ST DAVIDS, almost on the most western point of Wales, where in
the sixth century St David founded his monastery in a quiet, green
valley, well out of sight of the ships of marauding Norsemen.
What to see
St Davids Cathedral is the crowning glory of the Church in
Wales, and its purple-stoned mass, dating mostly from the 12th
century, now slopes up from the softer ground at its west end.
Even after the depredations of Reformation and Commonwealth -
Cromwell is said to have smashed the floor tiles by riding his
horse up to the high altar - it contains treasure upon
The ceilings of the nave and tower are exquisite examples of
their kind, and the 15th-century choir stalls are gorgeously
carved, with crocketted pinnacles and witty misericords. They are
in use every day, and the Dean and Chapter have managed to maintain
near-daily choral worship in this glorious little backwater.
The Archdeacon of Brecon's stall, which has been vacant since
the loss of that archdeaconry to the diocese of Swansea &
Brecon in 1923, seems to await defiantly the reunification of the
sees, and the royal arms on the south side of the choir are a
reminder of one of those pleasing quirks of history: the sovereign
is also a member of the Chapter.
The magnificent table tomb of Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII,
used to dominate the chancel; but that honour now goes to the
shrine of St David - two pilgrimages to which, Pope Callistus II
declared, were worth one to Rome - which was restored to splendour
The Bishop's Palace, next to the cathedral, and now in the care
of Cadw, is one of the most evocative ruins in the country.
The area is dotted with medieval churches on the old pilgrimage
routes to St Davids, many of which are architecturally
St Davids is small; so options for fine dining are limited. That
said, there are plenty of hostelries in the city that offer honest,
home-cooked food and a selection of good ales from Wales and
With a car, however, the possibilities are numerous.
Haverfordwest, half an hour away, has all the amenities of a county
town. The Shed, a fish-and-chip bistro at Porthgain, 15 minutes to
the north-east, serves its own daily catch, and has acquired
something of a cult following.
Solva, five minutes to the east, has a magnificent natural
harbour, and is a good base for bracing clifftop walks in the
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Café on the Quay is staffed
by cheerful local teenagers, and its balcony is the perfect place
to sit and read, or to take in the view.
There are opportunities for surfing at Whitesands and Newgale
near by, and boat trips run from St Davids to Ramsey Island, taking
in seals, puffins, and the occasional dolphin on the way.