ST DAVID'S CHURCH

 
St David's Church St David's Church stands on a small hill just above the village on Caldey Island. The present building dates from Norman times, but the foundations and possibly parts of the stonework of the nave are those of a Celtic chapel built in the 6th Century. The Church was once known as St Mary's by the Seashore, a reference to the times when the present day village area was a tidal inlet from the sea.
St David's is the parish church of the island. The pretty churchyard, where simple wooden crosses mark the graves of monks and islanders, is the present-day cemetery. It stands on a pre-Christian Celtic burial ground, probably dating to the Romano-British period, about 1800 to 2000 years ago. There is a possiblity that the site was used for burials of people from the mainland, in keeping with Celtic belief that islands represented a bridge between heaven and earth.
St David's Church interior
The site has a long history as a sacred place. The Christian Celtic monks chose to build their chapel on a site sacred to the earlier Pagan Celts. In turn, the Norman monks rebuilt the Celtic Chapel in their own style; the Victorian landowners restored the church, (which had fallen into disrepair after the Dissolution of the Monasteries); and the Benedictine monks of the early 20th Century added the unique stained glass windows, which are such a striking feature of the church today.

The stained glass windows were all designed and made by Dom Theodore Bailey, one of the Benedictine monks living on Caldey in the early 1920's. The window shown on the right depicts St David, patron saint of Wales (left) and King David of Israel (right).

The Two Davids Window by Theodore Bailey
The Fish Window by Theodore Bailey The window below represents Our Lady and the Infant Jesus (left) and St Helena (right).

The Mother & Child & St Helena Window by Theodore Bailey


The most unusual window in the Church is the Fish Window (above). The ancient Christian symbol of the fish is given a contemporary feel in this striking 1920's design by Bailey.

The Tree of Life Window by Theodore Bailey

Perhaps the most impressive window of all those designed by Theodore Bailey is the Tree of Life Window (left). It depicts a threefold tree, possibly symbolising the Trinity and the three crosses on Calvary. When illuminated by the afternoon sun, it gives a stunning sense of the power of the Creator breathing life and light into the world.