Monday, 4 July 2016

The Bishop's Palace at St Davids

The remains of the Bishops of St Davids principle palace are located alongside the cathedral in the tranquil valley of the river Alun. This would have been the finest collection of buildings in Wales during the medieval period, rivaled only by Lamphey Bishop's Palace.

Even in its ruined state the Bishop's Palace at St Davids still conveys the affluence and power of the medieval church.

Bishop's Palace, St Davids - South Range
Just look at this place, it is built for drama. The whole site sends shivers down the spine. It evokes a period when religion was the order of the day and bishops were powerbrokers par excellence.

Lavish decorations, corbels carved as human heads and striking chequerboard stonework are all testament to the wealth and status of these medieval men of religion.

The bishop's private quarters
Bishop Thomas Bek (1280-93) undertook significant new building work on the site but it was Bishop Henry de Gower (1328-47) of Lamphey Palace fame who was responsible for virtually the entire palace we see today. His legacy consists of two great ranges. The east range – the simpler of the two – was the first to be built. This was his private domain. The second, the south range, was much grander and built for stylish entertaining. The great hall, the most impressive chamber in the palace, created the perfect backdrop for banquets.

The East Range
 Looking for more de Gower highlights? Look no further than the fantastic wheel window in the east gable and the majestic porch, an entrance befitting the majesty of such an iconic building.

The Wheel Window
Those medieval bishops certainly liked to live in the lap of luxury. Just consider this, when life in the palace at St Davids became too hard to bear they'd simply decamp and take up residence at Lamphey. Damn life must have been so hard!

I quite like the modern nod to Henry de Gower's brilliance in the shape of this wrought iron wheel window gate.

Wheel Window ironwork