Because of the characteristic round shape of its churchyard, the Brecon cathedral is thought to be on the site of an earlier Celtic church, of which no trace remains. A new church, dedicated to St. John, was built on the orders of Bernard de Neufmarché, the Norman knight who conquered the kingdom of Brycheiniog in 1093. He gave the church to one of his followers, Roger, a monk from Battle Abbey, who founded a priory on the site as a daughter house of Battle. The first prior at Brecon was Walter, another monk from Battle. Bernard de Neufmarché also endowed the priory with lands, rights and tithes from the surrounding area, and, after his death, it passed to the Earls of Hereford, so giving it greater prosperity. The church was rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in about 1215, during the reign of King John. In the Middle Ages, the church was known as the church of Holy Rood or Holy Cross, because it owned a great 'golden rood' which was an object of pilgrimage and veneration until it was destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. The smoke-blackened roof of its hall was built between 1237 and 1267.

In 1538 the Prior was pensioned off, and the priory church became the parish church. Some of the surrounding buildings were adapted for secular use; and others, such as the cloisters, were left to decay and later demolished. By the 19th century, the church was in poor repair and only the nave was in use. Some restoration took place in 1836, but major renovation of the church did not start until the 1860s. The tower was strengthened in 1914.

In recent years, some of the buildings in the cathedral close have been converted into a diocesan centre, a heritage centre and exhibition, as well as a shop and 'Pilgrims'' restaurant.



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Brecon, United Kingdom
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Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Christian Jenkins (34 days ago)
Beautiful cathedral. The Pilgrim cafe/shop seems to be closed permanently but it was still nice to look around the Church. Lots of interesting artifacts and history.
Dee Jaggs (36 days ago)
Lots of historical information and the children loved the search n find quiz sheet
Sarah Sharpley (7 months ago)
We went back for our 40th wedding anniversary and took super photos of our girls and their sons. 3 generations and 6 grandchildren. The Cathedral was even more beautiful than I remembered. Stunning. We are so blessed.
Colin Wallace-Stock (7 months ago)
I am not religious but I love the peace & tranquillity of churches & cathedrals. Brecons is not very big but very nice.Would like to go back & hear the bells rung, they have ten in total.
martin walker (7 months ago)
Beautiful,peacefully, lots of interesting items and really distinctive floor flagstones/gravestones
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