St. David's University Chapel

The University Chapel of St David

The Chapel belongs to the students and staff of the University and we try to be radically inclusive in our welcome.

The Chapel is open most of the time and anyone is welcome to use the space for quiet reflection, prayer or simply to take time out in the busyness of the day. 

The ministry of the Chapel is open to all of any denomination or none, and everybody is invited and most welcome at any of the Chapel’s services (for full details of all the Chaplaincy’s services please see the “Services” page of this site).

The Chapel is traditionally an Anglican foundation, part of the Church in Wales and therefore uses the rites and ceremonies of the Church in Wales. However, the ministry of the Chapel is open to all of any denomination or none, and everybody is invited and most welcome at any of the Chapel’s services.

Services take place term-time only.  Our main service of the week is Holy Communion on Thursdays at 12:30pm.  Please see the chapel notice board or contact the Chaplain for other services. 

An Organ Scholarship with a bursary is also available to a suitably qualified student. As some organ lessons are provided as part of the scholarship package an able piano player would also be able to qualify for it.


The Chapel was consecrated by Bishop Jenkinson of St Davids on 23 August 1827, nearly six months after the first students had been admitted to St David’s College. There were daily services from the beginning which all staff and students attended. These comprised shortened forms of Morning and Evening Prayer on weekdays and full services of Morning and Evening Prayer on Sundays. Holy Communion was celebrated once a month, the norm at this period. Approximately half the services were in English and half in Welsh.

The painting which now hangs in the Visitors’ Aisle, a copy of Correggio’s Holy Family, of which the original is in Parma, was originally hung behind the altar. For the whole of Bishop Jenkinson’s episcopate, and much of that of his successor, Connop Thirlwall, the Chapel was the normal venue for ordinations in the diocese of St Davids. The Chapel was one of the first Anglican places of worship in Wales to introduce a weekly celebration of Holy Communion, in place by the 1870s.

In order to celebrate the golden jubilee of St David’s College in 1877 it was decided to rebuild the Chapel which was then considered inadequate. The new Chapel was designed by T. G. Jackson and the woodwork for the canopied stalls came from New College, Oxford. His plans included no provision for a pulpit but one had been installed by 1901.

The painted ceiling is Jackson’s but the planned screen between the main body of the Chapel and the Visitor’s Aisle was never installed. The new Chapel was consecrated on 24 June 1880, the preacher at this ceremony being Bishop Ollivant of Llandaff, who as first Vice-Principal of St David’s College had preached at the consecration of the original Chapel 53 years earlier.

In 1879 Bishop Basil Jones of St Davids ordered that the shortened versions of Morning and Evening Prayer used on weekdays must be replaced by full services each day, to be taken in rotation by the members of staff in holy orders, and that the number of Welsh services should be reduced.

In the 1880s there was Morning and Evening Prayer on weekdays at 8am and 5.30pm, but only Friday Evensong was in Welsh. Sunday services were Holy Communion at 8.30am, Choral Mattins at 11am, with a Sung Eucharist on the first Sunday of the month, and Evensong at 7pm. Regular anthems on Sundays were introduced by the new precentor, Edmund Tyrrell Green, in 1895. Green also established the Guild of St David for the spiritual development of both staff and students.

In 1906 W. D. Caröe was commissioned to design a new Chapel but the plan was never implemented. The organ was, however, renovated, at a cost of £200, in 1908. A weekday celebration of Holy Communion, on Wednesdays, was established in 1914 and a daily celebration in 1925. Eucharistic vestments were first worn in 1933 and made compulsory at Sung Eucharists, but not said celebrations, in 1934. In 1935 the Sunday service pattern was changed to Holy Communion at 8am, Choral Mattins at 10am, Sermon at 10.30am, Sung Eucharist at 11am and Evensong at 6.30pm. Staff and students were expected to attend either Mattins and Sermon or Sermon and Sung Eucharist on Sunday mornings.

A war memorial tablet, designed by W. D. Caröe, was unveiled in 1922. A new pulpit, also designed by Caröe, was presented in 1928 and a new reredos dedicated in 1934. Repairs to the organ were also carried out in 1934 and in 1936 the altar table was given a new carved front. The total cost of all these improvements was nearly £1400. Nevertheless the Chapel was still considered to be inadequate for the college’s needs and a new Chapel was proposed by Principal Archdall in 1939.

Bishop Prosser of St Davids donated £1000 towards the new Chapel in 1943 and Ben Roderick of Aberdare was commissioned to draw up plans for this, a theological hall and two new professorial houses, which would have occupied the open space between the St David’s and Canterbury Buildings. A new Chapel was still part of the plans for new buildings in 1948 but nothing ever came of them.

Until 1975 when the last Principal in holy orders, J. R. Lloyd Thomas, retired the Principal was responsible for the Chapel and its services. Thereafter a full-time chaplain was appointed. In 2005-6 a significant reordering of the Chapel took place to make it a more appropriate setting for the new eucharistic liturgy of the Church in Wales.

The pulpit was removed and a new altar table and lectern installed. At the same time most of the pews in the Visitors’ Aisle were removed and replaced by chairs which could be used in a more flexible manner for small-scale services or meetings of the Chapel congregation.

The Chaplaincy is led by the University Chaplain, the Rev’d Dr Emma Whittick, who is an Anglican Priest. She is available for people who might wish to see her for pastoral support, spiritual guidance, sacrament of reconciliation, or any other reason.  The Chaplain is available to support all staff and students whatever their religious belief, race, gender or sexual orientation.

The Chaplaincy also has a team of students who help set up for services.  These posts are open to all, and there is often a vacancy at the start of the year. Please contact the Chaplain if you are interested.  (01570 424 781)

The University Chaplain: The Rev’d Dr Emma Whittick 

Emma is willing to see staff and students either by appointment or by calling at her office in the Old Building. Her phone number is: 01570 424781 and email is: