Llandaff Cathedral

Nick Lambert
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
No votes yet

"This long awaited but splendid book by Nick Lambert and his co-authors.. tribute is due to the team who produced it, with my thanks for their dedication and enthusiasm."             
Jenny Metcalf, Friend of Llandaff Cathedral

This is the first new book to be published about Llandaff Cathedral for more than a century. As the seat of the Archbishop of Wales, Llandaff is the hub of the Church in Wales. The cathedral dates to the eleventh century and is one of the landmark buildings of both Cardiff and Wales. In this welcome and overdue book expert authors guide us through the history, architecture, art and heritage of the cathedral from Roman times to the twenty-first century. The building and its ornamentation include almost every style in that long period as it was developed through extension, refurbishment and redevelopment. The story includes resurrection from extensive bomb damage during the Second World War and the controversial majestas by Epstein that made the cathedral national news in the sixties. Accessibly written for the lay reader, the book is heavily illustrated with line drawings, plans, and archive and contemporary photographs. The research for the book has brought to light fascinating, never before seen images from the cathedral archive and elsewhere.


Essay subjects include: 

The Cathedral until the Reformation
Three Centuries, Three Restorations
Art in the Cathedral
Cathedral Glass
A Brief History of the Llandaff Bells
Music in the Cathedral

User Reviews

Anonymous's picture

Review from The Magazine of the Cathedral & Parish of Llandaff

No votes yet

This long awaited but splendid book by Nick Lambert and his co-authors about the history and architecture of Llandaff cathedral is a welcome tribute to one of the most inspirational of our British cathedrals. Most cathedrals have a chequered history, Llandaff perhaps more than most, and the early part of this book covers the history of the cathedral from Romano-British times to the present day. The most alarming aspects of the history include Owain Glyndwr's rebellion in the early fifteenth century when much of the area was laid waste, followed by slow decline. The Reformation was followed by despoiling and looting, surprisingly by some of the cathedral Canons! Subsequently the cathedral fell into quiet decay until the insertion of an Italianate temple in the ealry nineteenth century. This was a short lived disaster although, curiously, a similar structure is still in existence in Faversham, Kent. So many questions are answered within this comprehensive book and tribute is due to the team who produced it, with my thanks for their dedication and enthusiasm.

Jenny Metcalf, Friend of Llandaff Cathedral

02/02/2011 - 11:46
Anonymous's picture

Review by Planet

No votes yet

The four authors of this book, including Nick Lambert, a lecturer in the history of Art at Birkbeck College, survey the building's dramatic story, from earliest times to the present. Their styles vary widely. Lambert's overview of the first 1,200 years provides an illuminating introduction for the general reader, while other accounts, which cover the architecture, art and stained glass, read at times like exhaustively researched specialist monographs.

Mary-Ann Constantine, Planet Issue 201

01/02/2011 - 16:09
Anonymous's picture

Review by Philip Morris, Archdeacon of Margam, Croeso

No votes yet

Although small in comparison to many of those in England, nevertheless Llandaff Catherdral has history, art and architecture second to none. It's a story of construction and destruction and its fascinating blend of Norman. Early Gothic, Victorian and 20th century work make it worthy of serious study and casual exploration. The usual Pitkin Pictorial and Young People's Guide have been available for some time, but now a substantial, long awaited and important book has been published about Llandaff Cathedral...which provides both the general reader and student with its story, pulling together material found in various sources, but also taking into account latest research and developments. The book is a collection of essays written by experts in their own field which include a history of the diocese and Catherdral, a study of the art and stained glass contained within the cathedral, the story of its bells, and the development of music, bringing it up to date with a description of the new organ, completed for Easter 2010. The book is lavishly illustrated with line drawings, plans, and archive and contemporary photographs, many of which have not appeared in print before. This book is worthy of a place on the coffee table or bookshelf of all those who know and love Llandaff Cathedral. Its detailing is impressive; its historical illustrations are fascinating. As the present Dean writes in the Preface: "I hope that this book will be read and enjoyed by members of our Cathedral and Parish and the wider Diocese and will help to spread Llandaff's name to more distant places.


Philip Morris, Archdeacon of Margam Croeso

15/11/2010 - 13:58


Anonymous's picture

Review from The Sunday Times

No votes yet

“Like the city he grew up in, Liam Carson’s memoir of life in Belfast winds like a tangled web of streets, dreams, cultures and philosophies, where every page, pavement and street corner offer another dab of colour to a fascinating picture… Carson’s natural push against his parents in the 1970s coincided with the devastating change in Belfast’s complexion. Its nascent punk scene offered a soundtrack to life in a war zone. While Carson read new-wave science fiction and moved to London, his mother, Mary, drifted away from a language partly hijacked by republican violence. His father, though, retreated to his books. It seems he was living, writes Carson, ‘just off reality.’

