The city of St Asaph lies between Denbigh and the coastal resort of Rhyl. It is home to the smallest cathedral in Britain and is set on the banks of the River Elwy. It has been and has been an important ecclesiastical centre for centuries, dating back to AD560 when a community was founded by the Scottish saint Kentigern, who left his disciple Asaph in charge when he returned to Scotland.
The North Wales Music Festival is held in the Cathedral in late September each year and St Asaph is a great location ( sited on the A55) making it an ideal base for touring the north east Wales area. The surrounding area offers peaceful mountain and moor land walks along with a full range of coastal attractions.
“The houses in the principal streets are brick, and in general small, though neatly built; the streets are kept clean. The view of the city from many points around it, is particularly striking; its elevated position on an eminence near the termination of the Vale of Clwyd, crowned on its summit with the Cathedral, and having the parish church at its base, makes it a conspicuous object from every point of view, and the luxuriant grove of trees in which it is deeply emblossomed give it a pleasingly romantic appearance. The surrounding scenery, which in every direction abounds with objects of interest and beauty, is seen to great advantage from the eminence on which the city is built, and from the high grounds in the immediate vicinity.” [From Handbook of the Vale of Clwyd , William Davis, 1856].
The Cathedral has been twice destroyed by fire twice and has had a fascinating and often violent history , including attacks by rebellious natives and also foreign invaders. It was destroyed by the soldiers of Henry III in 1245 and again by the armies of Edward I in 1282. It was rebuilt between 1284 and 1381 only to be burned by Owain Glyndwr’s Welsh troops in 1402. In 1715 the tower was completely demolished in a fierce storm. The existing building is largely 14th century with many Victorian alterations due to the remodeling by Gilbert Scott in 1867-75.
In 1831- the population was 3144.
In 1901- the population was 2000.
[Royal Commission on the Welsh Church – October 1907]