St Asaph Cathedral has been awarded over a quarter of a million pounds (£255,800) to protect and promote its important Welsh heritage.
With its origins dating back to c560 AD and the Grade I building itself to the 14th century, St Asaph is one of the oldest cathedrals in Wales. It can now modernise its displays and share its history with all its visitors, including those who would not normally be able to enjoy a museum visit.
Using the National Lottery grant, St Asaph will welcome visually and hearing impaired visitors with new tactile displays and British Sign Language tours, as well as offering closed ‘quiet’ sessions for those with dementia.
New digital and interactive displays – including a new smart phone app – will also mean the museum’s artefacts are brought into the 21st century for younger visitors.
The dean of St Asaph Cathedral, the Very Revd Nigel Williams, said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the National Lottery, as it will enable us to carry out our long held ambitions to improve facilities throughout the cathedral, making it a more attractive visitor destination and more accessible to those people who would not normally consider coming here.
“St Asaph is rich in historical, cultural and religious treasures and this support will enable us to share our story with many more people.”
As well as housing a Book of Common Prayer from 1621 containing the Edmund Prys Psalter – which allowed Psalms to be sung in Welsh in church for the first time – St Asaph is also home to one of only 20 known copies of the 1588 William Morgan Bible.
Representing the first full translation of the Bible into Welsh, the manuscript will now be better protected so it can stand the test of time.
The National Lottery award will kick-start a three year project at St Asaph, complemented by ongoing work to create a new café, gift shop and toilets.
Fifty volunteers will receive training, ready to welcome visitors to the revamped cathedral in 2020. Local schoolchildren can also get involved as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate qualification, while members of the community will be able to share their memories and photos of the cathedral so its important local role can be remembered for years to come.
Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, said: “This worthwhile project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will not only help protect St Asaph’s important history for future generations but ensure the cathedral plays a central role in North Wales tourism.
“St Asaph is already well-used beyond religious services, and this project will help raise its profile further as a key place to visit when in the area, benefitting the local economy and making Denbighshire a better place for everyone.”
Ann Jones, Assembly Member for Vale of Clwyd, added: “This National Lottery funding will make the beautiful St Asaph Cathedral more accessible to visitors from both the local community and further afield. As someone who has campaigned on disability issues I am particularly pleased that the funding will mean visitors who are visually and hearing impaired will be able to enjoy the museum. I have also worked hard to make sure there are sufficient Brown Tourist Signs on the A55 and these will now quite literally help put this fascinating and hugely important Welsh heritage site on the map, and it will be an excellent addition to the area’s existing attractions.”