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St Davids

ST DAVIDS (Tyddewi), a cathedral town of Pembrokeshire, Wales, situated near the sea to the S.E. of St David's Head, the most westerly promontory of South Wales. Pop. (1901) 1710. St Davids is 10 m. distant from the station of Letterston on the Great Western railway, and about 16 m. from Fishguard to the N.E., and 16 m. from Haverfordwest to the E. The little town, locally known as " the city," stands in a lofty position east of the Cathedral Close, and consists of five streets, which converge on an open space called the Cross Keys, formerly used as a market-place and distinguished by its High Cross, a single shaft erect on a square base of six steps, restored in 1873. From the cross a lane leads westward to the Tower Gate, flanked by two ancient towers in a ruinous condition. From this point is obtained a superb view of the close with the cathedral and ruined palace in the valley of the Alun below, to which the rocky outline of Cam Llidi forms an imposing background.

The cathedral church of SS. Andrew and David, in spite of centuries of neglect and ill-advised alterations, remains the largest and most interesting pile of ecclesiastical buildings in the Principality. It is largely built of a beautiful purple-hued sandstone, which is quarried locally. Its proportions are: length (exclusive of the Trinity and Lady chapels), 254.5 ft.; .breadth of nave and aisles, 51 J ft.; breadth of transepts including tower, 116 ft.; and height of central tower, 116 ft. In spite of the antiquity of its foundation, the earliest and main portion of the existing fabric was erected under Bishop Peter de Leia (1176-1198) in the transitional Norman-English style. Bishop David Martyn (1290-1328) built the Lady Chapel; Bishop Henry de Gower (1328-1347), one of the greatest of ecclesiastical builders in Wales, made many additions in the Decorated style, including the stone rood-screen and southern porch; and Bishop Edward Vaughan (1509-1522) erected the Trinity Chapel between the choir and Lady Chapel. Under the last-named prelate the magnificence of St Davids reached its height, but owing to the changes during the Reformation and the unscrupulous rapacity of Bishop William Barlow (1536-1548) the fabric suffered severely; nor was it spared later during the Civil Wars, when the Lady Chapel, the aisles of the presbytery, and even the transepts were unroofed and partially dismantled. In 1793 the cathedral was repaired by Thomas Nash, who rebuilt the western front in a debased Perpendicular style. The work of much-needed restoration was carried out throughout the latter half of the 19th century, especially between 1862 and 1869, when Sir Gilbert Scott strengthened the building at a cost of over 43,000. In 1873 Nash's incongruous work was replaced by a new fagade intended to harmonize with the original design of Bishop de Leia, and at the beginning of the 20th century the Lady Chapel and Bishop Vaughan's chapel were restored in memory of Bishop Basil Jones (d. 1897) and of Deans Allen and Phillips. The interior of the nave, separated by six wide bays from the aisles, is singularly imposing with its triforium and clerestory windows. It possesses an elaborate roof of Irish oak, the gift of Treasurer Owen Pole (c. 1500). The nave is divided from the choir by Bishop Gower's fine stone screen, whilst the choir itself contains the richly carved stalls erected by Bishpp Tully (1460-1481), the episcopal throne, and an elegant oaken screen that serves to separate choir and presbytery. The painted roof (freely restored) exhibits the coats-of-arms of Bishops Tully and Richard Martin, Treasurer Owen Pole and other benefactors. The eastern wall of the choir has been greatly altered by the addition of modern Venetian mosaic designs in the original lower triplet of lights, and by the insertion of lancet windows in place of a large Perpendicular window of the 15th century. Bishop Vaughan's chapel contains fine Tudor fan vaulting, and the Lady Chapel good decorated sedilia. The cathedral, before the Reformation, was remarkably rich in sculptured tombs and monuments, but many of these have perished and all the brasses have disappeared. In the presbytery stands prominent the altar tomb with modern brasses inserted of Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond (d. 1456), father of King Henry VII. Among the other surviving monuments, all more or less injured and defaced, are the tombs of Bishop Gower and of several bishops of St Davids ; the canopied effigies popularly but erroneously attributed to Prince Rhys (d. 1196) and his son Rhys; the stone base of the destroyed shrine of St David ; a priest's effigy formerly believed to be that of the celebrated Giraldus Cambrensis; and the large Jacobean monument of Treasurer Thomas Lloyd (d. 1612). To the north of the cathedral is to be seen the ruined shell of the beautiful chapel with an adjoining tower, forming part of the college of St Mary, founded by John of Gaunt and Bishop Adam Houghton in 1377.

