Happy St David’s Day!

March 1, 2011

It’s St David’s Day, Wales’ national day of celebration, so you may have noticed the Welsh flag flying in a few places you wouldn’t normally see it – including at 10 Downing Street. In keeping with the theme of all things Welsh, we’re taking a look at a couple of Welsh-related sites in London…

St Benet, Paul’s Wharf – Known as London’s “Welsh church”, the current St Benet’s was rebuilt to the designs of Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666 although a church has stood on this site for 900 years. Services have been held at the church (pictured right) in Welsh since 1879 after Queen Victoria granted Welsh Anglicans the right to worship in their own language there. Known formally at St Benet’s Metropolitan Welsh Church, the premises, located just off Queen Victoria Street in the City, has also been the church of the College of Arms since 1555. Among other historic titbits is the suggestion that both Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey – the “nine day Queen” – may have received the last rites here before going on to their executions at the Tower of London, that 17th century architect Inigo Jones was buried here, and that King Charles II had a special door built for himself in the side of the building and a private room where he could take part in services. See www.stbenetwelshchurch.org.uk

The London Welsh Centre – Located in Gray’s Inn Road, the centre’s origins go back to the founding of the Young Wales Association in 1920, created to provide a focus for young Welsh people in London. The organisation, which initially didn’t have a permanent home, held meetings in several locations before moving to the current premises in the 1930s. Today the premises is used by the London Welsh Centre and is the base for three choirs – the London Welsh Chorale, The London Welsh Gwalia Male Choir and The London Welsh Male Voice Choir. It also provides Welsh language classes and hosts concerts and other cultural events. See www.londonwelsh.org.

Memorial to Welsh poet Iolo Morganwg – A memorial plaque to this Welsh poet and antiquarian stands on Primrose Hill on the site where the first meeting of the Gorsedd of Bards of the Isle of Britain, convened by Morganwg, was held in 1792. The plaque was unveiled in 2009. Follow this link for more information.

Do you know of any other Welsh-related sites in London? Let us know…

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