calamities. This was the period at which Owen Glendwr took to arms and ravaged the loyal parts of Wales with brutal ferocity. The destruction of the cathedral of St.Asaph by the sacrilegious hand of this ruffian-warrior, has already been noticed; and that of Bangor shared the same fate. So effectual was the irreverent work of devastation that the whole cathedral buildings were involved in one disfigured heap of ruin; and it will be shewn, in our survey of the existing structure, that only a trifling and subordinate portion is of a more ancient date than 1402, the year in which this scene of detestable violence took place.

In this state of disgraceful dilapidation our mitred pile lay prostrate for nearly a century, although during those numerous years several men of some eminence for virtues and talent were elected to the chair of the diocese. John Stanbury, consecrated in 1448, is mentioned by Leland, and other writers, as one of the most learned men of his age and was nominated as such, first provost of the newly-erected college of Eton by Henry VI. His ultimate beneficence, in bequeathing a sum of money towards the restoration of our cathedral, induces us to presume that he would have proved an efficient benefactor to that arduous task, if his attention had not been diverted to other objects by a promotion to the see of Hereford, after /f/presiding here for five years. The long neglect which the cathedral experienced will create but little surprise if the revenues of the see were indeed so deficient as was stated by Bishop Evyndon or Ednam, in the year 1468. This prelate, in a representation to the Pope concerning the extreme poverty of his bishopric, affirms that its annual produce did not exceed the sum of £100; and he consequently obtained permission to hold some other benefice, or dignity, in commendam with it, for the benefit of himself and his successors.

It was during the prelacy of Henry Dean elected Bishop of Bangor in 1496, and who was afterwards successively translated to Salisbury, and to the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury, that the restoration of the structure was commenced on a comprehensive scale. It is believed that the choir was rebuilt through his munificence; and on his promotion to Salisbury he left to his successor at Bangor his valuable crozier and mitre, on condition that he would finish such works as were then in an imperfect state. During two succeeding prelacies, it would appear that nothing new was undertaken, but the pious labour of re-edification was resumed with a magnificent spirit by Bishop Skeffington who was consecrated in 1509. In our examination of the buildings we shall direct the attention of the reader to those extensive portions of the cathedral and palace, which act as lasting monuments of his liberal attention to the interests of a see that had been, through too many ages, either violently persecuted by its foes or almost equally injured by the blameable indifference of those on whom it depended for support.

It is desirable that we should mention Arthur Bulkeley, advanced to this bishopric AD 1541, in order to vindicate his character from an aspersion cast on it by Godwin. That author charges our bishop with several acts of sacrilegious spoliation; and particularly with selling five bells, taken from the steeple of the cathedral church. As an embellishment of the tale, he condescends to repeat a vulgar tradition, which states that the bishop attended in person the exportation of the hallowed furniture thus wrested from the campanile and was, on his return homewards, stricken with incurable blindness. The prejudices of Godwin have been often noticed and deeply endangered was that man’s fame, who lay at his mercy and thought not as he did! In the present instance, it may be observed, that it is extremely unlikely for five bells to have been contained in the steeple as only three were provided by bishop Skeffington. The marvellous blindness of the presumed spoliator is sufficiently disproved by Willis, who remarks that several writings, still in existence, were executed /g/ by him only a few days previous to his death, in a neat and accurate manner, scarcely attainable to a person deprived of sight.