On the west bank of the Alun stands the splendid and indeed unique ruin of the episcopal palace erected by Bishop Gower (c. 1342). Built for the purpose of culture and entertainment rather than for defence, Bishop Gower's ecclesiastical mansion is " essentially a palace and not a castle; and it is hardly too much to affirm that it is altogether unsurpassed by any existing English edifice of its kind." Built upon vaulted cellars, the palace occupies three sides of a quadrangle 120 ft. square, and though roofless and deserted for nearly three hundred years it retains most of its principal features. The great hall, 96 ft. by 33 ft., possesses a traceried wheel-window; the chief portal is still imposing; and the chapel retains its curious bell-turret; while the peculiar but singularly graceful arcaded parapet of the roof extends intact throughout the whole length of the building. Partially dismantled by Bishop Barlow (c. 1540) the half-ruined palace was occasionally occupied by succeeding bishops prior to the Civil Wars, and in 1633 a chapter was held within its walls under Bishop Field.

The Close, 18 acres in extent and extra-parochial, contains the deanery and other residences of the cathedral clergy, mostly occupying the sites of ancient buildings. It formerly owned four gateways, of which the South or Tower Gate alone remains. The whole of the wild and bleak but picturesque neighbourhood of St Davids teems with legendary and historical associations, and cromlechs and ruined chapels are numerous, amongst the latter the chapels of St Justinian (Capel Stinan) and St Non being the most remarkable.

History. At some unknown period in the 6th century the celebrated patron saint of Wales, Dewi or David, removed the chief seat of South Welsh ecclesiastical life to Menevia or Menapia (Mynyw), which is traditionally reported to have been the saint's birthplace. The site chosen for this new foundation was the marshy valley of the Alun the Vallis Rosina of medieval historians and this spot became known henceforth as Tyddewi or St Davids. The dread of an imminent Anglo-Saxon invasion of Gwent, the determination to remove his monastic clergy from court influence, and the desire of opening closer communication with the sister Churches of Ireland, are among the various reasons suggested for David's remarkable policy, which made St Davids the leading religious centre in South Wales for nearly a thousand years. From the 7th to the nth centuries the successors of St David occasionally ventured to exercise metropolitan rights over South Wales, and even over all land west of the Severn, and the character and extent of these ancient claims have frequently been made the subject of speculation or controversy among historians, some of whom have not hesitated to designate the early Celtic holders of the see by the title of " archbishop." These ill-defined claims were destroyed by St Anselme's forcible appointment of the Norman monk Bernard to the bishopric in 1115, from which date to the present time St Davids has ranked as a suffragan see of Canterbury; nor has its ancient independence ever been seriously asserted, save by the intrepid Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis), who vainly strove from 1199 to 1203 to induce Pope Innocent III. to acknowledge the power of the cathedral chapter to elect its own bishops without reference to English king or primate. St Davids early became popular as a place of pilgrimage, and amongst the many suppliants who visited St David's shrine were William the Conqueror, Henry II.- and Edward I. with Queen Eleanor. Probably with a view to conciliate the native clergy for Anselme's unpopular policy in Wales, Henry I. obtained from Pope Calixtus II. the canonization of St David about 1120, and in local esteem two pilgrimages to St Davids were vulgarly supposed to be equivalent to one journey to Rome itself: a sentiment preserved in the curious monkish hexameter:

" Roma semel quantum bis dat Menevia tantum."

From 1115 to the Reformation the see was held by prelates (many of them natives of Wales) who did much to enrich and beautify the vast group of ecclesiastical buildings in the Close. But with the partial destruction of the palace and the removal of tne episcopal residence to Abergwili, it was not long before St Davids sank into a mere monument of its former splendour and importance. In 1539 Bishop Barlow even petitioned Thomas Cromwell for permission to remove the see itself to Carmarthen, a request which tradition declares Henry VIII. refused to grant solely out of respect for the memory of his grandfather Edmund Tudor, whose tomb had recently been taken from the suppressed priory of Grey Friars at Carmarthen and set up before the high altar of the cathedral. During the lyth and 18th centuries all the ancient buildings of the Close, except the cathedral (which served also as a parish church for the village of St Davids), were allowed to fall into hopeless ruin. Amongst the 119 bishops who have held the see since its foundation by St David may be mentioned Asser, the friend of King Alfred (d. 906) ; Samson (roth century), honoured by the Welsh chroniclers with the proud title of " Archbishop of the Isle of Britain "; Rhyddmarch (d. 1096), the first biographer of St David; Henry de Gower (d. 1347), the munificent patron of art; Robert Ferrar, burned at Carmarthen in 1555 under Queen Mary; Richard Davies (d. 1581), patriot and translator of the Welsh Book of Common Prayer; Archbishop William Laud, bishop of the see between 1621 and 1627; George Bull, divine (d. 1710); and Connop Thirlwall, scholar and historian (d. 1875). The official title of the bishops of St Davids is Episcopus Menevensis. (H.M.V.) . ST DENIS, an industrial town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Seine, 5 m. N. of Paris. Pop. (1906) 62,323. St Denis, an important junction on the northern railway, stands in a plain on the right bank of the Seine, which is here joined by the canal of St Denis. It has numerous metallurgical works, where railway material, naval engines and the like are constructed, distilleries of spirits, glassworks, potteries and manufactories of drugs, chemical products, oils, nickel plate and pianos. The name and fame of the town are derived from the abbey founded by Dagobert I. on the spot where St Denis, the apostle of Paris, was interred. The abbey buildings, occupied by a school for daughters of members of the Legion of Honour, founded by Napoleon I., date from the 18th century.

