Discover Historic St Davids
With the weather warming up and the main tourist season yet to start, the months where spring turns slowly into summer are a lovely time of year to come to north Pembrokeshire for a quiet holiday. And the best thing about staying here at Warpool Court is that you’re just a few minutes’ walk from one of Wales’ hidden gems - our lovely little city of St Davids. The smallest city in Britain (it’s not much bigger than a village), St Davids is surrounded by stunning scenery and steeped in history, having been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. From the Norman cathedral to the sacred well of St Non, there’s plenty to discover in this tranquil, friendly place that charms everyone who visits.
Tower Gate House and Bell Tower
The cathedral city of St Davids was originally enclosed by a high wall with access through four gate houses, only one of which remains standing today. Looming over the shallow cathedral valley, the Tower Gate is the main entrance to the site – go through the archway and you’ll see a flight of old stone steps and the beautiful cathedral grounds laid out before you in all their splendour. A later addition to the main gatehouse structure is the Bell Tower, a striking octagonal extension that now, as the name would suggest, houses the cathedral’s Royal ring of ten bells.
St Davids Cathedral
Far from dominating the city, our most famous landmark can be found nestled in a gentle dip in the landscape, giving it an air of peaceful seclusion. Originally built in the 12th century on the site of an ancient monastery founded by St David himself, St Davids Cathedral was constructed in the Norman style, although other alterations were made in later centuries. In the Middle Ages, the site was considered so important by the church that the Pope declared two pilgrimages to St Davids equal to one pilgrimage to Rome, and the bones of our patron saint are reputed to lie within a casket kept in the cathedral.
It’s such a peaceful spot to spend a few hours. You can enjoy a leisurely wander around the grounds before taking in the impressive interior, and there’s a chance to grab a bite to eat in the Refectory or browse in the shop. As well as being a visual treat, the cathedral also has exceptional acoustics which you can enjoy if you time your visit with a service or come to St Davids for the Cathedral’s own music festival at the end of May.
St Davids Bishop's Palace
Alongside St Davids Cathedral lie the imposing ruins of the medieval Bishop’s Palace. Dating largely from the 13th century, the palace was a building that reflected the grandeur in which the powerful and affluent bishops lived during medieval times, although it began to fall into disrepair after the Reformation. The remains of this building were impressive enough to inspire the famous painter J M W Turner on his visit here in the late 1700s and a recent restoration has made the palace grounds an even more interesting place to visit, as well as more accessible. It’s a lovely spot to spend a sunny afternoon and soak up a bit of history at the same time!
St Non’s Well and Chapel
Walk down the path through our gardens towards the sparkling sea and you’ll find one of the most historically important places in west Wales – St Non’s Chapel and Well. The remains of this ancient chapel stand on the spot where St David was reputed to have been born during a terrible thunderstorm around 500AD. Named after St David’s mother, St Non, the ruins stand within the site of a Neolithic stone circle and are still a place of pilgrimage. Nearby, at the top of the field where the ruins lie, you’ll find a small shrine and the Holy Well of St Non, regarded as one of the most sacred wells in the country. Legend has it that the well sprang up at the time St David was born and the waters are thought to have miraculous healing powers. The views here really are spectacular, so it’s worth the walk just for that alone!
The Historic Warpool Court Hotel
What better base from which to explore historic St Davids, than our historic hotel? The original building, ‘Bryn y Garn’, was constructed in 1870 (becoming ‘Warpool Court’ in 1899) and has played an integral role in St Davids life ever since. The hotel still retains many of its charming original features - a highlight being the exquisite, intricately painted, listed Victorian tiles that adorn the walls of many of our luxury rooms.