After paying the above just tribute of attention to one of the last Roman Catholic bishops who filled the see, it becomes our pleasing task to notice the most eminent of their successors; ecclesiastics who were born in happier days of religious opinion, and who exhibit the superior effects of the reformed faith on the usual incentives to public and private action. Henry Rowlands, consecrated in 1598, was a liberal benefactor to the repairs of the cathedral (bestowing a new roof upon the part below the choir) and was otherwise intent on dedicating a part of his revenue to works of public advantage. In the annals of religious learning, he is commemorated as having founded two fellowships at Jesus College, Oxford; and in those of local charity he is gratefully celebrated for the foundation of an hospital at Bangor, endowed by him for the maintenance of six poor and aged men. No district in which the dignity of the established church, however temperately displayed, was upheld by pecuniary resources, could be secure from the baneful influence of those civil wars in the 17th century, which may not unaptly, be termed the diseased and febrile effusion of the body politic. Bishop Roberts presided over our see when this wild storm of human passion first broke forth. Deprived of everything but his loyalty, and his confidence in the simple faith which he had learned and taught, he proved the injustice of his oppressors by the blended mildness and fortitude with which he sustained adversity. We are fortunate in being enabled to record that he outlived this futile combustion of the public mind and became, to use the words of Browne Willis, “an happy instrument in reviving the ancient laudable worship in this cathedral”. In the calm season which followed his restoration, he appears to have attended, with due care, to the repairs and embellishment of the church; and in this necessary task he was emulated by his successor Robert Morgan, a native of Montgomeryshire and a great sufferer during the rebellion.

The name of Humphrey Lloyd, who was born in Merionethshire, and was promoted hither in the year 1673, must ever be mentioned with respect in the history of this see. The repairs of the cathedral had hitherto depended on optional bounty; whilst the choir was entirely destitute of endowment. Bishop Lloyd procured an act of parliament, appropriating certain revenues to the permanent endowment of the choir, the perpetual repair of the fabric and the aug-/h/mentation of the bishopric. Few prelates have attracted greater notice on the stage of public life, or are more renowned in the annals of controversial writing, than Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, who was consecrated to the see of Bangor in 1715. This divine had the chosen but unenviable lot, of being engaged in polemic dispute throughout nearly the whole of his mature years. The opinions which he espoused were, in general, of an unpopular character; but the favour with which they were received by those political parties which obtained ministerial power, is evinced by the dignified situations to which he was progressively appointed. Whilst Dr.Hoadly presided over this diocese, he became the instigator of a dispute in ecclesiastical politics, which employed the press for several years and is usually known as the ‘Bangorian Controversy’. This literary warfare among clerical writers originated in a sermon preached by our bishop, upon these words:- “My kingdom is not of this world”. In expatiating upon his text, Dr. Hoadly maintained that the clergy had no pretensions to any temporal jurisdiction. He preached in an age when religious professions were too much blended with the designs of human policy; and a long controversy ensued in which Dr. Snape bore a distinguished share, but which was conducted in a manner that perhaps reflects no exalted credit on either of the parties engaged. It would require an extensive dissertation upon the politics which prevailed in the early part of the 18th century, to explain the causes which led the people to disapprove Dr. Hoadly’s sentiments and induced the court to patronize them. It may suffice to observe, in the present page, that our polemic bishop, as “champion of the low church”, was successively promoted to the sees of Hereford, Salisbury and Winchester. He died in the year 1761 and his works were collectively published in three volumes folio, by his son in 1773. In the list of succeeding prelates, are eminent the names of the eloquent Thomas Sherlock (who appeared for the first time, as an author, in the celebrated Bangorian controversy in which he opposed Dr. Hoadly) and Thomas Herring, afterwards advanced to the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury. Dr. Majendie our present respected bishop, was promoted hither in the year 1809.

The Cathedral of Bangor possesses no claim on admiration from extent of dimensions, magnificence of decoration or profoundness of /i/ antiquity. The extreme poverty of the see throughout those ages in which the pile was originally constructed and progressively renovated, will sufficiently account for its limited proportions and simplicity of character The ravages of war, which have been already narrated and stigmatised in these pages, preclude all hopes of our discovery on a spot so much exposed to hostile visitations, any important archaeological remains of a remote date.

This cathedral is situated on the north side of the city of Bangor, and is surrounded by a cemetery, or churchyard, which although still small, has been considerably enlarged within the last ten years. The material of which the building is composed is stone which is of a dusky hue, but by no means an unpleasing aspect; and is proved to be of salutary durability, by its present uninjured appearance. The structure is low in proportion and situation. Destitute, therefore, of all pretensions to commanding grandeur of effect, it relies on the modesty of its architectural features and on the neatness of simplicity, for the advantage of a favourable first impression on the mind of the spectator. Placed in the vicinity of a mountainous tract, where the “threatening Snowdon frowns amidst his circle of ponderous tributaries,” it would appear to assimilate with the ancient, unostentatious manners of the inhabitants; firm, though unassuming; respectable, but unadorned. Then plan of the cathedral is cruciform, with a low square tower rising from the west end. A row of clerestory windows extends to the whole length of the nave but the obtuse, depressed heads of these windows exhibit the pointed arch in its declining days; and the clerestory imparts little of airiness or elegance to the edifice. The architectural examiner will, however, find some gratification on viewing, at the west end, a spacious door and window, well designed and executed in a style worthy of English architecture in its most prosperous season.