The church exhibits the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style. The west front was built between 1137 and 1140. The right-hand tower is almost pure Romanesque; that on the left was Gothic, and its spire was carried to a height of 280 ft., but it was struck by lightning in 1837 and reconstructed in so clumsy a manner that it had to be reduced to the level of the roof of the nave. The rose window, now occupied by a clock face, dates from the 13th century. Under one of the three rows of arches above the main entrance runs an inscription recording the erection of the church by Abbot Suger (q.v.), minister of Louis VI., with abbatial funds and its consecration in 1140. The porch formed by the first three bays of the church contains some remains of the basilica of Pippin the Short and Charlemagne, by whom the church was rebuilt. The nave proper (235 ft. long and 57 wide) has seven bays, and dates, as well as most of the choir and transepts, from the reign of St Louis. The secondary apse (rondpoint) and its semicircular chapels (consecrated in 1144) are considered as the first perfected attempt at Gothic. The transepts have fine facades, the north of the 12th, the south of the 13th century, each with two unfinished towers ; if the plan had been fully carried out there would have been six towers besides a central spire in lead. The church contains a series of tombs of the kings and princes of the royal houses of France. The most remarkable are those of Louis XII. and Anne Celestines at Paris (1502-1515); of Francis I. and Claude of France, one of the most splendid tombs of the Renaissance, executed under the direction of Philibert Delorme (1550-1560); and that of Dagobert, which, though considerably dilapidated, ranks as one of the most curious of medieval (13th-century) works of art. In the apse some stained glass of the time of Suger remains. The crypt dates partly from the loth or 11th century. In the centre is the vault where the coffin of the king used to lie until, to make room for that of his successor, it was removed to its final resting-place. It is at present occupied by the coffin of Louis XVIII., the last sovereign whose body was borne to St Denis. Besides fine statues, the crypt contains the Bourbon vault, in which among other coffins are deposited the remains of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette.

St Denis, the ancient Calnlliacum, was a town of no pretensions till the foundation of its abbey, which became one of the most powerful in France. The rebuilding of the church, begun in the 12th century by Suger, was completed in the 131!) century. Among the many domains of the abbey was the French Vexin. It was held during the later middle ages by the French kings and vassals of the abbey, and to this fact is due their adoption of the oriflamme or red banner of St Denis as the royal standard. St Louis caused mausoleums to be erected with figures of the princes already buried in the abbey; and from his time to that of Henry II. every monarch in succession had his monument. Louis XIV. reduced the abbey to the rank of a priory; and at the Revolution it was suppressed, the tombs being violated and the church sacked (1793). Two years later all the remains that could be recovered were placed in the museum of the Petits August ins at Paris; but the bronze tombs had been melted down, the stained-glass windows shattered, and large numbers of interesting objects stolen or lost. Louis XVIII. caused all the articles belonging to St Denis to be brought back to their original site, and added numerous other monuments from the suppressed abbeys. But it was not till after 1848 that, under the direction of Viollet le Due, the basilica recovered its original appearance. St Denis, which was the key of Paris on the north, was more than once pillaged in the Hundred Years' War, suffering especially in 1358 and 1406. A sanguinary battle, in which the Catholic leader Constable Anne de Montmorency found victory and death, was fought between Huguenots and Catholics in the [neighbourhood on the loth of November 1567.

See F. de Guilhermy, Monographie de I'iglise royale de St Denis (Paris, 1848).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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