About St Davids Bishop's Palace (Cadw)
There was only one top job for an ambitious cleric in medieval Wales: Bishop of St Davids in Pembrokeshire.
A 12th-century pope had decreed that two trips to St Davids were equal to one to Rome – turning it into a centre of pilgrimage for the entire Western world. Thousands flocked to see the shrine of St David in the newly built cathedral.
But the bishop’s home was no match for this magnificence. Enter Henry de Gower. Between 1328 and 1347 he turned a building only fit for ‘servants and animals’ into an immense palace.
The east range was his private domain. The south range was for show and ceremony. It was here in the great hall that Bishop Henry dispensed justice, held feasts and welcomed distinguished pilgrims.
The Reformation marked the beginning of the end. In fact William Barlow, first Protestant Bishop of St Davids, may well have stripped the lead from the roofs himself to spark a slow decline. But even as a ruin this palace beside its glorious cathedral remains an awe-inspiring space.