Bangor Cathedral

Bangor, United Kingdom

The site of Bangor Cathedral was originally occupied by St Deiniol's Monastery, established in the sixth century around 530 on land given by the king of Gwynedd, Maelgwn Gwynedd. Deiniol is said to have been consecrated as a bishop by Saint David, making him the first Bishop of Bangor. This monastery was sacked in 634 and again in 1073. Nothing of the original building survives.

The Synod of Westminster in 1102 is recorded as taking measures to restore Bangor Cathedral, but the earliest part of the present building was built during the episcopate of Bishop David (1120–1139) with the assistance of the king of Gwynedd, Gruffudd ap Cynan, who donated money towards the project and was buried by the high altar on his death in 1137. This was a cruciform building in the Norman style, about 44 yards in length. Gruffudd's son, Owain Gwynedd, was also buried here, as was his brother Cadwaladr. Giraldus Cambrensis describes a service held here in 1188 when the Archbishop of Canterbury celebrated Mass.

In 1211, the cathedral was destroyed by King John's army, on a raid into Gwynedd.

In the 13th century the original apse was removed and the choir was extended to its present length. The church was badly damaged when King Edward I invaded Gwynedd in 1282. There was extensive rebuilding in this period, under the first Bishop Anian, with the transepts and crossing rebuilt. The nave was rebuilt in the late 14th century.

The cathedral was said to have been burnt to the ground in 1402 during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr, but there is no contemporary evidence for this, though it may well have been damaged. There certainly was extensive reconstruction from the end of the 15th century, completed in 1532. There is a Latin inscription over the tower doorway recording that Bishop Skevington built the tower in 1532, though it was not complete when Skevington died in 1533. Some work was done during the 18th century and in 1824-1825.


The building as seen today is the result of extensive work carried out under the supervision of George Gilbert Scott, starting in 1868. Scott's design originally called for a high central tower and spire, but this was never completed as cracks appeared which were thought to indicate subsidence of the foundations. The tower was therefore left as a low structure.


The cathedral contains the 'Mostyn Christ', a figure of the Pensive Christ carved in oak and thought to date from the late 15th century, depicting Christ prior to the crucifixion, seated on a rock and wearing the crown of thorns.

The cathedral also contains a number of pieces of woodwork created by Robert Thompson, including 5 of his famous wooden mice.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gwyn Edwards (15 months ago)
Gorgeous little cathedral, typical of Welsh cathedrals really. Two lovely paintings in the style of Caravaggio on display.
NEIL MC GUINNESS (16 months ago)
This small but beautiful cathedral traces it's roots to as far back as AD 525, which made it only the second cathedral in Britain at the time. Nothing of the original buildings remains however. Nor does anything of the subsequent Norman structure constructed in the 12th Century. The current structure we see today was constructed between 1480 and 1532. Older tombs were moved into the building we see today it is worth noting. Inside the little cathedral is quite a beautiful place. Everything is spotlessly maintained and polished and preserved and well lit. It is even heated in parts. I was fortunate to visit when the cathedral was empty and explore it at will. There are too many ornate points of interest to mention within the building and photographically it is a dream. The dark, carved Mostyn Christ that dates back to the late 1400's is something that really caught my eye on the wall to the right just before the main exit. The church is free to enter but there is a little donations table that takes bank cards. This did not intrude upon the spirituality of the place for me. I did not see evidence of a little shop within the cathedral when I was there thankfully. I don't know if this has been permanently closed?. There are nearby paying car parks and a small disabled only car park close the cathedral itself. There is a disabled lift at the main exit. Opening and closing times change daily, so it is important to know these before visiting. There were no guides present on my visit, but I have heard these can be present at busier times. A beautiful place that is well worth a visit in my opinion.
Liesl (17 months ago)
A most wonderful experience in this beautiful historic cathedral, built around the 11th Century.
Stuart Harrison (2 years ago)
Lovely place to visit and such a warm welcome, I had a lovely chat with the lady on duty and also spoke about the church I work at in London. It is well worth a visit to this beautiful church.
Nicholas Casley (2 years ago)
Because St Deiniol was consecrated bishop in 546, Bangor claims to be the oldest diocese in Britain, fifty years before St Augustine arrived in Kent from Rome. But there's the rub - he wasn't consecrated by the Pope or a representative thereof. St Deiniol was of the Celtic church. Regardless, the site of the cathedral is plainly ancient, but the present structure is largely late-medieval. The guides inside were very friendly, even if they seemed apologetic that their cathedral lacked size or cachet. I would certainly say it is larger than a large parish church and there is certainly much of interest and beauty within. I was certainly taken by a couple of paintings done by a local painter called John Gregory using contemporary figures in the style of Caravaggio. I was an hour in the cathedral. My only complaint is that there's no guidebook in English to allow me to learn more about it.
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