St Asaph Cathedral has installed gender-neutral toilets as part of its £330,000 extension and redevelopment project.
The facilities include cubicles with floor to ceiling doors and have replaced the previous single toilet inside the Cathedral.
They’re part of a new development including a tea room and community meeting space and will compliment a major interactive project for the ancient Cathedral, due to open later in the year.
The toilets, which were the first phase of the redevelopment to open last October, were given the go-ahead after a consultation process involving the Cathedral Council. It’s made up of members of the Cathedral’s regular congregation. Since opening, the facilities have already been well received and avoid the need for outside portaloos for large events and concerts.
The Dean of St Asaph Cathedral, the Very Reverend Nigel Williams said: “St Asaph Cathedral is delighted to be leading the way in inclusive, accessible facilities for all visitors to the Cathedral. We hold a lot of large scale concerts and events so having as many cubicles as possible for both men and women was very important in the plans for our extension.
“The toilet facilities were completed last October, and we’ve already had lots of positive feedback particularly from Dads who can easily accompany their young daughters to the toilets, from older couples who act as carers for each other and from the LGBTQIA+ community who’ve held events recently in the Cathedral.”
Regular visitors to the Cathedral include local schools, such as Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph. It’s head teacher, Tim Redgrave, said: “My experience of working closely with the Diocese is that the church welcomes, respects and celebrates similarities and differences between us all. There is a need to be more open today and to give children a forum to be able to speak about their place in the world in a safe environment to reduce feelings of awkwardness and to educate others to avoid people feeling victimised.”
As part of the Cathedral’s redevelopment, two new jobs have been created and are currently being advertised. Decorating is underway to complete the tea rooms which are due to open later in the Spring. The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron will formally dedicate the new development at Evensong on Monday 29 January at 6pm.
The Cathedral, which is one of the oldest in Wales, tells the stories of St Asaph and St Kentigern and was instrumental in the preservation of the Welsh language through the translation of the Bible into Welsh. Today it houses one of only 20 known copies of the original William Morgan Bible dating from 1588 but urgently needs new facilities to preserve the manuscript for future generations.
St Asaph Cathedral dates from 1239 with the present structure completed in the 15th century. In addition to the William Morgan Bible, the Cathedral also has copies of: the first translation of the New Testament into Welsh dating from 1567, made by the Denbighshire scholar William Salesbury; the revision of the William Morgan Bible from 1620 made by Bishop Richard Parry – also Bishop of St Asaph and 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.
Famous historical figures with links to the Cathedral include the poet, Felicia Hemans, the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley who was a local resident and the writer of the World War I song ‘Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag’, Felix Powell, who was a chorister at the cathedral. His name is still to be found graffitied in the choir stalls.