St Asaph

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The peaceful town of St Asaph is located six miles to the south of the holiday hotspot of Rhyl and it makes a great place to stay if you are planning on exploring the Welsh coast. Although only a small town with a population of fewer than four thousand people this pretty little town is actually a city as it is home to what has to be the smallest cathedral in the country, which is no bigger than your average village church. Though quite small and seemingly insignificant, this little town which is really not much bigger than your average village has left quite a large footprint on the history of the country.

Photo by ML Jones
Photo by ML Jones

The Welsh Bible

It was the Bishop of Llandaff and St Asaph that saw to the translation of the Old Testament into the Welsh language, the basis for which laid the foundation for all other written prose published in Welsh. The translation of the bible was completed in 1588 and before long they were installed in every church across the country, replacing the English language bible that had previously been in use. This meant that the population of Wales could attend church and hear the service given in their native tongue and also read the bible verses written in Welsh too. This was something of a revolution in the world of the church and lead to the installation of a monument in honour of the achievement.

St Asaph’s History

The first church was constructed here back in 560AD, close to the site where the cathedral now stands. Though there were many miracles attributed to St Asaph and he was widely revered and respected it did not stop the church from experiencing unsettled times. The church was almost destroyed in 1245 at the orders of Henry III and would endure further upheavals for the following thirty seven years in its history. The church was rebuilt, only to suffer further attack, being burned to the ground in the early years of the 15th century. It is therefore surprising that some of the ancient treasures of the cathedral survive, yet they do. One such treasure is one of the original copies of the first Welsh bible which was created here, and the beautiful stained glass window that has been dated as belonging to the 14th century. These days there are a number of entertainment events held in the cathedral such as musical performances and choral music, the venue also plays a part in the annual North Wales Music Festival.

History Transformed

What were the original 17th century alms houses are now a thoroughly modern restaurant. There are many of the original features of the building that have managed to be preserved, but where once the buildings provided respite and shelter for the poor and needy they now welcome a different type of clientele. This is a wonderful part of the country in which to get back in touch with the great outdoors and walking, cycling and angling are very popular past times.

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