The interior comprises a nave with two side aisles; north and south transepts; a choir, with some official buildings attached to its north side, and a quadrangular area between the choir, the nave, and the transepts. An outline of the architectural history of the present edifice has been afforded by our notice of the prelates who contributed towards its erection. A more minute discrimination of these respective works is the duty of the present and ensuing pages. Of the ancient structure, contumeliously involved in ruin by Owen Glendwr, A.D.1402, it is believed that no fragment now remains, except a sepulchral erection at the extremity of the south transept; unless two contiguous buttresses may be supposed of nearly equal antiquity; a /k/ conjecture, perhaps, authorized by their architectural character. Independent of the dubious and unimportant parts, no division of the present cathedral can be ascribed to an earlier date than the 15th century. The choir was built under the direction of bishop Dean, promoted hither in 1496, and is chiefly adorned by its large east window, which is divided into several compartments, but unlike the most celebrated specimens of the style that prevailed in the time of Henry VII, has little of the embellishment arising from tracery-work. This window, together with others, in different parts of the cathedral, is described by Willis, whose ‘Survey’ was published in 1721, as being enriched with painted glass ( saints, and bishops in their robes and mitres etc) but the whole appears to have been then in a mutilated and decaying state and has since been removed. The roof is cased with common plaister and the furniture is of a homely, and rather displeasing character. The stalls for the dean, prebendaries and other dignitaries and official persons were erected soon after the restoration; and are in the worst mode of that tasteless period. The Episcopal throne would appear to have been designed and executed by a common workman of the country, and similar terms of description will apply to the altar.

The entire body of the church, from the choir downwards to the west end, including the tower, was built by Bishop Skeffington between the years 1509 and 1532. Some repairs and slight alterations, however, have been effected and the most important of these shall be noticed.

The nave is separated from the side aisles by six obtusely-pointed arches, resting on octangular columns or pillars. The ceiling of this part of the church is described by Willis as comprising “nine beams well wrought and beautified with carved work”. The following particulars of information are also afforded by the same writer: “There are four panels between each beam, the corners of which are carved. This ceiling looks well, though it is not wainscoted and only planked under the lead; but the work being close and most of it moulded, it has no ill appearance, though it was never painted. There are but two escutcheons throughout the whole building of the church, and they are in the ceiling of the nave, and are in memory of Bishop Vaughan and Bishop Rowland[s]; which bishops very much adorned and repaired this church.” Since the survey of our cathedral was made by Browne Willis, some alterations have here been effected. In the time of Bishop Cleaver it was ascertained that the roof was /l/ in a state of dangerous decay and a renovation of this part of the fabric consequently took place. The simplicity of its ancient character was, however, preserved; and the roofing still exhibits its framework of timber, but destitute of carved ornaments or historical allusions. Between the choir and nave is erected a fine-toned organ, given to the church by the late dean Lloyd in the year 1779. The front of the organ gallery is a puerile and mean imitation of the English style of design, as occasionally displayed, with such captivating touches of genius in the screen-work of ancient sacred edifices.

