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Bangor Cathedral
Street: High Street (NW side)
Listing: Grade I
Name/Number: Cathedral Church of St Deiniol
Date first listed: 27 May 1949
Other Resources:
Bangor Diocese
Timeline of the Cathedral / C19 Restoration (Bangor Diocese Site)
Cathedral in a Valley (Country Quest Article)

In a sloping oval churchyard below the High Street. This is the oldest cathedral foundation in Britain; founded ca 525 on the site of a Celtic clas and dedicated to St Deiniol ca 546. The present structure can be dated back to early C12 when the church had an eastern apse and probably aisle-less nave. Early in C13 it was given an EE type square ended chancel; Bishop Anian (1267-1305) started the rebuilding of the crossing, central tower and Lady Chapel - the tower was burnt down in 1309. Following various rebuildings including work by Bishop Dean and Dean Kyffin in C14 and C15, major reconstruction was carried out by Bishop Skeffington (1509-34) who built the existing nave and western bell tower, The Chapter House and Vestry to NE were raised before 1721 with the addition of a Library; this was then remodelled after 1778 by a "Mr Wyatt" with the creation of a Registry. In 1824 a full restoration was begun by John Hall of Bangor along with a somewhat conflicting reordering of the interior by John Foster, a leading Liverpool architect. In 1857 the choir was reroofed by Henry Kennedy. Gilbert Scott restored the Cathedral from 1868 to 1880 especially the eastern half, including rebuilding of the crossing. The contractors were Beauland of Bradford and later Thompson of Peterborough. The foundations were found to be insufficient to support the tall central tower that Scott designed, nor were there the funds to build it; finally in 1966/7 A D R Caroe created the existing structure.

Rubble masonry with some dressed stone; mainly lead roofs and crenellated parapets to nave and tower. Diagonal buttresses to bell tower and stepped buttresses to nave with niches to N side; Scott's gabled buttresses with detached shafts to chancel

 

2-bay chancel, transepts, crossing tower, 7-bay nave and west tower. 5-light mullion and transom E window. One 5-light ogee traceried window to S side and 2 smaller C16 windows over the buttress and blocked window remains of the Romanesque church; on the E wall of the S transept beside this is the blocked former chapel opening. The N side has paired and single lancets to vestry with gothic chimney stacks. The central tower has 2 carved roundels to each face, at W over 4 lancets. The transept gable ends have plate tracery windows, with dog tooth ornament to N. 3-light nave windows with reticulated tracery to aisles; only 6-bays of the clerestory are glazed. Rainwater heads are dated 1791, Blind ogee headed niche over the low SW entrance with 4-order roll and sunk chamfer mouldings, boarded doors and strapwork hinges; similar to N side entrance. 4-stage W tower with stringcourse set offs, crenellated parapet and crocketed finials; clock faces to N & S sides over 3-light belfry openings. 3-light W window with ogee and tear drop tracery; the inscription below reads "Thomas Skevington Episcopus Bangorie Hoc campaniele et Ecclesia Fieri fecit Ao Partus Virginei - 1532". Square headed W entrance with label and similar boarded doors.

The nave has a 6-bay, 2-order arcade carried on octagonal piers and square bases; linked hoodmoulds, Above this the stone walls are rendered. Oak roof with bosses, crenellated tie beams and stone corbels. Modern inner porches to N and S; slightly off centre 3-order tower arch with steps leading up to a further modern inner porch. Square pulpit with chamfered corners and panelled reliefs; C15 octagonal font on modern platform and with modern canopy. Heavily moulded crossing arches with half-round responds to W; choir screen of 1908 by Oldrid Scott and rood of 1950 by Alban Caroe. Thechancel has encaustic tile floor and canopied choir stalls; 5-bay timber lierne roof by Scott. Low blocked doorway to N beside a Netherlandish C17 wood carved statue in blocked window opening; reredos of 1881 by Oldrid Scott. 3-bay hammerbeam roofs to Transepts; S transept serves as the Lady Chapel and has painting (1934) by Brian Thomas set into the former arched opening to the medieval Lady Chapel; a tomb recess in the S wall traditionally contains the body of Owain Gwynedd but it is later than that and seems to relate to the resiting of the body. 2 broken medieval stone crucifixes, one to the tomb recess and one to the reredos. Collection of medieval stone carved pieces gathered at the NW end including the well detailed C14 monument to Eve. The Mostyn Christ hangs at the W end of the N arcade, a Bound Rood said to be dated 1518 and possibly from Rhuddlan Priory. Many C19 wall monuments. Three windows have glass by David Evans of Shrewsbury originally made in 1838 for the E window; moved in 1873. S Transept window made in 1885 by Mayer of Munich and present E window by Clayton and Bell (1873).


References:

Bangor Cathedral Guide (n.d). M L Clarke, “Bangor Cathedral" (1969).
G Griffiths, "Mystery tomb of the last Welsh King"; Country Quest, May 1979 p 17.
M Lewis, 'Stained Glass in North Wales up to 1850' (1970), p 101.
Transactions of the Caernarvonshire Historical Society, vol 13, p 26-35.
RCAHM, Wales, Caernarvonshire, p 1-8.


Heritage Lottery Fund Grant (2006)
Amount awarded: £515,000 - Restoration of the fabric of the Cathedral and the historic organ. Improving public access to the Cathedral's heritage and improving education and information facilities.

Several sections on the Cathedral in Archaeologia Cambrensis

From the Historical Sources Section (Tools & Features)
Sir Gilbert Scott's Tower.

Two different views. Subsidence and financial constrains made construction impossible. The design was also controversial being out of proportion to the nave and west tower.


A modern representation of The Entombment of Christ (Caravaggio) by John Gregory.

Painting on long term loan to the Cathedral.

 

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