“In time, the detached universe William created offered his son profound truths that defined the rest of his life. His father often spoke of tearmann—the idea of the Irish language as sanctuary where the language’s power to shape culture could be celebrated and explored. It is a daunting idea, but Carson handles his journey to accepting the ideas with great skill, successfully conveying the concept of the Irish language as a living, breathing organism without alienating the simplest, most compelling episodes of family life that make this book so moving in parts.

“His description of his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and eventual death are blessed with clarity, gentleness and a heart-wrenching sadness. His memories of shared moments with his father are beautifully rendered… Carson’s greatest achievement is recycling a complex mix of emotions and ideas on language into a deeply moving read.”

Michael Foley, The Sunday Times

04/07/2012 - 15:28
Anonymous's picture

Review from The Sunday Telegraph

No votes yet

"A tender, contemplative memoir examining Carson's upbringing in a happy but complex Irish-speaking household during the Troubles; it eulogises not only his parents but the Irish language itself"

The Sunday Telegraph 2012

17/12/2012 - 10:43
Anonymous's picture

Call Mother a Lonely Field New Welsh Review

No votes yet

"Amy Mc Cauley discovers language is sanctuary in this memoir nominated for the Ondaaje Prize"

Liam Carson’s Call Mother a Lonely Field is a memoir of a very strange kind. Although it features some of the standard characteristics of memoir: family narrative, the odd humorous anecdote, photographs, etc, the book is much more than the sum of its parts, chiefly because Carson turns the usual chronological format inside out. Time here is fluid; like memory, it doesn’t simply represent the accumulation of events in a sequential manner. Carson instead puts forward an alternative view – one popularised by JW Dunne - which argues that ‘all time is eternally present. In other words, the past, present and future coexist.’ Carson goes on to suggest that ‘we exist on two levels, both inside and outside time.’ This idea is absolutely central: it relates not simply to the philosophical atmosphere but to the structure of the text, which embodies the very concept it proposes.
The book is also about our experience of identity. Carson comes across as a protean character – a man who reads, dreams and wanders. At various stages of his life he adopts different selves, each of which he rejects. But his relationship to these selves is alive with the spirit of enquiry. Carson is careful to resist the monomania of autobiography, however. This is firstly (and most importantly) a paean to his parents, and secondly a love letter to the Irish language.
Carson, who was born in 1962 in Mooreland, part of the Falls area of Belfast, writes lyrically about his parents, ‘the Ma’ and ‘the Da’. He says:

My parents were Falls people, with all that they entailed. Catholic people. Nationalist people. They belonged to a particular world with particular values […] In the ritual of the mass they were bound to their neighbours, to the world, to God. In the incense, the statues, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary, the stained glass, the Latin, they reaches a from of communion and community that held up their daily lives.

He goes on to say that ‘One afternoon [my Da] told me if he’d been in Iran, he would have been a devout Muslim. Perhaps it was not so important to be Catholic as it was to believe.’
‘The Da’, for me, is the most fascinating character. His singular strength is underlined by a story Carson hears only after his father’s death. When the Da joins the IRA in the 1940s, he soon realises he will have to kill. Unable to square this with his strong Christian faith, the Da leaves, only to find himself arrested and jailed. When he is released from prison he returns to work (as a postman) he finds his pay has been docked for his time spent inside. Carson writes, ‘He took a court case, logically arguing that since his employer and his gaoler were one and the same – the Royal Mail and His Majesty’s Prison Service, in other words, the King - then it followed what his employer was the cause of his absence.’ The Da wins the case and sets a legal precedent.
Call Mother a Lonely Field is full of these unrecorded, ‘unofficial’ histories. Personal family mythologies – songs, stories, poems and dreams – stand shoulder to shoulder with violent reality of Belfast’s ‘Troubles’ from the 1970s onwards. Structurally. I is like a home, each chapter is a different room witits own distinctive atmosphere and pressure, while the presence of dreams is a brave and valuable addition. They represent the hidden strand – the inner supports – of a person’s experience, and it is Carson’s unification of physical, human, linguistic and psychic geographies which make this a real stand-out read. If I had to pick a weakness I would say the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ section of the book (detailing Carson’s love of comic books) felt slightly out of place, but otherwise I found it quite gripping. Most powerful for me was Carson’s suggestion that language is an environment we inhabit - a sanctuary which can be used to represent the various visible and invisible environments we occupy both physically and in our imaginary lives. The hidden places of memory, childhood, identity and dreams therefore become achievement is the meshing of the public and private worlds so often kept separate by the official records of history.

Amy McCauley for New Welsh Review

04/09/2013 - 11:45
Please Login or register to post a comment or review