Brecon’s cathedral is set in a walled close – a feature unusual in Wales, but reflecting its monastic origin. A Benedictine priory was founded here in the 11th century, possibly on the site of a Celtic church. Carvings on the massive Norman stone font are particularly vivid today. When the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII, the church was adopted by the town. Steady decay was halted in the 1860s, when major reconstruction of the church took place; it was designated a cathedral in 1923. Alongside the shop, restaurant and tearoom is a magnificent wooden tithe barn, dating to the 17th century, which now houses a heritage exhibition about the cathedral. The cathedral also houses the sharpening stone used by archers who fought at Agincourt 600 years ago. Inside, in the Harvard Chapel, look out for the ‘colours’ (flags) of the South Wales Borderers who fought in the Zulu wars at the end of the 19th century.
Facilities – at a glance
Suitable for all child ages
- Suitable for children of all ages
- Parking onsite
- Fully accessible
- Facilities: Lift
- Accessible toilets
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open all year, daily 8.30–6.30
Also in the area
About the area
The largest unitary authority in Wales, Powys covers an area of approximately 2,000 square miles. Much of that is mountainous because it actually has the lowest population density of all the Welsh counties.
This much wild, empty space is perhaps best typified by the International Dark Sky Reserve in the Brecon Beacons National Park, one of only eleven in the world. The absence of light pollution creates an exceptional spot for star gazing. You won’t find any cities in Powys, just villages and smaller-sized towns, but that’s the way its inhabitants like it.
Newtown, the largest settlement, is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of Robert Owen, the founder of the Co-operative movement. Brecon is a market town set on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, while the pretty Victorian spa town of Llandrindod Wells boasts the National Cycle Collection. Elsewhere, Hay-on-Wye hosts a major literary festival every year.
Powys is liberally scattered with castles, burial mounds, hill forts, and other historic markers; Powis Castle, near Welshpool is probably one of the most impressive. And for walking enthusiasts, it’s not just the Brecon Beacons on offer – the Elan Valley describes itself as the ‘Welsh Lake District’.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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