When writing concerning the transept of this cathedral (or, as he terms it, the ‘great cross-ile’) Browne Willis intimates that ‘most part’ of this division of the structure was ‘standing before’ the time at which bishop Dean commenced those labours of restoration, which were completed by Bishop Skeffington. We have already shewn that from the architectural character of the transepts, Mr Willis was probably subject to error in making this assertion; and that the remains of the cathedral buildings desolated by Owen Glendwr are in reality confined to some inconsequential particulars although these trifling vestiges do assuredly, occur in this part of the edifice. The transepts possess little architectural interest, but display in the leading features of their arrangement, as will be seen from our engraved views, the style of the 16th century, in one of the most frugal and homely of its modifications. The interior is quite devoid of laboured ornament, and is not known to have experienced any improvement entitled to observation, since the time of bishop Rowlands. On the plain ceiling of both transepts is inscribed the name of this prelate with the date 1611; evincing the period at which certain memorable repairs were completed under his direction. The area which intervenes at the meeting of the choir, the nave and the transepts, has been long set apart for the performance of divine service in the ancient British language. Browne Willis supposes that it was originally designed to erect a tower over this part of the church, as is usual in similar cruciform structures. “Between the nave and the quire” observes that writer “is a square space, supported by four pillars, or pretty large arches, the foundation, or bottom, of which looks pillar-like; and the arches are so wrought as if they were made up of several little pillars. Over these a steeple seems to have been designed to have been erected”.

The buildings on the north side of the choir are greatly injurious to the architectural effect of that part of the structure, and are described by Willis as consisting of two stories, the upper division forming one room and being designed for a library, the lower comprising /m/ three compartments, “a storeroom for the uses of the church, a vestry, and a chapter house, including a parochial lending library.” Some alterations in this extraneous building took place under the direction of Bishop Warren; at which time the ancient chapter house was converted into the registrar’s office, and a new chapter-room was built above. The windows of the latter division of the building are lamentably incongruous with the style of architecture that prevails throughout other parts of the structure; but it is pleasing to observe that they constitute the only instances in which the plan of the original designer (however unostentatious its merits) has experienced violation from the injudicious hand of the mere builder. Whilst bestowing this alloyed commendation, it is requisite that we render a just tribute of unmixed praise to the dignified persons latterly entrusted with the superintendence of our cathedral. The exemplary neatness with which it is preserved has been uniformly noticed by those numerous tourists who have communicated to the public the result of their investigation in this alpine and attractive district. From the ruinous magnificence of St. David’s, the examiner turns with pleasure to the well-preserved fabric of our uninspiring cathedral. We view in ‘Menevia’ the decaying and disregarded splendour of ages intent on the outward ceremonials and pompous habits of religion. At Bangor the antiquary finds little that is deserving of laborious attention; but whilst cherishing the best feelings of Christian philosophy, he has serious cause of gratulation in beholding a pile adapted to more limited purposes, which is still maintained in decorous repair, and has no useless architectural member to be discarded and thrown among the gorgeous lumber of a superstitious era. It has been already suggested that the existing fund for the reparation of our church originated in the liberal interference of bishop Lloyd, who in the year 1685 procured an Act of Parliament appropriating to this purpose and to the endowment of the choir, the rents accruing from the Rectory of Llandinam in Montgomeryshire. Amongst other improvements at present in contemplation must be mentioned a plan for enlarging the choir of the cathedral, which is now too small for the increasing population, and numerous visitors, of Bangor.

In common with the other cathedral churches of Wales, this structure contains few monuments of an interesting character. The most ancient sepulchral memorial is situated within a low and flat arch, at the south end of the south transept. Browne Willis describes it as being “covered with a free stone on which is a cross that divides the length and breadth of the stone;” and a later writer asserts that this sculptured emblem is of a decorated description, being no other than /n/ the cross fleury. But it would be with a great indulgence of fancy that we believed any traces of such a piece of sculpture to be now remaining.

