Llandaff was a great little surprise for me. I only knew it existed after hearing somebody ask “does Cardiff have a cathedral?”. So after googling the response, which was “Llandaff”, I set out to make use of my bank holiday by making my way to this Cathedral on foot. Little did I know that I would stumble upon a few nice surprises along the way.
My first surprise of the day was the walk to Llandaff meadow. I'd been making my way to the Cathedral on foot and by chance, noticed a little path beside Cardiff Metropolitan University, that takes you between long rows of incredibly tall trees alongside the River Taff. The path would take me to the cathedral via a longer route but by far a more peaceful and scenic one. It was probably the nicest walk I've been on in Cardiff and made me feel like the city was a million miles away. Before reaching the cathedral, I came across an abandoned cemetery filled with headstones from the 1700s and possibly earlier, graves that were sadly but beautifully being smothered by plants growing over them.
The cathedral dwarves everything around it and unlike most other historical cathedrals, it is not surrounded by city streets but rather, large green spaces, the abandoned cemetery, the meadow and Llandaff village. It was built in 1120 under Norman rule, on the site of an earlier existing church. Nothing of the earlier church remains, except for a stone Celtic cross that date backs to the tenth century, which can be found inside the cathedral.
Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990) was a British writer, famous for children's stories such as Matilda, the BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to name a few. Many of these book titles are now most known for their film adaptations which have gained popularity worldwide. He was born in Cardiff and grew up in the Llandaff neighbourhood where it is easy to spot his legacy. In Cathedral Green, right beside the First World War monument, a plaque rests on the wall of what used to be Roald Dahl's primary school. The building still stands but seems to have been converted into housing.
And it's just around the corner on Llandaff High Street where another building features Roald Dahl's name. The Blue Plaque here marks the old sweet shop where he would go regularly during his childhood, as mentioned in his autobiography 'Boy'. It is there on the High Street where you really get the feeling of being in a village, particularly in the Black Lion and the Butchers Arms, two pubs where I spent part of my afternoon relaxing and enjoying a couple of ales and for a very low price, before making my way out of Llandaff and strolling off towards Pontcanna Fields.
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