A short walk from the town centre
A building of historical interest
The cathedral: past and present
The cathedral has a very long history, and is described by The Pevsner Architectural Guide for Powys as ‘ pre-eminently the most splendid and dignified church in Mid- Wales’, and there are notable features that may be of particular interest to historians and visitors. These include:
The Havard Chapel, which is the regimental chapel of the South Wales Borderers (24th Regiment), one of Britain’s oldest infantry regiments. This homes the original colours of the Zulu Wars, including Rorke’s Drift.
The wreath of the immortelles, (long-lasting dried flowers), which was given to the Regiment by Queen Victoria
Wales’s only surviving cresset stone, from which thirty small indentations have been gouged out in neat rows. In the days, when monks residing in the cathedral were expected to rise very early, these holes were filled with oil as a means of illumination to assist them in their devotions.
The font, which belonged to the Norman church and is carved with grotesque masks intertwined with beasts and birds. Around the rim is a partly decipherable Latin inscription, thought to refer to the baptism of Jesus. Many more interesting features can be observed when you visit the cathedral and a small guidebook is on sale to assist in this, as well as the ‘welcomers’, mentioned below.
The remains of the former monastic buildings today provide the administrative centre for the Diocese, as well as housing for the cathedral clergy. In addition there is a shop and Pilgrims’ Restaurant and these are open daily to the public. The cathedral has a vibrant musical life, offering a lunchtime concert series in the summer and evening concerts throughout the year, in which a number of local and other choirs and orchestras perform. The complex comprises a remarkable collection of buildings regarded as the finest of their kind in Wales. The cathedral has ‘welcomers’ and guided tours can be arranged by contacting the office, who will be pleased to provide you with more information when you visit. There is a pay and display car park adjacent to the cathedral, and this leads directly into Priory Groves and the River walk, which are mentioned in the ‘walks in and around Brecon’ section.
The cathedral stands on Priory Hill, approximately 10 minutes walk away from the centre of town
The cathedral opening times correspond to daily services. On weekdays this is 8.30 am to 4.30 pm and Eucharist on Sunday is at 8am, with choral evensong at 3.30pm
It is thought that it began life as a church before the Norman Conquest (possibly 789), and that Bernard de Neufmarche built a castle after his defeat of the Welsh in 1093 and commissioned Roger, his monk, to upgrade the existing church to the status of a Benedictine priory, dedicating it to St. John the Evangelist.