Historical Roots: Warpool Court Hotel’s Ties to St. David’s Cathedral Library
There are myths and legends attached to many places in Pembrokeshire, including at what was once known as Bryn-y-Garn’, later to be known as Warpool Court Hotel. The property was purchased by widow, Mrs. Ada Lansdowne Miller-Williams in 1899. Although Mrs. Williams was of Welsh ancestry, she was of Irish descent on her father’s side and had deep feelings for Ireland; she claimed that her Irish grandfather arrived at Aberystwyth in a rowing boat.
Both Ada and her eldest son Basil were enthralled by their Celtic heritage, and Basil was interested in historical and religious traditions. Basil, in fact, authored the chapter, ‘St Davids – A Retrospect’ in The New Illustrated Guide to Historical St Davids of 1917. The book can still be found in the St. Davids Cathedral Library, just a five-minute walk from the hotel.
“While nearly everyone visiting St. Davids makes a visit to the St. Davids Cathedral, few make the additional climb to the Cathedral Library,” says Warpool Court Hotel owner Peter Trier. “The library is considered a precious treasure, since it is the only on-site library of six Welsh Cathedrals to survive.”
The ancient library is now housed in the first and second floors above the Chapel of St. Thomas Becket. You can find it on the north side of the 800-year-old Cathedral, in what was the Chapter House and the Cathedral Treasury. This area dates back to the 14th century.
Step into the library, and you seem to step back into mediaeval times. While the bookcases appear to be from those years, they are, in fact, from the mid-20th century when there was a refurbishment.
About 7,000 books are housed here on topics such as Archaeology, Architecture, Botany, English Literature, History & Documents Reprints Law, Periodicals and Reports, Sciences and Philosophy, Theology, Topography and Welsh Texts. The Library hosts researchers from around the world.
Peer into the showcases to view select jewels of the collection:
- Calvin’s Sermons (1574)
- Dodoen (1578)
- History of Cambria and Camden’s Britannia (1600)
- Lyndewode Parochiale (Provinciale seu Constitutiones Angli) (1505) (Latin on Church Law by William Lyndwode, Bishop of St Davids)
- First widely available Welsh language Bible (1620) (Parry)
- Dictionarium Duplex (1632) (Dr. John Davies)
- Gerrard’s Herbal (1636)
- Works of Charles I and a copy of Browne Willis’ Survey of St. Davids (1717)
In addition to books bequeathed to the library dating back to the 16th century by Deans, Bishops and Clergy, there are collections of old photographs and prints relating to our patron saint, the city of St Davids, Wales, Christianity and the History of the Church in Wales. There’s also a collection of early maps and atlases.
The visitors’ book in the Cathedral Treasury holds the signatures of prominent suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Mary Blathwayt, following their visit to the cathedral in 1908.
There are a range of early and more recent Bibles and Prayer Books in Welsh, English and other languages. Books are in several contemporary and past languages including Anglo-Saxon, Arabic, Breton, Danish, English, Erse (Irish), Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Persian, Romany and, of course, Welsh.
The Cathedral Library is open to the public on Monday and Friday afternoons.
After wandering the aisles, why not visit St. Davids Wellbeing, where you can relax and enjoy a healing session with one of the many practitioners on staff? From Yoga and Pilates to Acupuncture and Osteopathy, the facilities offer everything you need to unwind and recharge your batteries. Check out their calendar and upcoming events to find out what’s available.
When you’ve finished exploring our beautiful little city in West Wales, you can finish your day with a delectable dinner - at Warpool Court’s Sea View Restaurant - and don’t forget dessert!)