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Llandaff is a city within a city in South Wales - |

Llandaff is a city within a city in South Wales

Llandaff City

Llandaff City is a Welsh city within a city. It is part of Cardiff City and many people visiting Cardiff, and even many residents, probably don’t realise this.

Llandaff, or Llandaf to give it its Welsh spelling, has a cathedral and is the seat of the Church in Wales Bishop of Llandaff. This is what gives it its city status, although this was never officially recognised because there was no charter of incorporation.

Llandaff is also a parish, and once included the surrounding suburbs of Canton, Ely, Fairwater and Gabalfa as within its large boundaries.

Llandaff gets its name from “llan”, which is a church in Welsh, and the “daff (daf)” section refers to the River Taff (Taf). The first letter has changed to a “d” because of what is known as a “soft mutation,” which is a part of the rules and construction of the Welsh language. So Llandaff’s name tells us that it is a church on the River Taff.

Llandaff Village

This is what makes Llandaff a city within a city

But as well as being a city within a city, Llandaff is very much a village still and has a delightful village green area, which is very near to Llandaff Cathedral and also to the Bishop’s Palace. It is very much a part of the area’s past, and whilst there are obvious modern elements that have been brought into it, you can still get the feel of another time.

I know Llandaff very well because I was brought up there and went to infants and junior school in Llandaff Village. My first school was in Llandaff High Street and the Llandaff Institute building which housed the infant’s school is still there.

I remember going to the tuck shop on the corner of Llandaff Green and buying sweets such as Gob-stoppers, Aniseed Balls, Sherbert Fountains and Lucky Bags there. Then there were the Flying Saucers, Golf Balls and Sour Grapes.

Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Deleted Scenes and Sketch-Cards
Photo by walt74
This shop was where I used to buy most of the bubblegum that came with picture cards, cards such as Mars Attacks, which were very controversial back in 1962 and ended up banned. Another card series that didn’t meet this fate was Flags of the World. I had the whole set and collecting these cards were part of the pleasures of my childhood.

Llandaff Village has a picturesque quality to it with the village cross, Llandaff Cathedral itself overlooking it all and the grass areas. It is not surprising that it has recently been the setting for the filming of Dr Who, the popular Science-Fiction series.

Speaking of Llandaff Cathedral, a point of interest in the church is the Christ in Majesty (1954-5) aluminium Christ statue that was made by Jacob Epstein. Llandaff cathedral is surrounded by its graveyards and a pathway leads down from the Llandaff Village Green past the playing fields for the Cathedral School and down towards Llandaff Fields, which are on the other side of Western Avenue.

Llandaff Fields, as its name suggests, is a large are of green parkland that eventually joins with Pontcanna Fields and it is possible to walk all the way down into Cardiff City Centre by following the river down through these park areas.

Besides the Cathedral School, there is Howell’s School Llandaff for girls and the Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School. Singer Charlotte Church went to Howell’s School and the star used to live in Llandaff.

Llandaff Rowing Club

Being situated on the banks of the River Taff, Llandaff has its own rowing club that has its clubhouse just up river from Llandaff Weir. Llandaff Rowing Club take part in many regattas both at home and in many other places around the UK.

Team SHUA at the 2007 Pubs and Clubs Regatta at Llandaff Rowing Club

There is a pathway that you can follow along the riverbank from the weir area. Although the river itself is much cleaner these days – I remember when it was black with coal dust and frothing with detergent when I was a boy – sadly ponds that used to be the home to frogs, toads and newts have all been filled in.

Nevertheless the riverbank path makes an interesting walk and if you are lucky you might even spot a Kingfisher on the River Taff. These beautiful birds have returned, as have Otters, since the river has been cleaned up.

North of Llandaff, and further up the river, is appropriately enough the suburban area known as Llandaff North. This has a large green park on the riverbank known as Hailey Park.

Hailey Park has many sports pitches. The local rugby club for Llandaff North use it and have a clubhouse in the neihbourhood. There are also tennis courts, bowling greens and playgrounds in this parkland area.

Llandaff has plenty to offer people who enjoy sport and also for those who simply enjoy a good walk.

Copyright © 2013 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.



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  • Article by Bard of Ely

    avatar Born in Cardiff, South Wales, Steve Andrews lived there until 2004 when he relocated to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. He used to live on the Ely housing estate and Big Issue magazine, in which he had a regular column, dubbed him the Bard of Ely making reference to his talents as a singer-songwriter, poet and performer. He is also a writer, journalist, author, public speaker and naturalist. In 1998 he worked as a TV presenter for two series of In Full View on BBC Choice. He is the author of Herbs of the Northern Shaman (O-Books 2010) and Hummadruz and a Life of High Strangeness (Amazon Kindle), as well as having contributed to Tenerife News and the Tenerife Sun newspapers and Kindred Spirit, Prediction, Feed Your Brain. Living Tenerife, Permaculure and the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners magazines. Bard of Ely has performed at the Glastonbury and Green Man festivals and was a compère for the Avalon stage at Glastonbury in 2002 and 2003. He has had his songs released on many independent labels including Double Snazzy, Very Good Records, Pink Lemon and DMMG Records. He is written about and quoted in books by several fellow authors, and is in Fierce Dancing, Last of the Hippies (Faber & Faber) and Housing Benefit Hill (AK Press) by C.J. Stone, in The World's Most Mysterious People by Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe (Hounslow), Real Cardiff by Peter Finch (Seren), The Trials of Arthur (Element) by Christopher James Stone and Arthur Pendragon, and in The Remarkable Life of Leonard Cohen (Omnibus) by Anthony Reynolds.
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