Diocese of St Asaph

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Diocese of St Asaph
Church in Wales
Province: Wales
Arms of the Bishop of St Asaph
St Asaph Cathedral.JPG

St Asaph's Cathedral
Bishop: Gregory Cameron
Cathedral: St Asaph Cathedral
Archdeaconries: St Asaph, Montgomery,
Website: Diocese of St Asaph

The Diocese of Saint Asaph is a diocese of the Church in Wales under the Bishop of St Asaph. It named after Saint Asaph, its second bishop and the city of St Asaph in which the cathedral stands. It is an ancient diocese, which once covered the ancient Kingdom of Powys.


The Diocese of St Asaph covers the counties of Denbigh and Flint and part of Montgomeryshire. The population of its area is in excess of half a million people.

The more populous areas are to be found along the coast and in the large conurbation of Wrexham, the principal town. The industrial areas around Wrexham and Deeside have undergone great change in the past decade or so, providing the Diocese with new challenges to which it has adapted. Where once the coal, steel and textile industries provided most of the employment, the economy is now much more diversified and one of the fastest growing in the UK. A major employer is Airbus UK (currently part of BAE Systems), while Wrexham Industrial Estate is one of the largest in Europe. North-east Wales also acts as a dormitory area for Chester Business Park, which is dominated by MBNA. This economy is ministered to by an Industrial Chaplain, a post which alternates between a priest of the Church in Wales and a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Wales.

Most of the diocese is rural, interspersed with small market towns and village communities. The southern area of the diocese in Montgomeryshire is undergoing regional development, especially with the advent of a good number of small industries. Because of the beauty of the landscape, at holiday times there is a large influx of visitors from distant parts of the realm and tourism is now one of the growth industries of Montgomeryshire.

For many centuries the Diocese of St Asaph extended also into Shropshire. However, at the time of disestablishment, coming into effect on 31 March 1920, the Shropshire parishes of Criftins, Hengoed, Kinnerley, Knockin, Llanyblodwel, Llanymynech, Melverley, Morton, Oswestry, St Martins, Selattyn, Trefonen, Weston Rhyn and Whittington were transferred from the Diocese of St Asaph to the Diocese of Lichfield, thus remaining within the established church and avoiding the confiscation of endowments meted out to the Church in Wales.


This diocese was founded by St Kentigern about the middle of the sixth century, when he was exiled from his see in the north. He founded a monastery called Llanelwy at the confluence of the rivers Clwyd and Elwy where, after his return to the Clyde in 573, he was succeeded by Asaph or Asa, who was consecrated Bishop of Llanelwy.

The diocese originally coincided with the Welsh principality of Powys, but lost much territory first by the Mercian encroachment marked by Watt's Dyke and again by the construction of Offa's Dyke, soon after 798. Nothing is known of the history of the diocese during the disturbed period that followed. Domesday Book gives scanty particulars of a few churches but is silent as to the cathedral, which lay beyond its purview.

Early in the twelfth century, Norman influence asserted itself and in 1143 Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated one Gilbert as Bishop of St Asaph, but the position of his successors was very difficult and one of them, Godfrey, was driven away by poverty and the hostility of the local people. A return made in the middle of the thirteenth century (British Museum, Cotton MSS. Vitellius, c. x.) shows the existence of eight rural deaneries, seventy-nine churches, and nineteen chapels. By 1291 the deaneries had been doubled in number and there were Cistercian houses at Basingwerk, Aberconway, Strata Marcella and Valle Crucis, and a Cistercian nunnery, Llanllugan Abbey.

The cathedral, which had been burnt in the wars, was rebuilt and completed in 1295. It was a plain massive structure of simple plan, and was again destroyed during the Wars of the Roses. When it was restored by Bishop Redman the palace was not rebuilt and thus the bishops continued to be non-resident. At the end of the fifteenth century there was a great revival of church building, as is evidenced by the churches of that date still existing in the diocese.

The Reformation under King Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer brought changes; the end of pilgrim traffic and the stripping of idols from the churches, but a growth in secular prosperity and devotion. King Henry also united Wales to England, though this had little influence on a diocese which had happily ignored the old border for centuries.

The see continued to be part of the Church of England until the Church was disestablished in Wales in 1920, since when it has been part of the Church in Wales.