It has been usually supposed that this monument was erected to Owen Gwynedd, who died in 1169. A reverend and learned contributor of information to the present work, who possesses much local and antiquarian knowledge in regard to the history of this cathedral, is of opinion, however, that it was designed to commemorate Gruffydd ap Cynan, father of the above-named prince, who died A.D. 1137 and is stated in the Welsh annals to have been buried at Bangor. It is observed by Willis that “the oldest memorandum of any bishop whatsoever extant buried at Bangor” is an inscription to Bishop Glynn, who died in 1558 and lies interred near the communion table. In fact, only few of our prelates resided on their see or were buried in their own cathedral, previous to the reformation. The earliest bishop recorded to have been buried here is Anian Seys who died in the year 1327. The mutilated monuments of two later bishops, as they appeared in the year 1721, may be thus noticed in the words of Browne Willis. On the north side of the choir “ are the effigies (or rather busts) of two bishops viz. bishop Vaughan and Bishop Rowland[s], which are put close to the wall though they seem to be in a niche. The effigies are of alabaster with a sweep of the same material from the waist upwards in their habits, each upon a cushion; the hands of one in a praying posture, the other with one hand a-kimboe and the other resting on a bible. Their heads were beaten off in the time of the rebellion, but the inscription, which is on a black marble, and was put up by bishop Rowlands a little before his death, is still remaining”. The inscription, which is in Latin, and of considerable length, narrates the descent of these successive bishops and the friendly intercourse which subsisted between them. There is not any funeral memorial to a dignitary of more recent occurrence, with the exception of a small mural monument to Dean Jones, who deceased AD 1727.

The cathedral acts as the parochial church of Bangor divine service being celebrated in the Welsh language (as has been already intimated) in the area between the nave, the choir and the transepts. /o/The choir is appropriated to the usual cathedral service in English which is always performed subsequently to religious worship in the native tongue. The chapter is constituted by the under-named twelve dignitaries:- The Dean, the Bishop, as Archdeacon of Bangor, the Bishop, as Archdeacon of Anglesey; the Archdeacon of Merioneth; the Prebendary of Llanfair; the Prebendary of Penmynydd; the Treasurer; the Chancellor; the Precentor; [and] three canons according to their degrees.

The bishop’s palace is situated on the north side of the cathedral, at the distance of about 200 yards; and is a modest but handsome and substantial edifice, erected in a sheltered and retired spot. Nature has here shed abundant charms, and her bounty has been judiciously cultivated by the simplicity of a correct taste. Placed under the shade of a steep and well-wooded hill and encompassed by grounds of limited dimensions, but elegantly disposed, all around appears calculated to impart peace and to nurture habits of study, profound but not gloomy. A large part of this very appropriate Episcopal residence was constructed in the time of Bishop Skeffington; but many alterations have been recently effected. The surrounding grounds were augmented, and a road, formerly too close in its approaches, was removed without injury to the public, in the time of Bishop Warren. The most important improvements, however, have been executed under the direction of the present Bishop, who has increased the size and internal convenience of the structure without detracting in any particular from its original simplicity of character.

The deanery is nearly contiguous to the palace being place at the north-west angle of the cathedral yard and wears an estimable air of comfort, neatness and respectability.

The diocese of Bangor comprises the entire county of Anglesey, and the whole of Caernarvonshire except three parishes; more than half the county of Meirioneth; fourteen parishes in Denbighshire and seven parishes in the county of Montgomery. This extensive district is divided into three archdeaconries, two of which (as will be seen in our enumeration of dignitaries composing the chapter) are vested in the bishop.

The little city of Bangor, according to all reasonable calculation /p/ derived its first importance from the celebrated college founded here in the sixth century; if indeed, it is not indebted for its earliest assemblage of buildings to that circumstance of ecclesiastical favour. In an examination respecting the history of this place, it would be quite superfluous to bestow serious attention on the remarks of those writers who stray beyond the reach of record, and, in the bold exercise of a superstitious fancy, endeavour to create a ‘new world’ of topography, without having ‘exhausted the old’. In regard to the aspect and character of Bangor, the following remarks were made upon the spot by the present writer: “The eye, accustomed to the view of metropolitan splendour may, possibly, look with contempt on the low buildings of this remote city; but the more general observer will survey in them the happy mean between comfortless magnificence and squalid poverty. Sullenly withdrawn to some considerable distance, frowns the threatening Snowdon, like the fabled monarch of the giants surrounded by his peers or the chief described by Ossian, ‘whose spear resembled the blasted fir; his shield the rising moon; his dark host rolling, as clouds, around him’. In the other direction, the currents of the Menai, and the waters of the Irish sea, unite to form the tranquil waves of a picturesque bay; while the little city, protected by nature on every side, emits the peaceful volumes of her smoke in the repose of humility.”

