St Asaph

St Asaph

Infobox UK place
country = Wales
welsh_name = Llanelwy
constituency_welsh_assembly = Vale of Clwyd
constituency_westminster = Vale of Clwyd
latitude = 53.2577
longitude = -3.4416
official_name = St Asaph
population = 3,491 (2001 Census)cite web |url= |title=2001 Census: St. Asaph |work=Office for National Statistics |accessdate=2008-07-27 ]
unitary_wales = Denbighshire
lieutenancy_wales = Clwyd
post_town = ST ASAPH
postcode_district = LL17
postcode_area = LL
dial_code = 01745
os_grid_reference = SJ035743
map_type = Denbighshire

St Asaph (Welsh: "Llanelwy") is a town in Denbighshire, North Wales, on the River Elwy. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 3,491.

The town of St Asaph is surrounded by countryside and views of the Vale of Clwyd. It is situated close to a number of busy coastal towns such as Rhyl, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. The historic castles of Denbigh and Rhuddlan are also nearby.


The earliest inhabitants of the vale of Elwy lived in the nearby Palaeolithic site of Pontnewydd (Bontnewydd), which was excavated from 1978 by a team from the University of Wales, led by Dr Stephen Aldhouse Green. Teeth and part of a jawbone excavated in 1981 were dated to 225,000 years ago. This site is the most north-western site in Eurasia for remains of early hominids and is considered of international importance. Based on the morphology and age of the teeth, particularly the evidence of tauradontism, the teeth are believed to belong to a group of Neanderthals who hunted game in the vale of Elwy in an interglacial period.

Later some historians postulate that the Roman fort of Varae sat on the site of the Cathedral. However, the town is believed to have developed around a sixth century Celtic monastery founded by Saint Kentigern, and is now home to the small fourteenth century St Asaph Cathedral. This is dedicated to Saint Asaph (also spelt in Welsh as Asaff), its second bishop.

The Cathedral has had a chequered history. In the thirteenth century, the troops of Edward I of England almost burnt the cathedral to the ground and, in 1402, Owain Glyndŵr's troops went on the rampage causing severe damage to the furnishings and fittings. Two hundred and fifty years later, during the Commonwealth the building was used to house farm animals, pigs cattle and horses. [ T. W. Pritchard "St Asaph Cathedral Guidebooks"]

The first Act of Union in 1536 placed St Asaph in Denbighshire. However, in 1542, St Asaph was placed in Flintshire, for voting purposes, where it remained until 1 April 1974, when it became part of Clwyd.

As the seat of an ancient Cathedral and Diocese, St Asaph historically had city status. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica refers to it as a city, but it is no longer considered as such. The town applied for restoration of city status in the 2000 and 2002 competitions but was unsuccessful.


Despite the official lack of city status, the town is promoted locally as the 'City of Music'. The local community is passionate about St Asaph's historic claim to be known as a city like its Welsh cousin St David's, and this has led to a number of local businesses using 'City' as part of their business name.

The past few decades have seen the local economy in St Asaph thrive, first with the opening of the A55 road in 1970, which cuts through the town, and, more recently, with a business park being built, attracting investment from at home and overseas.

The crowded roads in St Asaph have been a hot political issue for many years. Residents have repeatedly called for a bypass to take the A525 around the town and reduce congestion but the National Assembly for Wales rejected these calls in 2004, presenting a further setback for residents campaigning on the issue.

St Asaph is now home to Ysgol Glan Clwyd, a Welsh language secondary school that opened in Rhyl in 1956 and moved to St Asaph in 1969; and was the first Welsh medium secondary school in Wales.

St Asaph


St Asaph is twinned with the town of Bégard in Brittany, France. Both towns organise annual trips to the other for their residents.


Every year the town hosts the North Wales International Music Festival, which takes place at several venues in the town and attracts musicians and music lovers from all over Wales and beyond. In past years, the main event in September at the cathedral has been covered on television by the BBC.

Other events held annually in the town include the Gala Day in August, the Beat the Bounds charity walk in July and the increasingly popular Woodfest Wales crafts festival in June.


In addition to the Cathedral, there are five other churches in St Asaph covering all the major denominations. The [ Parish Church of St Asaph and St Kentigern] (Church in Wales [] ) is placed prominently at the bottom of the High Street , across the river in Lower Denbigh Road is Penniel Chapel (Welsh Methodist)and halfway up the High Street there is [ Llanelwy Christian Fellowship] (Baptist). At the top of the town, in Chester Street is St Winifrides [] (Roman Catholic) and Bethlehem Chapel (Welsh Presbyterian) in Bronwylfa Square.

Famous people

A number of famous people have strong links to St Asaph, having been born, raised, lived, worked or died in the town. These include Canadian actor Richard Ian Cox, William Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh in 1588, the first archbishop of Wales Alfred George Edwards, singer Lisa Scott-Lee, composer William Mathias, former Wales football captain Ian Rush, the journalist Henry Morton Stanley, Dic Aberdaron, who taught himself Latin at the age of 11, Felicia Hemans (1793-1835), poet ("The boy stood on the burning deck") and LET golfer Becky Brewerton. Another well-known individual, Geoffrey of Monmouth, served as bishop of St Asaph from 1152 to 1155. However, due to war and unrest in Wales at the time, he probably never set foot in his see.

The hospital in the town (formerly the St Asaph Union Workhouse) was named in honour of H.M. Stanley. The town's hospice was named after Saint Kentigern. The original Welsh Bible is kept on public display in the town's cathedral.




*T.W. Pritchard "St Asaph Cathedral" R J L Smith Much Wenlock (1997) ISBN 1-87266-591-8
*Dr Chis Stringer "Homo Brittanicus" 319 pages, publisher: Allen Lane (5 October 2006) ISBN 0713997958, ISBN 978-0713997958

External links

* [ St Asaph Town Council]
* [ St Asaph] (City Times)
* [ BBC St Asaph page]
* [ North Wales International Music Festival]
* [ : photos of St Asaph and surrounding area]

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