Bishops of St Asaph


Tenure Incumbent Notes
c.583 to ??? Kentigern (Saint Mungo) Bishop of Glasgow
??? to ??? Saint Asaph
About 600 Tysilio
About 800 Renchidus
About 928 Cebur
About 1070 Melanus
1143 to 1152 Gilbert
1152 to 1154 Geoffrey of Monmouth
1154 to 1155 Richard Died in office
1155 to 1175 Godfrey
1175 to 1183 Adam Parvipontanus Canon of Paris
1183 to 1186 John I
1186 to 1225 Reiner
1225 to 1235 Abraham
1235 to 1240 Hugh
1240 to c.1247 Hywel ab Ednyfed
c.1247 to 1249 vacant
1249 to 1267 Einion I
1267 to 1268 John II
1268 to 1293 Einion II
1293 to 1314 Llywelyn de Bromfield Canon of St Asaph
1314 to 1352 Dafydd ap Bleddyn
1352 to 1357 John Trevor (I)
1357 to 1376 Llywelyn ap Madog Dean of St Asaph
1376 to 1382 William Spridlington Dean of St Asaph
1382 to 1390 Lawrence Child
1390 to 1395 Alexander Bache
1395 to 1410 John Trevor (II) Prebendary of Hereford; deprived
1411 to 1433 Robert Lancaster
1433 to 1444 John Low Translated to Rochester
1444 to 1450 Reginald Pecock Translated to Chichester
1451 to 1471 Thomas Bird (alias Thomas Knight)
1472 to 1495 Richard Redman Translated to Exeter
1495 to 1499 Michael Deacon
1499 to 1503 Dafydd ab Iorwerth
1503 to 1513 Dafydd ab Owain Abbot of Aberconwy
1513 to 1518 Edmund Birkhead
1518 to 1535 Henry Standish

From the Act of Supremacy, 1534

Tenure Incumbent Notes
1535 to 1536 William Barlow Translated to St David's, then Bath & Wells, then Chichester
1536 to 1554 Robert Warton (alias Robert Parfew) Abbot of Bermondsey; translated to Hereford
1554 to 1559 Thomas Goldwell Went into voluntary exile

From the Elizabethan Reformation, 1559

Tenure Incumbent Notes
1559 to 1561 Richard Davies Translated St David's
1561 to 1573 Thomas Davies
1573 to 1601 William Hughes
1601 to 1603 William Morgan Translated from Llandaff
Produced the Welsh translation of the Bible
1603 to 1622 Richard Parry Dean of Bangor
1622 to 1629 John Hanmer Prebendary of Worcester
1629 to 1651 John Owen Archdeacon of St Asaph; died in office
1651 to 1660 vacant For 9 years
1660 to 1667 George Griffith Archdeacon of St Asaph
1667 to 1669 Henry Glemham Dean of Bristol
1669 to 1680 Isaac Barrow Translated from Sodor & Man
1680 to 1692 William Lloyd Dean of Bangor; translated to Lichfield & Coventry, then Worcester
1692 to 1703 Edward Jones Translated from Cloyne, Ireland
1703 to 1704 George Hooper Dean of Canterbury; translated to Bath & Wells
1704 to 1708 William Beveridge Archdeacon of Colchester
1708 to 1714 William Fleetwood Canon of Windsor; translated to Ely
1714 to 1727 John Wynne Principal of Jesus College, Oxford; translated to Bath & Wells
1727 to 1731 Francis Hare Dean of Worcester and dean of St Paul's, London; translated to Chichester
1731 to 1736 Thomas Tanner Canon of Christ Church, Oxford
1736 to 1743 Isaac Maddox Dean of Wells; translated to Worcester
1743 to 1743 John Thomas Dean of Peterborough; elected but translated to Lincoln before consecration
1743 to 1748 Samuel Lisle Archdeacon of Canterbury; translated to Norwich
1748 to 1761 The Hon Robert Hay Drummond Prebendary of Westminster; translated to Salisbury
1761 to 1769 Richard Newcome Translated from Llandaff
1769 to 1789 Jonathan Shipley Translated from Llandaff
1789 to 1790 Samuel Hallifax Translated from Gloucester
1790 to 1802 Lewis Bagot Translated from Norwich
29 July 1802 to 4 October 1806 Samuel Horsley Translated from Rochester
15 October 1806 to 15 May 1815 William Cleaver Translated from Bangor
23 May 1815 to 21 January 1830 John Luxmoore Translated from Hereford
23 February 1830 to 13 September 1846 William Carey Translated from Exeter
10 October 1846 to January 1870 Thomas Short Translated from Sodor & Man; resigned
25 May 1870 to 1889 Joshua Hughes Vicar of Llandovery
1889 to 1934 Alfred Edwards first Archbishop of Wales 1920–1934; retired

After Dissestablishment, 1920

Tenure Incumbent Notes
1934 to 1950 William Havard
1950 to 1971 David Bartlett
1971 to 1982 Harold Charles
1982 to June 1999 Alwyn Rice Jones Archbishop of Wales 1991–1999
1999 to 2008 John Davies
2009 onwards Gregory Cameron Consecrated 4 April 2009


  • Haydn's Book of Dignities (1894) Joseph Haydn/Horace Ockerby, reprinted 1969
  • Whitaker's Almanack 1883 to 2004 Joseph Whitaker & Sons Ltd/A&C Black, London