Abergwili manor of Bishop of St Davids

Has been described as a Possible Palace (Bishop)

There are no visible remains

NameAbergwili manor of Bishop of St Davids
Alternative Names
Historic CountryCarmarthenshire
Modern AuthorityCarmarthenshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed

Originally a college founded by Bishop Bek of St Davids and translated from Llangadog in about 1291 (see NPRN 33069). It consisted of a Dean, probably the Bishop, twenty-one canons and at least twenty-six religeous anciliaries. The present village has its origins in a small borough also founded in the late thirteenth century. The college was removed to Brecon in 1541 (see NPRN 23170; 25091). Its buildings were then adapted as the Bishop's principal residence in anticipation of the Cathedral's translation to Carmarthen. The palace was extensively rebuilt in the early eighteenth century and greatly added to and modified in the earlier nineteenth century. It was rebuilt after being consumed by flames in 1903. In 1972 the Bishop moved to a modern residence and the old palace now houses the Carmarthenshire County Museum. Although the palace retains little flavour of its medieval and early modern origins, its early plan, laid out around a cloistered court, can still be discerned. The courtyard has now been roofed over as a hall from which a stair rises to an upper gallery above the original cloister walks. he main entrance front faces west where it presents a rather plain two storey rendered facade. There are shaped Dutch gables on the flanking wings and above the central Gothic porch. The remaining facades show a number of prominent bay windows, especially on the east looking over the old river meanders. There are service wings on the north. (Coflien)

The Bishops Palace was founded by Bishop Barlow of St Davids, appointed in 1536. The palace was substantially rebuilt in Elizabethan style by Bishop Jenkinson (1825-40) but was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1902. It was rebuilt in 1903-7 and remained an episcopal residence until 1972, since when it has been converted to a museum. The walled garden is shown on the 1889 Ordnance Survey.

High rubble-stone walls enclosing a garden approximately 60 x 50m

Facing the E side of the churchyard it has a plain coping and is approximately 2.5m high. At the N end it is stepped and incorporates an inserted doorway with freestone surround and round brick head. The door has vertical ribs and leads to a path to the former palace. The S return is battered at the base and, as the ground level is lower, approximately 4m high facing a ditch. (Listed Building Report)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN440209
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  • Neil Ludlow, 2009, “A Plot within the Close of the College Church’: Abergwili Bishop’s Palace and College Revisited’ in H. James and P. Moore (eds.), Carmarthenshire and Beyond: Studies in History and Archaeology in Memory of Terry James (Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society) p. 192-203
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 2 (Cambridge) p. 642, 645
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 183
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy


  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 317
  • James, Terence, 1980, 'The Bishops Palace and Collegiate Church, Abergwili' Carmarthenshire Antiquary Vol. 16 p. 19-43


  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via [http://ethos.bl.uk])