The night the Bishop's Palace burnt down . . .

Fire . . . Fire!
The call went out loudly and startled everyone present at the opening of Gavin Evans’ talk on the fire which destroyed the Bishop’s Palace in Abergwili in April 1903.
Once the panic had died down, Gavin Evans gave his audience a rare insight to the events of that fateful night in April 1903 when the Bishop’s Palace was burnt down.
The Bishop of St Davids at the time was Bishop John Morgan who was residing there with his family, his staff and a visiting cleric from Merthyr. As soon as the fire was discovered by one of the Bishop’s maids, she woke everyone and enabled his family and others to escape down the backstairs. At the same time, the visiting priest saved much of the important papers held by the Diocese by throwing them out of the window. Some of the staff ran for help to Carmarthen town but by the time the fire pump arrived and the men had fixed their cumbersome hoses, it was all over. The Bishop and his family moved to Golden Grove for a brief while and later to Middleton Hall where they remained until 1907 when the Bishop’s Palace that now houses the Carmarthenshire County Museum was ready.
Gavin Evans explained that nationally renowned architects and builders were employed to rebuild the Bishop’s Palace. “The architect was WD Caröe who is known for his work on Cardiff University and Durham Cathedral and the builders, E. Turner & Sons, which had constructed the some of the major civic buildings in Cardiff. “This was clearly a very important building at that time and this is evident in the quality of the work which took place at the time” said Gavin. It remained the Bishop's Palace for many years until in 1974 when a newer, modern Bishop’s Palace was built next door. Once vacated, the Old Palace building became the home of Carmarthenshire’s popular museum and the venue for the Friends of the Museum’s series of monthly Gallery Talks.
The Gallery Talks are held at the museum on the first Saturday of each month at 10.30 am and they are a fine way to learn about the past…….as well as enjoying the coffee and cakes which follow. All the talks are free and pre-registration is not required. A warm welcome awaits all who turn up.
Forthcoming talks include:
December 3 Neanderthals in Carmarthen Belinda Todd
January 7 Book Selections from the Museum’s Collection Jill Davies
February 4 Evidence of Early Settlement in Carmarthenshire Gwilym Dawe

The Friends of the Carmarthenshire County Museum work to support the museum and to interest people in aspects of Carmarthenshire’s history.

Photo: After his lively account of the 1903 fire at the Bishop’s Palace in Abergwili, Gavin Evans, Curator of the Carmarthenshire County Museum (second from right), joins members of the Museum Friends and others who attended the November Gallery Talk.


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