The city of Bangor, although still humble in pretensions, has experienced a great increase in population in the course of the last century. Browne Willis, after mentioning the parish as containing ‘several vills’ states the total number of houses to be 206, in the year 1721, which on a conjectural calculation of five inmates to each house, makes the number of inhabitants 1030. According to the returns made to government in the year 1811, the aggregate had increased to 474 houses, containing 2383 persons; and fresh buildings are continually, though not rapidly accumulating. Literary tourists, of various descriptions have lately combined to render Wales an object of attraction even to the luxurious traveller; and the influx of autumnal visitants to this northern recess of Cambria is now great, and conduces much towards the traffic and prosperity of the place.

The relics of antiquity here presented, together with the charitable and useful establishments, are the subject of inquiry best suited to the present work. It was to be ascertained, through history, that a castle was founded here by Hugh, Earl of Chester, in the reign of William II but a knowledge of its site was confined to a small local sphere until communicated to the public by Mr Pennant. It is observed by that writer that the vestiges are situated “nearly a quarter of a mile eastward of the town on the ridge of hills which bound the south-east of the vale. The castle stood on a rocky and in many parts, a precipitous hill. Three sides of the walls are easily to be traced; and they end, on two directions, in a precipice. On the fourth side, the natural strength of the place rendered a farther defence useless. Mounds of earth, tending to a semicircular form, with rocks and precipices, connect the north-east and south-west walls.”

At a small distance from the town stood a monastery for black friars, founded, as is believed, in the year 1299 by Tudur ap Gronw. After the dissolution of religious houses, this was converted into a free school, in attention to the will of Jeffrey Glynn, brother to William Glynn, Bishop of Bangor. Although the original endowment was small, it has nurtured the growth of an establishment highly respectable and of great utility.

The hospital or almshouse, founded by Bishop Rowland[s], affords assistance to six aged single men, who according to the will of the founder, were to receive respectively, two shillings per week and annually six yards of ‘frieze’ for clothing.

Length from E.  to W. 214
Do. of the tower at W.  19
Do. of the nave or body    141


of the choir, which extends entirely to the east end  and begins beyond the cross aisle   53
Do. of the cross aisle from N. to S. 96
Breadth of the body and side aisles      60
Height of the body to the top of the roof   34
Do. of the tower       60
Square of the tower   24
Dimensions of the Cathedral

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Plate 1 An interior view, taken from the N. transept. Showing the window of the S. Transept; the area in which Welsh Service is performed; the organ loft and part of the Choir.
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Plate 5 A view of the Cathedral and city, including part of the romantic scenery in their vicinity. In the distance, on the left, is seen the Isle of Anglesey, its shore being enlivened by the town of Beaumaris. Beyond the headland is Priestholm Island. [Click on the thumbnail above for larger image or Download/View Hi-Resolution Image]

Plate 2 The interior of the Nave, exhibiting the font, the Consistory Court, and the screen of the Bell tower.
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Plate 6 The E. end of the cathedral. The window in the N. division of this part of the fabric appertains to the chapter house.
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Plate 3 The S. transept and part of the Choir. Beneath the great window of the transept is seen the ancient piece of masonry popularly denominated as ‘Owen Glendwr’s monument’.
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Plate 7 The Tower with the Clerestory windows of the nave and S. aisle.
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Plate 4 The Tower, at the W. end of the Cathedral.
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Plate8 A view of the Bishop’s palace. In the distance are seen the cathedral and some of those picturesque heights which protect and adorn the city of Bangor.
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[1] Browne Willis  p.55. In the Welsh Annals ‘Elbodus’ is said to die AD 809

[2] This should be ‘north east side'

[3] The parish church of Bangor was dedicated to St Mary, and was distant about 400 yards from the cathedral. There is no tradition respecting the time at which this fabric was demolished; and no traces of the foundations are to be seen, although bones have often been found on digging upon the supposed site of the cemetery. It has, however, been conjectured and with much appearance of probability that the church was taken down in the reign of Henry VIII with a view of using its materials in the re-edification of the cathedral.

