The St Davids Cathedral Library Collection dates back to the 16th Century and contains many Rare Books in English, Welsh and other languages. The Collection includes some of the first Bibles produced in Welsh as well as early Bibles in English. Many books in the Collection reflect the theological and political turmoil of the 16th and 17th Centuries Reformation during the Tudor and Stuart period in Britain.
It is recorded that many of the older manuscripts in the Cathedral were “cancelled and torne up” in the early years in the Reformation in the 16th Century as representations of the “old church”. Other manuscript books were dispersed at the time to the new colleges then being established in Oxford and Cambridge. Many of early records of the Cathedral are part of the Church in Wales Archives held in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The 1620 Welsh Bible was the first widely available Welsh language Bible. A translation of the New Testament into Welsh from the original Greek was first produced in 1567 by William Salesbury. In this translation Richard Davies, Bishop of St Davids 1561–1582, translated 1 Timothy, Hebrews, James 1, Peter 2. Thomas Huet, St Davids Precentor 1560-1591, also translated the Books of Revelations. The Salesbury translation was further revised by Bishop William Morgan, and after his death, completed by Bishop Richard Parry, and published initially in 1588 and, after further editing, in 1620.
The oldest complete book in the Library is the 1504 Provinciale seu Constitutiones Angli. This book in Latin on Church Law was written by William Lyndwode, Bishop of St Davids 1442-1447.
Exhibitions are put on in the Cathedral Library and also in the Cathedral Treasury. Lectures on some of the books in the Collection are held at various times. The Treasury displays are open to the public whenever the Cathedral is open. The Cathedral Library is usually open to the public on Monday and Friday afternoons, except during global pandemics. See our exhibitions page for further information on the Cathedral Library's exhibitions and lectures.