Newport Cathedral

Newport Cathedral in the city of Newport in South Wales is the cathedral of the Diocese of Monmouth, in the Church in Wales, and seat of the Bishop of Monmouth. The full title is Newport Cathedral, Woolos, King & Confessor. The Bishop of Monmouth is the Right Reverend Dominic Walker OGS, who has been in post since 2003, when the former bishop, Rowan Williams, was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saint Woolos

The name "Woolos" is a corruption of Gwynllyw, the 5th century Welsh saint who first founded a religious establishment on the site.

Pre-Norman establishment

The present building has sections that date from Anglo-Saxon times. In the ninth century the wooden church formerly on the site was rebuilt in stone. This indicates the importance of the cult of Saint Gwynllyw and the wealth of his shrine as stone buildings were unusual in Wales at this point. Part of this building is now incorporated into St Woolos cathedral as the Galilee chapel now at the west end of the Cathedral.

Circa 1050 the church was attacked by pirates and left in ruins.

Norman history

Circa 1080 the Normans built a new nave to the east of the Saxon ruins, and a lean-to south aisle, building a new entrance archway through the Saxon wall. Circa 1200 the Saxon church was repaired so the Norman entrance became an internal archway.

Mediæval history

It was badly damaged in 1402 when Newport was attacked by the forces of Owain Glyndŵr and underwent a major rebuilding including the addition of the tower.

It also seems to have been damaged in the Civil war period when a statue above the main entrance representing a benefactor of the church seems to have lost its head. It is either Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, or Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham as both helped rebuild it after Glyndwr's attack.

Recent history

It has been partially rebuilt or extended in every period up to the 1960s. It is currently undergoing much-needed repairs and an appeal fund has started. in order to raise the £1.5m urgently needed to rescue and repair this historic building. Repairs to the roof started in February 2011 by Newport based contractor Instaat Projects Ltd, although further fundraising is necessary and other restoration is required to prevent serious dilapidation.

In 1929 St Woolos became the Pro-Cathedral of the new Diocese of Monmouth, attaining full cathedral status in 1949.

With the Enthronement of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Wales in February 2000, the Cathedral became the Metropolitan Cathedral for Wales for the third time in its life. The Cathedral continues to serve Wales, the diocese and the City of Newport; it also serves a large parish.

It is also a place of pilgrimage for political and industrial historians - a plaque in the church yard commemorates the bloody suppression of the Chartist rebellion here in 1839.

The Dean of Monmouth between March 1997 and May 2011 was the Very Reverend Dr. Richard Fenwick. In May 2011 Dr. Fenwick was consecrated as the Bishop of St. Helena within the Anglican Church of South Africa. The Diocese covers the islands of Saint Helena and Ascension in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Reverend Canon Jeremy Winston has been appointed as the next Dean of Monmouth, and will be installed as Dean during a service at Newport Cathedral on 10th September 2011.


A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register The current organist and Master of the Choristers is Christopher Barton, who has been in post since 1979.

  • c.500: Original church built
  • c.800: Church replaced with a stone structure
  • c.1050: Attacked by pirates and left in ruins
  • c.1080: Normans build nave and archway
  • c.1200: Entrance chapel repaired
  • 15th century: Tower and aisles built
  • c.1650: Monuments damaged by Puritans
  • 1819: Entrance chapel restored
  • 1853: Full restoration
  • 1854: The new St Woolos Cemetery opens 1 mile to the west of the cathedral
  • 1869: Last burials in the old graveyard in the cathedral ground
  • 1913: Full restoration and re-roofing
  • 1922: Designated pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Monmouth
  • 1949: Full Cathedral status
  • 1962: Victorian Chancel replaced
  • 1987: Choir Chapel refurbished
  • 1997: Renovation of organ
  • 2011: Roof renovation


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