|Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist|
|Denomination||Church in Wales|
|Heritage designation||Grade I listed building|
|Designated||16 January 1952|
Brecon Cathedral, in the town of Brecon, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in the Church in Wales and seat of the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon. Previously the church of Brecon Priory and then the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, it became Brecon Cathedral following the disestablishment of the Church in Wales in 1920 and the creation of the diocese in 1923.
Because of the characteristic round shape of its churchyard, the cathedral is thought to be on the site of an earlier Celtic church, of which no trace remains. A new church, dedicated to St. John, was built on the orders of Bernard de Neufmarché, the Norman knight who conquered the kingdom of Brycheiniog in 1093. He gave the church to one of his followers, Roger, a monk from Battle Abbey, who founded a priory on the site as a daughter house of Battle. The first prior at Brecon was Walter, another monk from Battle. Bernard de Neufmarché also endowed the priory with lands, rights and tithes from the surrounding area, and, after his death, it passed to the Earls of Hereford, so giving it greater prosperity. The church was rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in about 1215, during the reign of King John. In the Middle Ages, the church was known as the church of Holy Rood or Holy Cross, because it owned a great 'golden rood' which was an object of pilgrimage and veneration until it was destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century.
In 1538 the Prior was pensioned off, and the priory church became the parish church. Some of the surrounding buildings were adapted for secular use and others, such as the cloisters, were left to decay and later demolished. By the nineteenth century, the church was in poor repair and only the nave was in use. Some restoration took place in 1836, but major renovation of the church did not start until the 1860s. The tower was strengthened in 1914.
The cathederal is a grade I listed building.
In recent years, some of the buildings in the Cathedral close have been converted into a Diocesan Centre, a Heritage Centre and exhibition, as well as a shop and Pilgrims restaurant.
The present Dean is the Very Reverend Geoffrey Marshall, who was appointed in 2008, who succeeded the Very Reverend John Davies who became Bishop of the diocese.
List of Deans
- 1939–1949 Edward Roberts
- 1950–1964 William Jones
- 1964–1967 Gwynno James
- 1967–1978 Ungoed Jacob
- 1979–1982 Alwyn Rice Jones (afterwards Bishop of St Asaph, 1982)
- 1982–1993 Huw Jones (afterwards Bishop of St David's, 1996)
- 1993–1998 John Harris
- 1998–2000 Geraint Hughes
- 2000–2008 John Davies (afterwards Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, 2008)
- 2008–2014 Geoffrey Marshall
- 2014–present Paul Shackerley
A specification of the pipe organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register
List of organists
- 1923 John Humphrey Carden
- 1956 David Gwerfyl Davies (formerly organist of The Church of St. Nicholas, Kings Norton)
- 1963 Michael Bryan Hesford (later organist of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray)
- 1966 David Patrick Gedge
- 2007 Mark Duthie