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Llandaff Cathedral

Llandaff Cathedral - Overview

The origins of Llandaff Cathedral lie in the twelfth century, with its foundation in 1107. Between 1120 and 1133 it underwent substantial rebuilding, while a series of further works and extensions were carried out over the course of the next 400 years. These included the addition of a Chapter House, Lady Chapel, and the north-west tower, as well as a major rebuilding of the main body of the church in the late fourteenth century.

The cathedral suffered major structural damage during both the Rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr and the English Civil War. During the latter, Parliamentarian forces raided the church and seized and destroyed many of its treasures, among them the valuable library collection. In the following years, parts of the cathedral were used as stables and even a tavern was set up inside its walls.

The Great Storm of 1703 greatly damaged the structure and over the course of the following twenty years, the building decayed at increasing pace, until its roof eventually collapsed in 1723. In 1734, architect John Wood work began on a new cathedral, utilising portions of the original but covering up the medieval fabric. Work progressed very slowly and in 1841, further architects were employed to remove Woods’ work and complete the restoration of the original. Enough was completed to allow the cathedral to be reopened for worship in 1857 but when the Anatole Le Braz and Charles Le Goffic visited Llandaff Cathedral in 1899, they still found a considerable amount of ivy covered ruins. Le Goffic was particularly congratulatory about the perfect blending of Romanesque and Gothic styles. At the time, Llandaff was still a separate village that had not been encroached on by the expansion of Cardiff, and so remained quite rural and reminded the two visitors of the villages at home in their native Brittany.

During World War II, the roof of Llandaff Cathedral was struck by a German mine during a night time air raid on Cardiff. Unlike the preceding centuries, however, reparations were carried out at a much faster pace and restoration work finished in 1960. The most notable aspect of the twentieth century restoration is the sculpture ‘Christ in Glory’ by Jacob Epstein.

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