[4] In the Appendix to Willis’s Survey of Bangor Cathedral is printed a curious bull of Pope Paschal, addressed to Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, recommending Herveus to a bishopric. He afterwards became the first bishop of Ely.

[5] This curious work has been described by Willis as “one of those Diversities or Uses in singing, heretofore observed and practised in our church, taken notice of in the Preface, or Order, which follows the Act of Uniformity printed before our excellent Liturgy or Common Prayer Book; wherein it is provided that instead of the Salisbury, Hereford, Bangor, York and Lincoln uses, there shall be henceforth but one use throughout the whole realm. The following analytical remarks were communicated to the same writer by Dr. Jones then Dean of Bangor: “The Pontifical or Liber Bangor is a folio of a moderate thickness, contains 32 offices and has abundance of anthems with musical notes to them for singing. At the beginning are the offices of making and ordaining the Acolyti, Subdiaconi, Diaconi, Presbyteri and Episcopi; forms of consecrating churches and churchyards &c; forms of adjuring of bread, cheese and honey; offices for all Sundays and Holy days throughout the year; prayers in times of pestilence, war and other occasions. The 13th office contains the Mass; the 19th the Form of the Chapters electing their Bishop. In the latter End is the Office of Baptism (where twice immersion is expressly enjoined), Communion, Visiting the Sick, Burying the Dead &c. The Rubrick part is all red but scarce legible. It wants little of being entire except that the Index at the beginning is torn out. [Now, in 2006, in the care of the Archives Dept, University of Wales Bangor].

[6] A candid and comprehensive disquisition respecting th charge brought against this bishop by Godwin, is presented in Willis’s Survey p.101-104. In the Appendix to the same work, and also in the Beauties of England and Wales for Caernarvonshire, is printed the curious last will of bishop Bulkeley.

[7] This Act, which was obtained in the first year of James II, is printed in the Appendix to Willis’s Survey. In the preamble, it is stated that the cathedral is in a very ruinous state and that the “certain revenue of the bishopric doth not amount to the yearly revenue of 200”.

[8] Although his intellect was vigorous and he possessed keen powers of disputation, Dr. Hoadly’s style was confused and otherwise faulty; a defect thus noticed by Pope:”…Swift for closer style, but Hoadly for a period of a mile.”

[9] When this enlargement of the churchyard took place, some mean houses on the south east part were taken down and a short range of neat and well-planned almshouses erected.

[10] On the outside of the tower is the following inscription in ancient characters “Thomas Skervyngton, Episcopus Bangorie, hoc campanile et ecclesiam fieri fecit Ao partis virginei MCCCCCXXXII”.

[11] It is fortunate that the identity of the person here interred is not a subject of very important enquiry, since it is involved in considerable doubt. In the reign of Henry II, Archbishop Baldwin was shewn, in Bangor Cathedral, the tombs of Prince Owen and his brother Cadwallader, who were “buried in a double vault before the high altar”. As Owen had been excommunicated “by the blessed martyr Thomas”, the archbishop thought proper to direct that his remains should be removed from the church, at the first convenient opportunity. In the Hengwrt MSS, as copied by Sir R. [Colt] Hoare, it is said that the bishop, in obedience to the above charge, “made a passage from the vault through the south wall of the church, underground; and thus secretly shoved the body into the churchyard”

[12] [Sais]

[13] It has been long in the contemplation of the dean and chapter to erect a distinct chapel for the performance of divine service in Welsh; and it is understood that the intention will be carried into effect as soon as their finances will allow.

[14] The endowed choristers are four in number and are assisted in the celebration of the service by the grammar scholars in Dr. Glynn’s foundation, who are instructed in vocal music by the organist. The following remarks are extracted from a judicious historical notice of “Cathedral Schools” inserted in the Gentleman’s Magazine for March 1817: “The endowed choristers are generally chosen from Dr Glynn’s scholars. They receive a classical education in the Free Grammar School, where they are also taught writing and arithmetic; and the organist of the cathedral, for the time being, is responsible for their musical attainments. The former choristers of Bangor Cathedral have usually settled very reputably in life and do credit to their respective instructors. A great proportion have taken holy orders”.





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