History in Structure

Cathedral Church of St. Asaph

A Grade I Listed Building in St. Asaph (Llanelwy), Denbighshire

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Latitude: 53.2571 / 53°15'25"N

Longitude: -3.442 / 3°26'31"W

OS Eastings: 303896

OS Northings: 374310

OS Grid: SJ038743

Mapcode National: GBR 4ZDS.L4

Mapcode Global: WH76N.3D6D

Plus Code: 9C5R7H45+R5

Entry Name: Cathedral Church of St. Asaph

Listing Date: 16 November 1962

Last Amended: 24 November 1987

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1460

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Also known as: Cathedral Church of St. Asaph

ID on this website: 300001460

Location: At the top of the hill, dominating the views of the city from the W.

County: Denbighshire

Community: St. Asaph (Llanelwy)

Community: St. Asaph

Built-Up Area: St Asaph

Traditional County: Flintshire

Tagged with: Gothic architecture Anglican or episcopal cathedral

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St Asaph


The monastery was founded by St Kentigern of Glasgow ca. 560 and continued under St Asaph. The see was re-established in 1143 and a Norman cathedral built; the E.E. choir was probably constructed ca. 1239. Attacks by royal troops in 1245 and 1282 resulted in a rebuilding programme thought to have begun in 1284 by Bishop anian and to have continued until 1381. The irregular changes in the masonry especially to the transepts seem to result from retention of considerable amounts of original fabric. The major part of this work has been dated ca. 1310-20 and attributed to Master Henry of Ellerton (on the grounds of parallels of detail with Caernarvon Castle). The central tower was added 1391/2 by Robert Fagan and the cathedral was burnt 10 years later by Owain Glyndwr; restoration was completed under Bishop Redman in 1482. Periodic improvements were made over the following centuries, damage done by the Civil War and the top of the tower was blown down on 2nd february 1714. 1778/9 saw the demolition of the Chapter House and the choir was remodelled probably by Joseph Turner. Some work carried out by Benjamin Gummow 1810/11 (eg. tower parapet) and Lewis Wyatt lowered the nave ceiling, obscuring the clerestory, ca 1822. The full restoration of 1867-75 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, assisted by H J Fairclough, removed many of the C18 and early C19 alterations, particularly to the choir. Futher restoration by C M Oldrid Scott, mainly to the tower, was carried out in 1929-32. The vestry wing was added during the 1956-70 restoration.


Decorated Gothic 5-bay nave, 2-bay transepts, 1-stage crossing tower with crenellated parapet and 3-bay Victorian E.E. square-ended choir. Variously textured, grey, buff and red coursed rubble masonry, roughly dressed except to choir; mainly sandstone dressings; slate roofs. Chamfered buttresses to W end are C13 survivals; gabled buttresses to nave and chancel, some with colonettes to the latter, angle buttresses to transcepts; high moulded plinth. 7-light ogee reticulated tracery E window inserted by Scott into C14 aperture with hoodmould. Paired lancets with colonettes, and dog tooth ornament to eastern bays, triple lancets to western bay. Round arched Norman door recessed on N side, formerly leading to the Chapter House. Ogee reticulated 3-light windows to E side of transepts; 5-light windows with oval reticulations to transept gable ends. C18 Gothic 3-light tower windows with transoms; square stair turret and clock face to N dated 1794. Geometrical 2-light aisle windows (1830 to N and 1844 to S); no windows to NW bay. Squared octofoil clerestory windows, re-opened by Scott. Main entrance to N, probably mid C19, in 4th nave bay, replacing perp doorway further E; similar advanced entrance to S. Curvilinear 6-light subdivided triple lancet W window with mouchette tracery. Deeply recessed 6-order continuous sunk chamfer moulded entrance with similar doors; original 2-light aisle W end windows. Two C19 freestanding table tombs at W end.


Interior of mainly coursed rubble with freestone dressings. Nave has timber ceiling, heavily ribbed to suggest a lierne vault, by G G Scott; crenellated springers on original stone corbels. Arcades of 2 wave and sunk chamfer moulded orders, western bay shorter: similarly detailed crossing arches with 3-orders to inner sides - a fine example of early C14 work; timber vaulted ceiling. Transepts exposed by Oldrid Scott, in 1929; to N is the organ and Translators Chapel and to the S, formerly the Consistory Court, is the Lady Chapel. A course of stones laid on end at about impost level could suggest the original height of the Norman building. Thomas Jones' choir screen remains only to S side. Chancel retains exceptionally fine late C15 stalls, the only surviving canopied examples in Wales, possibly by William Frankelin. Tall, vaulted and crocketed canopies with pinnacles and carved foliage, elbow knobs and misericords; traceried backs replaced by G G Scott who also added one stall diagonally at either end and the Bishop's Throne to SE end; colonettes to front inserted in 1906. G G Scott lined the choir with mainly red and beige ashlar and inserted panelled wagon ceiling with rose bosses. Detached polished marble shafts to eastern windows, clustered shafts with some stiffleaf to W bay.

Full width reredos of 1871 by Earp of London with central alabaster triptych; iron chest near W end dated 1738 by Davies brothers. mostly Victorian stained glass; that in the Chancel, by Ward and Hughes, dated 1864. Some glass in S transept (formerly in E window) is Ca 1800 by Francis Eginton. The nave retains a large number of interesting monuments including; to N aisle, Gothic alabaster 1st World War Memorial by Powell; to S aisle at W end freestanding monument to Dean Shipley by John Termouth, 1829; broken pedimented monument to Sir John Hay Williams signed in Greek by L Droses of Athens, 1873 and beside the S door, a marble monument to Sir John Williams (d 1830) and wife Margaret (d 1875) by Sir Richard Westmacott depicting full height paired angels.
Sepulchral slab, ca 1330, below; further E medieval effigy probably of Bishop Aian II who died 1293, cushion and low canopy to head and lion to his feet; the pedestal on which it was placed in 1932 was part of a monument by Thomas Jones. Above is a Gothic monument to Bishop Carey and in the N transept a classical monument to Richard Price Thelwall by Benjamin Bromfield, 1775.

Reasons for Listing

St Asaph is the smallest cathedral in England and Wales.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Translator's Memorial
    Above the street in the churchyard to the north of the Cathedral.
  • II St. Asaph Diocesan Office
    Near the top of the High Street at the NW corner of the Cathedral churchyard.
  • II Former Barber Shop
    Set into the slope near the top of the High Street, to the right of the Diocesan Office; shown on 1854/5 map as a Savings Bank.
  • II Sundial at Kentigern Hall
    Set in front garden (S side) of former Canonry.
  • II The Old Rectory
    Detached and set into the slope at the top of the street, small forecourt with Georgian railings and gates. Formerly called Bodlondeb and later a Post Office
  • II Rosslyn
    Set back from the road behind forecourt, opposite the E end of the Cathedral.
  • II Barrow Crafts (including Antiques Shop)
    L-plan range set back near the top of the High Street adjoining the National Westminster Bank; part formerly called "Temperance House."
  • II H.M. Cleaver & Co. (Solicitors)
    L-plan range set back near the top of the High Street adjoining the National Westminster Bank; part formerly called "Temperance House."

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