Diocese of Bangor
Anciently known as Bangor Vawr, situated in Carnarvonshire on the Menai Straits
Bangor (BANGORIUM, BANGORIENSIS), Diocese of, anciently known as Bangor Vawr, situated in Carnarvonshire on the Menai Straits, must be distinguished from Bangor Iscoed also in Wales, and the celebrated Irish monastery of Bangor in County Down. The foundation of the see is traditionally ascribed to St. Daniel or Deiniol (d. 584?) who is stated to have been consecrated by St. Dubricius, or, according to others, St. David. Some writers place his death in 544, others in 554, while the tenth century “Annales Cambriae” assign it to 584. Yet even this date is regarded by recent research as too early. We may, perhaps, safely ascribe the foundation of the see to the close of the sixth century. The history of the diocese before the Norman Conquest is so obscure that Godwin (De prsulibus Angliae, 1743) does not allow that there were any bishops at all before the coming of the Normans.
In 1092 Hervey, a cleric in the court of William Rufus, was consecrated Bishop of Bangor and in the same year was present in that capacity at the council held by St. Anselm at Westminster, being the first Welsh bishop to attend an English council. His rule was not successful, for difficulties arose owing to his people resenting the coming of a stranger ignorant of their language, customs, and character. He, on the other hand, adopted violent measures in the assertion of his rights, with the result that bloodshed ensued, and he finally had to take refuge in England, where he was translated to the See of Ely in 1108. The cathedral had been destroyed by the Normans in 1071, but was subsequently rebuilt, though no trace of Norman work remains in the present structure. Anian (1267-1305), who, as Bishop of Bangor, baptized Edward II took the chief part in rebuilding the cathedral. He also drew up the “Missale in usum Ecclesiae Banchorensis” and the “Pontifical” which represent the liturgical books of “the use of Bangor”. It again suffered severely in the wars between the English and Welsh during the reign of Henry III, and in 1402 was entirely burnt down by Owen Glendower. There could hardly have been a vigorous diocesan life, for the cathedral and episcopal residence lay in ruins for nearly a century. At length in 1496, a vigorous administrator became bishop in the person of Henry Deane, prior of the Austin canons at Llanthony near Gloucester. He immediately began to rebuild the ruined choir and his work still exists. Besides restoring his cathedral, he was active in regaining the possessions of the see which had been annexed by the more powerful men in the neighborhood. Unfortunately for Bangor after four years’ rule he was in 1500 translated first to Salisbury, and afterwards to Canterbury. He is said to have left his crosier and mitre, both of great value, to his successor, on condition that he should proceed with the rebuilding.
But neither of the next two bishops, Thomas Pigot, Abbot of Chertsey (1500-03), and John Penny (1504-08), did anything for the fabric. On the translation of Bishop Penny to Carlisle, Bangor was entrusted to Thomas Skevington, or Pace (1509-33), who of all its bishops did most for it. He was Abbot of Beaulieu in Hampshire, and though he did not reside in his see, he showed practical interest in his diocese by completing the cathedral. He rebuilt the entire nave and tower, and presented four bells which were afterwards sold by the first “reforming” bishop. He also rebuilt the episcopal residence. He died in 1533, and after the short episcopates of John Capon (1534-39) and John Bird (1539-41), was followed by Arthur Bulkeley, who resided in the diocese indeed, but who is accused of having neglected it in his own interests, According to the Anglican historian, Godwin, he was struck blind while watching the cathedral bells, which he had sold, being shipped off. But this story is questioned by Brown Willis, the historian of the Welsh cathedrals. Bulkeley died in 1553, and was succeeded by William Glynn (1553-58) the last Catholic bishop.
Since the Reformation the cathedral has continued to serve the Anglican bishops in its old capacity, while also doing duty as the parish church of the town. It is the smallest and humblest of all the cathedrals in England or Wales, being an embattled cruciform structure resembling a good-sized parish church. The diocese consisted of the whole of Anglesea and Carnarvonshire, with the greater part of Merionethshire and some parishes in the counties Denbigh and Montgomery. There were three archdeaconries, Bangor, Anglesea, and Merioneth. The arms of the see were gules. a bend, or gutty de poix between two mullets, argent.